When I started exposing my perfume preoccupation in perfumista forums ages ago I stumbled upon two frequently asked questions that had me completely baffled. They are coming up far too often and are so inexplicably vague and unanswerable, yet it seems that some perfume lovers are desperately seeking for answers.
The first question is “What is the ultimate pantie-dropper men’s fragrance?” or cologne as American boys seem to call their fragrant waters for fear of coming off as too vane using “perfume”. Well my fumehead fellows, how can one answer this question? It depends basically on who the person before whom panties have to drop is. If you look somewhat like anyone that has ever graced with their face a promotional photoshoot for a cologne, don’t worry about it. Sooner or later some panties will drop! If however you belong to the rest of the earth’s male population, the question becomes even more complicated. It also depends on who is wearing the panties! So instead of seeking high and low for this elusive potion that will loosen the fabric of all women’s underwear (I think it’s bleach that eventually does the job after a few washes), it is a lot more pragmatic to wear any cologne that makes you feel happy and direct your attentions towards women who are already not wearing any panties. Makes sense I think! So having excluded model type perfume wearers and non-panties-wearing women, we are still left with a huge part of the population we need to help find their way to the bedroom. Guys I still don’t have an answer to this but my best guess is that if you pay a little bit of attention to the women standing opposite to you and you try to see them as who they really are (not just as pantie hangers) and at the same time yourselves are half decent at being a decent guy, the scent you are wearing will only play a minor part at finding a mate, There isn’t a single woman in the world that will loose her mind over a fragrance and there isn’t a single fragrance in the world that has the power to mask a bad personality. Fragrance is not a roofie!
The second question that begs for an intelligent answer is “What perfume should I wear at a…………..?”.Please fill blank space with any imaginable or unimaginable social occasion you can think of. Be it a a first date (a classic which I am afraid redirects us to the first question albeit a bit covertly), a job interview, a restaurant or a funeral. The guy who was looking for a funeral scent went on to shortlist 26 fragrances some of which were completely random, others however showed some sense of humour like the long gone and immortal Patou pour Homme or the morbidly associated Estée Lauder Beyond Paradise.The thing with this type of question is that there is no scent in the world that could or should be as important as the social event itself. One should be very self-absorbed to think that people at a funeral would be remotely interested in how the”guests” smell. “Uncle Harry was such a lovely person and he suffered so much at the end of his life… But thank god cousin Dick is wearing a most appropriate fragrance!”. We all have the common sense not to wear anything too attention grabbing at a job interview I guess. So having excluded all major events involving a large number of attendees and all professional occasions for lack of perfume importance, we have to admit that the only occasion a scent can be important is at a close, personal encounter. Which conveniently circles us back to the first question by way of the “first date”. So since “What perfume to wear at a first date?” seems to be the only relevant question, we are still left short for answers because even if we have a short list of fragrances the man asking the question has in mind, we do not know who the woman in question is and what she likes. So for the sake of relevance we should proceed and narrow down the question even more to women we know. It seems that the only way forum members can have a say at this, is if the question actually is “What perfume should I wear on a first date with your sister/ mother/ girlfriend etc?”. Which from my point of view is a rather rude question to ask!
The point is, perfume should be worn from the inside out. It is a mood enhancer that can be a wonderful companion to life, underlining and maybe even contrasting the inaudible musical soundtrack of our lives. It can’t affect others around us in a way that surpasses our own influence on them. So stop worrying about what others think of the way you smell. That is if you bathe regularly! Perfume is for your own satisfaction and its most important impact will be on you and you alone. Wear cologne, wear perfume, wear masculine or feminine scents, whatever pleases you. Elle Macpherson says that she is wearing Guerlain Vetiver the last 30 years and nobody has ever used this against her. Wear cheap perfume. Wear expensive perfume. Wear whatever rocks your boat whichever way you like it to be rocked. That’s the bottom line.
What all this has to do with a perfume review, that of Nishane Mūsīqá Oud? The truth is that the moment I sprayed this on my skin I was overwhelmed by a synaesthetic experience of colours and textures. Dark blue water colour blotches hitting against dark red and purple oil drops and dancing frantically on a liquid surface. Thick, deep colours whirling but never mixing. An intoxicating experience of sweetness and bitterness. Since I can’t imagine my delirium is helping you understand how Mūsīqá Oud smells, let me explain myself. Although official notes promise top notes of grapefruit, amyris and cypriole I can’t say I can detect anything remotely citrusy in this potion. What I do get is an immaterial smell of water, like when you get close to a swimming pool and you know there is one nearby even if you can’t yet see it. Because as much as there is clarity in this opening accord, there is also an impression of distance, of vastness. In this composition in particular, it sets immediately a window of observation of panoramic dimensions, much like the screen of a multiplex fit for a 3D blockbuster. This enormous screen is immediately flooded with saffron and oud and what smells to me like a bar of 80% dark chocolate. That smell that is rich but not sweet, bitter and a bit acidic at the same time. The watery backdrop is contradicted by the slightly leathery saffron that casts a chill, dark blue shoe varnish hue on the screen and the warm, bitter-sweet dark chocolate note that erupts in purple red highlights. Like two coloured smokescreens projected from opposite sides of the screen, the elements in this composition meet but never mix completely. They pulsate throughout the development of the fragrance, in a mesmerizing dance. All these images strangely made me think of the artwork of “Batman vs Superman”. I have not seen the film yet and I have to admit that the idea of an epic battle between the two super heroes still sounds a bit silly to me. The promotional artwork however has managed to spark my interest. The way Superman’s flamboyant colours have been muddled to fit into Batman’s dark world, implying a layer of darkness that would later be removed restoring super hero world order, seems to have been able to sell me the concept, at least on an aesthetic level. Mūsīqá Oud has also been able to sell me the oud package in a new way. Sombre and forceful, it combines the dark atmosphere of a Flemish classical painting with the flamboyance of Marvel comics in a completely captivating way.
Notes from Nishane: grapefruit, amyris, cypriol, oud, saffron, amber, oakmoss, sandalwood, guaicawood
Notes from my nose: swimming pool water, blue shoe varnish, dark chocolate, oud
Photo by Hans