Exploring Silver Mountain Water Clones, and Why I'm Going Climbing

Silver Mountain Water is a weird one. Twenty-four years ago, Creed released a Millesime that has since been relentlessly studied and copied by a multitude of obscure brands, most of them Middle Eastern. These are fragrances you would never hear about if you aren't into fragrances. What makes Silver Mountain Water (SMW) weird is that no mainstream high fashion designer brand has ever picked up on the concept and copied it. Despite having a respectable place in the Creed canon, and being a widely discussed fragrance amongst fragcomm aficionados, SMW remains a "niche" artifact, with no direct link to popular culture.

Why aren't corporate leaders at Chanel, YSL, Gucci, Prada, D&G interested in ripping off this Creed? It's a proven money maker. Creed has openly cited it as one of their top sellers since its release. And it's a considerably easy fragrance to sell. Its fresh composition, loaded with crowd-pleasing fruity-green notes, is relatively timeless. Despite its age, SMW feels as bright and new as it did in '95. Adding to the mystery is the fact that several Middle Eastern companies have recognized the commercial potential of Creed's concept, and successfully monopolized the market with a variety of competent progeny. Why has the West failed to follow suit?

I suppose these questions wouldn't bug me so much if it weren't for Aventus. When Creed released Aventus in 2010, it hit the niche market with a whimper. Basenotes and general fraghead consensus was that Aventus smelled kind of "designer" and "generic." Many were surprised Creed went in that direction. It wasn't until around 2012 that guys began hyping it as liquid Spanish Fly. And it wasn't until 2014 that the term "panty dropper" became synonymous with it. There is some speculation that Pierre Bourdon was the author of Aventus, and I'll get into that in another post this year. But my quick take on it is that Aventus is a very good Creed, but not the most "Creedy" of Creeds. To me, SMW fits that bill much better.

The reason I bring up Aventus here is simple: designers want a piece of the Aventus pie. And why wouldn't they? They've wanted a piece of the Millesime Imperial pie, the Green Irish Tweed pie, the Himalaya pie, etc. That's a lot of pie. Mount Blanc recently issued their version of Aventus. Pineapple notes are popping up everywhere. Established niche and designers are paying tons of attention to it, despite its being ten years old already. And rightly so - it's a great scent. But so is Silver Mountain Water. Why hasn't anyone bothered with little old Silver Mountain Water?

I'm going Silver Mountain climbing in the next few months, to explore some of the offbeat brands from downmarket Western companies, and from Dubai, that have given SMW the time of day. I've been wearing these fragrances for months, and have fully formed opinions of their varying degrees of quality and accuracy. In my opinion, SMW is an interesting, thoroughly postmodern, and utterly compelling fragrance, and exploring its clones has been a lot of fun.

Hopefully my interest in this Creed will help spur along some imaginations in the designer world. Come on, Chanel, come on Gucci, come on YSL, where's your Silver Mountain Water frag? It might seem trite to release a tea and blackcurrant scent in 2020, but given the abundance of smoky oud orientals on the market, I think it's time to switch gears and return to the nineties. Let's go.


My Thoughts on the Molton Brown Line

In 2019 I had the chance to try out some of the Molton Brown fragrances, and reviewed them on Fragrantica. They weren't all that impressive, and I don't feel like spending more than ten minutes on them, so here we go:
Tobacco Absolute: Tobacco is a tough one for any brand to do successfully. You can't use natural tobacco absolute in perfume because of the whole nicotine thing, so reconstructions are necessary. This one takes a sweet honeysuckle accord, a gathering of the floral and green-stem notes, and embellishes it with heavy shakes of black pepper, basil, oregano (yes, oregano), with a hint of something camphor-like, perhaps a kind of ginger effect, at the very top. Smells okay, but I would have vastly preferred a straightforward honeysuckle. It's an underrated note, there aren't enough honeysuckle soliflores out there, and the last one I smelled is the now-defunct Chèvrefeuille by Creed, which I dearly miss.

Russian Leather: Not bad. Lots of synthetic birch tar (IFRA correct birch tar, presumably), imparting a deep, rich, super-smoky bitterness that smells a lot like cigar tobacco. So Russian Leather smells like it could have been MB's Tobacco Absolute, at least for the first fifteen minutes. The drydown brings a bit of a floral sweetness, but it's vague, more ambery, and doesn't hurt an otherwise pristine depiction of the star note. It's hard to find a great leather for under $150. I wouldn't call this great, but if you like smooth leather, you might love this.

Re-Charge Black Pepper: Black pepper? Where? This smells more like white pepper, which is quite different in both taste and smell (and amazing in scrambled eggs). White pepper is creamier, subtler than its darker counterpart. I find this one to be the most "generic guy" of what I've tried from this brand. It's a simple woody amber with peppery overtones, and a cologney-baloney drydown. "Re-Charge" implies that I've purchased on credit one too many of these dull and forgettable designer scents. Definitely not for me, although fifteen years ago I might have considered it.

Geranium Nefertum: Otherwise known as "Geranium Lotus." This is a pretty good one. It's very green, very bitter, as geranium scents typically are, and actually smells fairly natural. Expect a big blast of galbanum and peppery geranium on top, followed by a gradual dusking effect of dew-covered meadow with nondescript floral tones. It's a cool amber, very unisex, and probably an alternative to whatever well-worn fougere you were thinking of wearing instead. Worth the money if you truly love geranium, but if you already have things like Grey Flannel and Jacomo's beautiful Silences, try before buying.
My takeaway is that this is one of those brands that a fraghead will enjoy sampling, but will probably walk away from, unless they're hard up for an affordable upscale designer scent, a scenario I can't imagine myself in. And that's the problem with designers nowadays. So much has been recycled that the inherent need to wear any of them has all but vanished. Hopefully the next decade will bring about some remarkable innovations in themes and structures that make the designer world exciting again. But right now Molton Brown is just holding someone's beer.