11/4/11

Candy (Prada)


It seems fitting that a follow-up review to Proctor & Gamble's Old Spice is one of Candy by Prada. To me, they represent the opposite ends of the socioeconomic fragrance spectrum. On the one side (let's symbolically say the "right" side) you have the über-expensive haute couture gourmand, its core excessively saturated in one rare ingredient. On the other (again, we'll suggest it's the "left" side) is an inexpensive standby oriental of no particular interest aside from its incredibly pleasant smell. One fragrance is financially segregationist; one is ubiquitous at an eternally flat premium. One boasts flashy packaging; the other scent is barely packaged at all. One is destined to be forever great; the other perfume is never going to move beyond a shortlist of admirers, and for a few good reasons. Yeah, I know - I switched it up on that last comparison. The shortlist is for Candy.

This is the second fragrance by Prada that I've tried, the first being its signature feminine oriental from 2004. I'll review that one this winter. Candy, suffice to say, is an unerringly pleasant scent. It opens with a lush, kinda-sorta-maybe fruity burst of sugary goodness. I'm getting hints of sweetened citrus, devoid of tang, sugared and stripped down to a gauzy denotation. Washing up behind it is an ocean of benzoin, supported on a caramelized vanilla musk. There's a lot of benzoin going on here. One could even say there's 12% benzoin going on here (bullshit, but a worthy sentiment). The sweetness tenders as the minutes pass, and gradually becomes a truer benzoin, a root beer olfactory illusion against a spicy tolu balsam. It conjures conflicting images of gourmet caramels piled around bottles of Robitussin. It's weird. But it's also quite nice; Daniela Roche-Andrier's effective implementation of quality ingredients puts her formula squarely in the coveted bracket of being unforgettably original. Future references to candy-like perfumes will inevitably lead to Candy.

As with all evanescent entries in the fragrance catalog, Candy's real problem has little to do with itself, and everything to do with its context in the grand scheme of things. It smells (and looks) like something from 1998, not 2011. I'm reminded of Chanel's Allure Homme, Gaultier's Le Male, and Hilfiger's Tommy while sniffing Candy. The times aren't sweet and care-free anymore, and it would be wise for couture firms to remember that. Lord knows they haven't. As soon as I mentally adjust this scent to the current market, it gets into trouble. Candy's scent profile joins gaudy commercial celebuscents like Beyonce Pulse and Someday by Justin Bieber, company from which one should separate, not integrate. I expect piles of greenbacks will be carted into Prada's coffers thanks to Candy. However, as soon as another firm's answer to Candy resonates with buyers, the cache of this original will be eagerly looted, and eventually diminished alongside dozens of other gourmands. In two years it'll be little more than a living memory. Also, Candy's licensee is Puig, purveyor of the wonderful Agua Lavanda and Quorum. It startles me to think that something so polar opposite is also hearkening from those doors.

Orientals seem to fare better with serious-minded adults when they pander to classical excess (think YSL's Opium), and avoid contemporary nouveau-gourmand silliness. Although Candy isn't really a silly scent, its target audience of midlife crisis Manhattanites is. So is its pink color scheme. Note to Prada: change the bottle's band to another less-obvious color. And lose the sugar, add some spice. I'll be wearing Old Spice while I wait for an improved flanker.






























3 comments:

  1. Smart post. I didn't find Candy interesting, but didn't really try very hard to understand why. Your point about the silliness seems apt to me. Somehow they missed the mark of what could have been a super "fun" and-as you say-excitingly excessive scent and went somewhere I didn't really care to go.

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  2. I agree, close but not really there for Candy. Something about contemporary gourmand orientals - and I'm talking about virtually all of them - is very cynical in both their marketing concept and their appeal. This notion that sweetness smells good . . . not sure where it came from really. Yes, it does smell good, but in a limited context. I want to eat candy, and of course smell what I'm eating, as smell and taste are closely linked. But I don't necessarily want to wear it. The idea that I would suggests that my appetite is an ambassador to my nose (the opposite is true), and that my nose is incapable of acting alone. It's misleading and intellectually over-simplified. It may work for teenagers, those with disposable income who are submersed in Western acculturation, but not for us adults.

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  3. Yes, it's odd how often we get scents that are really just bottled pastry shops. I like sweet and gourmand fragrances, but I do want to smell like perfume, not a sweet shop. And the niche lines are just as guilty of this as the mainstreams, I think.

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