Mariah Carey M (2007): From Smells to Floriental {Perfume Review}




Mariah Carey launched her debut signature perfume, M, last year and since then there has been only positive buzz about it as far as we can tell. Celebrity perfumes are always suspected of being crass vehicles for loud branding and sheer money-making, except by their fans, and magic in a celeb's bottle is not expected by most people. M seems to be a case where the famous personality was able to have her say and impact the making of the perfume significantly while the perfumers seem to have intuited her well. Maybe we will learn one day Carey wanted it to smell like a billy-goat and the marketers set their foot down, but the perfume seems to go well with her perceived image on yet another level of synergy, that of the celebrity's image and her or his fragrance.


What can catch one's attention at first is the fact that M sounds authentic because it presents blatant idiosyncratic traits: a marshmallow note with a sea breeze accord and then some Moroccan incense? Quid? It sounded like the notes were there for a reason because they sounded rather whimsical thrown into the same mix. We also later thought that it might be a little in the line of Dune by Dior (marine incense) and so were doubly curious as this one is a rather unusual scent below its surface of mainstream respectability........


As it turns out, there is a logic behind M and it is a biographical one, as it features some of Mariah Carey's favorite smells. The interest for smells in perfumery has been particularly well developed in American perfumery thanks to the impact of a personality like Christopher Brosius and brands like Demeter and CB I Hate Perfume. Usually these smells remain very much so in the composition of the perfume. M seems to be both American in this interest for cataloging the real scents of the world and let us say more classically French it is insistence on transfiguration of initial impressions, elegance and complex blending. M is both marshmallow and smoky velvet. The marshmallow accord is linked to a childhood memory of Mariah being in the kitchen with her father (she was raised by a single mother), the living Tiare flower and wet Gardenia accords are reminiscent of the singer's favorite vacation spots, Hawaii and the Isle of Capri, and finally the Moroccan incense derives from another getaway memory. As the perfumers Carlos Benaim and Loc Dong who composed the fragrance explain, "This harmonious balance of Mariah's favorite scents and memories is at the heart of this creation."

What could have been a mere collage of distantly evocative smells feeling sorry to bump into each other for the sake of making sense to just one person, reveals itself, thanks to the art of perfumery, to be indeed a harmonious, mellow perfume with a particularly glorious marshmallow accord oozing with warmth both literally and figuratively as it easily evokes roasted marshmallow over a camp fire on the beach, with even the seeming addition in filigree of caramelized salty buttery pop corn to boot.

Instead of feeling foody, the perfume feels sensual, rich, and feminine. Mariah Carey is reported to wear the pure parfum version now available in a Gold Edition and the voluptuous texture of the composition should be accentuated. The composition is very sweet, but elegantly so. It, remarkably given its thrust, avoids the trap of the sticky sweet and brittle caramelized amber for nubile persons, which Ambre de Cabochard did not avoid. The secret seems to be perfect blending, dosage, and counterpoints.

M opens on fresh tropical-smelling and abstract fruity notes (litchi? mangosteen? pineapple?) which soon segues into an ambery incensey floral accord that is more interesting considered from the angle of the incense and amber slowly warming up than from the point of view of the slightly green florals at first which feel more generic at times, but are successfully covered, underlined and enriched by the Moroccan incense. At other times, the flowers feel more alive and 3-D. The illusion of a decadent marshmallow slowly melting over fire is ideally rendered and dissipates only if you start smelling other stages of the perfume at the same time. Then you start, by contrast, to smell iris. This overarching marshmallow accord is buttery in its texture, soft and rich. The blending with both creamy and dewy notes of white tiare, gardenia, some muguet and lilac, adds an element of light and innocent feminine charm. The patchouli, incense, and some sandalwood bring woody and spicy impressions that make the scent feel more womanly, seductive and add depth. The vanillic notes (Tonka) feel a bit burnished rather than just creamy with a seeming hint, underneath it all, of dirty costus. The see-breeze accord is never obvious, felt through a salty impression.

M presents itself as a very harmonious mix of disparate moments and atmospheres. It is a very well blended composition, with an aphrodisiac, thick love-potion-like character of the kind traditionally ascribed to chocolate and oysters sprinkled with pimento. Very versatile despite its marked character, it just melts on the skin.

Recommended for both sultry seductresses and nice girls.

Finally, congratulations to Mariah Carey who just got married last week to actor Nick Cannon!

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