The perfume blogosphere appears to be divided on the subject of long-dead fragrances being reissued. Some people believe that ancient ghosts ought to remain buried. Others enjoy what they consider to be a genuine glimpse into the past. My own view is that if you're going to raid an ancestor's book of recipes, you'd better have a strong reason for doing so.
The house of Grossmith has turned the business of re-creation into a raison d'être. In 2009, Simon and Amande Brooke marked the brand's resurrection with the re-release of three scents from the firm's distinguished back catalogue, and now comes the fourth - Betrothal - just in time for the season of over-priced bouquets and sinful chocolate consumption.
Let me make it quite clear from the start that I think this is precisely the sort of perfume for which the word 'lovely' was invented. With its central accord of a powdery, translucent rose - bolstered by a generous dose of geranium and a base of understated woods - it instantly triggers a domino chain-reaction of thoughts and words associated with springtime: sunshine, warmth, new beginnings, open smiles... they're all in there. But what also comes across is a sense of over-familiarity. The uplifting citrus of the opening recalls No 5 Eau Premiere. The wide-eyed freshness of the heart veers into the territory of Géranium Pour Monsieur. The breathy sweetness of the whole feels like a nod to Habit Rouge. Of course, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this: perfumes make reference to other perfumes all the time. However, great fragrances also need to have a strong sense of their own distinct identity. Betrothal is charming, cheerful and - here's that word again - quite lovely. But I just wonder if it's striking enough to be re-released into today's oversaturated market.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Grossmith in 2011; fragrance tested on skin.]
UPDATE 27th February 2011: I've discovered that Betrothal won't actually be available in shops until the end of April, which makes my comment above chocolate and flowers rather pointless... never mind...]
Moving on to a completely different subject, I just wanted to mention that I'm going to make one more attempt to change the way this blog's comments facility works. You may remember that a few weeks ago I briefly introduced the Disqus system before having a mini-panic (some people's comments were inexplicably swallowed into non-existence) and disabling it. Well, I'm going to give Disqus another chance, but this time I'm going to grit my teeth and let it run for at least 10 days or so before making a final decision about keeping it.
So... please leave as many comments as you can and tell me whether you think Disqus is an improvement on Blogger's own system. Let's give this baby a proper test drive! And please remember that you can still leave comments anonymously. You will be required to leave an email address, but only I will be able to see it.