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I have long been of the opinion the classic women's fragrances can be easily sorted into two distinct categories : the 'Come Hithers' and the 'Stand Backs'.
I find that I can instantly determine which of these two types any fragrance is; it's fail safe. Try it for yourselves. (If I had to include modern fragrances, I would be forced to add a third category: the 'I am a Babys', but I digress..)
The 'Come Hithers' are designed to enhance womanly attractiveness. These are the scents, which men wish to bury their noses in, which linger on our scarves and perfume our tousled sheets. They are suggestive, inviting and above all, they create an informal relationship between their wearers and their admirers, even in the most formal settings. This is the particular power of the 'Come Hither' -- to break the proverbial ice, to offer up something intimate, yet arguably 'proper'. Notable classics, which fall into this category are: 'First' by Van Cleef and Arpels, 'Bal a Versailles', 'Diva' by Ungaro, 'Coco' by Chanel, 'Madame Rochas', and 'Opium', to name just a few.
Conversely, the 'Stand Backs' are designed to imply their wearer's cool reserve, elegance, and --most of all--reigned-in sensuality. That is not to say, that they aren't very beautiful, they usually are! But they warn their audience to keep a distance: "This is not the time nor the place for play"; "Take me seriously"; "Respect me."; "Admire me from afar"... That said, I would never go as far as to call these scents *de-sexed*! In fact, the sort of unrequited, secret temptation a reserved, aloof woman might inspire, could be especially haunting! Classics, which fall into *this* category are: The great 'Chanel 19', 'Chamade' by Guerlain, 'Quartz' by Molyneaux, 'Private Collection' by Lauder, 'Cabochard', '1000' by Patou, and 'Diorella' by Dior, to name a few.
But of all the 'Stand Backs' I know, 'Vivre' most capably 'does the job'. This fragrance is at once perfectly beautiful and pristinely 'untouchable'. It holds the same mystifying, venerable, yet delicate quality as Bernini's Venus, Rappacini's daughter, Grace Kelly, or priceless porcelain from Meissen! Truly it is lovely; Truly it is 'not for you'; Perhaps, it is even deadly...
This fragrance opens with considerable citrus and aldehydes, but quickly dries down to reveal its cool, smooth character. 'Vivre' boasts a metallic sharpness that is more potent than any others; it is even more cutting than the old 'Rive Gauche'! Yet it somehow stays super slick, and never grates or grinds, or makes dust... like marble polished so smooth it looks and feels wet.
Finally, women who get a kick out of these old 'boardroom scents' would be really missing out, by overlooking 'Vivre'. I personally think it's the best one. I personally think it leaves Chanel 19 in the dust.
02 November, 2009