I don’t know why it should occur to me to write about a Swiss perfume just as I was getting ready to go to Germany, but for some reason one popped into my head the other day. It is a sample I received from Wordbird during our four handed fumehead meet in Basel in March of last year. Or four headed fumehead meet, perhaps that should be. It is distinctive because it is in a little pillow pack packaging, like one of these bulky padded cases Swiss army knives come in – or Mr Bonkers’ knock off version does, anyway. I have had this sample for a full year without testing it, because I couldn’t bring myself to rip open the packaging and deflate the pillow, as it were.
But I was in one of those decisive moods on that particular morning, having a good old rummage in the paper horse’s nose bag that originally contained all my Gorilla perfume samples – and still does in fact, along with various waif and stray extras from swaps - when my hand pulled out this Swiss Army perfume and I decided that that was the day it would go pop! Obviously I had the foresight to photograph it first...
I guess part of my hesitation prior to trying this scent has to do with a fear of disappointment. I may be completely misguided in this belief, but apart from Andy Tauer’s line and my oddball love, Shared Water by Michel Comté – the subject of a post I wrote a while back on squirrelling away back up bottles – I don’t really associate Switzerland with iconic perfumes – what the French might term “parfums de grand standing”, but almost certainly don’t. If Potiron happens upon this, she will doubtless be able to put me straight on whether I am in fact overlooking some other famous Swiss brands.
And even Andy Tauer, who just the other week won a UK FiFi award for Orange Star, and who is something of a national – and international – treasure as perfumers go, mostly creates scents that aren’t up my alley, if I am honest, owing to my shifting but largely troubled relationship with Tauerade. That said, I love L’Air du Désert Marocain and actively like Carillon pour un Ange, to which Bloody Frida recently introduced me. So just based on those two scents, Tauer would be a tough act for another perfume house to top or even half way respectably follow (the keen-eyed reader may detect some German sentence construction creeping in here as I get linguistically into the zone…).
And what scent do we have in the ring pitting its mainstream molehill against the mighty Matterhorn that is the house of Tauer?
Answer: “a fresh, floral fragrance for active, contemporary ladies. Charismatic, inviting & sensual” according to one e-tailer, while another site describes this scent as “dedicated to female adventurers” – why, that would be me! (Not in a Gorillas in the Mist-Ellen MacArthur sailing single-handed round the world kind of a way… no, more your female adventurer taking a chance on a motel that – let’s just say – doesn’t have the most twinkly star rating in the hotels.com galaxy.) Oh, and the same website describes Swiss Army perfume as “an ode to the lofty Swiss Alps”.
Well, that sounds fairly promising, given that I like Shared Water, which has a tranquil mountain stream and small alpine flower vibe, plus an intriguing if slightly incongruous steamed rice note. The note list for Swiss Army Perfume is in vaguely similar territory, though on the face of it mandarins don’t sound quintessentially Alpine. No, I have just checked, and the top three producers of tangerines, mandarins and clementines collectively (sorry that I couldn't find any more cultivar-specific stats) are in fact China, Spain, Brazil, Japan and Morocco.
Notes: edelweiss, blue buttercup, mountain daffodil, muguet, organic ginger root, crisp green watermint and fresh mandarin, with sheer woods.
Now I do worry when I see a muguet note listed, because it is one of those tricky customers which, when done cheaply or just badly, can be very bad indeed, and sure enough it wasn’t great in this scent.
My first impressions of Swiss Army perfume are of a fragrance totally at odds with any of the usual connotations of a knife, such as precision engineering, sharpness, rigour, cold metallic aloofness and so on. By contrast, this was a cheap smelling, chemically, fruity, ditzy fruity floral of the most forgettable kind. I guess I should be glad it is forgettable. If I had to choose between only wearing this perfume for ever and not wearing perfume at all, I would definitely go scentless...
So much for the massive build up as I deferred my testing of Swiss Army perfume for all that time. I can categorically state that it does not cut it vs Tauer’s range, though it did muster enough serration to burst the bubble of the pillow pack – and my expectations.
Photo of matterhorn from about.ch, photo of mandarins from ingredientrade.com, photo of Swiss army knife from vagabond journey.com, other photo my own
PS German sniffing report will be along shortly!