Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sleeper Standout 2: Sushi Imperiale


When Florentine perfumer Enzo Galardi entered the American market last year with his line of unisex fragrances, Bois 1920, I was going through a “niche-suspicious” phase. For the space of a few months, niche after niche seemed to be filling up, like the Brooklyn skyline, with new construction: mediocre, on-the-face-of-it modern, and expensive. So much of the market seemed not to take into account the glorious (modern) forebears that, in some cases, were being ripped off, if not completely ignored, as tried-and-true formulas were unveiled as new. But what was important here wasn’t the product, it was the creation of a customer – a person of early middle age with a modest income, with a taste for finer things and an allergy to the luxurious trappings of the previous generation. Among the new lines, two stood out immediately: Bois 1920 and By Kilian. Of the former, I was immediately impressed with Real Patchouly. For whatever reason, I didn’t give the others much attention. Jump ahead one year. Sushi Imperiale and Sutra Ylang stand out, too. They’re from two different ends of the universe: one a spiced gourmand, the other a sultry oriental.

Sushi Imperiale, whose name put me off initially, seems cut from a similar cloth as Alexis Dadier’s Miroir des Vanités for Thierry Mugler. It has a sparkling, unusually pleasurable accord that brings to mind Italian bitters, the quinine edge of tonic-water cocktails, and the sweet spices of traditional eau de cologne formulas amped up to maximum decibelage. For the duration of its evolution on the skin, it straddles the bitter-sweet divide like a Russian gymnast on the pommel horse. The middle notes are drawn out impressively, while the base notes (mainly sandalwood and tonka bean) only become apparent after a few hours. Sushi Imperiale, as with Sutra Ylang, proves that the heart is where the home is: rose, star-anise (appealing to the wine lover in me), nutmeg, pepper and just a hint of jasmine absolute. Itadakimasu!

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