A deliciously warm, familiar sensation of raspberry macaron filling permeates the air, a mix of hair-spray smell and fruit jam as if you were nibbling on the treats at your hairdresser's with hot air coming from the blow-dryers and amplifying the smells in the humid room...
A hairdresser in my neighborhood has always its windows dripping with rain-forest level activity and humidity in the evenings after hours- and I am reminded of that imagined mix of micro-climate and cosmetics smells. It feels sweet and sticky. But not just that.
Repetto explained that they wanted to reinvent the gourmand perfume with the help among others of perfumer Olivier Cresp of Firmenich who is the inventor of the first, canonical gourmand as we know it today, Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992). This lends greater credence to the project. Two other perfumers have co-worked on the composition, Nathalie Lorson and Annick Ménardo who are both, just like Cresp, great pro signatures of the fragrance industry. The result is understated, extremely efficacious and compelling without being a spectacular spectacle resounding resounding of the sound a symphony or a pipe organ. But it is not merely a brief-fulfilled or a mission-accomplished either. Through economy of means and a well-circumscribed composition, something new does surface in the family of gourmands, which is nearly as vast as the ocean trapped in plastic these days. Gourmands have become industrial products rather than artisanal artifacts. Dance with Repetto is about exploring further the non-literal aspects of the gourmand idea. Some find it fun to make you smell a gigantic strawberry materializing from a bottle - and it is fun. But here, the gourmand concept has been further refined and dematerialized.
Dance with Repetto is - and this is what makes it stand out - both atmospheric and gourmand. It evokes space and food alike. Alternatively to the hairdresser imagery developed above, you could envision yourself entering a dance class and discovering that Degas ballerinas have been stealthily eating desserts bought at a bakery near the Opera house, whose leftover crumbs are diffusing their aroma in open cardboard boxes amidst the smells of chalk, makeup and sweat. There is, again, this mix of sensations linked to both a feminine room and sweets - macaroons in particular; there is also a touch of retro appended to the two main combined sensations, thanks to a cosmetic smell of yore (Heliotrope.)
On Closer Reading
The eau de parfum opens on lots of fruity aldehydes with a dominant nuance of raspberry. Ambergris pierces through, but with a different, sharper effect than is usual to experience. The lemony aspect of magnolia, which allows you to perceive a subtle citrus effect, plays a role of not just added-on levity but, again, sharpness; the goal of delivering a "refined gourmand oriental" rests in great part on teasing out such a secondary nuance and turn it into a substitute for a franker hesperidic accord in the top notes. Freesia likewise has been selected for its crispness in lieu of lemons or oranges.
For the three perfumers, one of the main creative ideas they worked on was that of a floral macaroon calling itself a raspberry one. They devised this "...airy-light, crisp note of raspberry and flower petals, and the creamy, sensual note of heliotrope and vanilla." The macaroon of perfumers is "crisp on the outside, meltingly soft within, like the sparkling woman of today..."
The Surprise Accord
There is an odd and attractive accord in the base, like a mixture of benzoin, ambergris, raspberry and a hypothetical angelica no one has taken the trouble to mention. Something soft like that, with a dash of Heliotropin flirting with the envisioned scent of an almond-rich massepain.
It all creates an edible sensation, which is more like a lozenge perfumed with ambergris than a cake, while at the same time managing to offer a subliminal sticky quality.
That "caught-unaware" moment when the scent blows back towards you is perhaps the best test of the interest of this composition. When you least expect it, the fragrance catches you off-guard and you can only exclaim silently "What is this?" in the best possible way. The element of strangeness and oddity is so buried in the scent it needs an air current to bloom, as well as a letting-go of your will.
If you had forgotten it already, you are reminded that perfume is just as much about formulation as about states of consciousness, just like for any work of art. Because scent sticks to the skin, invisibly, you can forget its presence, until it manifests itself in your most unprejudiced moments, hopefully. I was recycling paper. Then, you can start really smelling the perfume for what it is beneath the surface.