Sunday, 6 September 2009

A Scent: Issey Miyake


I've always appreciated Issey Miyake's perfumes and unfussy advertising.
Sometimes however, I get the impression that his "minimalist" aesthetic is just a ruse... after all, I find the perfumed releases from his line really rather complex, despite their purported 'minimalist' approach. Take the groundbreaking Le Feu d'Issey for example - a perfume that lived a very short life for being way too avante garde... its vast array of notes and accords ran the gamut from sichuan peppers to Japanese lilies, to milk; the end result representing his take on the elemental force of fire. It was an extraordinary synthesis of accords that, when it appeared on department store shelves, was bottled and packaged in clean, simple, Miyake-esque geometric shapes... a sphere inside a cube. What else? Even the starring pair in his perfume portfolio L'eau d'Issey and L'eau d'Issey Pour Homme - which portray the purest and most basic of the elements: water - have compositions which are really very intricate.

Miyake's 2009 women's release: a scent, is no different.
At a glance, the transparent heavy glass flacon and the colourless liquid it holds both seem to epitomise the Miyake approach of understated, unembellished functionality. Even the name a scent is as uncomplicated a name as one can possibly assign to a perfume. This being said, it is when you actually come to experience the perfume itself, you learn that once again, the bottle's contents belie this perception. The introductory spritz furnishes the wearer with an extraordinary feeling of green... sharp, crisp, rich emerald hues, which are not at all unlike the herbaceous, sophisticated opening puff of Sisley's Eau de Campagne. It prickles with ripe citruses before meandering towards a wonderfully rich floral heart. Intoxicating jasmine and hyacinth smoulder and there are fleeting moments of the heady floral rubberiness one can experience whilst wearing Fredric Malle's En Passant. The overall impression is as if walking through a beautiful garden at the height of summer with the verbena and hyacinths in bloom - totally enchanting and also a little overwhelming. Fortunately, the crisp green and shimmering citruses manage to reign in the opulent florals. The tail end of this fragrance shifts towards a "freshly-washed" soapiness - something that renders a scent the perfect vivifying fragrance to be worn in (but not limited to) hot weather, or during long-haul travel. This eau de toilette lasts a satisfying 7 hours on my skin.

The very fact that Issey Miyake can cram an entire European summer garden into a modest glass bottle and market it in an unostentatious manner, really speaks to me of his extraordinary vision. Whilst many others would resort to smoke and mirrors, Miyake strips them back - so sure he is that a scent will be well received.

His aesthetic may be minimal, but his perfumes are sincerely profound.


2 comments:

janedaly said...

Mm. Off to test this today. Sounds wonderful. Have heard comparisons to PdN Le Temps d'Une Fete. Thinking "green" scents are the new thing. Like it.

Neil R Graf said...

'long-haul travel.' yeah. it is perfect for a 12 hour drive. srsly.