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Friday, May 26, 2006

Genius and Evil Genius

March and Patty, two geniuses from Perfume Posse blog, came up with the idea of compiling lists of Genius Perfumes and Evil Genius Perfumes. This is my take on this fascinating topic, but before I begin I would like to try and prevent the shocked exclamations like, “What, no Mitsouko??” and “But where is Tabac Blond??”, by explaining what I mean here by “(good) genius”. A Genius Perfume for me is a scent that is without a doubt beautiful and original, but apart from its unquestionable pulchritude and uniqueness, a Genius Perfume also rocks my world, touches something deep inside my soul and works perfectly well with my skin chemistry. So here are the seven stunning fragrances that, to borrow Hemingway’s expression, make me feel the earth move.

Genius Perfumes (in alphabetical order):

Ambre Narguile by Hermes
Comfort scent extraordinaire, Ambre Narguile is a sweet, rich, smoky, luxurious delicacy that smells of amber, apples, pipe tobacco, cinnamon, and all things nice. As
Chandler Burr noted, “it is not merely the best; there is simply nothing like it on the market, period. And no one will ever do it as well again.”

Attrape-Coeur by Guerlain
One of the most exquisite and most versatile scents, Attrape-Coeur is all great things in one wonderful scent. It is woody, it is floral, it is oriental; it is airy, soft and golden, and its iris note is to die for.

Bois des Iles by Chanel
The proof that wood can be feminine, warm and sensual, Bois des Iles is the perfume that always makes me wonder why I even bother with other scents, when clearly nothing can compare to the perfection that is Bois des Iles, this bewitching potion, this olfactory equivalent of liquid gold.

Djedi by Guerlain
Dark, magical, bizarre, ugly-beautiful, this blend of vetiver, patchouli, leather and who knows what other witchy ingredients, Djedi is the scent of a dark forest somewhere in the land beyond good and evil. Supernaturally captivating.

Feminite du Bois by Shiseido
The second proof that wood can be feminine, warm and sensual, Feminite du Bois, this “Mother of all Bell Jars” (Patty), is a robust, darkly sweet elixir that I never want to be without. Not necessarily a conventional comfort scent per se, it feels so natural, so right on my skin, that I find it extremely comforting and centering.

Muscs Koublai Khan by Serge Lutens
Another ugly-beautiful wizard among my favorite scents, Muscs Koublai Khan is strange and dirty, at times smelling just like an unwashed, ruthless, blood-thirsty warrior of the steppes. And yet, somehow, this odd animalic creation is extremely wearable for me. But the most amazing thing about it is its extraordinary, raw sensuality. This scent is so sexy, it makes my mouth dry and my knees weak.

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle
Musc Koublai Khan’s somewhat more refined, softer relative, this warm, spicy fragrance is a story of passionate love, from the initial spark of adoration to the rapacious love-making, to the loving, comfortable embrace afterwards…

Evil Genius Perfumes (in order of evil-ness):

Luctor et Emergo by People of the Labyrinths, a.k.a POTL is an Evil Genius because, with its “precious woods” and its “incense” and its “fresh grasses”, it sounded like a sophisticated, bohemian, super-duper wonderful fragrance, guaranteed to be my holy grail…whilst in reality, on my skin, it turned out to be a cloying, incredibly sweet, simplistic ambery mess. There are very few scents out there that clash this badly with my skin chemistry.

Cool Water by Davidoff. The Evil Genius perfume that launched thousand other aquatic perfumes, the fragrance category that I hate with undying passion. Evil. Pure evil.

L’Eau d’Hiver by Frederic Malle. Evil Genius simply because it managed to somehow hypnotize people into believing it smells of something, whereas this is really a no-scent scent, an olfactory empty space. Seinfeld was a sitcom about nothing, L’Eau d’Hiver is a fragrance about nothing…The difference however is that while Seinfeld was hysterically funny, the only hysterical thing about L’Eau d’Hiver is its price. [braces self for stones, rotten eggs and tomatoes from the many fans of L’Eau d’Hiver]

Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka. The original, purple one. The one with all the licorice. The relentless stalker that seems to follow me wherever I go, probably in hopes of one day, in a small closed space like a hot elevator, finally smothering me with its murderous, sweet, anise-leaden fumes.

