Clinique’s PR people call Wrappings their best kept secret, and they may well be right. Since its original release in 1990, it’s been available solely at top-end department stores, often as part of a gift set that tended to make an appearance only during the Christmas period. As is the current way with non-mainstream releases, Clinique are broadening the scent's reach by making it available in their web shop and at more bricks-and-mortar locations. But for once, my elitist streak isn’t complaining, because this is a fragrance that deserves to be tried and known by as many people as possible.
Apparently, its name comes from the idea that the wearer is enveloped in a gauze-like mist of freshness. As far as marketing descriptions go, this one’s fairly accurate, but Wrappings is far too complex and intelligent a piece of work to be reduced to a pleasant, simplistic pick-me-up. It starts with an instantly likeable, powdery greenness, underscored by a mossy, leathery, patchouli feel that signals the scent’s intention to head into chypre territory. A delightfully handled citrus note and a whiff of grape skin add sparkle to the snow-like whiteness of the powdery facet. Bright, soprano florals come through as well, mainly hyacinth. And a striking herbal accord comes into play too, based mainly on the bitterness of sage and basil.
Of course, the more one rattles off lists of notes in a review, the harder it is for the reader to imagine what the juice actually smells like. In a sentence, Wrappings is a well-scrubbed, green, leather chypre which highlights everything that’s best about American perfumery’s obsession with hygiene. Or to put it more succinctly, it’s clean, but it is by no means anodyne or insubstantial. If Chanel’s Cristalle and Clarins’ Eau Dynamisante are negative images of each other (the former is a chypre with a citrus facet; the latter is a hesperidic scent with a suggestion of a chypre-like base) then Wrappings is somewhere in the middle, like a quieter, less brazen Aromatics Elixir. It never allows any of its facets to dominate, keeping them balanced in the same way a consummate host ensures that each of his guests is allowed their fair share of the conversation. Indeed, Wrappings is a sophisticated summer garden party in a bottle: bracing, witty and endlessly interesting, it retains a sense of lightness without ever slipping into silliness. Bravo to Clinique for letting it come out of hiding.
In brief... Lacoste's latest addition to their 'polo shirt range' is red. Its bottle is what you'd probably call cute: the little crocodile logo - which feels like it's made from the same material that's used for the shirts - is actually glued onto the flacon, providing a pleasing textural contrast with the crimson glass. Its name - Eau De Lacoste L. 12. 12. Rouge - is innocuous, despite being about five syllables too long. But as for the scent... well, I'll be kind and call it a contrived, citrusy-woody, cardboard-cut-out 'man smell' of the sort you'd expect to encounter in a can of Lynx or Axe. Seriously, I thought we'd moved away from this style in about 1988. Avoid at all costs. Alternatively, offer as a gift to a teenage boy towards whom you feel considerable malice.
[Review of Wrappings based on a sample of extrait provided by Clinique in 2012; review of Eau De Lacoste L. 12. 12. Rouge based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Lacoste in 2012.]