digging (into) vintage: Kenzo Ça Sent Beau, 1988

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(image Tuberose by Melissa Thorpe)

Perfumer Françoise Caron.

This is technically a fruity-floral. It is a plummy orange/tangerine draped with tuberose and orange blossom. But I suppose this is a floriental. I mean it’s white flowers resting on a comfortable amber. And I reckon it’s a fougère since it seems to have a dark, nutty coumarin base. Chypre? Yeah, there’s bergamot and oakmoss.

What the hell is this? Fruit? No question. Perhaps orange, more likely tangerine. It’s definitely floral. A bit of steamy orange blossom and a bucket of green, creamy tuberose. Amber for days (literally) spiked with patchouli. And the darkness—coumarin? oakmoss? Mix it up with a good measure of musk and you wind up with a dense slurry of a perfume. Ça Sent Beau’s components are not so much potent as heavy, but the balance is perfect. Rather than calibrate the heavy with lighter elements, the cough syrup base adds some shadow to the density and makes it feel sultry.

Think of Ça Sent Beau is like a grand queen about 2 martinis into holding court with a gathering audience. A little tipsy, talking fast, one opinion to the next. An increasing flourish that don’t quite cover the slurred speech. Mesmerizing.

I own four definitively syrupy perfumes. Serge Lutens’s Cedre (mothball syrup.) Lutens’s Arabie (spice cabinet syrup.) Badgley Mischka by Badgley Mischka (simple syrup.) And Ça Sent Beau. Cough syrup might just be my favorite.

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