I’m often asked if price is a good indicator of the quality of a perfume. When I’m told that I must restrict my answer to one word, I always say, “No.” After all, there are plenty of expensive duds on the market as well as several clever, affordable gems. That’s why I tend to look forward to each year’s new Aqua Allegoria. Designed to be refreshing, undemanding edt’s, they present the perfumer with a particularly compelling challenge: they need to stand alone as legitimate fragrances, they need to uphold the prestige of one of the most revered houses of all time and they need to convince buyers that it is possible to spend under £40 for a bottle of respectable juice. On balance, Jasminora fulfils these requirements pretty well.
Created by Thierry Wasser – who does’t seem to have moved away from Idylle-inspired moods quite yet – it’s a straightforward snapshot of a green-edged, spring-shower-soaked jasmine and lily. With wonderful diffusiveness, it gives its simple notes plenty of room to breathe, and is content to remain transparent and limpid throughout its development. It doesn’t offer any great profundities and it may be slightly too synthetic at times (although I’d suggest it’s less sickly than last year’s Flora Nymphéa) but at a time when we’re being bombarded by hot weather flankers of what were once great fragrances with unsullied reputations, there is no doubt that I’d much rather have this stuff than the latest iteration of CK One or L’Eau D’Issey.
The same could be said about Aqua Fahrenheit. A few years ago, Dior showed everyone how to make a worthwhile masculine summer scent by combining a ginger note with their iris masterpiece and calling it Dior Homme Sport. Last year, Gucci tried a similar trick by injecting grapefruit into what they ended up naming (for reasons best known to their marketing people) Gucci By Gucci Sport Pour Homme. Sadly, their attempt wasn’t entirely successful, but Dior have come to the rescue again. Their in-house perfumer Francois Demachy has taken a grapefruit starting, made it zestier point and added it to the distinctive woods-and-violet-leaf accord of Fahrenheit to create one of the most effortlessly endearing mainstream masculines I’ve tried for quite a while.
Its greatest strength is its deceptive simplicity: it has excellent projection, but it never shouts; it presents several clearly legible notes (most notably the aforementioned citrus, followed by mint, violet and vetivert) without ever overcrowding the composition; it’s buoyant and upbeat but manages to hint at hidden depths. Unfortunately, it isn’t as tenacious as I’d like it to be and the inclusion of the word ‘aqua’ in its name displays a depressing lack of imagination on the part of LVMH, but just like Jasminora, it represents good value for the consumer. I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t say that I genuinely enjoyed surrounding myself in its sunlit optimism… which leads me to conclude that it would probably be a sensible buy for a dedicated perfume aficionado who needs a scent in his wardrobe for those occasions when it’s sensible to eschew bold oddities. Aqua Fahrenheit fits the bill with unforced ease: it’s safe, reassuring and unostentatious, but it isn’t a generic, Bleu De Chanel-style sell-out either.
Those of you who take an interest in such matters will have spotted that the official Fahrenheit line-up now consists only of the original scent, Fahrenheit Absolute and the new Aqua. What this means is that Fahrenheit 32 is on its way out. I can see why Dior might consider it redundant: for one thing, it probably isn’t sufficiently different from the new Aqua to warrant further production and for another, it suddenly seems dated and smells very 90s (although it was released only a few years ago). But I’m still rather fond of it. When it first appeared, its striking mix of cucumber notes, orange blossom, mint and vanilla, represented a laudable attempt to bring some originality to mainstream shelves. I’d advise you to track it down and try it whilst you still can, even if it’s only to compare it with Aqua and track Demachy’s thought processes.
[Review of Aqua Allegoria Jasminora based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Guerlain in 2011; review of Aqua Fahrenheit based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Christian Dior in 2011; fragrances tested on skin.]