Love in White (Creed)

This is a tough one. Love in White would be just another hum-drum offering from Creed, eliciting neither love nor hate from the masses, except for a review by one Luca Turin in his oft-mentioned "Guide." The man basically says that if LiW were a shampoo offered with your first shower after sleeping rough in the desert for a few months, you'd opt to keep the lice. Silvery-sharp words there. Hard to ignore this perfume after press like that, particularly as it seems to be in some ways the most ire-fueled negative review in the entire book. One is therefore naturally curious as to what it actually smells like. Shampoos generally smell pretty bad in my opinion, and it's almost impossible to imagine a Creed smelling like a bottom shelf shampoo. (Perhaps a top-shelf luxe shampoo, but even that's a stretch - I'm looking at you, Acqua Fiorentina.)

Trying LiW on my wrist was one thing. It smelled nice to me, with a lovely orange-fresh top note that segued rapidly into Creed's recent note du jour, which oddly enough, of all things, is RICE. Go figure. It's a challenge trying to determine a reason for Creed's fixation on integrating rice into compositions, and in this case, even more of a challenge trying to decide if it works. So with two or three drops on a small portion of skin, it's already . . . a tough one. But the final conclusion for that part of the testing: LiW smells good, a little unusual, but basically fresh, clean, unremarkable. Time for a full wearing, to see what kind of legs it has. The other day I gave it one, and was struck by a few things, not the least of which was just how downright odd this stuff is. If you want to smell "odd" in the truest sense of the word, perhaps LiW goes on your shortlist.

It opened the same way, with an aromatic orange note that actually smells a touch better than the orange in Orange Spice. Surprising, given how orange-centric that one is. But it's a trade-off; Orange Spice possesses a long-lasting orange note, which persists for no less than four hours on skin and longer on fabric, while LiW's orange endures for little more than five minutes. You do feel as though the tart richness of a real orange peel has been infused into perfumers alcohol for a fruit-hologram effect. Interestingly, I found out today at work that orange peels are gathered into paper bags and huffed by methadone clinic patients, usually in a weird, last-ditch effort to buck the system and still get high. Supposedly the citrus interacts with mold spores in a way to give huffers the feeling of an altered state. In reality it's just an illusion, with the huffer simply cutting oxygen off from his brain and inhaling the fragrant - sometimes sour - smell of orange. With this in mind, I imagine the note that follows LiW's top is something akin to what the huffer experiences.

The rice accord that ensues is welded to a distinctly unbalanced mixture of narcissus and jasmine, sweetened I guess by what is supposed to be some ylang-ylang. That's how it goes on paper in diction, but stepping outside the elementary and into the real world, one has a more visceral response: huh? Let's get this straight, LiW is meant to be a white floral fragrance (hence the name), coupled with untreated white rice. The white rice dominates. The white florals lose, big time. In some ways, for their interest in being novel, I think Creed would have been better served to have made LiW completely about rice, and left the flowers out of it. As it stands, what you essentially wind up with is the smell of chalky powder (Creed's insistence on using synthetic iris adds to that), with hints of soapy-sweet funk lurking underneath (thank the narcissus-jasmine), for an all-out effect of "it's so bad, it works." Final analysis is, unreservedly, that LiW smells good because it smells adventurous and strange, saved from the reject drawer by its top-shelf synthetics and fleetingly successful use of naturals. It's definitely not what I was expecting at all.

There's a caveat to this, however. Here's why I started out by saying this is a tough one. LiW, on its own, in a vacuum, with no references or comparisons, smells good, like a meancing, quirky white floral with powdered bone guiding things along into a smooth, slightly vanillic base. There's an erotic component here, and I'm having a difficult time figuring out what it is or where it comes from, but I'm getting snatches of memory from various period-piece movies set in eighteenth century France, with high-bosomed young women floating through sunlit gardens. It's like something they might wear, if the powder from their wigs mixed with a stodgy old-fashioned perfume. And they'd be more inclined to wear it if they'd never smelled anything else Creed made, because when taken out of the vacuum and put into context, LiW winds up smelling like the worst thing Creed ever made. Mind you, the worst thing they ever made smells infinitely better than the best of countless other houses (Claiborne's associates might dream of one day reaching its heights with something a hair better than Windex), but in this situation I must say, given a choice among everything in Creed's full range, LiW would be my last. The briefness of the orange, the breadth of sneeze-inducing un-puffed rice, and the strange muted skank of the florals simply doesn't play against Love in Black's sincere violet bloviation, or Spring Flower's bright fruitiness. It's just too strange, and too off-putting to compete. But still, if you're a fan of Creed fragrances, and a fan of unusual white floral arrangements, perhaps the acqueous magnolia and the silky vanilla that pops out here and there will be enough to win you over. Do try it and see.

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