A Whiplash of White Florals Good - not Just For the Mass-Market
Far Away Gold by Avon (2014) is the latest flanker to Far Away (1994) a mid-90s oriental which has proven to be so popular it is now the giant direct-sales company number one bestselling fragrance. This new iteration fetes the 20th anniversary of that longevity. If a few years back it felt reasonable to ascertain a fragrance to be a classic after, say, 10 years of life on the shelves, in an increasingly fast-paced world even being around after 2-3 years instead of having faded into the limbos of the fast sands called Discontinuation - from which you can ocassionally emerge - says something about your yen for life and your audience of faithfuls...
Although not on the forefront of the consciousness of self-proclaimed perfume lovers who feel they need to defend endangered perfume houses first and foremost - please translate small, new and niche - it is interesting to see that as Avon is traversing a difficult period of their history with talks of them shutting down, a perfume they produce is still capable of making feel many women happier about their lives. This is what a perfume bestseller means. It's a sign of happiness. This phenomenom is worthy of our attention beyond the need to find impressive perfumes or new aesthetics bottled.
We noticed on the blog that people appeared to be passionate about this new fragrance and this enabled us to go back to the source.
A popular perfume is usually a good perfume and many perfumers are content with that. There is the noble meaning of a "good perfume" seen as an euphemism for a really good composition due to intangible qualities and deep perfumery experience - a fragrance which is not pretentious either - and there is the meaning said with a slightly despising tone which is the meaning of a "good perfume" which is just that, a nice smell, and nothing much beyond.
Edmond Roudnistka used the expression in the first sense, a good perfume must smell good which is not easy; The French on the other hand have a ready-made phrase for nice and lazy perfumes and it's "sent-bon". In the latter acceptance, you can expect to smell a perfume which smells good only superficially pandering to all the olfactory stereotypes. It's been almost mechanically put together thanks to a treasury of collective experience. It is "good" in the sense of eating a good pre-packaged riz au lait (milk rice). It's good on the spur of the moment. Once however you taste a really good, carefully prepared one, the first one tastes like plastic. Some brands selling those immediately pleasurable desserts will endure because people are in a hurry.
A Talisman is a Cheap Souvenir You Can Find at the Bazaar To Protect You - This is The White Floral Version
This brings us back to Far Away the perfume which is 20 years of age and its latest birthday incarnation, Far Away Gold which is its faithful prolongation with a naturalistic twist. Is the composition good because people are running past it and cannot notice the difference between a good perfume and a "sent-bon", or is it good because it is really good? The mass-market is full of surprises, which makes it a really fun place to shop for hidden gems. You have to tell yourself that thanks to the economy of scale you can find awesome fragrances at dirt cheap prices. Sometimes, you can tell yourself too, prices are just another flourish on the perfume meant to release endorphins rather than a reflection of its worth. In the mass-market, as we know, endorphins are triggered by exceptional bargains, so you can assume that marketers work with their core audience.
The original Far Away features notes of karo karounde, ylang-ylang, orange, coconut, peach, jasmine, osmanthus, rose, violet, gardenia, freesia, vanilla, sandalwood, musk and amber. Far Away Gold was devised as a more luxurious version of this template. Avon did that by resorting to key natural ingredients sourced from reputed locales, namely ylang ylang from Moheli, jasmine from India and vanilla from Madagascar.
The new perfume is a lusher expression of the original. It feels plush and there is a certain raw energy derived from tempestuous, exotic floral notes. The flacon lets out an opulent, luxurious lassoing in of your senses thanks to them. The first few seconds on skin recall to mind standard rather than classical white floral bouquets. As the ylang from Moheli kicks in and the jasmine starts showing its beautiful fangs, the fragrance takes on a lush naturalness and a narcotic, hypnotic vibe which is very pleasant if you enjoy that sort of sensation. The perfume manages to create the illusion that it does not skimp on the power of naturals. The jasmine is intact keeping its gasoline facet for those who appreciate animalic jasmine. The bouquet reminiscent of Amarige by Givenchy skillfully plays with the idea of smelling too much. There is a discrete powdery facet to the composition which is there but is not superseded by the indoles and roaring florals. Calling all-out white floral lovers is a good descriptor for the potential wearers of this fragrance.
As the composition evolves, a woody nuance develops evoking raw, exotic and sligtly wet woods, as if they had been hit by the rain. This woodsy facet becomes quite prominent and helps bring the perfume to a softer, more muted transition. It ends up smelling like wet cedar wood with some almondy, marzipan and papyrus nuances.
Far Away Gold strikes you with its consistent exotic facet which explains its name. While in many floral compositions, the flowers are imported from the tropics while the woods remain polite, in this case, the woods are just as "foreign" and realistic smelling as the florals. The longer drydown is vanillic and ambery. The perfume is sweet yet counterbalanced by unsweetened notes. It's a bit like smelling the almond-, aqua- and hay-like nuances of tonka bean all at the same time. The scent evolves in the direction of condensed milk.
It turns out that the fragrance is like one of those mass-market desserts which make an effort at offering a well-researched aroma and even incorporate real vanilla from Madagascar with black seeds well in view. It works. It does smell luxurious and the composition is an authentic attempt at creating a mega-wattage white floral bouquet. It is less nuanced, less truly dissonant, less dirty, and more linear than an authentic high-end offering like Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower, but it holds its ground as far as the over-the-top white-floral effect goes. It's simple, but not plastic. It might not be strictly speaking the good stuff, but you can bluff your way through your everyday life with this well-crafted sillage. In fact, so impressed were we initially that we thought it might be that ideal, realistic, 3-D white-floral sillage we smelled once on the streets of Paris. Far Away Gold is high in illusory power, if nothing else.