Passion for Men (Elizabeth Taylor)

Tucked neatly between the hated Joop! Homme and beloved Tiffany for Men is Passion for Men by Elizabeth Taylor. This was Liz's infamous follow-up to the original Passion perfume for women, which was THE blockbuster celebrity megahit of 1988. The two fragrances were shrouded in darkness, their bottles an austere, almost-black shade of purple, the scents rich with herbs and spices. This was her image before the sparkling gemstones of the '90s were introduced, and it's one I can get on-board with.

Passion is a very diffuse oriental. I'm always surprised by how dusty it smells. It opens with one of the loudest lavender notes I've ever smelled. Lavender is usually either sweet and chemical (Cool Water), or sharp and herbal (Pour un Homme de Caron), but this lavender is neither. It's aromatic and herbal, but densely so, almost funereal. The aromatic quality of it makes it seem ethereal, like it's tinting the air with its indigo hue. Its heaviness is tempered a little by a dessicated bergamot, which brightens, herbalizes, and rounds the accord out nicely. The nose who made this fragrance was clearly skilled.

Wait about ten minutes, and something interesting happens. The dry lavender slips gradually into a spicy combination of styrax, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The nutmeg and cinnamon lend Passion's core a subtle spicy sweetness, but it doesn't inflate into a sugarbomb. The styrax remains prominent, and broadcasts an aphotic incense vibe. Eventually the whole affair settles into a burnt, inedible vanilla. I have to say, for a drugstore oriental, this is leagues better than most of its competition.