(image, album cover The Best of The Middle of the Road)
Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux.
The jasmine has probably received the solifor treatment more than any flower in perfumery save the rose. There are plenty of types available and at the full range of price points. Serge Lutens‘s solifloriental A la Nuit and leather solifor Sarrasins. Badgely Mischka’s fruity soliflor Fleurs de Nuit (also Rodrigo Flores-Roux). Mugler’s chemo-soliflor Alien. Etat Libre’s woody soliflor Jasmin et Cigarette. Green, indolic, sweet, doughy, sweaty, pretty, naughty? There is such a wide range of tones that by highlighting or downplaying specific notes, a perfume may take any number of turns. That said, jasmine solifores tend generally tend toward the crass.
Jasmine Rouge is not more tactless than, say, A la Nuit, which is one of my favorite jasmine soliflor, largely for its hearty embrace of crassness. Jasmine Rouge has an effusive opening, with a kaleidoscopic cycle jumping around from green to sweet to tart-indolic to spicy-floral at any given moment. It even has a bit of the yeastiness that jasmines and tuberoses sometimes have. It’s not unattractive by any means, but jasmine topnotes seldom are. Others have noted that it falls apart by the basenotes, and I disagree. It does become less distinctive over time, and a bland sweetness smothers the other topnotes, but it manages to keep a sketch of its overall shape.
Would you pay $250-500 for a a beautiful perfume that you love? Tough question. Would you pay it for a tolerable one?
Counterintuitively, distinctiveness is a risk in a luxury design product. Recognizability has as much greater value, and is typically found sitting in the middle of the road. Jasmine Rouge winds up feeling more like a place holder in a perfume line than than a perfume that someone had a great desire to make. It captures an inherent obstacle to launching a line rather than releasing a perfume.
How inspired will a perfume be if its goal it to fit a category and fill a slot? It’s a question that comes up with each perfume in the Tom Ford Private Blend line.