Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just nice

In a recent post, "Perfume lust", I was practically moaning with, well, lust, for Annick Goutal's Encens Flamboyant. Here's the description from the Annick Goutal website:

A mystical, arousing and intense scent.
An ode to frankincense, masterfully blended in three formats: Frankincense essence emerges first, a distillation of tears of frankincense, whose ethereal and mineral freshness evoke cold stone. Black pepper and rose berry bring a pungency and edginess.

Then comes frankincense resinoid, a warm and balmy scent, steeped in precious spices, cardamom and nutmeg. Finally, "Vieille ├ęglise" frankincense deliciously burnt and warmed by woody balsam fir, welcoming and sweet, and pure extract of lentisque. Drawn from arid vegetation, it is also used in Kiphi, the prized Pharaonic perfume.

Now, I'm not usually swayed by ad copy, but this caused me to feel weak in the knees. I wanted some and wanted it badly. It's hard to find a good incense smell. I love L'artisan's Passage D'enfer, but wouldn't mind a change now and again. But at $175 for a bottle of this stuff, I could only yearn and hope that it would wind up on Ebay or some discount perfume store sometime in the future.

As I write this, I am now wearing some of this precious stuff, the supposedly flamboyant incense. It is a nice scent. That's it. Nice.

Don't you think for one hundred and seventy five bucks it should be a bit better than nice?

But I'm not rich, so what do I know? One hundred and seventy five bucks is chump change to one of the CEOs of Lehman Brothers, even if they've just lost their business. Perhaps some discouraged banker bought a bottle of this stuff for his wife on his way home from work -"Here, honey. Things aren't as bad as they seem. I got you a bottle of perfume!"

Hell, one hundred and seventy five bucks doesn't even get two people a good meal at the kind of restaurant a person who worked at Lehman Brothers would go to after a day of work. (Oh, I keep forgetting that someone who is middle-class makes 250K).

And you thought this was a perfume review?

Well, it is.

Encens Flamboyant is nice, and I'd certainly wear it. It is to my taste. It certainly is an incense fragrance. It lacks any hint of head shop (and at that price, it darn well better). I can smell the "burnt" frankincense and that is, again, nice.

Now that I've tried it, I can see why it doesn't come in smaller bottles. It is pretty weak. I needed to use half the vial (.5ml) to really smell the stuff, and I don't think I'm suffering from any anosmia.

So, there it is, folks. The big letdown. I'm glad for it. What if I had fallen in love?

Painting note: Edouard Manet Nana 1877
Would this woman wear something Flamboyant? I think not. She'd wear something nice.

Addendum: Thank you, Nika, for sending me a sample.
Also: I realize it was sexist of me to assume that a businessman might buy some of this for his wife, so I'll add: Perhaps at the end of the day, after hearing that she'd lost her job, some businesswoman at Lehman Brothers decided to walk uptown from Wall Street and stopped in at Aedes de Venustas on Christopher Street to cheer herself up with a new scent. It would be a shame if this is what she had settled on.
And no, I don't get anything for consistently linking to this wonderful store (sigh). And I presume I won't get anything for giving this scent such a pathetic review, will I?

Addendum II: Last night, the Encens Flamboyant seemed to fade away to near nothing. As I'm having a lazy Sunday morning and haven't had a shower yet, I notice its lingering scent. I would have bet good money that this scent would only be a memory the next day (and I would have lost). So, what did I do? Put some more on. It seems fitting on this terribly gray and rainy Autumn day.

Usually, I wake up with a stuffy nose. This morning my sense of smell seems more acute than normal. Was I indeed suffering from a bit of anosmia last night? Or perhaps one needs even more of this juice to really smell it. I didn't quite apply an entire .5 ml of the stuff yesterday - it was just an estimate - but now the vial is indeed half empty (or half full, as the happier person would say). Still, after one more application, it shall be gone, and it will not be replaced.

Addendum III: 4:10pm Uh oh. I felt a strong desire to apply more (and I did). This morning, while I was meditating, I felt keenly aware of the scent. This is not a good thing! Now I associate it with meditation, so I find it calming. Maybe I should ask my doctor for a prescription. I don't know how much street drugs cost, but what can one buy for around 60 dollars an ounce?

One more thing (and then, hopefully, I'll be done with this!): It does smell quite a bit like the super cheap incense I burn in my meditation room - Nippon Kodo's Morning Star Pine ($7.50 for 200 sticks). The Goutal doesn't smell like balsam fir and the real incense doesn't smell like pine. . .maybe it is me (and my poor untrained nose).

Addendum IV! I do smell the balsam. Last night, as I was falling asleep, with my hand pressed up against my face, I realized I was wondering "What ever happened to the little bag of balsam needles that I used to have?" Sniff. Sniff. It was my wrist sending me that thought. When the incense finally fades, there it is: balsam.

The end.


Anonymous said...

It's a tricky one, ain't it? I think it's very nice, but you're right - not $175 nice?!!!

Anonymous said...

Mmm, I love balsam