I’m not sure why anyone would like to smell of toffee, but if the idea takes your fancy, I’ve found just the perfume: Kilian’s Good Girl Gone Bad Extreme, an annual limited edition composed by Alberto Morillas. Such is its photorealistic quality - and its diffusiveness - I’m surprised those who wear it don’t attract the attention of every single bee, ant and other sugar-loving creature within a 5-mile radius. But quips aside, smelling this unashamedly calorific confection made me revisit my thoughts on what is still the most maligned fragrance genre amongst scentusiasts: the hyper-sweet gourmand.
My view on the subject remains that, as with other artistic endeavours, anything that can be done badly can also be done extremely well. The execution is all. So even though, sadly, most caramel-bomb gourmands induce gagging rather than greed, it would be churlish to deny that there are a few out there which hit the spot. As I type these words, the ones that come to mind straight away are Daniela Andrier’s original Candy for Prada (like a slow-motion descent into a pool of liquid fudge), Mathilde Laurent’s L’Heure Defendue for Cartier (one sniff and it’s like you’ve been transported into the liqueur-filling department of Willy Wonka’s factory) and Giovanni Sammarco’s Bond-T for his eponymous brand (a bitter chocolate fountain in the middle of a bondage bar).
What sets these apart from the ersatz versions is an attention to detail and an ability on the part of the perfumers to convince us we’re smelling something that came out of a kitchen rather than a lab. This is no earth-shattering revelation. Even when it comes to that most un-gourmand-like category - the weightless eau de cologne - the difference between the gems and the duds is that the former persuade us we’re being sprinkled with oils freshly squeezed out of the very soul of an Italian citrus grove, whereas the latter just make us picture the thinnest variety of low-cost orange juice. But even though you’d think the distinction between the two would be fairly easy to make, buyers do seem to keep flocking to the budget aisles.
Mind you, most people would think twice before shelling out for the subject of today’s review. Like everything in Kilian’s over-blinged universe, it costs quite a bit more than a macaron at Laduree. But that aside, it certainly convinces that it was concocted by a Michelin-starred chef. There’s a pitch-perfect milky quality to the toffee note - somewhere half-way between butter and cream - that lends it realism. The amber facet in the base adds the requisite hint of smokiness to the gluttony. And the tuberose-inflected, white floral aspect - a nod to the original Good Girl Gone Bad - provides a much-needed, bitter contrast that throws the sweetness into relief and, of course, makes it even more holographic.
So, I am as bemused as ever that some people would choose to associate their olfactory identity with an object that comes in a foil wrapper - I can’t shake off the notion that there’s something intrinsically ditzy about that - but each to their own, especially as far as perfume is concerned. If you really want your scent to say “Lick me,” then you’d do well to check out this guzzling monster. Just don’t blame me if you then feel compelled to ditch the diet.
[Review based on a sample of parfum provided by Kilian in 2018.]