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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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).

23 Comments:

Blogger tmp00 said...

Interesting... it won't be at the Paul Smith stores? Hmmm. I might stop by the store on Melrose on the wya home tomorrow and just ask. This sounds quite marvelous, ans not too dear.

11:10 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tom,
There are Paul Smith stores in the US? I had no clue! Story doesn't seem to be officially out yet here, but you never now, his stores might really have it.

11:45 PM EDT  
Anonymous Andy said...

hmm.... based on the add's picture it looks like a sixties French student perfume...

1:13 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

well, unless you lived here in LA, you wouldn't know: they didn't exactly burn the house down PR-wise, god knows why. But it's a big Schiaparelli pink box smack at Harper and Melrose in West Hollywood. I think there's one in SoHo too (don't kow if it's pink). Last time I was in there, they were wonderfully friendly, so I will have to stop in and get the 411.

1:38 AM EDT  
Blogger shifts said...

I'm probably falling for that ad, but I really want to try Story. None of the newer bigger male releases has done much to me and all has followed that muted non-offensive line, but with that being said with this one, my interest is still there.

5:57 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

This sounds nice but not necessary. I do like (and own) all of the scents you mention, but I am trying (unsuccessfully, so far:) to limit my spending in preparation for sniffa buys. Also, Mr. Lily stubbornly refuses to use a cologne for "casual office wear."

6:54 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I love the ad, I love the concept, but I'm afraid my face sort of scrunched up when I saw grapefruit as a note. It's not quite as high on my evil note list as ce***y, but it's close. Unfortunate, since the price is at least somewhat right.

7:34 AM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

I love vetiver, can befriend celery, but I must admit, I'm grapefruited out, at this time of year...

I'd love to smell it, though.
As long as it doesn't play the ozone game, it has possibilities...

Have you actually smelled it yet, fair one?

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger greeneyes said...

I, too, fear the grapefruit. Ho wprominent is it, really? Everything else sounds lovely. Maybe this could be one for the DH. I'm trying to convince him he doesn't only have to own one fragrance at a time. ;-)

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Andy,
It does actually! but the scent doesn't smell "like a sixties French student perfume". I couldn't tell you what I imagine that would be like, but Story is not it :-)

9:05 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Tom,
I see. I mailed you some Story last week...it should get there at some point in this century. :-)

9:06 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Shifts,
As you say, it does follow that understated, inoffensive trend, but it is quite nice. The ad was what made me so interested, I admit it.

9:08 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
Nice but not necessary. Exactly. Mr. C here doesn't wear office scents either. But I try.

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

L,
Grapefruit is there, but it is not an evil grapefruit. What did you think about the grapefruit note in Terre d'Hermes? Because the one in Story is very similar.

9:10 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

CHaya,
Of course I smelled it, that's why I wrote the review :-) There is no ozone there, none at all, no water either. I think I might have scared you guys with that grapefruit, but it is a nice grapefruit, I promise :-)

9:11 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

P,
It is prominent in the beginning but not in the least aggresive. Grapefruit goes nicely with vetiver I find, it adds peppery-ness, but not sharpness.

9:12 AM EDT  
Anonymous newproducts said...

I consider it a personal failing that I am not yet able to appreciate vetiver as a dominant note in fragrance. I still have some boundaries when it comes to the gender of perfume, I'm afraid, and a prominent vetiver note immediately makes a fragrance feel masculine to me. Abstractly speaking, I imagine "male" fragrances smell marvelous on women and that "female" fragrances smell great on men. I wonder why it is that as a woman who eschews gender roles, I still cling to gender in perfume, at least for my personal use. You have inadvertently given me an interesting question to ponder...

9:21 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

M,
Very interesting! I am actually a much girlier girl in other areas of life than what my perfume tastes might suggest. Hmm.

9:58 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Hey, this sounds like something I might like! Thanks for the review, Story was not even on my radar, so to speak...

12:59 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Robin,
It is something you might like, definitely.

2:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I fell for the ads as well, or rather for the bottle design. I just feel I Must Have It, even though the actual notes leave me unimpressed. So geeky-cute. I wonder if it will ever be available in Sweden?

9:46 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

S,
I don't see why it shouldn't be available in Sweden. Probably even sooner than here.

9:56 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fragrance is simply amazing. You can find it at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales in the U.S. Paul Smith Stores in LA and New York (5th Ave around 17th street) or Paul Smith’s website www.paulsmith.co.uk

1:48 PM EST  

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