Issey Miyake A Scent: fragrance review
After the definitive 90s bestseller L'Eau d'Issey and the definitive 90s commercial "tank" Le Feu d'Issey (affectionately termed "Phew d'Issey" by its detractors, but rhapsodised by fragrance critic Luca Turin for its undoubted olfactory innovation), Miyake who has been held on public record saying he doesn't like perfume and never wears it, launches his third "elemental"-inspired scent. A Scent, inspired by air, no less! Much like this would seem like a joke, I assure you it is not.
The fragrance is very, very pleasant if not groundbreaking and I would like to think that the inane name is merely a break-down of Ascent, denoting ascendant, a rising and optimistic sign that points to the skies above. After all, air can be charged with its own aroma, especially before and after a springtime thunderstorm! A Scent by Miyake does reprise an airy electricity-charged green smell that recalls spring mornings of crushed greenery underfoot, still holding dew on it, and it's a mystery why it was launched for the autumn-winter season. I suppose they figure it will pick up sales-wise come February, when people are sick and tired of the drab days of sleet and mud-trampled snow and will want the promise of sharp cool air in the tall grass, the touch of a dryad...
Created in collaboration with perfumer Daphné Bugey of Firmenich (who I am reminding you is responsible for those reportedly amazing Coty classics reconstructions and the mean vanilla of Kenzo Amour), designed by Arik Levy and produced by Beauté Prestige International, the Paris-based fragrance division of the Shiseido Cosmetics Corporation, A Scent had all the prerequisites to become a new "classic". Will it? Only time will tell, but it doesn't seem as original as it should for it to become so. Then again, technically neither was L'Eau d'Issey: In the aqueous ozonic stakes, drenched by gallons of Calone (the melon-fresh aroma-ingredient that characterised the decade), New West by Aramis beat it by three years coming out in as early as 1989.
Is Miyake's A Scent "a scent as simple and beautiful as the air we breathe" as purported in the ad copy? I would venture that for the average urban dweller this would be an ironic line, but let's not digress. The green notes of galbanum (nothing too bitter in this interpretation) and hyacinth, reminiscent of the re-issued Vent Vert, Guerlain's Chamade opening and Chanel No.19's verdant patches ~before the iris takes over in plush~ fold the floral heart while a lemon note echoes throughout. The core is garlanded by vivacious hints of citrusy-green notes (verbena apparently) and a carnal-devoid diaphanous jasmine. The remaining tonality is a white-musk-infused base that whimpers off skin infrequently with slightly soapy reminiscences like just showered bodies. Comparisons with Estée Lauder's Private Collection Jasmine White Moss are pretty obvious, as the same citric and green spike emerge on contact and the common lineage is none other than Chanel's Cristalle, especially in the more hesperidic-toned Eau de Toilette. Arguably however the predecessor is much more daring and stealthy, while the limited-distribution parable by Lauder is more polished and lasting (especially in the wonderful extrait de parfum), leaving A Scent in some kind of limbo state despite its surpreme wearability by both sexes.
Green chypres are becoming popular again (just contemplate Cristalle Eau Verte, a twist on the refreshing classic) and they have taken on a new mantle it seems, one of intense subtlety (there's your oxymoron!) and seeming attenuation, one of less conviction if you please. More an environmentalist-streak running through the market, rather than a "let's get back to nature" 60s song, they seem catered for the urbanite who is commuting to work with i-Pod at hand. But in a world that is almost faced with complete extinction of that venerable fragrance family I can live with that rather than hundreds of fruity-florals and fruitchoulis, I guess.
The bottle looks like a slice cut out of a block of transparent slob (jn fact it is) which is perfectly cool in its own tongue-in-cheek way (there's luxury products for you!) and fitting with the scent image.