Angel by Thierry Mugler. I must note that I have nothing against Angel as such, in fact, I rather like it, in small doses and on rare occasions. Still, I consider it to be an Evil Genius because of the staggering, ever-growing amount of spin-offs, wannabes, smell-alikes that this darkly-gourmand scent seemed to have spawned. Its offspring are everywhere, they are taking over the earth.

Next week, the second perfume collection by Parfumerie Generale.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bwahahaha - glad I am not the only one who hates aquatics/marines! Whose brilliant idea was that anyway.

I gotta get me some Ambre Narguile...soon!

11:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Hysterical Photoshopping, especially the Evil one. :-D

11:13 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You gotta get some Narguile, definitely. Don't listen to Patty who thinks it is Evil Nazgul. Listen to me instead.
And thank you very much for noticing my Hannibal Malle bottle! :-)

11:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

I love your list, and though there are very few in it that I wear in the (good) genius perfumes, I have some more in common with your evil genius perfumes. My list of genius perfumes will have to include Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, Miss Dior, Shalimar, Parfum Sacre, Youth Dew, Feuilles de Tabac, Opium Fleur de Shanghai, Philosykos, and to make sure I don't leave out my favourite florals - No. 5, Fleurs d'Oranger, Spring Flower and Diorissimo.

As for my list of evil-doers, I would definitley put Angel in the evil doers' list. It is such an influential and genius perfume, yet so strong that it is almost impossible to wear without feeling nauseous and head-achey(as if you had too much chocolate ice cream, infused with patchouli). It's really dangerous in that way.
My answer to your Cool Water would be l'Eau d'Issey. I think it was actually l'Eau d'Issey that started the never ending (yet) trend of watery florals. I like it in the parfum form only, where its musky base is at its best. It's not my favourite perfume to wear, though I do think it is quite remarkable for its unpreceeded wateriness.
My other perfumes on this list would be perfumes that I would love to be able to wear, but I can't, most of the time, usually because their strange (yet intriguing) greeness: No. 19, Private Collection, Yohji.
I would also add Tocade and Narciso Rodriguez (two perfumes I love and wear quite often, to be honest) - because they have ruined me into the loving of abstract, super-synthetic perfumes that don't really tell a story (which is usually what I like about perfumes - their ability to tell detailed stories without any words). I find ambivalency of any kind quite unsettling, and so you find on my personal evil-genius list also some perfumes that I love!

11:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love you Good Genius list, except Shalimar, which just about made it to my Evil list :-)
Oh, and I completely agree about L'Eau d'Issey, ugh, it is just as bad as Cool Water. *shudder*

PS. Feuilles de Tabac? Is that by Miller Harris? If so, I have a sample and will definitely try it!

11:34 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marina, I absolutely adore this post! Not only does it, once again, confirm that you're my scent twin, but it also describes these perfumes perfectly. Yes, I even love Djedi - that meat-soup type of scent, that total weirdness that somehow managed to rock my world as well. Brilliant photos, too! :)


11:35 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

So nice to "see" you here!!!
...But you like POTL, don't you?...think carefully before answering :-D

11:39 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, POTL. But I don't really *love* it. I hardly ever wear the blasted thing. Yet somehow I feel like I have to have it. :)

11:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It hypnotized you into thinking you must have. What can you do, it is Evil Genius! :-)

11:46 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I responded to March and Patty, who chose two of my faves (miel de bois and borneo) as unwearable for exactly the reason that I love them.

Comenting on your list, well MKK took a while for me, as you know. I think I had to be trained into it, and Musc Ravageur sorta led me there. I didn't recognise the drrrty accord that everyone was so put off on, which means that either I should clean more or I have a high tolerance. I got a carnival ride, through a garden that I'd like to move into, with a strong hand at the end helping me out of the seat. I will be importuning on my european friends to ship me this one next, even though I may never wear it out of the house.

Oh my dear, I hate to say it, but I love Cool Water. Not enough to wear it or own it, but it is a great version of what it is. I respect it in the way that I respect Diet Dr. Pepper for tasting like real Dr. Pepper. You don't need to like it, but you have to respect the achievment.

As for Angel, I recoiled from it when presented with it at NM. It wasn't until later that I met a friend of mine that wore it and wore it well. I can forgive it for all of it's evil spawns if only for Borneo 1823, which I am sure that Mr. Sheldrake had no idea of when he created it.

12:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Madelyn E said...

what a great idea , dividing scents into Good and Evil ! My first choice for perfection is Bois Des Iles - the extrait ! I am curious to sample Guerlain'a Attrape Coeur and Musc Ravageur . Called Barney's NY - but to no avail. I am not crazy about Ambre Naruile 0 but may I make a suggestion?: Hermes Vetiver Tonka - is my replacement for it. I also love Opium, Oscar De La Renta, Paloma Picasso - I'm showing my age - all the 80's scent. Oh, I almost forgot : 1000 by Patou. I do agree with your Evil genius's - too many similar uninspired concoctions . Thank you for jarrng my memory. As the legendary Dutchess of Windsor once observed: you can never be too rich , too thin or have too many perfumes !
Madelyn E

12:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

L'Eau d'Hiver must have hypnotized a great many people, because it is one of the few fragrances that have strangers stop me and compliment me on it. If it is an illusion, then it is such a gorgeous one. :)

Victoria (BdJ)

12:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

Colombina, Feuilles de Tabac is by Miller Harris and is the best tobacco scent in my opinion. I do love Tabac Blond and other leathery scents, but this one is just really special... You must try it for sure!

I remember how the SA at the Guerlain counter told me how Shalimar is a perfume that men love more than women, and many women find it too sweet and suffocating. I love the pure parfum only, it's leathery opening is gorgeous. The whole perfume is so smooth it's like a syrup-covered song sung by a velvety voice.

2:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Sali said...

We agree! I love Attrape-Coeur. It reminds me of Parure and Samsara but it's a scent all its own; it's one of the few warm, powdery, heavy, woody perfumes I adore. I can't handle L'eau d'Hiver. It's a very well done perfume but it's like spoiled milk and cloves on me--sharp and spicy but otherwise lukewarm.

3:21 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Scent (kissing) cousin, at the very the least! I love all your good choices, and agree with most of your evil ones (well, I do like Eau d'Hiver, but I admit it is very light:)--Scent of Peace smells more like Nothing on me:)! Brilliant! Some other geniuses for me--Mitsouko (it DOES rock my world), Chanel Cuir de Russie, Kolnisch Juchten, l'Artisan Fleur d'Oranger.

7:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Sexy Sadie said...

I must try Ambre Narguile.

7:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh, I respect Cool Water. Respect and fear. Just like I respect and fear Hannibal Lector (one of the sexiest villains in my humble opinion :-))

8:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Madelyn,
Love that quotation!
Also, from your list, love 1000 and Vetiver Tonka. The latter is such an interesting, slightly gourmand vetiver, just lovely.

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad Hiver works so wonderfully on you. On my skin it is, well, non-exsitent basically. Very strange. I get the same "lack of smell" from the original Flower by Kenzo.
Thank you for not throwing rotten eggs at me :-D

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I actually think there is some truth in that opinion (that men love Shalimar more than women). At least it's true for my husband and I. He gave me Shalimar as a present one year when we were just starting dating and I suffered wearing it. He still asks whether I'd like some more (heck, no!), because he really does like the smell.

8:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Would you believe if I said I haven't tried Samsara in years? I hear so many good things about it. From you...and Victoria loves it too I think. I have got to re-visit it!

8:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The Scent of Peace smells like nothing? Well, that sort of makes sense given the name. It is neutral and peaceful :-) Haven't tried it yet. And I love your list! Mitsouko...well, I certainly admire it. But it is just not "me". Not yet, that is, because I keep trying.

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You must! :-) It is awesome.

8:25 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Just to make things clear--Scent of Peace smells like nothing on ME--almost everyone else seems to love it (part of its genius, I guess). And yes, it does make sense!
Should add that A's Feuilles de Tabac is a bit of an evil genius for me--sounds great, smells great on others, not so great on me (one of its fans couldn't even recognize it on me:(

8:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Almost everyone loves POTL too! Heh.
I am going to try the Tabac scent today. Wonder what's it going to be like on me...

9:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The very rapacious Mr. Lector is a very sexy beast indeed :-D (or is Dr. Lector? Can't remember.)

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Hey -- where'd Tfor2 go? Honest, you should give it another try, I would think you'd like it given your tastes. But Patty has hated a couple things I thought she'd like, so what do I know?

I am either in wild agreement on Attrape-Coeur, Bois de Iles, Malle MR, POTL. If I could turn back time and un-create Angel I would. There, I said it. Cool Water doesn't bother me so much. The LL -- I LIKE that anise note, though don't wear the fragrance...

9:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I was trying to choose between Hiver and Passant, and in the end Hiver made it to the list of Evil Genius, because I think it is more of a genius and more evil. Passant is lovely, objectively speaking, it is just that I happen to dislike lilac.

