|Giant Cavaillon melon, Provence ~ Source: mapio.net|
|Jean-Claude Ellena's village of Cabris|
But the latest addition to the Hermessence line, Muguet Porcelaine, the very delicacy of whose name unleashed a flutter of anticipation when the über-generous enabler Val the Cookie Queen of APJ said she had scored a sample with my name on it, did not quite work for me. Or rather, the opening is sufficient to put me off the later stages. Specifically, it's the mahoosive melon and cucumber accord that whooshes up on first application which floors me. I am not partial to either note in perfumery, and in Muguet Porcelaine they are very big, very juicy and in your face - or 'up your nostrils', to localise the phenomenon a bit more precisely. And though it pains me to say so, for it feels like heresy, given the prestigious nature of this line and the high regard in which I hold Ellena, but this big fruity explosion also comes off as noticeably synthetic to my nose.
And I do love lily of the valley, I really do. I have a soft spot for this particular flower too because it was my mother's favourite. She copped for many a tin of Yardley talc with that scent from me as a child. Plus I know that lily of the valley can only be replicated by artificial means, which adds an extra layer of difficulty to proceedings. Once Muguet Porcelaine settles down I do think it comes a very close second to Diorissimo, having conducted a number of side-by-side trials with an old sample of the EDT from The Perfumed Court. Or rather it is in a soprano register to Diorissimo's alto. But crucially Diorissimo is not remotely synthetic smelling from the off. If anyone is curious as to how this compares to Van Cleef & Arpels Muguet Blanc, I would say that that one is much softer and musky - the Puredistance Opardu of LOTV scents, if you will.
Yes, to my chagrin the opening of Muguet Porcelaine is too strident for my liking. To my mind, the word 'porcelain' conjures up whiteness and stillness, not shrillness. I think of Birgit of Olfactoria's Travels' serene and milky-white complexion, for example, And also of course the delicate little white bells of the flower itself, so tiny and dainty you would assume them to be constitutionally incapable of producing a scent that loud. Though I do concede that the slight indolic facet you get with lilies in general can readily translate as decibels rather than harebells, or flowers in that general neck of the woods, say. The opening of Muguet Porcelaine is a china bowl that you have vigorously pinged with your fingernail, creating a booming soundscape that fades away (eventually, though not nearly fast enough imho) to a more pleasantly muted frequency.
So yes, I would like to stress that it is just the opening that bothers me. And not only me, it would seem, as I got a couple of sales assistants in my local branch of The Fragrance Shop to sniff my freshly spritzed wrists and give me their off the cuff observations in a blind test. Of the two ladies in question, one was about my age at a guess, the other still in her teens. She was rather shy and would only say she liked it and thought it was a young person's scent, so the following commentary is all from her older colleague.
|Source: The Fragrance Shop|
"It's a floral...I'm getting some fruit...a fruity floral, then. Is there honey in there? It reminds me of Marc Jacobs Honey. It's a bit young for me, and a bit too sweet - I don't think an older woman would wear it. That said, it probably settles down after a while."
When asked where she would position this perfume, in terms of brand or price point, she ventured, quick as a flash:
"Oh, Premium, certainly, I'd put it on a par with BOSS."
I am still struggling with my take on this one, as I did a while back with Alaia, where I seemed to be flying in the face of the consensus. At least I care enough to put the accent in in Hermès. Now there are some stellar reviews of Muguet Porcelaine out there from bloggers whose noses I respect far beyond my own, yet I still cannot come to terms with the 'fruitbomb' opening, to channel Viktor & Rolf for a moment. And I have dubbed this scent a 'melon chameleon' because I sense that other people's melonious mileage will vary.
And hey, the upside of the whole unfortunate saga is that if I hadn't gone into The Fragrance Shop to seek a second opinion, I wouldn't have clocked the fact that Mary Greenwell Plum is on offer at £28.50 for a 100ml bottle, or £19.50 for 50ml. The more you spray, the more you save!
PS Here I am in Cavaillon c1980, home of the giant melon pictured at the top of the post. So my inability to bond with the melon note in Muguet Porcelaine is clearly not due to a lack of early exposure to this refreshing fruit.