Zara perfumes ought not to be overlooked while you shop for clothing and accessories because they are pretty good as far as I have been able to experience them myself. Winter was too much of a xerox-copy of Douce Amère and only offered the charm of a tighter-feeling wallet, but scents such as Silver Musk, Dream, Essential, Black, and White (all recently tested) have a little something extra that pull you in as far as no-fuss fragrances are concerned. They are priced cheaply but do not smell cheap, unless you compare them side by side with an Editions de Parfum (I have not tried to do that, so it's a theory). They embody well the spirit of the fragrance conceived of as a fashion accessory, in the most relaxed sense. They are made for people who do not like to lead complicated lives (this is also a theory, obviously. These people might actually need to scent themselves into oblivion more than others.)....
And let me pause here now to add that it might be completely
useless to review this scent if it's not going to stick around long enough for
people to get used to it, but I
tend to like the idea of capturing the ephemeral.
The more transient, the better sometimes. Hey, I could have a perfume blog solely devoted to flankers or to the worst-smelling juices on the planet to prove that point. But I don't want to become permanently maimed or even cranky.
I also have to point out that although Silver Musk is
currently available it is not always in stock. So be patient. I myself am
looking forward to trying Intense (shown on the Zara site.) Finally, this review may nevertheless be
useful as a guide to shopping for fragrance at Zara. Rule #1: don't ignore them
just because they look disposable (please see above for reference and this more ancient post).
Silver Musk (16,95€), like all Zara fragrances, does not advertise its notes. Clearly, they are targeting fashionistas on a shopping rampage. In fact, this scent does not even appear on the site. Clearly, they are targeting people who appreciate relative exclusivity based on relative secrecy. It is Spanish fragrance company Puig which is responsible for the label. The philosophy of the Zara fragrance brand seems to be in harmony with its fast-moving fashion philosophy: act before it's gone for good and do not ask futile questions: we holistically promise that you will get value. Sometimes, they don't even have testers on display. Sometimes they will go to the back of the store to extirpate one. At other times, they can't find it. The price is here to help you buy a cheap ticket to the perfume lottery. You can call it also a blind buy.
Silver Musk could be a simple musk-oil type scent, but it's not that obvious (see musk oils, part 1 and part 2).
It opens on fresh, even frosty green and floral accents and then - aouch! - fades into a heavily-smelling warm detergent musk - I involuntarily inserted a frowny expression here as it smells downright prosaic and unpleasant at that point. But then the scent regains some olfactory altitude, like a little silver airplane, thanks to an inner citrus-orange lift.
The blend reaches a stage where it smells like a sweet white
ambery musk, a bit syrupy, with hidden tart red berries.
It vaguely reminds me of a similar sensation as found in Chypre Rouge by Serge Lutens. Since I happened on Zara Winter, which was more obviously a copycat of Douce Amère, this may not be too far fetched. Rule #...do not be surprised to find a Serge Lutens knockoff at Zara. This happens. Apparently, there is a Serge Lutens admirer compounded with a L'Artisan Parfumeur admirer at Puig. Maybe they are two different persons.
The perfume, surprisingly so for a low-cost fragrance, continues to evolve (but let's not forget the economy of scale here that guarantees some value.) It now smells more evidently and interestingly to my nose of a varietal of northerly red currants - the smell translates to me as that of lingonberries also called cowberries (vaccinium vitis-idaea), which you can taste in Finnish liqueur and Swedish jam. It was also - you might be interested to know - a familiar smell in the ex-Soviet Union as many Soviet apartments smelled of it. This fruit has a particular odor profile, which is less fresh than American cranberry, with a slightly fetid nuance, a hint of mustiness, and a stewed quality - the latter also probably because I smelled it prepared - that is typical and arresting. It is a currant choke full of salycilate of methyl (99%). Its pungent flavor is said to be close to that of wild European cranberry (vaccinium oxycoccos), a cousin of American cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon.) I am interested by a comparison to the smell of fermented apple as this is also how I perceive it too. In French, it is called Airelle Rouge or Airelle Vigne du Mont Ida or even pomme de terre (potato.)
Silver Musk turns out thus to be a fruity musk composition, a redder, more northerly variation on L'Artisan Mûre et Musc. I have made the comparison more than once and it bears repeating here, but it seems that the idea contained in L'Artisan Mûre et Musc has been copied extensively by numerous people wanting to replicate its, obviously, genius idea.
The twist as I see it here is that instead of blackberry, we have lingonberry. If blackberry has more of a musky facet, lingonberry has more of of a corrupted, fermented flesh nuance but both evoke skin and could link naturally to musk. The idea is so brilliantly simple and memorable that only Jean-François Laporte saw it yet everyone remembered it afterwards.
This perfume note explains to me the name of the fragrance better than thinking about a metallic or moony musk. It is Silver in lieu of Snowy, Northerly or Septentrional. It could have been called Scandinavian Musk as far as I am concerned. The cap and the packaging of the scent are silver-colored and the citrus facet does make the scent colder and cleaner as in silvery, but most of all it offers this exotic different fruity red currant smell. The drydown is tart and subtly musky. The scent is a pleasant twist on a concept which by now has become a jazz standard.
You might ask, but why take the risk of acclimating, say, Finnish lingonberry on a global scale? (Zara stores are present on all 5 continents and must have something like over 900 stores by now.) Where is the logic here? Well, see, IKEA potentially already opened the way with its lingonberry gourmet products. And then perfumery lives for new sensations. (while thrumming the familiar.)
True, you usually hear more about the depths of the Amazonian forest for
sourcing new smells (see review of Neblina by Yves Rocher), but why not turn our gaze to the marshes and bogs of the Great
North? It makes perfect sense to me, after the fact.
It could also be an accidental overdose of methyl salycilate which was kept that way because it smelled nice and a bit different.
Picture: lingonberry on a tree stump with moss in Alaska via alaska-in-pictures.com