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Message in a Bottle: Amouage and Balenciaga


ingredients: hemp, carnation, vetiver

It takes an Orwellian sense of mischief to name a fragrance as blatantly and as nonchalantly synthetic as this “Florabotanica”. But this is an interesting, even admirable piece of work. For a start, Florabotanica does not lack ambition: rather than going for the maudlin peony-on-the-cheap accord currently in favor, it boldly stakes out a big 3D chunk of olfactory space with brightly colored touches, leaving plenty of room in between. Florabotanica’s structure is the result of two successive phases of abstraction, one old, one recent. The old was the devising of the symphonic floral in which no single natural raw material stood out, and began over a hundred years ago with Houbigant’s Parfum Idéal. It gave us such marvels as, to name two bookends, Joy and the pre-reformulation Beyond Paradise. The second phase of abstraction was the recent decimation of all florals to creatures of pure chemistry rather than biological evolution. By now all reference to botany is lost, to the great joy of accountants and dermatologists, and the result is more akin to a floral print than to actual flowers. But there lie dowdy, trashy fragrances that our nose, from long practice, immediately ranks with bathroom air fresheners. Florabotanica manages to turn frumpy and cheap into frivolous and charming by doing to the floral what Philippe Starck did to upholstery when he took a Louis XVI chair, cast it as one piece of Lucite, and called it Ghost: bring forth something not particularly comfortable, but unquestionably witty and stylish.

ghostly floral


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