FlowerbyKenzo La Cologne (2010): Delicate New Construction {New Fragrance} {Perfume Review}

FlowerbyKenzo La Cologne is the latest iteration of the modern classic FlowerbyKenzo which was composed in 2000 by perfumer Alberto Morillas. He is again the nose behind this lighter yet full interpretation of the original, which never feels like a more timid or just functionally convenient summer eau. It was tenderly and lovingly recomposed to create the impression - I wanted to say at one point - of a crystal palace ensnaring a rose.

Notes: Bitter orange leaves, bergamot, orange, mandarin / rose, orange blossom, neroli / musks, vanilla 

As I discover the first whiffs of FlowerbyKenzo La Cologne, au débouché*, I reconnect with the original pleasure of discovering the powdery fresh accord of FlowerbyKenzo when it first launched in 2000. This said in a stronger sense than finding again a familiar smell once worn and beloved. It is as if the fresh interpretation of FlowerbyKenzo inserted in the mold of an eau de cologne now conveyed an impression of newness, a virgin-land sensation, triggering a memory of the first time I ever smelled the perfume.

Paradoxicallty, this does not happen if and when I occasionally smell my vintage bottle of FlowerbyKenzo purchased the year of its launch. In fact, I was once surprised to realize that FlowerbyKenzo is not as old and familiar as it feels, coming across as it does as a perfume with no age and clear time-marker. Perhaps this is due to its neo-retro powdery character. Digging further, it may be that the genealogical thread linking FlowerbyKenzo to Parfum Sacré by Caron, and behind it, to all the old-school French perfumery, may explain this timeless sense of weightlessness...


While you can pick out some resinous hints just from the cap, the perfume opens on a delicious impression of freshly cut grass - an olfactory motif reflected visually on the flacon signed by Serge Mansau - resting on the green and bitter accents of the essence of bitter orange leaves, which prolongs itself rather than shifts, into a resinous, rosy, citrusy, floral sensation. The hawthorn note found in the original is quite dominant in the heart which is officially composed of rose essence, orange blossom absolute and neroli. The floral accord blends beautifully invigorated by a sparkling citrus-y counterpart. The white musks color the background, feeling a tad hard at times, but mostly well controlled. The famous powdery, snow-white chalky facet of the composition becomes more characteristic now, mingling, again, with lemon and warm ambergris in the base.

The composition subsides and softens shedding some of its hesperidic character to become creamier thanks to the white vanilla note but in a very light-handed manner. There is always a very discreet spicy, rosy and ambery base which ends up feeling like the perfume one might have used in the past to scent a letter before sending it out. This is Parfum Sacré's timeless incensey, dusty signature which can be felt here. The composition ends up feeling like a trace, a subtle lingering creamy rose skin scent deepened discreetly by resinous ambers.

FlowerbyKenzo La Cologne  is a an extremely well executed version of the classic FlowerbyKenzo Eau de Parfum. It is a bit reminiscent of the contrasted work done for Essence by Narciso Rodriguez by Morillas, but in a much subtler form. It adds a delicacy and a genuine sense of freshness both literal and metaphorical to the fragrance, as if you discovered it for the first time. For people who have appreciated the refinement of Prada L'Eau Ambrée, they may sense a spiritual kinship between the two without them smelling alike. Both are elegant, understated and beautiful. Some people confuse what is spectacular and what is beautiful; this is a case where you discover that they don't necessarily overlap.

*As you first open the cap of the bottle

Price: $72 for 3.0 fl. oz. Available at kenzousa.com and sephora.com 

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