Monday, September 28, 2009

A Scent by Issey Miyake : Perfume Review

If Issey Miyake did not yet manage to rid his name of any connotations of the dark era of insipid, unisex, ozonic perfumery with his cult, avant-garde masterpiece Le Feu d’Issey, the time has surely come with the newest addition in the Miyake fragrance lineup, simply titled A Scent by Issey Miyake. Not that either the bottle or the name help much in the quest of deliverance from these preconceived notions: the bottle, looking as if it is fashioned out of a simple, shining slab of glass, frosted on the sides to resemble the primitive rawness of the material out of which the polished final product emerges, stays even truer to the keystones of minimalist design than the original L’Eau. So fundamental is the design, it almost seems like an exaggerated representation of what a minimalist perfume bottle should look like. This is either a bottle that takes minimalism too seriously or a bottle created with a good dose of humor. As for the name, well, it can’t get any more elemental than that. Again, minimalism infinitesimally exaggerated and underscored.

So take all this and add to it my disdain for the original L’Eau d’Issey, groundbreaking for sure at the time and set to become a classic, but oh so virulent (well, it wouldn’t be a classic if it wasn’t) and oh so suffocating under the pretence of minimalist, diaphanous freshness. This seemed to ring a bell at first sight, providing a trepid sense of déjà vu that wasn’t very pleasant. But thankfully, first sight isn’t quite the same as first sniff. It was at first sniff that all my resistance and apprehension crumbled. A Scent is beautiful!



A Scent opens with a delicate, lightly sweet citrus-verbena on a fresh, musky backdrop tinged with the lactonic greenness of grass. By no means are the notes sharply outlined: aldehydes smudge the picture with their frothy nature and this image of a clear spring day is beautifully diffused and romantic. The sweetness is gradually stripped off as we are eased into the heart, a gorgeous blast of green intensifying until it finally takes over. Gorgeous, supremely green, surprisingly frosty and metallic galbanum reveals itself to be the star of A Scent. Hyacinth joins in (and oh how beautiful it is to find this gorgeous combination of notes again in a modern fragrance), supporting the greenness and adding a beautiful green-floral touch. A garland of jasmine (stripped off of any animalic, carnal tendencies) wraps around the green column bringing a hint of warmth to the cool blend, as well as a compelling exotic aura. The base showcases a subtly earthy, mossy cord with soapy tonalities, which hours later will dry down to a dried hay skin-scent. What is most striking about A Scent, and what I believe will please most perfume lovers who profess their love and nostalgia for the classics of the past, is that it pays beautiful, honest homage to the Great Greens: Vent Vert, Chanel No. 19, Ivoire, Murasaki. The connection with the first two is especially evident. Perfumer Daphné Bugey has reinterpreted the classic green for Issey Miyake adding just a gentle touch of quiet, modern femininity for the current market. The main difference, if you will, is that this is a subtler, more diffuse rendition of green. One thing’s for certain: the department store shelves haven’t seen a new release like this in years. There have been fragrances beautiful, magnificent, stellar even. But it’s been a great long time since we last saw a fearless green.


13 comments:

Jenavira13 said...

Cannot wait to sniff! Plus I am quite taken with the bottle. I wonder when it will become more widely available.

ScentScelf said...

A little heartbreak. Green with galbanum? Drying down to hay?

Magic notes, those are, for me. I had managed to keep the blinders on, D, but it looks like I will have to go sample this one.

Divina said...

Hi Jen! Not sure what the release dates are for the US, but here in europe this is already being sold at department stores. Hope it gets there soon!

Divina said...

ScentScelf, I didn't expect to like this, in fact I only got a sample out of curiosity, just to see 'how bad' it would be. And then I smelled it and couldn't quite believe it... I thought the days of grand greens were over, that we'd never see something that harkens to the classics again in department stores. I am so glad to have been proven wrong!!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Something I can't wait to sample without fretting about having to bend over backwards to find it! I might not like the bottle and name, but if the perfume is right, then it's ok.

Christine

Tania said...

I have this, and I think it's gorgeous. The only problem is that on me, it lasts no time at all!
I've read other reviews saying the same thing, so it's not just me. Some skins eat this one up. My advice is to test before buying. I did, noticed the short life, and decided the hell with it, it gave me an excuse to respritz and enjoy the opening all over again! ;-)

Divina said...

Hi Tania, I noticed something strange related to the longevity: When I spray carefully/modestly I do find it has very poor longevity. It doesn't exactly disappear, but it becomes very quiet, not really projecting. However when I spray liberally (lets say for testing, two full sprays on one patch of skin) it lasts and lasts all day. That's strange isn't it? Since you seem to like it a lot, try spraying a bit more liberally (2 sprays on each patch instead of one, maybe) to see if it makes any difference. Further, if you are spraying around your neck, close to the face and upper chest, be prepared to lose the scent very quickly - the nose gets accustomed and stops smelling it even though it is still there. Better to test this out on arms (up to the elbow, not further) to check for longevity. Hope this helps!

Divina said...

Christine, I like the bottle myself, but I have to agree with you on the name. For such a romantic perfume that refers back to the classics, the name is so cold. "A Scent" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "Vent Vert", does it? However, there's something to be said about congruity in a brand. That I can understand and appreciate. You buy into the brand, with all the connotations it has built. Looking at the bottle & name, there's no doubt you're buying a Miyake product.

Anonymous said...

I bought the 50mls today and I got to say I absolutely love it. It smells devine and it lasts for about 3 hrs on my skin so not tooo bad. I love the burst of green notes at first and the fading to the softer sweeter floral notes. What is best about it is that it stays close to the skin and isn't the type that makes people around you gag and suffocate. I also feel that it could be an unisex perfume

Flora said...

I am ALL about the galbanum and hyacinth and I can't wait to try it! What a nice change for a modern scent, there are not enough good greens anymore.

Divina said...

Anon I agree, people wanting to use it at work for example should have no worries about overapplying because of its nature - it is not oppressive at all.

Divina said...

Flora I agree! After I wrote this review I was so impressed with D. Bugey's work that I looked to find more about her and discovered an interview where she says that she thought this was absolutely the right time to reintroduce greens to the market,since there was nothing like that out at the moment. I am so glad she took that risk!

Nad said...

I obtained a sample of 'A Scent' and at first sniff, I was repulsed by the sharpness of the perfume, but it gradually softens (of which I assume are its other notes) and has this warm smell, as if you're in the middle of a field of freshly cut grass.
Divine :)