Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Parfum de Cannabis by Laurent Cosmetics : Perfume Review

“It is not very popular with the Dutch.” The proprietor of the small perfumery in the heart of Amsterdam tells me. “But it is hugely successful with foreigners! Americans, Germans, you name it. They want a piece of Amsterdam. It’s a memento.” I am not very surprised. The bottle and box are not much too look at, not to mention the fact that the price is surprisingly high, but whether we like it or not, cannabis does stand for Amsterdam and that makes the perfume a curio, something funny, intriguing. It has the air of something forbidden, yet it is legal to take it home after the trip is over. Who cares what it smells like? No wonder it sells well. The elderly gentleman managing the shop had hit the nail on the head: It is a piece of Amsterdam. But he seemed genuinely convinced of its value. “Take a sample; I am sure you will love it. Just try it. You won’t be disappointed.” In fact my disappointment starts at the register, where he actually makes me pay for the sample! But no matter, I want to smell this and there is no tester in the shop. I leave with my wallet one euro lighter, with a sample I suspect will smell rather poisonous.

Back home my suspicions are confirmed. Parfum de Cannabis is all over the place: It starts as a gentle floral, but quickly intensifies, showing both fruity (exotic, like pineapple and papaya) and gourmand (candied apple, sugar, cotton candy, vanilla) aspects. In the background there is a mildly spicy accent I can’t quite identify, although I’d swear I’ve smelled it before. The grand awfulness of the scent is further underscored by the atrocious synthetic smell that prevails from the moment it is first sprayed on. This does not smell like a perfume in fact, but something entirely chemical, used to mask and sanitize other, far more offensive scents, like a public restroom spray in fact. Living in a country where a simple walk down the center of the capital will undoubtedly be peppered by the “fragrant” clouds of smoked weed on any given day or night of the year, I am intensely familiar with the awful smell, and can’t imagine why any perfume would like to use it as a note, however I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. Well, to add insult to injury, there is not even the slightest whiff of the promised cannabis, but you already suspected that, didn’t you? Yeah, me too, but hope dies last.

Bottom line is, don’t fall for this little memento if you visit Amsterdam. It is overpriced and not worth it at any level. However, do pay a visit to the little perfumery as Parfum de Cannabis is not all it sells. In fact, the tiny little space of Parfumerie Laurent is full of discontinued as well as vintage perfumes. The space is small and the stock is big, so as things get bought more things regularly appear. Here you can find forgotten perfumes by Charles Jourdan, Courréges, Faconnable, Gigli, Jean Couturier, Marbert, Fragonard and all manner of other once well known names that can’t be found easily elsewhere. The address is Gravenstraat 26 in the center of Amsterdam, close to the Dam Square.

Images: and Flickr by Meepocity


PinstripedZebra said...

Fabulous! Only the dutch can come up with a fragrance like that...

I do wonder what would happen if an overzealous customs officer gets a bee up his bonnet about the name. I remember hemp products being difficult to cross some borders with.


Anonymous said...

It's a shame,one could build an interesting perfume around that note...The Parfumerie Laurent, on the other hand sounds excellent!

Divina said...

oooh, Z, you'd be surprised ;) The Brits have an Eau de Stilton!

Divina said...

Nika, it is! I got really excited when I found it... couldn't believe my eyes when I saw perfumes there I hadn't even heard of before.