Ed Hardy Love & Luck for Women & Men (2008): Japanese Taste Taken Hostage or The Art of the Generic Scent {Perfume Review & Musings}

Ed-Hardy-Love-Luck.jpgEd Hardy, following their debut perfumes, Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier for Women and Men, have introduced a second her-and-him scents named Love and Luck by Christian Audigier for Women and Men. This time the positioning is not just the youth market but the Japanese one as well. According to WWD,

"Love & Luck was inspired by an oversize painting by tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy. The work features 2,000 dragons on a 4-foot-wide, 500-foot-long scroll, which he painted to commemorate the start of the millennium eight years ago."

Zalman Lekach The CEO of New Wave Fragrances added,

"I came across this scroll when I was researching his art and it was the perfect inspiration for fragrances based on Japanese tastes." [...] "This is a very visual brand,"

In case you are imagining Lekach had to dig deep into the archives to bump into the scroll and exhumed it covered with dust and near-oblivion, this is not quite the case as the 2000-dragons scroll is available in book form published by Smart Art Press and listed on Amazon. The fast-paced research perfectly mirrors the fast-paced perfume-making that presided over the creation of Love & Luck issued only 10 months after the release of the Ed Hardy scents in February 2008. This just comes through in the scents. While the Ed Hardy for Women and Men had their moments of weakness, they refrained from overt exploitation of young consumers' naïveté and reliance on visual cues. With Love & Luck, inhibitions have been set aside and the creative team seems to have gaily sailed into marketing waters by 1) congratulating each others for their commercial successes with the debut scents and 2) wondering how to benefit from and ride on this unexpected wave of luck: Oh, yes, I have an idea, let's call the new fumes Love & Luck (you can love us and we can still be lucky), then tap into the Japanese market which is white-hot and ready for Ed Hardy. No need to think too hard about the fumes themselves because, anyway, all available reports say the same thing: the Japanese hate perfume. But they love to offer it - and super boon - they never even open their packages. What we have to worry about though is the packaging...

The new Love & Luck fragrances are inexplicably basic-smelling. One charitable explanation would be that Ed Hardy wanted to tap into the Japanese Muji movement of self-effacement and generic (olfactory) branding (see how the concept was used for Kenzo Power), but I have not seen this explanation put forth. On paper upon reading the notes, the Love & Luck scents appear to replicate some of the spirit poured into their precursors: hip boozy notes, fruits, dessert-y notes but come across much more than those predecessors like early drafts and sketches.

The Japanese reportedly wear more perfume on clothing than on skin; I do not know if this cultural pereference was taken into account but the scents, especially the feminine one, smell slightly more passable on textile than on skin.

Love & Luck for Women eau de parfum was blended by perfumer Adriana Medina of Givaudan. It is very fruity-floral, candied, creamy, with an impression of boozy sake with red fruits, cherries in particular. It is pretty linear. Well, yes, it is definitely linear. At one point though it evolves into a seeming klaxon concert, that is, it becomes loud and synthetic-smelling with headache-inducing aroma molecules still pretending to smell natural. One just thinks at this point that the creative team ought to have written down in their perfume descriptions a note of "plastic garbage bag" or "new plastic doll with fumes still freshly arising from her limbs" just to be on the safe side and not leave room for people to think it was an involuntarily effect. But no, instead they offered that there are notes of bergamot, blood orange, red sake accord, black currant, pink peppercorn, nectarine, jasmine petals, forbidden plum, sensual musk, cedarwood, sandalwood and patchouli.

Comme des Garçons have conferred some nobility to street smells and synthetic gems, but in the case of Ed Hardy Love & Luck for women, it seems like the perfume smells more of a budget cut. Some further woodsy notes emerge, but mainly what one gets is a somewhat cacophonic medley of notes that is barely better on textile. It can be characterized as a lesser version of Garçon Manqué by Des Filles à la Vanille. 

To be more positive: this is a scent for people who like very artificial smells, and I have no doubt that they exist. If you never dared eat real fruits as seen in nature or even preserved in a can, and only truly enjoy the scent of plastic flowers with bright colors (and I know some people freak out when they see real vegetables and fruits), this is your scent.

The Love & Luck for Men eau de toilette was blended by perfumer Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan. It offers very standard zesty, marine-like, musky and woody top notes as found in a legion of masculine fragrances. Oh, wait, these are not the top notes, they are the whole scent. These basic notes just become stronger and then weaker, like a monotonous and repetitive riff on an electric guitar from a stoned musician who takes badly to whatever he is on (too much absinthe maybe?). But wait, I smell something fruity floating on the surface of emptiness. Here one cannot help but think that they ought to have included an accord of "empty Zen mind" or "bad end of the week" just to make sure we got the message this was a willed effect.

The masculine smells like the most generic summary of a masculine perfume as it is conceived today in the mainstream market. You wonder whether this is just a base or if it can still pretend to the title of perfume. Where have all the notes gone? The bergamot, orange and mandarin, cardamom, absinthe, sage, cypress, violet, musk, cedarwood, dark vetiver and agarwood all blend into conformity. To be fair, this slight cologne is not unpleasant, having a certain mellowness to it and a nice sensual drydown, but unfortunately and in essence, it feels more like the scent of a masculine perfumery aisle that you brought back with you on your sleeves after you brushed past a wall of colognes at the end of a shopping session, or the residual scent on a perfume blotter after several days of drying out in the open air. What is left is less than minimalistic, it is basic, impoverished. It feels like a perfume with a lobotomy or a foetus of one. If you do very basic scents or even just prefer vague smells and identify with the brand's image and like the packaging, then I can see why you would buy it.

Both Ed Hardy Love & Luck for Women and Men one would tend to categorize as "vague scents" or "generic scents" which, and this is the only challenge I detect, are not particularly pleasant or interesting. The Love & Luck for Men is the one that seems most ready to sacrifice a demanding artistic vision to just smelling good, albeit overly simplified. The Love & Luck for Women prefers to stick to an uncompromising vision of plastic cream pie filled with pink heart-shaped rubber gums and varnished with a fresh coat of nailpolish.

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