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Budget fragrances of 2011 are generally crumby. You've got your Cool Water flankers, your Gwen Stefani L.A.M.B. celeb nothings, your Claiborne disasters, your latest Curve in the road, all synthetic-smelling, aquatic, chemical florals and musks. We can't do cheapies with any dignity these days.
It seems that back in the '80s, even lower-shelf offerings had quality, character, and panache. Take Lapidus pour Homme, for instance. From 1987, this fragrance can be had for $12 online, and back in the day wasn't all that pricey, either. Today it's not only a cheapie, but it's out of style and almost entirely forgotten by men of a certain age. Which is a shame, because it's a masterpiece of perfumery.
Lapidus opens with a smooth but forceful burst of sugary pineapple and not much else. It's an opening I've never encountered before, and what is surprising here isn't just the choice of fruit, but how realistic it smells. It doesn't have a chemical opacity to it. Instead, it feels like I opened a can of Mott's pineapple juice and splashed it on my chest. It is transparent, light, and sweet. It settles on skin with a hint of lemon/orange, and seems to recede for a few minutes before letting the heart open up. Once the top subsides, the honey, backed by a not-so-subtle incense and rose, emerges with startling clarity. The pineapple never actually disappears, but hangs on in the periphery, complimenting the darkness of the honey and rose. Gradually, the rose becomes stronger, and is edged by a deep, spiced jasmine that reaches a breathtaking apex, and Lapidus is suddenly a full-fledged floral, albeit a very masculine one. Note separation is effortless here; for a downmarket offering, Lapidus never lets me forget that it's a Parisian perfume with a solid track record. I get each note with ease. Yet the fragrance as a whole maintains a congruence and beauty that I have yet to see in many pricier perfumes.
After a couple hours, Lapidus brightens - the hints of clove, the darkness of the honey, and the dankness of the rose grow lighter and airier, becoming a bit soapy and free. The sweetness, initially introduced by pineapple, continues, and cements this particular fragrance as categorically sweet in its entire evolution. I can't help but feel similarities to Kouros here, but without the civet, and with a patchouli and rose heart. Both Kouros and Lapidus share a honey accord, although in the former the sweetness brings darkness, while in the latter it offers levity. To anyone who believes that price is directly correlative to quality, let Lapidus stand as a conscientious objector - it is brilliantly conceived and executed, utterly wearable, and truly invaluable to any perfume lover's collection.
29th January, 2011