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Bombay Duck London

Thierry Mugler Womanity

I don’t know what fragrance Suzi Quatro (the leather-clad 80s song-belter-outer) would have worn, but if Womanity had been around then, I suspect it would have had pride of place on her Winnebago tourmobile dressing table.  It is, as you might expect from the creator of Angel, an unusual creation – sweet-savoury – a fragrance of contrasts.  (Like the bottle itself, with its heavy-metal cap and baby-pink ‘juice’.)

As with Angel, there’s a ‘gourmand’ element – but this is fusion cuisine, rather than chocolate éclairs.  There’s a distinct saltiness – a sea-breeze freshness – which is apparently caviar (a fragrance first, for The Scent Critic);  actually, it’s sort of leathery, like the inside of a vintage Chevrolet, and would also work well in a men’s fragrance.  (I am partial to a vintage Chevvy, incidentally.)  And there’s a ton of fig wood in there.  An entire forest of fig wood, but soft and quite sensually appealing.  (Normally a fig note makes me inexplicably feel a touch queasy, but not here.)  First, it’s fresh and very subtly citrussy, with those whispers of the sea.  Unexpectedly, my nose then detects a sort of metallic edge, almost antiseptic:  close my eyes, and what swims in (bizarrely) is a vision of a French pharmacy, with its white-coated staff poised to sell me a tube of Elgydium.  (Don’t know what this note’s doing there, but it’s not at all unpleasant.  Just different.)

Ultimately, there’s a pretty softness with a woody edge to Womanity;  it’s vaguely, vaguely reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood’s Boudoir, at times (and that’s not just an association from the soft pink juice).  Mugler, of course, has always been out to create an olfactory shock, deploying the latest fragrance technology to come up with revolutionary molecules.  This is no exception: the technique in question is a new way of using gas chromatography, ‘to capture every aromatic molecule of an element in its natural state, and faithfully reproduce the accord’.  (Here, the fig, and also the caviar note.  Which – now there’s supposedly a ban on sturgeon fishing – may be as close as sevruga-lovers get to their favourite luxury food group, for a while.)

Lately, a lot of scent launches have been playing it safe (it’s a recession thing, which has resulted in some very dull creations) – and this certainly doesn’t play it safe at all.  For that alone, it’s worth checking out in a perfumery for yourself, especially for anyone who likes to tap into her inner rock chick.  And based on Mugler’s track record for setting unexpected fragrance trends, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if – as in food, where salty caramels and even horseradish ice cream have gained a following in recent years – we see a little scent trend-ette for salty fragrances.  Think of Mugler as the Heston Blumenthal of fragrances.  And for that alone, take your hat (or in this case, hefty metal cap on a chain) off to him.

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