The bottle of Carme's Poppy Musk cologne was an impulse purchase for my step-daughter. It seemed like a cute idea at the time... After all, it bares her name and being a musk, well, what could go wrong, I thought? Of course as you probably already know, plenty can go wrong. But in my defense I will say that with vintage perfumes, sampling is usually just not possible and it's often just as difficult to find any type of smell and tell; we really do have to make blind purchases.
So it turns out the problem with Poppy Musk is a pesky Marigold note.
Otherwise known as tagetes, Marigold has a pungent, bitter odor that reminds me of chrysanthemums- and indeed both of these plants seem to have adapted their scent in order to repel a variety of garden pests. Now I can appreciate bitter notes in perfume when used judiciously and in harmony with the rest of the composition. There is something in the pretty/ugly, expected/unexpected contrast that gives identity and form to some of the most beautiful and complex perfumes. Ralph Lauren's original (ruby red flacon) perfume made perfect sense with a strong Marigold note, as did Nikki St. Phalle's original (blue cube) perfume. But used improperly it can mar a composition, throwing everything off balance. And in Poppy Musk, it is used as a blunt instrument. It literally pounds the soft, diffusive musk into submission, and the over-kill just doesn't make sense. There is also a strong fruity chemical-acetone note in Poppy Musk, which might be age related but I think is simply fallout from the fight between all the smothery musk and that incompatibly sharp floral. Recent incarnations of Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers seem to have a similar Marigold note but there its sweetened, and less obvious.
Normally, I wouldn't say anything about Poppy Musk, but I've had bad perfume luck- featuring Marigolds- for the past few weeks, so I'm spilling it all here.... The trouble began with my blind purchase of Coty's ill-fated 001, a high-concept limited edition scent that was released in 2001 and distributed via Internet channels only. The history of the company and the concept initially caught my fancy. The magnolia and praline gave me high hopes. And the bottle is really lovely, a frosted crystal glass stopper, the pale cornflower blue palm-sized flask, the sandblasted lettering instead of a paper label- lovely. But the scent! Unfortunately it has a half-life similar to plutonium and the nasal cringing crunch factor due to a distinct Marigold note, along with a strong dose of licorice, all immersed in Calone (?); the overall effect conspires to thoroughly vex my nose.
It even took Etat Libre d'Orange's Like This from me. Had I smelled ELDO's fragrance first, it would have been fine (I think). But 001 shares something in the structure of the base with Like This. Especially on paper, and after some time, I can really hardly smell a difference between the two... but the similarity also pops out on skin, too. It makes wearing Like This less than satisfying, if not down right bothersome.
It seems that some notes force the perfumer to work much harder...
Pardon the somewhat Scroogy review; I promise to return with Something Wonderful soon...
The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.