If you are a chic, urban person, with an apartment and lifestyle to match, then you need to think very carefully about the fragrance you wear. It's not just the way it smells, but how it looks in your (minimal) bathroom and the messages that it sends out. Whether dark and brooding, light and ethereal, or shiny and techno, it's got to be clean of line and low key of colour. There's lots of it about - and for a good example of the genre, you need look no further than the new Emporio Armani fragrances.
It's a couple thing, a boy-meets-girl-but-respects-her- individuality concept. In celebration of getting it together, Millennium-style, Giorgio Armani has just launched his long awaited "youth" fragrance, and it's all about sharing. No, not another "his and hers" unisex fragrance - so dated, so mid-Nineties. Emporio Armani Lui and Lei are two distinct fragrances, but with a certain something that holds them together. Something like sex.
It didn't take perfumers and their marketing folk too long to come to the conclusion that men and women don't particularly want to smell exactly the same as one another. (It may have been a big thing in the Seventies, but somehow the appeal of Brut has worn off a bit.) The differences between the sexes is an important part of the Lui and Lei fragrances - a fact clearly (and sweetly) demonstrated in the design of the smooth, cylindrical metal bottles, sculpted to fit together - a little bump for him for him and an indentation for her. Get it?
We gave two samples to Karen Ayres of Norwich to try out. Of course, she prefers the Lui to the Lei. So much for two tailor-made male/female fragrances. Karen will still be wearing the same scent as her partner. Or perhaps he would prefer her Lei. The sexual politics of fragrance is a complicated thing.
Arriving at two individual sexual identities came easily, thanks to a happy accident. Unusually within the industry, the Emporio Armani fragrances were created by two separate people working for two different Parisian perfumeries. For confidentiality reasons - imagine the hoo-ha if precious recipes were leaked out - they never met, nor knew how the other's work was progressing, until the project was completed. They were given the same brief, of course - to create a "second skin" fragrance that captured the spirit of Emporio Armani. Oh, you know - young, refined, clean, modern, never overpowering, and all that sort of thing. But few could have foreseen how spookily in tune the two women were with one another, and how the two scents would find a common ground. …