Unforgivable Woman by Sean John is, perhaps not surprisingly so, like the macho dream of a women's fragrance. The slight surprise comes with the realization that this is not just a sexy fragrance. The scandalous flavor of the ad campaign made you expect to discover a sulfurous potion. It is indeed something of a man's honey trap, but also a scent with a protective maternal aura...
After a while, the soft powdery and creamy floral that is Unforgivable Woman betrays the desire of the man who envisioned it. He wants to be both seduced and protected by the woman who wears this perfume. The age-old dichotomies of "la mama y la puta," or again the virgin-mother and the whore, are somehow weaved into the perfume with its suggestions of innocent baby powder and powdered milk allied with the subliminally comforting notes of apple, pina colada, coconut, and orange flower but then also the racier musk, patchouli, and woods...
The perfume was created by David Apel of Givaudan, who already composed Unforgivable for Men, a major hit, it being the #1 men's fragrance sold in the US last year.
The press release explains that,
"An aficionado of scents, Sean Combs himself was intimately involved in the development of the fragrance."
Further, we read about Sean John's precise vision of what kind of a woman this perfume is meant for,
"When she moves, I stop. When she speaks I am lost. She is desire. She is illusion. Elusive in her way. A beauty catching you off guard. Enticing and unnerving. She is control and submission. Intellect and innocence. Sensuality and strength. Capable of taking what you dream and making it real. Of making what's real the ultimate dream. She is the tease. The fulfillment. Only she knows the path between sensuality and strength. Able to entice and unbalance. She is everything that makes dreams real. Everything that pushes limits. Everything that makes this life sexy. She is UNFORGIVABLE."
Despite a very long and detailed description of notes, the fragrance itself is blended in such a way as to make the notes appear virtually seamless. You can get an impression of citruses, blackcurrant, Pina Colada/pineapple, coconut, creamy florals, amber, musk, vetiver, and patchouli, but it is not really the point, as the goal here is to suggest a veil of intimacy, femininity, and seduction rather than to call attention to the notes.
The showcasing of vetiver, and woods in general, is noteworthy, as it adds a smoky, dry edge to the perfume, which otherwise would be much more commonplace, i.e., your ordinary musky floral, except that the ingredients are much better too. It is the necessary slightly dissonant part of a perfume to render it more interesting, like some of the more dissonant accords in P Diddy's music.
The longer musky dry-down is very realistic making you think of the natural body odor of a woman with a slightly natural musky scent who has perspired a bit. Just like Unforgivable the original fragrance, Unforgivable Woman is very well balanced, harmonious - and a little sweet.
It is one of those fragrances that are meant to evoke a moral type - more specifically an ideal of femininity - and sensual awakening - and it succeeds on both counts.The scent is easy to wear without lacking in personality.
It seems that P Diddy working together with David Apel have the magic touch for coming up with well-balanced ideals of both masculinity and femininity, as translatable to perfumes.
Fragrance notes: top notes of bergamot, orange, neroli, cassis, grapefruit, apple, cucumber, piña colada and orange flower; the heart is of jasmine, violet, muguet, freesia and cyclamen, and the drydown is of amber, tonka beans, coco de mer and vanilla tears mixed with cedar, sandalwood, oak moss, patchouli, vetiver and iris.
The perfume is available for $55 and $75 online on the Sean John Fragrances website where you can also watch a 3 mn edition of the controversial ad for the perfume.
(Movie poster from allo ciné blogs)