Simply (Clinique for Estée Lauder)

Nowhere is the power of suggestion more apparent than in perfume note lists: here are mythologies born.

Clinique Simply -- a now-discontinued fragrance once touted as "all-natural" -- is said to contain soy. I once presumed that this meant it utilized lecithin as a diffusing agent for its 'white flowers' and 'smoky woods'. Now I'm not so sure. So many people claim to smell creamy soymilk in this fragrance that it's hard to determine which came first: the knowledge or the note in one's nose.

Honestly, now: if you didn't know what Simply had in it, what would you think it smelled like? I doubt soy would be anyone's first answer. After twenty-five years as a strict vegetarian, I can confidently state that I've eaten AND smelled soy in just about every incarnation, and I can't find a trace of it here. Not that I'd mind. The wonderful, delicate, milky-salty-sweet scent of fresh soymilk would be a wonderful thing to encounter in a fragrance. Or the sight of the lush fields where soybeans grow: I'd love a perfume that expressed that intense, overwhelming green, bursting with life.

But no luck. I found only what I found: the scent of hazy flowers, crushed dry aniseed, sea salt. And with these, I am satisfied. Simply is as sheer as chiffon, as benevolent as summertime. It walks a precise line between smoky and saline. It puts me in mind of driftwood turned silvery by ocean air. It exactly mirrors my indolent mood today. That is enough for me.

I came to Simply without preconceptions or expectations. I did not know what notes I ought to look for, and even now, no notes list can convince me I smell soymilk. But still I wonder. Would I imagine that scent if I thought it existed in this bottle? What do people smell who have no name for what they're smelling?

It's certainly food for thought.

Scent Elements: White flowers, soy, smoky woods