Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lighten Up: The New Oriental Scents Reflect Modern Tastes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lighten Up: The New Oriental Scents Reflect Modern Tastes

Article excerpt

IT'S NO ANCIENT Chinese secret: Oriental fragrances are red hot.

Modern takes on these heady, sensual scents - a category that boasts such world-class members as Shalimar, Tabu, Youth Dew and Obsession - are rampant, and are carving a nice niche for themselves in the fickle public's fancy.

New-Age Oriental scents pay a debt to their forebears without quite toeing the line.

Where spices and patchouli once ruled, for instance, peach and mandarin orange are stepping in.

Rich resins such as opoponax are giving way to muguet and cool blue rose.

To wit, new scents such as Tuscany per Donna, Wings and Fendi Asja all feature fresh, fruity opening notes.

And while vanilla has always played some role in Oriental brews, the new Chopard Casmir is positively laced with it.

Characterized by spiciness, tenacity and a shameless sexuality, classic Oriental fragrances traffic in exotica.

In addition to pricey resins and oils, exotic blooms and plant life, there is quite literally an animal aspect to the more traditional of the genre; musk, civet and ambergris oils contributed to many an older composition.

This blatant bid for sensuality is what caused such a ruckus when Orientals crashed onto the perfume scene in 1920s Paris.

Mid-decade, Guerlain's Shalimar turned the perfume world on its ear, flouting as it did the existing boundaries of decorum.

In fact, an etiquette book of the day, the Manuel des Dames, decreed that "strong odours such as musk, amber, orange blossom, tuberose and others of this kind, are entirely forbidden."

Although he didn't experience it first-hand, Francois Desroches, Guerlain's international training director, says the City of Light was indeed going through a "puritan" phase at the time.

"In the gazettes of the day," he says, "there were two sinister forces being written about that were to be avoided at all costs: dancing the tango and wearing Shalimar."

It's hard to imagine a fragrance category, let alone a single scent, eliciting such a response today.

But while other benchmark Orientals would follow Shalimar's 1925 debut, most of the newer versions tread a lighter path.

Chopard Casmir is a case in point. …

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