Perfume Review: Paul Smith Story
Story was inspired by Paul Smith’s love of books. The designer’s London office is apparently packed with thousands of them, “some are rare first editions, others, throwaway comics”. According to the creators of Story, “the central character”, vetiver from Haiti, “brings depth, sensuality, elegance and energy to the blend with the same kind of richness that’s somehow reminiscent of the mysterious-yet-comforting smell of vintage books”. “Somehow” is the key word here for me. Story doesn’t really have the smell of antique books so dear to Smith’s heart. It is not evocative of musty old pages or crinkled leather covers. If I try really hard, I sort of get from Story the slightly sharp smell of freshly printed paper. Having said that, I don't think that the scent was meant to smell exactly like books; this is not a Demeter after all. According to Smith, “just as a book can inspire opinions and stimulate feelings, a fragrance has the power to evoke emotions and create new memories, taking on a character that’s personal to the wearer”. This statement perhaps explains the best the idea behind this perfume.
With notes of grapefruit, bergamot, ivy, vetiver, jasmine, green rose, musk, amber and cedar, Story is an elegant, understated, uncluttered scent. Those who, like me, love the cold earthiness and the airy feel of Terre d’Hermes, Hiris and Kenzo Air, will find Story very much to their liking. Those who appreciate the very appealing trend in the masculine perfumery, which chooses subtlety over overbearing "machoism" (for subtlety, think the aforementioned Kenzo Air, Terre d’Hermes, Dior Homme, the three exclusive Dior colognes, Goutal Duel, L'Artisan Dzongkha and perhaps even Rosine’s Rose d’Homme) will be pleased with Story. Many women will find it utterly wearable. On the other hand, those who like their scents to make a very powerful, decisive statement, to have lots of sillage and va va voom, will most probably be disappointed. I can imagine many men thinking it bland, too delicate and not nearly “manly” enough. But hey, this is a geeky scent after all.
Story is most definitely a vetiver fragrance. The note is apparent throughout the entire development. In the beginning it is brightened and enlivened by unripe, peppery citrus fruits (most prominently, grapefruit). In the middle stage, combined with the soft florals, the earthiness of vetiver acquires a cold, ethereal quality that is often present in iris scents. The drydown, although the earthiest and the warmest stage of this scent, is still quite transparent and subtle, with cedar adding an even drier undertone to the vetiver.
The press release describes Story as “clean, minimal and classic”, and that more or less sums up my opinion. Although not staggeringly original, Story is eminently wearable, versatile and enjoyable. I am planning on wearing it myself and on forcing it on Mr. Colombina as an everyday, casual, office fragrance. The scent will be available exclusively at Neiman Marcus in December 2006 and will retail for $50.00 (1.7oz) and $70.00 (3.3oz).