Remember when you met my friend Diane and she wanted a recommendation for a lemon fragrance? And you thought you could pass along a list, from which she'd discover a lovely, sunny perfume and forever feel indebted to your knowledge and kindness? [I'd pitched all the usual suspects: Ô de Lancôme, Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Christian Dior Escale à Portofino, Fresh Sugar, Heeley Oranges and Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement's. -- Katie] We were all so naive back then.
For many years Diane has rejected every obvious and obscure lemon suggestion, which reminds me of watching Liberace lament over his inability to find the perfect woman, someone who'd live up to the lofty standards of his mother.
I'd even asked Diane what her mother wore when she was young -- it was Chanel No. 5 -- and when that provided no clues, I took the Liberace correlation to its logical conclusion and suggested that perhaps Diane doesn't even like lemon. "Balderdash," she said, though not quite that, I just like imagining people speaking in anachronisms. "I love lemon!"
Her most frequent complaint is one of persistence -- lemon perfumes fade too quickly -- which is basically a complaint against science. I explained the success of any lemon-centric perfume comes down to how seamlessly it transitions to other ingredients, which comes down to the quality and compatibility of those ingredients, but that's like telling a child Christmas transitions into New Year's when the child only wants PRESENTS. Diane only wants LEMON.
I'd noticed Profumum Acqua Viva getting attention, primarily for the reason most Profumums get attention: its enormity. Lemons the size of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's head, the reviews seemed to promise, and so I bought a bottle, decanted some for Diane, and watched her euphorically (and metaphorically) throw herself into the air and proclaim Acqua Viva the very best perfume in the world!
|Philip Seymour Hoffman's head: too big to fit in this photo.|
"Balderdash," I said. I'd worn Acqua Viva and while its lemon is astoundingly bright and loud, like the 5th Dimension played at ear-splitting volume, it's not better than many of our suggestions. Plus, at $240, it's nearly a dollar a decibel!
To make my point, I decanted Diane several more perfumes, a blind smell test that would prove she doesn't truly believe what she says she believes. (Admittedly, I'd now gone off the rails in my quest to help a friend.)
She found Annick Goutal Hadrien Absolu too simple. And she'd already rejected the original for being too weak. (Wearing Eau d'Hadrien is like wearing nothing at all, with some slight citrus topnotes. If you look at Eau d'Hadrien's scent pyramid, it has citrus in the tiny point of the triangle and then a bunch of empty spaces beneath it.)
She thought neither Heeley Verveine nor Miller et Bertaux green, green, green and...green was sufficiently committed to its lemon, and while she liked Monsieur Balmain, she said it had a powdery smell. Her favorite among all the decants? Acqua Viva. Again. "It's like a big lemon firework," she said. "It reminds me of Trini Lopez on the jukebox when I was little."
Trini Lopez! Not even the 5th Dimension but Trini Lopez! Is it enough to know you've made someone happy? Because it's not enough for me. All along Diane had been asking for something exactly like Acqua Viva and now that she has it, now that she's finally fulfilled, I have this nagging feeling she could do better.
I don't trust contentment and I mourn the end of Diane's long, frustrating journey. The shock of success from finding someone her favorite perfume is somehow upsetting to me. Please don't ever try Acqua Viva, KP, because you might love it.