The reason no one successfully guessed the identity of S02E03 is simple: No one could have. The scent you’ve been smelling the past weeks isn’t on the market yet. L’Oréal allowed me to launch it as an Untitled before it went on counter (which it will today). It’s the first time I’ve presented a scent before it went public and, as far as I know, the first time it’s ever been done.
Many of you were very specific in your guesses about E03's raw materials. While I assume Calone plays some role here, I also assume the fresh/watery aspect has been sculpted out of materials newer than that old workhorse. And I have to admit to being surprised—unless I missed it—that no one brought up dihydromyrcenol, the molecule that undergirds laundry detergent's olfactory logo. E03's progenitor—it is a flanker—was loaded with it, and was thus the first and arguably greatest of a major new 20th-century school, Industrialism. So another surprise—again: While L’Eau d’Issey and Cool Water and others in the same school were proposed, nobody—except Beth B.—guessed Drakkar Noir.
E03 is the brand new Drakkar Essence
Impressionism was initially laughed out of town (no one would want to look at that half-painted crap) or despised (it was the degradation of the medium); Drakkar Noir, by the estimable artist Pierre Wargnye, faced precisely the same two criticisms. Thirty years later we have, as with all art, so embraced the Industrialist school in scent that, like Impressionism, it is viewed as entirely normal, and what was cutting edge became—this is what success inevitably does—pretty but banal. New schools have reacted against impressionism in painting and Industrialism in scent. Then the cycle proceeds, and the old forms are revisited from future perspectives.
With Essence, artist Michel Girard has created a work that seeks to take this revolutionary 1982 idea and push it forward into something that speaks in 2014 terms. Girard has succeeded. As Hollydebra wrote on Basenotes, “I gave E03 to my 2 teenage sons. It's very male…. Not my fave. They like it though!” Essence resonates in the 21st century like a building designed in the 21st century. I think of Kahn & Jacobs’ 1095 6th Avenue, a 41-floor skyscraper off Times Square finished in 1974, when it was admired. By 2006 it was frumpy. In 2007 the tower got a $260 million redesign. Kahn & Jacobs’ original elegant, perfectly-proportioned pillar was now cloaked in a glistening glass skin the color of emerald lizard skin. It is stunning. Take a look. Girard kept Wargnye’s expertly-structured Industrialist core—most prominently a material called dihydromyrcenol, the central structure of Tide laundry detergent’s olfactory logo—and cloaked it in a shimmering olfactory skin of sleek, shimmering blue-green. Drakkar essence smells as if it were covered in cooled blue glass.