Cabotine Gold (Parfums Grès)

One could argue that the practice of discerning "notes" in perfumes is overrated, but when something as bad as Cabotine Gold comes around it becomes clear that note recognition is part of what enjoying perfumery is all about, or more specifically, what contextualizing scents is about, more than just liking or disliking them. Contextualization is part of making an informed decision about whether or not we like something. If we recognize a natural or synthetic material (this smells like eugenol / this smells like aldehydes), then this keys us into what we know and what we think. CG is a perfume so pathetic in both construct and effect that few words can adequately relate the sense of dread it gives me, as almost nothing in it smells like a natural or synthetic perfume material. It's a chemical hairball of a scent, rife with disjointed elements and sporadic movements, an experiment lying on a table somewhere with its severed nerves still twitching up at the moon. If you're a fan of the original, and yearn to try one of its flankers, I say skip this one. It will actually put you off the original, and probably off the entire brand.

I guess there is one - just one - kinda, sorta nice thing I can say about it. Its mandarin opening is juicy and rather naturalistic. I've read that mandarin is a note which esteemed perfumers used to falsify by taking regular orange oils and sandwiching their molecules between tiny dollops of galbanum and rectified birch tar. I doubt I've ever encountered one of these reconstructions, but wish I could say it's what I'm smelling here. There is no cold-smokiness, but there is, for all of ten brief seconds, a sweet citrus punch that suggests Asian fruit. Then it's gone, and I mean completely, totally, utterly gone. Apply in high heat, because if you use CG on anything resembling a winter day that top will probably last far fewer than ten seconds, and your torture will begin all the sooner.

All that ensues is catastrophic: first a hairspray accord that literally smells like Aqua Net, followed by weirdly disheveled, digitally-pixelaled analogs of jasmine and patchouli, which I'm only able to list due to a rather forced sense of sweetness (must be the listed "jasmine" note), and a musty, oily soot note (must be the supposed "patchouli"). So what we really end up with is sweet'n sour Aqua Net. Bring on the laundry musk Frebreze-styled base, and the awfulness is complete. Now imagine all of these elements are globbed together in a dense ball of smell, rolling downhill in a manner that rapidly unravels these attempts at florals and spices and just leaves the shrieky laundry musk blaring away unhappily for seven hours, and you have a sense of how CG moves through the day. Cabotine Gold is the very definition of a "nasty floral," much more so than its predecessor, if I do say.

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