7/23/14

Revisiting "Silver" By Al-Rehab



In 1995, the house of Creed broke new ground by creating a perfume that defied classification. It was neither fern, nor oriental, nor chypre, nor cologne, nor aquatic, nor even a hybrid of any of those genres. It was simply a "fresh" fruity scent with strong whiffs of green tea, bitter berries, an odd, blatantly synthetic "ink" note, and clean musks, and its name was Silver Mountain Water.

Another thing SMW defied was gender branding. This isn't a big deal in the post CK One fragrance world however, and Creed considers it a unisex perfume. It's not even alone in Creed's unisex range, either - there's also Original Vetiver, Royal Water, Virgin Island Water, and a few others. Like RW however, SMW is unique in smelling strange and hard to describe. Because of its unusual note pyramid, and its remarkable combination of bitter and sweet, SMW is different enough to spawn a whole group of imitators. These include Hamptons by Bond no 9, Casamorati 1888 Mefisto by Xerjoff, and a little three dollar cheapie called Silver by Crown Perfumes/Al Rehab.

I've not tried the others, but I've owned a 6 ml roll-on of Silver for a couple years now, and used exactly a third of it, I think mostly to testing (I've worn it as my SOTD two or three times). My primary issue with it is that it's ungodly strong and difficult to apply. I actually put the roller on a shelf in the sun in the hope that time and light would degrade it a bit, and recently returned to find it has indeed grown weaker, but not by much. Out of curiosity I spent eight bucks on 43 ml of the stuff in atomizer EDP form, both a travel sprayer and a one ounce bottle. I was interested in finding out if the spray smells different than the oil.

The answer is most definitely "yes."

The oil to me smells much more like SMW than the spray does. Maybe it's the concentrated nature of it, but I get a firmer top accord of citrus, blackcurrant, and metallic "fresh" from the oil, whereas the atomizer is mostly alcohol in the first three seconds, then an overbearing, olfactory fatiguing citrus, and a paler, "inkier" berry note, all infused with an odd, musty smelling musk. The spray is more muted, overall. The biggest divergence is in concentration, with the spray seeming more diffuse and even a bit powdery, while the oil is sharper. I get three hours of noticeable sillage from the spray, before the scent becomes much tamer.

What strikes me most about the spray is that it resembles Royal Water more than SMW to me. If you asked me to identify what this scent is a clone of in a blind test, I would sooner guess RW after smelling the spray version. Its bitter, musty, herbal, and powdery characteristics are better aligned to RW's strangely hissy citrus, basil, and juniper berry blend than SMW's brighter tea and currant accord. Royal Water is also incredibly gender neutral, and in some ways I think it should have been called Silver Mountain Water instead of something as tacky as "Royal" Water. It actually smells like silver right out of the atomizer, and continues to smell bitter and a little dirty for hours. Its juniper manifests as a distinctly sweet(ish) purpley note, much like Silver's atomized currant note, but it's not nearly as sugary. All told, despite what might seem like drawbacks to fans of the oil, I like the faded aspect of the Royal Watery Silver better than the roll on by a considerable margin.

I definitely wouldn't classify the spray as a viable replacement for SMW, but the oil could easily do the trick if applied judiciously in hot weather. The spray replaces Royal Water though, obviously. The thing that merges all of these fragrances is an acutely synthetic vibe. None of these frags smell even remotely like anything in nature. SMW has that metallic tang to it, and Royal Water has its own metallic note, and a distinctly "perfumey" aura that Silver's spray mimics well. Whenever I consider buying a bottle of RW, the thing that holds me back is its perfumey feel. I'm not sure I want to wear a Creed that smells generically like unisex, somewhat feminine perfume. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of owning a Creed?

But then I smelled Silver again, and realized that the unisex gender-bending potential outweighs that con. There's something fascinating to me about a smell that seems masculine in some ways, and overtly feminine in others. Luckily I don't have to drop a Benjamin on a Creed to attain that level of sophistication (if you could call it that) - all I have to do is wear Silver. It should keep people guessing just as effectively.




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