For the entire month of November, Le Labo offers its City Exclusives for purchase worldwide. As the last minutes of the last day of the 11th month tick by for adrenaline-charged, online-shopping fumeheads to score a bottle of New York (Tubereuse 40), say, or Dallas (Aldehyde 44), here's an overview of the exclusives I've had a chance to wear.
I'm reconsidering my original position (in my Vanille 44 review) that Poivre 23 is “a pepper mill overkill.” The intervening years have seen me taking too many hits off the hard stuff (Guerlain Nahéma, LesNez Manoumalia) or the weird stuff (Byredo M/Mink, Miller Harris L'Air de Rien), so perfumes that once overstimulated my ragged nerve endings now seem perfectly well-mannered. (Just the kind of increasing tolerance my junior high health teacher warned against in that “Just Say No” lecture.)
Poivre 23 is undeniably peppery, but not in the monotonously relentless manner of Marc Jacobs Bang, for instance. Poivre 23's lively, freshly-ground opening puts you smack in the middle of crunchy, multicolored peppercorn bits, like a child in the Ikea ball room.
|This is your Poivre 23'd skin under a microscope.|
And just as you're announcing to no one in particular, “Mmm! I'm so well-seasoned! Waiter, you can stop grinding now,” the pepper shower stops, enabling you to tune into heretofore undetected woodsy vanilla. The whole deal is very dry, and in the way that the mind's nose can transform vanilla into cardboard, P23 wafts in a hint of sweet book pages.
This is a truly unisex scent with a kicky opening that quickly mellows into a pleasing but verrrrry soft ambered wood hum.
The Los Angeles exclusive is Musc 25, a pure white musk with a passing puff of Labdanum 18's powder. But unlike Labdanum 18, which starts off dirty and gets cleaner on the drydown, Musc 25 opens with a blinding laundry glow which then becomes borderline rank as it stews on the skin. Could that have something to do with "ingredient X", “a synthesized representation of human semen”, as it is described by Le Labo?
|Le Labo founders Fabrice and Eddie: guess which one has been "synthesized" for your smelling pleasure?|
The virtual spunk passes through a sour stage, but there's a happy ending for all as Musc 25 resolves into a snuggly amber and dryer sheets blend, leaving behind only a faint stain of its previous bad behavior.
P.S. Musc 25 is incredibly tenacious, and pleasingly so: a clean musk scent still clings softly a day after application. Given Musc 25's vaunted "ingredient X", I just hope I'm not pregnant.
See KP Smells reviews of more City Exclusives: