One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fruit Punch: Dalissime by Salvador Dali

It seems as if the huge majority of new launches in women's fragrance these days are fruity florals. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this. Every age has a scent that speaks to it: late-fourteenth-century Europe was mad about perfumes made of lavender and herbs, a breath of fresh air in an age when bathing was infrequent, and women in Napoleonic France adored the scent of patchouli, an exotic leaf from India which was used there to moth-proof the cashmere shawls which were fashionable among French ladies. For the past ten years or so, the fruity floral has meant young, fresh, and vibrant. The real problem is that as new fragrance launches have accelerated, there are literally hundreds of these scents on the market, and they sometimes seem to be driving out every other sort of mid-range perfumery. You can hardly turn around nowadays without smelling some cheap concoction of lichee and orange-flower or apple, pear and tuberose.

But the fruity floral isn't new. Every since chemists learned to synthesize molecules with fruit odours, they've been used in perfumery. Rochas Femme has a heady top note of peach and plum over a bed of roses and jasmine, and that was created in 1944. Peach and plum also star in Van Cleef & Arpels Gem from 1987 (which is probably more oriental than floral). Brosseau's Ombre Rose from 1981 also employs peach and rose (to very different effect), as does Lancome's 1990 Tresor. There are dozens more, maybe hundreds, that predate the current rage for fruit notes.

After the extremely successful launch of Salvador Dali in 1984, Cofinluxe began launching new scents at the typically accelerating rate of the modern era: a men's follow-up, Dali Pour Homme, in 1987, a new women's scent, Laguna, in 1991, the men's fragrance Salvador in 1992, and then, starting in 1994, one or two a year up to the present day.

It's a miracle they haven't issued a series of eight scents based on the eight cubes in Dali's famous tesseract crucifix: maybe they're working on it.

Their 1994 launch was called Dalissime, and it is without a doubt one of the most purely charming fruity floral scents I've ever smelled. It has an oriental element to it, but there's nothing heavy or cloying about it: it's joyous.

The top is a fresh burst of citrus notes (bergamot and, I think, lemon) which arrives just moments before the warm bloom of peach and apricot, plus berries and... cantaloupe? It may be fruit cocktail at this point, but not that cold canned stuff: it's freshly made, and warmed, and there's vanilla sugar sprinkled on top.

The floral notes are not as distinct; according to the various lists of official notes, they include rose, jasmine, and freesia. The warm fruit notes remain the dominant force in Dalissime, and they hang around through most of the life of the scent, until finally the oriental base notes--ambered vanilla, grounded in sandalwood--take over.

You can't talk about Dali scents without talking about the bottles, because they're always showstoppers, based on elements from his paintings. The first scent was famously based on a disembodied nose and lips from his "Aphrodite of Cnidus", and so is this one, from "Christmas"; in peach-coloured glass, an advertisement of the contents, it's a sort of Greek column made of the same sort of nose and lips, but sitting on a rounded plinth, all surmounted by a capital carved with leaves and vines in the Corinthian style. It's mesmerizing; it practically forces you to hold it and examine it from all angles.

1 Comments:

  • I hope you have a great Thanksgiving......

    keep up the good wotk.

    Marko

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:54 AM  

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