Idole d'Armani is a nice diversion from the musky florals and fruity florals that one has come slowly to accept as the smell of the Zeitgeist. Feminine shelves in perfumeries are by default now catering to the abstraction that are young women's tastes as defined by the invisible masters of fragrance fashion who tell them what will make them happy even before they can have a clear idea of what indeed would make them content perfume-wise. It is only normal that such an overwhelming favorable bias would exist for women in their late teens and early twenties as although not the richest consumers they are the ones most engaged in the dating game. They are also the most fickle too as there exists no inhibition anymore for this generation to the regular exploring of perfumery aisles rather than the settling down for a sig scent as the expression does not go for a "signature scent". Although that could have been a nice perky shorthand via SMS in contradiction though with the general ethos of hyper fast communication and up-to-the-minute version of reality. Imagine a daily message on Twitter saying "still wearing my sig scent today & meaning to do so until the day I croak." Somehow it does not sound eventful enough or in tune with a world in which a fragrance infatuation can live under 24 hours and global warming is referred to regularly to point to a future that is all about instability...
Idole d'Armani is, as it turns out, is a sociologically interesting and fine-smelling attempt to conciliate the olfactory codes of fast and fickle love and slow and enduring one in the sphere of perfumes. It is on the one hand something all-too familiar, fruity-floral, and something less conventional in this day and age, a return to the grand tradition of feminine perfumes with oakmoss, like a hybrid between two generations of women. Armani thought that one of the issues facing the female fragrance purchasers today is that their femininity is not celebrated enough by the surge of unisex fragrances. Being much more at ease with the male psyche, the designer pointed out that "Maybe it's because I'm a man and I know what men like. [They] like fragrances that [make them] feel like a man." In his view, a successful women's fragrance therefore needs to offer the same psychological benefit. Yet, you still need to please all these girls, as well as the inner girls in women of all ages since girlhood is now for all seasons. See Betsey Johnson, a 67 year old girl. Women used to wear oakmoss, girlz wear pink fruits.
A good point, which is to Armani's advantage in my view is that they have resorted to an adapted vintage feel. Instead of proposing to you to wear a musty old fur coat, you are proposed a fur coat made with new, clean materials yet diffusing the same attractive warmth albeit in a lighter, less medievalish manner. The bear hug of oakmoss has lightened up, yet manages to retain a certain cavernous charm and a surprisingly assertive character in this summer of 2009 where Idole d'Armani is standing next to Cacharel Scarlett and Boss Orange with about the same clientèle in mind and where a perfume called The Empress, L'Impératrice by D & G smells like a big, huge fluorescent peach. Si Lolita is destined to Lolitas obviously and although I have it at hand I have been delaying discovering it. I am still admiring the bottle and afraid I might be disappointed by its contents.
Idole d'Armani was composed by Bruno Jovanovic of IFF. The scent is said to be a spicy floral and it is, but it is more interesting to me as a twist on oakmoss-based scents. I hesitate to say chypre because although it pulls out elements out of the chypre genre, it does not smell exactly like one of those neo-chypres as it also has elements of the veil scent (light, enveloping musk), the watery scent (the juiciness, a watery accord in the base), but with oakmoss to add character. Official notes are: Sicilian clementine, ginger, juicy pear, Indian davana in the top; absolute of saffron, Egyptian jasmine, loukhoum rose; benzoin, patchouli and vetiver in the base.
On an initial take, the beginning of the development of the fragrance seems very standard with its marked fruity-floral impression that is sweet, juicy, and with a noticeable and continued nuance of nail polish which reminds me a bit of Jean Paul Gaultier Classique's opening. The polish facet might be a form of floral indole or aldehyde or it might be added as a hip note like in the upcoming Parisienne, also for young women, which has a vinyle note. Jovanovic has recently shown his avant-gardist talent by creating a perfume for the fashion show Incredible Fashion & Fragrances! at ENSAD called Parfum H2010 with notes of old vinyle record, yellowed paper, and a chemical leathery note. As soon as I smelled this stage which came across first as a rather pedestrian juciy fruity-floral accord, I thought that this was meant for the crowd in their twenties. I in fact mentally discarded the scent as a trend victim. A couple of hours later having fortunately left the perfume to be, I suddenly discover an entirely different climate with a much more marked personality: it smells distinctively of oakmoss, has depth and is spicy and peppery.
The composition turns out to be warm, feminine, sophisticated -- without being precious -- casually elegant. The perfume is very easy to wear and it is sensually pleasing to do so. Next to many of the current offerings, it is simply better, with more of those extra vibrations one expects from a good fragrance. After discovering the contemporary oakmoss base rendered with the help of patchouli, vetiver and sandalwood, the composition takes on a new meaning. A second layering of the perfume allows the initial fruits to benefit from the deeper base letting the dark fruity davana stand out better. The fruits become less juicy and more stewed in quality. In the heart, the classic rose-saffron accord is made a bit tarter than usual while keeping a jammy pâte-de-fruit facet. The so-called loukhoum rose feels "rahat", mellow, comfortable but not literally gourmand as in edible. As the stewed fruit aspect blooms overtime, a peach/apricot facet becomes more prominent.
I have to say that the perfume reminds me strongly of Shiloh by Hors La Monde composed by Michel Roudnitska except that there is not a big citrus explosion in the beginning and the incensey note is much more understated (benzoin). The oakmoss-y base offers a similar texture of being slightly sugary, watery and light. The vanilla here is tuned down at a minimum. It does not have the oniric quality found in Shiloh which I find quite mesmerizing but is closely related in structure. Shiloh incidentally is also given as a "spicy floral."
All in all a nice, surprise light oakmoss perfume discovery from the shelves of a mainstream perfumery.
In its aim to be an ode to femininity, Idole d'Armani manages to straddle the atmospheres of both girly and womanly with a certain wit, and charm, definitely. To me it presents this quality of being eminently adoptable and wearable in all sorts of different situations without sacrificing its personality to blandness. I think it is called being versatile. A versatile oakmoss perfume is a welcome addition as it means oakmoss is here to stay in spite of the angst expressed by users of old-school chypres. I never doubted that perfumers would adapt to new constraints or would at the very least continue to enchant us by strumming alternative notes.