Friday, March 29, 2013

These Citrus Cocktails Aren't So Girly

A lot of bright, happy, ultra-feminine scents use fresh bursts of citrus to lighten up a sweet base, like lemon, orange, and grapefruit. As a kid, I knew that grapefruits were not tasty (so bitter! So sour!), lemons made fabulous sweets, and oranges were okay to eat but a terror to peel. We rarely had limes around, and I figured they were just green lemons.
Tom Ford Azure Lime, Hermès Eau d'Orange Verte (both samples from Su), Jo Malone mini Grapefruit (part of a mini set that was a gift from S.).

Wrong. Each of these citrus fruits is, of course, very different from its cousins, in scent and in flavor. In perfume - and in food - my actual favorite is the lime. It's spicy, very distinct, and often used in fragrances that are targeted toward men. It pairs well with coconut and basil (two more of my favorite things) and I like the masculine edge. Makes me feel dangerous, or something. (Okay, give me a break, okay? I can't be all femme fatale with the leather and oud, because those notes usually make me twitch). And well, I'm not a romantic, but there's something also comforting about wearing a scent that reminds you of your partner, you know? So, here are three "masculine" fragrances, all featuring a different citrus fruit.
The bottle is sexy, huh?
Tom Ford Azure Lime is a TF private blend scent, which means I will never purchase it, because $205.00 (1.7 oz) is a ridiculous price. Do I like it? Unfortunately, yes, I do, though I really feel like there must be a cheaper smell-alike out there - it's not unique. For me, though, the balance is perfect; it's the zesty spice of lime warmed up with the faintest breath of wood and musk. Some of these types of scents can give me a headache if the spice blast is too intense, but this is just right. The scent notes are: bergamot, lemon, Valencia orange, Thai basil, mint, rosemary, lime tonic accord, juniper berry, fennel, iris, jasmine, neroli, orange blossom, pittosporum, bucchu leaves, violet leaves, black currant buds, cypress, oak, patchouli, sandalwood, moss, skin accord, tonka bean (Nordstrom). (Also: what is "skin accord?")

Jo Malone Grapefruit is hugely similar, without the special quality of lime. I have to be careful with this, because it can give me a headache. It has the same profile, though - sharper citrus opening, weighted with that grown-up spicy heat - the kind of warmth you get from cinnamon or nutmeg, but without either of those two specific flavors (neither of which I enjoy in my fragrances - just in cookies and cakes and doughnuts and chili). I prefer Azure Lime to this because of the lime, but this also gives me that fuzzy feeling of wearing a guy's cologne. The official description:  "Grapefruit is a lively, uplifting citrus with a spicy heart. Grapefruit and tangerine are combined with vetiver and rosemary to create this outspoken citrus scent." (Jo Malone).

Hermès Eau d'Orange Verte is in the same family, but I like it the least, probably because it is the woodiest. The balance tips more in favor of woods than citrus or mint, and the orange that is present isn't as interesting or unique as the lime in other blends. I'm not quite sure what is meant by "green orange," but if it's meant to suggest unripe, bitter oranges, that's apt. On me, however, it disappears in a flash, making it a fleeting snapshot, indeed.

Do you enjoy wearing fragrances that are targeted toward men, or stealing your partner's signature scent? Do you think fragrances can really be classified by gender?

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