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I decided to give T42 another go. I hope with all my heart that this time it won't be so incredibly ...bad on my skin. Otherwise, off to the Evil Genius list it goes next time.

9:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

I have to figure out my own Genius and Evil Genius posts today while I am too burnt out to actually work. As for the Nazgul aka Ambre Narguile, even if /though I liked it, I got so much hell from everyone from my intimates to the secretaries in the office for wearing it it became impossible. Most difficult and challenging Nazgul.

10:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How strange, huh? What's up with those people? Narguile is deliciousness itself. What's their problem? Does it smell too sweet to them or what?

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger IrisLA said...

Love your graphic! "Hannibal Malle" indeed!

Geniuses for me include Mitsouko, Sharlimar (parfum only), Bois des Iles, Diorissimo, Fendi Theorema, Caron Tabac Blond.

Evil geniuses are:
POTL-the most over-rated scent;
Angel-though I wear this on occasion;
Lolita Lempicka-anise doesn't work on me at all.

To the list of evil genius scents, I have to add Serge Lutens exclusive range. Shiseido is evil to tantalize us with some great scents that are extremely hard for Americans to acquire. Grrrrr.

2:13 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh, I completely agree about the Evil Genius of Lutens and Shiseido. They are the most Evil and the most Genius of all, not because their scents are bad, gosh, no, but because they torture us so by making them Paris-Exclusive. *cries*

2:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Oh thank God, I thought I was the only one who disliked L'Eau D'Hiver (and En Passant)! To me, it does not smell of nothing, it smells of (and *please* forgive me for even mentioning this) worm medication my whole family was forced to take when my brother got something hideous from a pre-school sandbox many years ago. Despite the listed notes, to me it's a weird chemical smell combining honey/vanilla and fake banana, very odd. En Passant smells of lilac, period. The only FM I really love is P d Therese. Weirdly, I actually purchased a full bottle of Musc Ravageur, only to fall out of love with it before I even really got through my sample. I normally adore Roucels, too, and the sillage and lasting power are so good. So anyone who's interested in MR, I've got a 9 month old, properly stored 50 ml bottle with about 4 sprays out of it, in box, that I'm willing to trade!

6:29 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Serge Lutens exclusives are worth cultivating European friends for (well one reason, anyway) My friend Tomas will be be importuned upon soon to carry a bottle of MKK soon. I may not leave teh house for a few day and just spend them sniffing my arm...

Tigs- what are you looking to trade for?

10:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*shakes Tigs's hand*
Thank you very much for disliking those two as well. I am not alone, yay!

10:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am turning a very unattractive envious shade of green here reading about your MKK-bearing friends from Europe! Seriously though, that is great!! MKK rocks!

10:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Sali said...

Well, truth be told, I started liking Samsara when I fell for Attrape-Coeur and remembered that Samsara which it somewhat resembled was actually available here. I want that Einstein bottle, btw.

11:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

OK, that's it, I must definitely re-visit Samsara.
You can have the Einstein bottle, I'll keep the Lector one :-)

11:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks for the shake and the post colombina! (Looking forward to the posts on PG - got my coze and cv samples this week, and have only tried coze. Not as blown over as I expected - could I actually save my money this time?!? - but I've only tried it once.)

tmp00 (pansy?): Have you got anything you'd like to trade? As you can tell from my post, I'm not generally into anything airy, springy, too floral. I like woodsy/spicy/incensy (although there are exceptions) and usually something that develops (exceptions too - also like instant impression abstracts like Tocade, Rush). I occasionally like things I'm supposed to hate like *ducks in case colombina is reading* Douce Amere.

1:15 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, here's one I cannot stand: Eternity (for men) by Calvin Klein. My brother wore that to excess, at his wife's insistence, and therefore it reminds me of so many things I dislike: overpowering and nauseating "yuckiness", over-use, a short-sighted sense of "fashion", and the fact that my brother is so hen-pecked.
Btw, I agree that hardly anything could ever touch Chanel's Bois des Isles. I bought my mother a flacon of the parfum. I wish she shared my appreciation of it. :-/
I actually bought a bottle of Eau de Kenzo *in France*, in 2000. I now use it as an air freshener.. hehe.

7:02 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I cannot stand Eternity, male of female version. I did not include it in this list, but it is definitely one of the scents I have the most :-)

10:31 PM EDT  

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