Rememberance Day Perfume

Poppies by Ayala Moriel
Poppies, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
In honour of Remembrance Day today I’m wearing my red and white poppies, and - FlowerbyKenzo, which incorporates the symbolic poppy in its bottle design and supposedly has notes of Himalayan blue poppies (a place I'm yet to climb to). 

FlowerbyKenzo is a rather young (12yrs) blockbuster if to judge by it's rather steady place at the top selling perfume lists in Europe. The bottle design must be a big part of this perfume's success - I think it is beautiful and well-designed and the marketing campaigns for it, including installing entire fake fields of poppies in various urban destinations, are brilliant and thought provoking (the main thought being: wow, they sure invest a lot of money promoting this fragrance!).


It has a soapy, sweetpea-like scent, with violet, rose and cassie notes, wild hawthorne, Himalayan poppies, opoponax and most of all - loads of heliotropin and musks. It begins begins a bit peppery and is slightly reminiscent of Parfum Sacré, with the juxtaposition of spice and powdery, sweet musk. Yet roses do not play nearly a big role here as in Parfum Sacré, and neither does the incense (whcih is very muted in FlowerbyKenzo, but still there with an underlining smouldering effect).

Once it's dried down it's a rather linear powdery, sweet musk scent that does not offer much of a surprise. There is an element in it that runs though most of the Kenzo scents that I've tried - a certain almondy, floral yet fresh note. I think it's an accord that incorporates cassie absolute and heliotropin. I can detect it in SummerbyKenzo and also in KenzoAmour. To keep a continuity in a fashion designer without an in-house perfumer is not an easy feat, and I think that alone is what gives Kenzo it's edge and visibility in the highly competitive fragrance market. 

FlowerbyKenzo is not something I'd normally wear - although it shares some elements and qualities with some of my favourites scents -  it is a tad too powdery and perfumey to my taste, and if I'm after a spicy powdery musk - Parfum Sacre gives that without all the powdery almondy fluff. And for the cassie notes I'll get much more of what I'm after from Farnesiana or Fleur de Cassie

FlowerByKenzo - Kenzo - 50 euro (save 14e)

Top note: Pepper, Cassis, Bulgarian Rose, Parma Violet
Heart notes:
Wild Hawthorn, Cyclosal, Hedione, Cassie
Base notes: Heliotropin, Bourbon Vanilla, Opoponax, White Musk
, Incense


Judging by the passionate colours of the fluidly designed phallic yet curvy bottles, I was really expecting something powerfully seductive. Instead, what I got from KenzoAmour was a cuddly synthesis of gourmand suggestions, what is now known as “comfort scent” – the olfactory equivalent of a chocolate, ice cream or a bag of chips on a lonely Friday night, watching cartoons on the couch and wearing pyjamas with matching cartoon character prints.

Kenzo Amour starts with a confusing floral bouquet – nondescript, abstract, utterly synthetic florals labeled as frangipani and cherry blossom. I smell a hint of rose and powder that is a faint déjà vu of FlowerbyKenzo – one of Kenzo’s greatest hits. There is an underlining of powder and musk. The heart notes dive into a concoction of cherries and steamed rice, in a dessert connotation such as rice dumpling or a fluffy coconut bun sprinkled with crushed raw peanuts; And a rather gentle suggestion of cherries – somewhat like a subdued version of Lutens’ Rahat Loukum. What saves me from drowning in sweetness is a slightly tart note, which I cannot quite place my nose on, and might be the white tea notes.

I was really expecting for something truly new from Kenzo Amour, and instead I got quotes from different perfumes: The base is powdery musk and vanilla, as in Flower, or the signature dry down of the Ormonde Jayne line (The tartness of Amour reminds me of the pink pepper and dates notes in Ta’if, and the steam rice recalls the basmati rice in Champaca). Also, it is also not far off from other mass-marketed scents such as Armani’s Mania and Code.

As for the beautiful packaging and bottles - this is quite a clever marketing stunt: three bottles of the same fragrance, in three different colours and slightly different shapes. These look great next to each other in the ads. But in reality, they look like an interesting take on clean Scandinavian and/or Japanese design gone affordable and sold at IKEA, after being molded into cheap plastic or ceramics, or worst yet – adapted into leather couches. I almost bought into it, and first bought the large freesia coloured bottle, only to discover that in this size it looks more like a vase than a perfume flacon – and the colour is all wrong, it’s orange and plasticky looking (anyways, when displayed on its own…). I suggest starting small, with the fuchsia bottle, which is truly adorable. However, when it comes to functionality, these beautiful designs can act rather odd: the elongated neck of the lid creates the peculiar feeling of gabbing onto a drumstick, prepared for a juicy bite… (well, it is juicy, actually…).

Notes: Cherry Blossom, Frangipani, White Tea, Steamed Rice, Thanaka Wood, Vanilla, Musk Perfumer: Daphne Bugey
Bottle design: Karim Rachid
Box design: Research Studios

Images and information about notes and designers adapted from Kenzo's website.
Back to the top