Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Citrus Anatomy Part I - Monsieur Balmain

Colognes, as in Kölnisch Wassers - or simply citrus scents, are one of my favourite categories of fragrance. Not much can beat the invigorating freshness of a zesty cologne before heading out on a hot, sunny summer day. In this section, The Citrus Anatomy, I´ll be looking a little closer at this genre and examining the different nuances of some of the classics - both traditional and modern. First out a french bad boy that was reformulated in 1990.

've always wanted to "freeze" the lemon/citrus topnotes of many of my favourite colognes. I felt Dior's Eau Sauvage, Hermès´s Eau d'Orange Verte, Eau de Rochas pour homme and particularly the original Lacoste would benefit from prolonged citrus presence.

Then I tried Monsieur Balmain...

he initial, slightly bitter but insanely clean, lemon blast gives Monsieur Balmain a very promising start to say the least. Then this squeezed lemon and citrus peel note actually stays with you for hours - and guess what? It actually ruins the whole thing. My personal conclusion is that the best classic citruses are the ones with a fresh, zesty opening but with an equally pleasant and elaborate drydown. This progression often settles in some kind of herbal or woody base. Unfortunately the Balmain stays mainly lemon and eventually develops into a faint and not too clean nor pleasant musk. So it's linear and pretty boring, however - if the thought of a long present lemon note excites you the way it did me before, then by all means give this revamped oldie a shot.

I would however recommend trying Penhaligon's excellent Blenheim Bouquet instead, also with longlasting and somewhat bitter citrus, but paired with a refined and elgant, smokey pine making it's structure infinitely more interesting.

hen it comes to longevity though, this perhaps the rarest characteristic of the genre, nothing beats Monsieur Balmain. This one really does last, which, may actually be it´s strongest merit.

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