Background opens with a thick, quite peculiar soapy-medicinal blend comprising fruity notes, almond (tonka), a true load of cinnamon blended with powdery notes (heliotrope above all), balsamic notes, something creamy like white flowers, and something balsamic-resinous which reminded me of pine and fir balsam. Balmy, spicy, medicinal, woody, powdery, kind of gourmand-ish and balsamic... and leathery too for me, a smooth, soft but bold leather note underneath, slowly arising as minutes pass. A really solid leather accord, actually: waxy, rich, realistic, bracing and totally compelling. A sort of bizarre, colorful, kind of queery hybrid halfway Cuir Mauresque and Helmut Lang EDP, spicier than both and overall kind of more “weird” and playful - in a good meaning though. Kind of flashy too honestly, with (no offense for Germans) a sort of typical German “boldness” (i.e., tackiness) I smell in many older perfumes from Germany. Fun and creative, a bit linear and a bit heavy too, but a really peculiar and overall compelling take on the typical mid-90s Oriental “powdery-spicy” fougère theme (where the “peculiar” feature mostly lies in the sweet-medicinal-balsamic side).
I'm sorry, I just don't get what is so special about Background. First of all, I know a name isn't everything, but "Background" is such a non-pretentious name that I almost didn't bother to sample it because I thought it would be boring, and I was right. The rose isn't too dominant, but is still noticeable, and I don't care for the smell of roses. I respect that others like this, but it's nothing special to me. In fact, to MY nose, it smells cheap.
Unique and brilliant
In the opening raspberry and lemon combine with anise and lavender to mix traditional with the unusual, and all is given some extra freshness with the help of a good dose of bergamot. The drydown commences in flowery hues, with jasmine and heliotrope merging with a nice rose; cinnamon gives additional warmth. After about six hours deeper and darker zone are reached, with styrax resin and cedar combining with musky and ambery aromas. A touch of tonka gives a little sweetnes that never really catches my attention. This is a complex and versatile fragrance whose longitudinal development is never boring. Is had very good projection and silage, and the longevity is a brilliant twelve hours or more. One of the great citrus-oriental scents of the nineties.
If Canoe and Halston 1-12 had a baby, and that baby grew up to become a refined and sophisticated mature adult, it would no doubt bear a strong resemblance to Jil Sander's Background. The citrus/lavender/heliotrope signature of Canoe is quite recognizable, as is the warm amber/green accord of 1-12; yet Background has its own distinct identity as well.
Smooth, elegant and invigorating, Background is a ideal late-summer scent that conjures up sunlight filtering through the trees and reflecting on the water of a lake or slow-moving stream. The air is warm, with a fragrant breeze hinting at the approach of fall. Another great fragrance that has been sadly discontinued.
I remember this when it came out. I loved it then and I love it now. Why do all the good scents get cancelled? This is really amazing all over again for me. It must be the years in between. Crisp and yet musky, its very complex and intriguing. I was lucky enough to score 3 large tester bottles of this from a friend. Bad for him, good for me!