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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

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.


Blogger tmp00 said...

Great review!

Oddly enough, I don't think you and I are far off: I like it for the reasons you don't. That perfect spring has undertones of the inevitable fall. The reason I think it's a Hollywood scent is that flop-sweat skank under all the champagne-wishes opening

If it was powdery it would be Baby Jane Hudson. It's not and I find its perversity fascinating...

Of course, i wouldn't pay through the nose and fly to Dallas for perversity. Not in a bottle anyway ;-)

11:19 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I read and loved the explanation that you have given in your reply to Minette. I completely agree that you can turn it around and look at it as at a scent evoking the downside of the glittery glamour of Hollywood. Following the same line of thought, it could be fit for New York or Washington or anywhere really...But it's stuck in Dallas :-)

11:23 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Then I guess it's the scent of Sue Ellen, Chugging the Cristal and boinking Christopher Atkins?

11:32 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

On a good day it is...on a bad day it smells of JR :-P

11:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Oooh, nasty! Now, I want to smell this!!! I laughed out loud at your review, Marina. Of course I understand why Tom likes it and I am worried that I might like it as well. Damn.

12:04 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I bet you would like it! I still can't believe I don't. Am I turning into this dainty ladylike creature that faints at a whiff of dirty musk?!... I have to go douse myself in MKK just to feel better about myself :-)

12:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Ina said...

Reading this hilarious review I cannot help but question if it was indeed Aldehyde 44 you smelled. ;) I get none of what you do. I must smell it again promptly before your impressions get permanently engraved in my fragrant brain.

12:18 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Well, it's not Orgie, I compared :-) Besides, Tom smells the same thing, it's just he interprets it in a different way and likes it. All I can do is curse my skin chemistry. Hrmph.

12:21 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, I am tittering that my particular skin chemistry (deskankotron in force) makes my broad-shouldered 6'2" self more delicate than our Blonde Venus, Columbina. Of course, she is Tatar, and I am more tartar sauce...

12:32 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Let's make it Tatar-Mongol! That sound more forbidding somehow.
...You say the nicest things. Do I ever hear Mr. C lovingly call me a Tatar? Oh no. It's all sweetheart this and sweetheart that. :-D

12:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I know it's a stretch, but there's no Mongol sauce!

Artistic licence?

And why is word verification "pigfzgay"? I know I need Slimfast, but really..

12:45 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Luckily, on my own blog, on a new blogger, I don't have to enter the verification letters...they used to spell some pretty unflattering things about me :-)

There should totally BE a Mongol sauce. It would be fierce.

12:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Andy said...

Greetings, blingbling! Great review and a confirmation of one of my pet thoughts: There are "must-try" fragrances, but I have not figured out yet, why some scents seem so different on different skin chemistries. It is not complexity, nothing to do with natural/synthetics. Could it be a psychological effect (placebo kind of?) too, in the sense that a scent is bringing up pictures before we even try it?

1:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous timam said...

lol M, you gave me a good laugh in the (chilly, grey, wintery) morning and I'm immensely grateful for that :) and I think that if Le Labo is searching for a small, *exotic* place to launch its next release, Slovenia would be just perfect. seriously, this is a country that has never seen (or heard for, to make things worse) a Lutens or Diptyque or Bond, and very few Creeds and Goutals. so, Labo, I think that's what you're looking for!

3:09 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Marina, now I *really* want to try this... Thanks for clearing up the "nose-burning" quality of Gaiac wood, I was wondering why I found this is Vanille Exquise -- but that's another subject.
And Andy, interesting point: I think there are not only preconceptions that influence our perception, but imagery linked to specific notes that spring up. Not always a matter of skin chemistry (although pH certainly must be a factor).
Now backt to you, M.: yes, by all means let us see Le Labo in, say,the Ivory Coast or Myanmar. Tuvalu already made wodges of cash selling its .tv website address!

5:32 AM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Oh, dear.
Still- I'm curious to smell my beloved Lollipop in full skanky regalia...
That's it- lean in a little closer...ahhhhh.

Thank you for lifting an old broad's spirits, babe.
You feeling any better ?
I hope so-

7:03 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Just color me jealous! Animalic? Sigh. That was my problem w/ this scent. I got no base notes. It was just a tsunami of white flowers and aldehydes on my skin. Nothing to ground it, balance it out.
My first reaction was to hope that Le Labo reads your post and understands how ludicrous this city specific thing is in the age of ebay, but then I thought that they actually might really go the Tuvalu route, making it rather more problematic to get the scent to the decanters. Although, as I thought about it more, I realized that in truth I'm far more likely to take a trip to Tuvalu than Dallas and do a CP for my favorite decanters.

8:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous March said...

Huh. Really?

Okay, fine, this will be today's first scent. I'd call it Nuthin' But Aldehydes -- that's what I got, and I was happy to have it, like a bottomless glass of champagne. But now I'll have to go look for more bottom :-P

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

How weird! I am with Amy and March--I got a bottomless glass of fizzy champagne. Now, I liked this very much, but what you are describing sounds really interesting, and possibly better (depending on one's reaction of course). So I must try again. But I would love to hear more from
Andy, etc. on why it's so different on us!

8:54 AM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Wonderful idea on a new locale-specific concept! :)

Overall, city-specific concept is not a bad idea. However, in Le Labo's case, it comes across as a gimmick, because it is just random--the fragrances do not represent the cities for which they are entitled. And all of this talk of fighting globalization with a luxury good (at the luxury price)... I worked on economic development projects long enough to be amused by such statements.

9:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

See, the thing is...before I tried Aldehyde 44, I read several reviews, and so the images I had in my head were- champagne, sparkle, happiness. What I got was...dirty man :-) Where did he come from? :-)

9:06 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, that would be wonderful!! I hope they do launch a scent in your beautiful country! A lush white floral, just for you :-)

9:07 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Myanmar sounds great, I am all for it :-)

As I wrote to Andy, the imagery linked to aldehydes for was- sparkly and feminine and very unlike what I actually got. These are not the aldehydes I was expecting and I am not happy about it :-)

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am much better, thank you, I hope all is well with you! You wrote you were trapped in your neighborhood, I hope all that is over?

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

*wails* Tsunami of white flowers?! So unfair. There were hardly any flowers on me, only the tuberose, such a fighter, tried to get through...
Tuvalu does actually look quite attractive. I'd rather go there as well. I wonder what city Le Labo is going to target next. I am guessing Tulsa.

9:11 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

All I get is bottom. And I am very bummed about it.

9:12 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

You too? You too get champagne...I am depressed.

9:13 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you and I absolutely agree, this is no more than a gimmick and a (not very clever) marketing ploy.

9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Huh. I feel really lucky! I get tons of that fizzy top, but I can still smell the bottom notes in there, which gives it that hard-partying wistfulness... like, gee, I wish I could stop boozing it up, but I need to forget... and then she laughs some more and flirts with the millionaire.

Love it, but I'm so sorry it turns bad on you. And I sniff it and totally get how it can just go one-off, with just a slight modification or two by skin.

9:17 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Hard-partying is such a great way to describe it, perfect!

9:23 AM EDT  
Anonymous eaumy said...

I'm sitting here stunned by the wonders of skin chemistry. Ours are so dissimilar. I amplify every bit of sweetness in a scent; skankiness tends to dissappear. I wish I got even a hint of skank from A44. On me, the scent is almost perfect, but some skank would give it a little more depth.

My vote for the next site specific Le Labo would be Pluto. Since being demoted from a planet, the poor thing could use some self-esteem building.

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

And I forgot to add--after all our difficulties with Lithuania, I can't believe you are wishing--even in jest--for perfumes from less accessible countries! Bite your tongue (yes, it's a very silly gimmick--and in these days of Ebay, etc., an unworkable one to boot!)

9:25 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Pluto sounds just perfect, I wholeheartedly second that :-)

9:40 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am biting my tongue :-) I have a strong feeling they have already considered Tuvalu anyway :-)

9:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Flor said...

Wow! I wouldn't have guessed that your take on it would be so different from the rest. Skin chemistry is funny that way. Your review was hilarious. I think maybe when they first did the whole "city exclusive" thing it seemed like a good idea to them, so then they went and made a big deal out of it. And now even though it turned out to not be such a good idea, they can't take it back. So, I guess we may be looking at a city exclusive chypre in Bellevue, KY.

9:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank god for you! Honestly. I was trying to figure out if I knew anyone who would ever visit Dallas based on all those previous favorable reviews. And now? Not so much.

And an exclusive to Mars is clearly the only logical step. And if no one from Earth ever manages to score a bottle at least we'll leave a nice smelling calling card for other intelligent life.

