Perfume Review: Le Labo Aldehyde 44 (Marina's Take)
Those who do not believe in the importance of skin chemistry, should read other reviews of Aldehyde 44 and then come and smell the scent on my skin. To Tom, Aldehyde 44 smells “of the perfect, most beautiful Spring”, Amy finds it to be “the fizziest, champagne-iest thing” ever, Ina adores its “luscious, rich floral” aspect, Victoria admires the “soft glow and refined structure”, and Patty, whom I envy the most, gets “happiness”. The fragrance, which is one of Le Labo’s locale-specific creations and is only sold in Dallas, is generally - and somewhat jokingly- considered to be rather too refined to be exclusive to Dallas (big hair, oil-money... you saw the eponymous soap-opera, so you know) …not to mention that the very concept of locale-specific fragrances is rather annoying, but I digress…Me, I think Aldehyde 44 is sold in the very right place…Allow me to explain.
Firstly, forget the champagne. On my skin, Aldehyde 44 does not sparkle. The aldehydes here do not have the effervescent effect I usually love about them. They seem…heavyweight, for the lack of a better term…not bubbly, fizzy and lighthearted but rather harsh and forceful. Instead of the elegant radiance of precious stones, I get the blinding light of a humongous fake diamond. We are not talking jewels, we are talking bling. The floral notes seem browbeaten into submission by a very prominent woody accord, which to me has the nose-burning qualities of a hefty dose of guaiac. Tuberose must be given credit, because it certainly tries to be smellable, to soften the sharp corners and to add much-needed creaminess to the very angular composition, but ultimately it fails, defeated by the dark, harsh woods. The woody aspect of the composition and the sober, non-frilly quality of the aldehydes make Aldehyde 44 undeniably unisex, perhaps even with the slightest inclination towards the masculine end of the unisex spectrum.
But what surprised me the most about the development of this scent on my skin, was the amount of musk and the obviously animalic/dirty quality of the note. From the end of the middle stage forward, Aldehyde 44 smells on me like it belongs in Mugler’s Perfume Le Coffret and is closely related to Orgie and not very far removed from Human Existence. It is skanky, sweaty, unwashed and, bizarre as it sounds, sleazy-smelling. I am normally a huge fan of "dirty" scents, and so I am surprised that I am unable to appreciate the animalic side of Aldehyde 44. I suppose that the juxtaposition of the aldehydes, which are typically considered to be “classic” and “refined”, and the dirty base is interesting and shows thinking “outside of the box”, but for some reason it seems incongruous to me and bothers me (perfume impressions are purely subjective and utterly irrational and sometimes one encounters scents, which in a note-by-note analysis and in the overall impression intended by the composition should be a perfect fit for one’s tastes…but the magic doesn’t happen, or worse yet, the scent clashes with one’s …personality? skin chemistry? who knows?). The image that Aldehyde 44 leaves in my mind as it is slowly releasing its base notes on my skin is that of J.R. Ewing…Aldehyde 44 is how J.R. would smell after a night of riding the mechanical bull at Gilley’s bar…and his mistress. And that is why I don’t love Aldehyde 44 and that is why I find it to be entirely appropriate for Dallas…the infamous soap-opera if not the actual city.
And since Le Labo seems to be intent on continuing with their locale-specific line, here is my suggestion for their next scent. I think they should take their concept a step further. Big-city-specific perfumes are not exclusive enough. Le Labo should venture to small countries, the ones that are hardly ever visited by tourists. Now that would really show their pledge to the noble act of bringing back “the days where brands and their soul offered authenticity that deserved that little extra travel commitment”.
I propose they make their next scent a chypre, a fantastically wonderful chypre, and only sell it in one of the smallest countries in the world, like Tuvalu. Everyone knows that we, perfume nuts, would travel very far to get our hands on a good chypre. And just think of how that would boost Tuvalu’s economy! Exclusive AND socially-conscious, what could be better? After that, the only logical step would be to launch their new perfume in space. You can’t get any more exclusive than that.