Ah Salome, you could have danced with a severed head on a platter for as long as you wished, I couldn’t have cared, but did you have to do it wearing such rank underwear?
By now it is firmly established that Salome is riding high in the perfume blogosphere for its animalic daring – and, hey, I like some of that – but I can’t shake off the impression that it’s trying too hard.
It is a perfume with numerous antecedents, not just the pheromonal airs of long lost vintages, but perfumes that are of more recent creation. Beginning with a blast of warm and furry civet it eventually settles into quite an accomplished beasty musk, guaranteed to get my interest, not just for its carnal aspect but because good musks have an endearing warmth and sweetness to them which is supremely comforting, like laying down in a corner with a family pet that loves cuddles. But Salome is overloaded with cumin, particularly in the early phases, and this comes across more as a perfumer’s tantrum rather than the confident statement being aimed for. Successful musks often rely on a white floral element (for example Kiehl’s) and here the support comes from jasmin and possibly orange blossom, but it’s the pairing of these elements with the cumin that is more suspect. A dab of cumin on white florals is a classical idea, but it can go hideously wrong as in Al-Haramain’s Atifa Blanche, the memory of which is enough to make me wince. Here the cumin is like a lover leaving skid marks on your sheets – some folks go for that kind of thing, but me, I’m thinking, ‘Will it come out in the wash?’ and making a mental note of never sharing my bed with the individual in question again.
Now to come to the perfumes Salome reminded me of. In the opening, where the civet is most evident, I got a flash of Laura Tonatto’s beguiling Oropuro, which takes civety-musky notes and works civilized magic on them, giving full play to their sensuality without drowning them in dirt. Then, as the quality of the musk recreation unfolded (and it is a genuinely striking musk), I was reminded of Bruno Acampora’s Musc which takes cheapo bazaar musk oils and magically elevates them to their zenith. And when the cumin hit in Salome, Theo Fennel’s Scent came to mind with its rich mix of florals, musks and cumin. But Scent is a polyphonic creation with dark velvety depths – it took me a while to adjust to the cumin there, I will admit, but it always made sense in the composition and was not deposited like an undesirable on the floor as it is in Salome.
So, in terms of perfume pedigrees, I think Salome has had a good start in life, but it’s her brattish behaviour that lets her down. It could be my antipathy to the cumin overdose that is clouding my judgment, but I feel that all that dancing with a platter has left Salome seriously unbalanced.