Silver Rain: Feel free to completely ignore any and all official note listings for Silver Rain, including the ones found on the La Prairie website. The perfume known as Silver Rain has actually changed three times since its release in 2004, and to the extent that I can trust my nose, the notes listed online do not match its current profile. When I say that Silver Rain has changed three times I don’t mean that the company has slightly tweaked the formula over the years. No, I am talking about extreme, radical changes that have left it unrecognizable. Just in case I wasn’t clear enough yet: I am not talking about a facelift, I am talking about a head replacement! The first composition was a dire, toothsome fruity scent, while the second one was a blatant copy of Mugler’s Angel: A heavy, chocolaty gourmand revolving around a hideously predominant dirty patchouli note, whose floral accents were murky and wilting. Albeit very obviously trying to capitalize on Angel’s success, Silver Rain version 0.2 beta, missed the point completely. It lacked all of Angel’s addictive and seductive qualities and underscored everything that made it obnoxious and to an extent unbearable for a great portion of the population that suffered from its popularity. Imagine my surprise, when upon spraying from my fresh Silver Rain sample and mentally preparing myself to be once again accosted by the Angel parody I was familiar with, I found myself face to face with version 0.3 (hopefully final). Not nearly as unpleasant as version 0.2, but then again not really pleasant either, Silver Rain did manage to capture my interest, if only for a while. The opening is full of dark, fragrant tea notes enriched with a very herbal and brisk mint and eucalyptus combo that is fresh enough to clear the sinuses. (Not quite sure whether this is great for a perfume, it is however interesting) Underneath it all, we can already get a very clear impression of the signature dirty patchouli note found in version 0.2. As the top minty notes fly off however, the mask suddenly falls and the true nature of Silver Rain is exposed: a copy, once again. This time its hapless victim is Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, right down to the aquatic waterfruit notes that in combination with the dirty patchouli make it so distinctive. Unfortunately, our impostor somehow manages to miss the point once again and simply excludes everything that makes Black Orchid smell rich, sexy and quite out of the ordinary. The result is cheap-smelling (in every meaningful way possible), and lacking any sensuality. In fact it is rather cold; quite a feat, considering the patchouli overdose.
Midnight Rain: The flacon might not quite inspire the same feeling of simple luxury consistent with the brand’s name that Silver Rain’s bottle does, but thankfully, this time the juice is not a disappointment. The opening is a pleasant surprise: Midnight Rain manages to give off an air of sensuality while at the same time managing to remain quite androgynous in nature and thus potentially appealing to both sexes. It is dark and rich, with a markedly fruity character that manages to be at once reminiscent of something tropical and Mediterranean, while not letting a single ray of light penetrate its thick fruiting canopy. Those that love the dusty, slightly bitter, pomegranate accord found in Calvin Klein’s Euphoria (I personally don’t...) will be glad to rediscover it here, albeit used much more subtly and carefully. At first it seems like this will be a far too oppressing, sweet perfume for me to enjoy – a sillage monster that obliterates anything that enters its expansive radius – however, I am glad to report that with careful application and given a little time, Midnight Rain can be quite an alluring scent. About ten minutes after application, the scent calms down and becomes not only mellower but merrier as well. The fruity top notes persist but start showing off their individual nuances; The mandarin winks for it knows it is not only juicy, but sticky as well, and the pomegranate lends the composition a forbidden quality, like fire-engine red lipstick worn on an otherwise bare face. Slowly, the floral middle notes start showing through, but instead of popping up individually they combine, to give a velvety, slightly citrusy magnolia impression. At the same time, this light floral heart is surrounded by a deep, vanillic, utterly comforting scent, which lends the perfume a more oriental character. I thoroughly enjoy the slightly lemony, warm vanilla scent, but there’s a catch; Somewhere in the background there is some disturbance that I am unable to tune out. The signature dirty patchouli of La Prairie is struggling to come to the surface and to make matters worse, there are tiny (but unfortunately significant) hints of something aquatic desperately drawing attention to itself. Luckily both of these elements are kept in check enough for me to manage to appreciate the scent, but ultimately they do ruin it for me. The drydown is sweet and woody and the surprisingly everlasting pomegranate note adds powdery sophistication with its subtle dustiness. While far better than anything I ever expected from La Prairie in the scent department, this is not a scent I would ever purchase. I do appreciate it for its warmth and sensuality, but the dissonant patchouli and aquatic notes unfortunately take away from its beauty. However, I don’t have to run to scrub it off and its heart notes are really rather pleasant. Unlike Silver Rain, I’ll happily tolerate this on someone else.
Images: flickr, originally uploaded by L.A. Woman, www.laprairie.com.au, www.laprairie.com