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

As a chypre-lover, this would be one case when I would be sorely tempted to actually go along with le labo's "locale" blah blah and visit Bellevue..or Tuvalu...or Pluto. Good chypres are so hard to find :-)

10:12 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

As I am such an odd woman out, you still should try this one...I mean, there is just something wrong with me, clearly, as everyone else seems to love it and to get an entirely different vibe from it.

LOL at calling card!!

10:14 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

LOL -- great post, M, and love the Tuvalu idea :-)

I liked Aldehyde 44 more than you did, but it isn't my favorite fragrance family so of course I didn't adore it.

10:40 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you! :-)
It wasn't even that aldehydic on me, so strange...

10:48 AM EDT  
Blogger The non-blonde said...

I have equal amounts of fear and curiosity about this one, but fear is winning. I have a feeling that I'll have a similar experience to yours.
As for the local aspect, just try to imagine what a Paramus, NJ exclusive would smell like...

10:52 AM EDT  
Anonymous newproducts said...

LOL! Launch it in space! I love it!! As for Aldehyde 44, it must be quite the (gaudy) beast if its animalism fails to attract you, my dear. Well, I'm glad you have killed my only half-awake lemming. Even if it would work with my chemistry, I don't want to know about it.

11:08 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I am getting old, M. I am losing my edge. I am losing my skanky street cred. *cries*

11:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - a polarizing scent - now i know this is worth checking out! i wonder if i'll get champagne and flowers or the aftermath. or both. thanks for the entertaining reviews, you guys! - minette

11:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous AngelaS said...

I'm so glad you didn't love this one! There are just too many scents out there I'm longing for now but can't burden my credit card with. (I do really like Iris 39, though--it's become the scent I wear when I can't decide what to wear.)

11:57 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I hope you get both. Because that would be the most fun option. :-)

12:45 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

I do love their (so-called) Patchouli and Tubereuse. And I wouldn't kick Rose, Vetiver, Labdanum, and Jasmine out of my perfume cabinet...but this oen just did not sit well on me :-)

12:46 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

The Non-Blonde,
See, to a foreigner (me) Paramus sounds...exotic :-) Vaguely Greek? I am thinking a nice citrus scent for Paramus :-) Or a fig scent.

12:48 PM EDT  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Marina, I'm ROFLMAO!!! We should campaign for a Tuvalu-only fragrance. It should be exquisite.

I'm determined not to buy into this city-specific nonsene. (Crossing arms, thinking of all the other fragrances that are available for my enjoyment.)

4:32 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Exactly! *crosses arms too*....
....unless they really release a chypre or a lily of the valley scent...that I might have to step over my principles :-)

5:29 PM EDT  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Glad you're better !

A propos of 'not getting out'-
I live where the parade is...
Once a year, you can't walk, park, drive, get IN or OUT of South Boston...

And, unlike more civilised places, people behave HEINOUSLY here.

So, now you know 'the rest of the story'...

6:40 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, I see! Sorry about that, I.!

6:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. . .I think I'll stay here in DC. Don't even want to think of what THAT fragrance would be like--a blast of hot air out of a bottle.
Dallas can keep the skank. I know it's just me, but if I want to smell like an all-night, washed-up, disappointed coquette doing the walk of shame with my clothes clutched to my bosom, I'll go to. . .Austin.


9:14 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Who knows, they might do Austin too :-)

9:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous march the maleficent said...

M -- reporting back. It's official: you are nuts.


I got some sandalwood in the drydown, just a bit. Enough to highlight the sparkle of the aldehydes.

(skips off, whistling, before you can toss a shoe at me)

10:58 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

M The M,
Thanks for confirming my suspicion that I am indeed nuts :-)

11:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous march the maleficent said...

Question: is there *any* possibility something was wrong with your sample? I hated ISM for a year until I smelled Patty's samp and realized I had a bad batch...

Also: I didn't understand your msg on PP?!? Did you get the pkg? It's the Niki...

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

No nothing can be wrong, it came from the same bottle, which, to Ina, smells of luscious florals. :-O

I haven't gotten the package yet, USPS is being evil.

11:40 AM EDT  
Anonymous march the maleficent said...

You have *got* to be kidding me -- it's been a week! I could have walked it there by now... postal trolls, let us drink mares' milk from their polished skulls! (borrowed from Manolo's shoe blog)

12:16 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

...and the package is here! :-)

2:27 PM EDT  

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