Hello dear reader! I come to you once again from my plague den. Different location, same tenacious disease!
At least I am home now. Home comes with certain comforts not even an expense account and endless delivery Chinese soup can provide – namely, CATS! No, they don't talk back, but when even maid service stopped coming to my room and I went for entire days without seeing another human being in Boston, the comforting sounds of my roommates downstairs and cats meowing and general catly liveliness has been really comforting. I feel much less like I'm living a terrible missed chapter of World War Z or some other weird post-apocalyptic tale where all the world has ended but because the cable keeps playing I don't realize I'm the only one alive for miles.
But if I had to be the last living person in the state of Massachusetts, at least I would have gone out smelling AWESOME. That's right, dear reader. I have my priorities in line. If I die, let me die peacefully in my sleep with dignity and not eaten by zombies or wild dogs or wild zombie dogs. But if it must be zombie dogs, at least let those survivors who find scrapes of clothing as the only trace of my remains think, “This mysterious dead woman smelled beautiful even to her tragic and grisly end.”
Wow. That was weird and dark. Blame the fever brain. That's what I'm going to do.
Aftelier Perfumes Candide. Candide is described thusly:
Bright, uplifting floral, expressing its theme of optimism through sublime jasmine and age-old frankincense. Recent research in the Journal of Biological Chemistry finds that the scent of jasmine is better than Valium at calming and soothing. The sunny color comes from the orange shades of jasmine, pink grapefruit, and blood orange essences. The smell of jasmine is uplifting and cheerful in a sexy way – the perfect blend of high and low, sweet and dirty. The pink grapefruit is juicy and sweet; the blood orange smells of mouth-watering orange mixed with raspberries. The name is an homage to the great novel from Voltaire, with its theme of optimism.Okay, for you literary types, let me say up front: this is not what I imagine Candide would smell like. That said, it's such an interesting scent! The black pepper is really prominent on me in the opening, and it gives the citrus a sharp, tangy edge. It's not foodie but it's not the light girlie note citruses so often come across as in scent. When I talk to people about the gendering of scent, I always like to use citruses as an example of the ways we tend to gender scents in silly ways. FN1. Candide is a perfect example of a scent with a strong citrus top note that would work well on a woman but doesn't necessarily come across as girlish or feminine. I think this is in part because the opening on me is medicinal and a little green, which I'm crediting to the rich base notes.
Top: black pepper, blood orange, pink grapefruit.
Heart: jasmine grandiflorum, Moroccan rose absolute.
Base: frankincense, oppopanax absolute, myrrh.
Bois de Jasmin describes “the effect of opoponax is glowing and sensual” in perfumery, and I get that in Candide. There is a sensual glow to Candide, but it isn't overwhelming. I'd say it's sexy in a way that isn't obvious or overtly self-aware. It's a sexy scent that isn't trying to be sexy, that doesn't necessarily know it's sexy...and yet, it is. In that way, it is a perfect scent for the scent lover of any age.
A lot of people found the scent to be spiritual. Reviewers comment on the “Happy Buddha” or the “cathedral” aspects of Candide. FN2. I don't find it a particularly religious experience as scents go, but then, that may be due to my particular array of religious experiences.
There are also a lot of reviews that cheer the scent for being happy and joyous. I can see that, certainly, but I don't think that really does Candide justice. A lot of citrus-oriented scents get tagged with “happy,” and while Candide does have an element of that, I'd argue that it ultimately rejects any hint of a kind of Polly Anna glass-half-full-ness. It's a tempered optimism, an appreciation that only comes with the knowledge of the bitter. As Brian says in Vanilla Sky, “You can do whatever you want with your life, but one day you'll know what love truly is. It's the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet.” I'm reminded of that quote when I smell Candide. It knows enough of sour to appreciate the sweet. I like that.
My only complaint is that the longevity, on me, was on the short side. The sillage is moderate at first, but becomes quieter and quieter until it just...dies on my skin. This is a real surprise to me because I'm one of those people who usually get a lot of life out of...everything. I'm the girl who gets four to six hours out of almost any scent that hits my skin. And with Candide, six hours is the absolute max for me, and I have to hunt with nose pressed to arm to find it. Normally I wouldn't find this a huge drawback except....at this price point, it is a real struggle for me to balance the truly beautiful scent against the longevity against the cost. Because of this, I strongly recommend a sample first of this scent, because not everyone who tries it has this problem. I'm wondering, upon reflection, if the decision to get the EdP version of Candide was where I went wrong (which I will dutifully correct with my wallet forthwith).
The scent itself is very well-done; in the 4 to 5 star range. However, due to the short skin life of the EdP on me, I have to give the overall experience 3.5 stars. Upon reflection, though, I keep going back to what the lovely Martha said regarding the Aftelier Perfumes line in a comment on this blog a few weeks ago:
I wish that I could find what Henry Mitchell (my favorite garden writer) had to say about the question of long-blooming flowers, but the gist of it was that a peony or a once-blooming rose is often beautiful enough to be worth far more than many sturdy flowers that bloom all summer. The three days that they bloom before being torn apart by the last spring storm, gone until next year, is ample payment for the space that they occupy.
The same is true for Cepes & Tuberose, and Honey Blossom, and most of the Aftelier scents that I've tried; even if they did only last an hour, they'd be worth it. And you don't even have to wait until next year to smell them again.I have to agree with this statement. Everything I have tried from Aftelier Perfumes is so singular an experience, I am tempted to say hang the expense. I leave that debate to you and your wallet, dear reader. It's going to depend a lot on how much longevity factors into your personal evaluations, and whether you think great scent -- at any length -- is worth it.
Candide EdP is available direct from Aftelier Perfumes. A 1ml sample of the EdP or .25ml of the pure parfum will run you $6. A 30ml bottle of EdP is $170. A 2ml mini of the parfum runs $50.
Want more reviews of Candide? Try…
~ a review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Olfactoria's Travels
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things
~ a review from EauMG
~ a review from The Non-Blonde
~ a review from Scent-and-Sensibility
~ a review from Katie Puckrik Smells
~ a review from CaFleureBon
~ a review from Scent Less Sensibilities
FN1. I usually use leather, oranges, and vanilla to point out to people that when we encounter these elements in their real world expressions – a vanilla bean pod, a horse saddle, a luggage store, a grapefruit or an orange – we don't immediately think “girlie!” or “dude!” or “unisex!” We only assign these items a gender when we are lead by societal norming/commercialism to do so. I implore you – DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. As Admiral Ackbar would say, “It's a trap!”
FN2. I have to say that the “cathedral” review from Marina is my favorite of Candide as a reader of perfume-inspired writing. I encourage you to read it, especially if you're a lit/philosophy type. I really like the way she ties the scent to its literary namesake.
In the interest of full disclosure, the perfume sample above was provided by the perfumer.