2/8/15

XS "Excess" Pour Homme (Paco Rabanne)




Every few years a novel accord is introduced and explored by a handful of perfumers with mainstream influence, and they either catch on and are expounded upon, or die an early death. Contrary to popular belief on Fragrantica and basenotes, XS Pour Homme never really caught on, and wasn't exactly a hum-drum, unoriginal clone. I held off for a while on investigating this one because I never really loved its comparatives, Platinum Égoïste and Himalaya, but I came so close to loving Himalaya (and just couldn't manage it) that I wondered if good 'ol Paco had done a better job with the "gunpowder" note of its niche brethren.

Platinum Égoïste also had an arresting fougère effect that was a biscuit away from perfection to me, but alas, I couldn't warm to it, probably because it was so resolutely chilly from top to bottom. There is a charmlessly wan, bloodless, listless nature to PE, yet it smells brisk, fresh, a little soapy, and well composed. I could occasionally abide it. It also has a bit of a "cold gunpowder" note, like some sort of frozen charcoal that resembles galbanum, minus the brightness. One thing about PE and Himalaya though - they're both reminiscent of soap. They smell like hi-res deodorant. Their negligibly warmer heart accords also have a Green Irish Tweedy feel, Himalaya more so in its base, which is unsurprising given the common "Creed water" base accord used in Olivier's line.

XS has been described in many ways, with all sorts of supposedly organic notes mentioned by reviewers: juniper, mint, lavender, coriander, sandalwood, rosewood, mandarin, etc, etc. Many of those notes are in fact lucid and easily detectable, and its top note of fizzy bergamot and lavender is strikingly pleasant. Gerard Anthony wasn't copying Creed when he designed this formula, but by coincidence his fougère wound up being Green Irish Tweed dressed in gunpowder grey. Its heart and base is about 70% similar to GIT, and at the end of the day we can't really pretend the notes are different, because both frags are incredibly synthetic and soapy-fresh. The only thing that stands apart in XS is a light, gunpowder-like note in its heart and base, a flinty, slightly charred aroma, very crisp and quite enjoyable.

Still, the juniper, precious woods, herbal twang, and freshly-cut fruit notes of XS are a welcome departure from the staid floral arrangement of more conventional dihydromyrcenol fougères, and that hint of dry darkness that lurks behind the brighter "fresh" elements is lovely. Too bad there weren't more masculines that tried to emulate the burnt aura of airborne ionic salts. Also a shame that so many people missed the point of the fragrance to begin with. XS was never meant to be groundbreaking or starkly different from its contemporaries. It was intended to show us that established concepts could still be tweaked in new and interesting ways.

Is there anything sexier than the smell of a clean, well-groomed guy who just fired his musket into the enemy's ranks? Ladies, you tell me.



5 comments:

  1. Cool!
    Up until now I had no idea gunpowder accords existed!
    How manly can you get?

    Looking at the print ads and bottle design you would expect a "lighter fluid" accord, though.
    Isn't it funny how often frag houses drop the ball when it comes to marketing?
    If gunpowder accords were new (and something which made xs fairly unique) at the time you would expect at least the faintest allusion to this in the ads.
    As an aside, I own black xs l'exces which sounds like it should be a flanker but to my nose has no relation scent-wise to how you've described xs. I believe black xs' connection to the original is also tenuous at best...

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    1. They didn't drop the ball, they carried it over the goal line: the lighter bottle is an allusion to the gunpowder-like "charred stone" smell of flint, similar to that golden-oldie, the flintlock firearm.

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  2. I saw this one on Fragrantica: http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Francesco-Smalto/Fullchoke-9825.html

    "Fullchoke is a perfume based on "the note of explosive gun powder," launched in 2004. This challenging men's fragrance was created by Pierre Bourdon."

    Judging from the comments, which are 95% jokes about the extremly phallic bottle, very few people seem to have actually tried it, even though it's by Bourdon and pretty cheap. I have to admit the bottle has prevented me from buying it too so far.

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    Replies
    1. Funny, when I look at the bottle, I see the clear shape of a shotgun stock. Makes sense, given the scent's name!

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