Power by Kenzo: While the scent will probably seem rather demure at first and this discrepancy between the juice and the name is bound to cause some bafflement, Power’s forcefulness does manifest itself, albeit in less expected ways, the most salient of which is its powerhouse sillage! And this is cause for surprise once again, for one hardly expects such a gentle-smelling perfume to have such an intense projection even when applied with the lightest hand. Already, the seasoned perfumista’s interest is piqued due to the contradiction. Add to this the fact that it is extremely long-lasting and one begins to really appreciate the strength of Power. One of the most distinctive characteristics of this perfume is its strange, unorthodox development; Even though I can’t in good conscience describe it as linear, it certainly doesn’t follow the conventional top-middle-base pyramid development and its changes are very subtle. The best way to describe it would be to say that it is like listening to the same music piece, with different instruments amplified over time so that the attention is drawn to each one separately in different time intervals. Throughout, Power remains marvelously bittersweet and keeps the same floral component constant – a floral note that is synthesized and actually supposed to be abstract, but is however translated very distinctly by my senses as blue lotus, the same bittersweet, slightly banana-scented flower used in copious amounts in Annayake’s Pour Elle. The different impressions, the aforementioned ‘amplified instruments’ that slowly make their appearance one after the other are iris butter (used much more discreetly than it has been in Polge’s past genius creations), powder, cardamom, tolu, soft abstract woods and a grassy accord that brings to mind images of ponds and marshes and all the flora that favors these environs, like calamus and water lilies. I just love this.
1 Million by Paco Rabanne: Unlike the minimalist chic, esthetically pleasing presentation of Kenzo’s Power, 1 Million’s flacon is in your face, gauche, trashy and unappealing. Unfortunately, my problems with this perfume don’t stop at the bottle. In fact, I have been struggling with the thought of having to apply this once more on my skin for the purposes of this review. Borderline headache inducing and pervasive, this one is definitely a scrubber for me. There is a truly beautiful sweet mint note in the opening which seems to mingle with smoky dark vetiver, producing a fantastic chilly metallic effect surrounded by smoke and this is just about the only thing I love about 1 Million. In hindsight, I realize this is because this is the exact same lovely metallic mint scent found in my beloved Fahrenheit 32. Unfortunately, the effect is spoiled by a rather cheap citrus fruit and strong berries combo that is impossible to ignore. Too, almost immediately I become aware of an ever intensifying, cloying sweetness that will persist throughout the development. Imagine this: Minty coolness and heavy sweetness clashing... What do you get? Yes, a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. And truly, everything about 1 Million is felt there, deep down in the belly; It produces the sort of scent that the body instinctively rejects, as though it has just consumed something that didn’t seem right. The heart notes seal the disaster for me, with soft, fresh, dewy rose being smothered by tobacco flower and leaves and bland synthetic leather. Blessedly, 1 Million gives up the fight about half an hour after application and fades into a rather less inoffensive drydown. The sweetness calms down becoming tolerable, nice even, and the spicy tobacco flower is allowed to blend with the innocent woody/ambery basenotes. My strongest and probably most defining impressions of this perfume is that it is very heavy, smells dated and lacks even the merest hint of youthfulness.