Masterful Marigolds: Tagetes Femme and Homme by En Voyage Perfumes
I have come to anticipate new launches from En Voyage Perfumes most eagerly, ever since I fell for perfumer Shelley Waddington’s fantastic Vents Ardents in the summer of 2011. Something about her compositions appeals to me in a unique way that is hard to describe. I find that the fragrances have a certain expansive radiance that I think of as her signature, similar to the way Andy Tauer’s funky “Tauerade” base is immediately recognizable. It seems like Shelley’s perfumes are infused with light, shot through with a sunlit brightness, from Vents Ardents to Chang Chang to Lorelei and now to her new fragrances, Tagetes Femme and Tagetes Homme. They both feature one of the most distinctive floral notes in perfumery, the humble yet cheerful marigold (Tagetes), its unmistakable piquancy lending character to any perfume that incorporates it. I am very fond of marigolds; they were one of the first flowers I came to know as a child when I discovered the magic of gardening, and they were so easy and fast growing that they were practically instant gratification. The pungent scent of their crushed leaves is the aroma of summer itself, warm but not sweet, sharp and herbal and like nothing else.
Perhaps the most iconic fragrance to use a dominant marigold note is the rather offbeat chypre Niki de Saint Phalle, which I discovered and loved decades ago. I have not smelled it recently, but I am quite sure that it has been both cheapened and reformulated from comments I have read on perfume Web sites, so I think I would need to look elsewhere for a marigold scent now. Fortunately, both of the En Voyage scents are excellent, so that void has now been filled.
Tagetes Femme made me smile broadly with delight as soon as I tried it, it is so sunny and happy and relaxed. It is sweet but not syrupy, intensely floral and imbued with that marigold pungency I love. The juicy opening is so delicious that I want to experience it over and over again; it’s by far the most user-friendly version of blackcurrant bud in perfumery that I have ever smelled. It’s over all too soon and is followed by a cascade of florals, herbal notes, vanilla, rose, Tonka bean, fruity musks, sandalwood and more. The marigold kicks in along the way, but it does not dominate, it merely adds an edge to the composition that keeps the sweetness in check, and along with sage gives an airy clarity to the overall effect. Summer is a cup that truly runneth over in this perfume and wearing it feels like walking through a walled cottage garden stuffed with all kinds of plants on a still, hot July afternoon. By their very nature, the floral materials in the fragrance do not lend themselves to long life, so it does fade away too soon, but while it lasts, it has a unique beauty. I got about three to four hours from it by itself before it dried down to a gently vanillic skin scent, and I would suggest applying unscented moisturizing lotion or cream to the skin to extend its life. It is definitely worth it.
The first thing that came to mind when I smelled Tagetes Homme was that I really, really want to meet the man who would wear this! I pictured him in my mind immediately but it was not about appearance, more about effortless self-assurance, an easy grace as he moves through the world, yet not without a sense of gravitas; this is not a person to be trifled with. In a world where so many nominally masculine fragrances are faceless clones, it is wonderful to find one that is truly distinctive without being “weird” or one of those trendy things that’s supposed to be an acquired taste for those in the know. It signals to the world that yes, it is meant for men, but not just any ordinary man. This fragrance is for the man who turns heads without needing to try and its attractiveness is immediate – no learning curve needed. The marigold is much more assertive than in Tagetes Femme and its scent has heft and weight, no shyness here. Sage is here too, along with cedar, vetiver and patchouli, tempered with amber and woods; the smoldering incense base is the definition of masterful and it glows like a banked fireplace. Its notes and structure are traditional in the broad sense, but attention getting in the details, and the way it comes together results in a feeling of quiet power, the kind that mesmerizes those who are drawn to the man who wears it; this could easily end up wearing the man on the wrong guy. The generous dose of marigold certainly doesn’t hurt its appeal to me, since I like it so much anyway. It is a beautiful fragrance with outstanding longevity that I have enjoyed wearing myself, but when I do, I keep looking over my shoulder for the handsome, mysterious man who would wear it so very much better.
Image credit: “Red Marigolds” abstract art via wallpaperswide.com
Disclosure: The samples of these fragrances were sent to me for testing by En Voyage Perfumes.