Fahrenheit 32 (Dior)

Fahrenheit flankers always receive the same response from uninitiated fumeheads: a collective groan. Those who haven't tried them automatically feel they're going to suck, long before they make it to that mall tester. The reason is unclear, as Fahrenheit isn't an extremely popular fragrance anymore, and even in its hey-day was what I call a "Prequel Perfume", i.e. a stage-setter for better things to come. Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Maurice Roger created a sub-genre template for floral-musk chypres, one that infused postmodern design aesthetics into fresh, youthful, and seductive perfumes.

Fahrenheit 32 is the logical outcome of that. It's something that requires inquisitiveness and special consideration. What does its name mean? Why is the lettering in warm colors, and the packaging done up ice-cold? Is this an ice fragrance? A sport flanker? A sheer, piddling variation of its warm, dense progenitor? Something cold? Will it freeze my face off? What exactly can I expect from Fahrenheit 32?

As it turns out, not much of anything, and everything very much. It opens with a smooth rush of soapy orange blossom, tinged with sweetness beyond natural floralcy. There's also a muted citrus note darting between the aldehydes, providing F32 with much-needed snap. I'm interested, but only because it smells amiable, pleasant, very clean and modern. After five minutes a sea change takes place; F32's heart is floral, but not crisply so - this is a sweet, gauzy, lipsticky approach that seems oddly out of place on a man's skin. I'm reminded of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Drole de Rose, as Dior uses the same sweetly powdered violet and feminine blush rose accord, with honeysuckle culled from the original Fahrenheit. The smell is green, aromatic, smooth, and saccharine, but never tips into sugar overload. Ten minutes later, the florals have faded, leaving pink sweetness in their wake, and out comes rooty vetiver and vanilla as cool as ice cream, two notes perfectly balanced in the Pour un Homme de Caron/Green Valley/Habanita/Colors de Benetton tradition. I like it, but due to the syrupy floral interlude, wouldn't buy it. If someone gifted it to me, I'd seldom wear it.

Altogether a pleasant offering from Dior, but do test against the original, just to see if a truly avant-garde '80s honeysuckle composition from the same line is a better bet. I'll close by saying this: Fahrenheit 32 would make a terrific feminine perfume. Ladies, you really should give this one a try. It will hold its own against your lipstick florals.

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