R.S.V.P. (Kenneth Cole)

Yesterday I went to Marshalls and found a 4 ounce bottle of Cool Water for $40, so I grabbed it. I wore it yesterday, and I'm wearing it again today. I'm always struck by how good Cool Water's composition is. Even though it's made with designer-grade synthetics, those elements are perfectly used. Cool Water is the Corvette of the fragrance world - inexpensive, flawlessly made, capable of sweating similar vehicles in higher classes without losing its center of gravity. 

That tantalizing combo of green apple, woody citrus, lavender, mint, cedar, jasmine, tobacco, and musk is brilliantly arranged, very legible, and timeless. Tobacco is essential to Cool Water's construct - without it, the whole thing would smell like Aspen, i.e., smooth, green, sweet, and flat. Nestled in its sweet base, the crisp green tobacco note lends Cool Water a darkness, a masculinity, that certain something every great beauty possesses but doesn't flaunt, akin to a borderline-ugly mole over a pretty woman's full lips. It's nature's nice finishing touch. Bourdon did a good job with Cool Water's.

It is important to stay true to a good formula if you want to imitate it. Frank Voelkl, who is responsible for several Le Labo scents, and the much-maligned Zirh Ikon, crafted R.S.V.P. for Kenneth Cole in the early 2000s; it saw its release in 2006. Some say this scent is based on Gucci's Envy for Men, but I don't really smell that. I'm getting a cross between Calvin Klein's Eternity for Men and Cool Water, with emphasis on the latter. Let's look at the similarities: R.S.V.P. opens with woody-citrus, lavender, red apple, cardamom, and pepper. Cool Water opens with woody-citrus, lavender, green apple, and mint. There isn't enough in Kenneth Cole's offering to distract me out of my Cool Water reverie.

The Eternity comparison comes into the picture later, as "Répondez S'il Vous Plaît" dries down. The lavender strengthens, the citrus notes sweeten, the cardamom fuses to the apple, creating a fuzzy wood accord, but it's too overbearingly blobby to discern separate wood notes. Hints of Cool Water still abound as the pepper ratchets up the spice factor, hinting at a darkness in the base that never fully manifests itself. This thing loses sight of its own plot-line long before it fades away, but just late enough in the game to fool me into thinking I liked it. My response: Screw you, Ken. I'm not another rookie who buys things based on top notes. But the wooden box is a nice touch.