Love Coconut (Honoré des Prés)

When I lived in Manhattan, I had to work hard daily to keep from becoming as cold and hard as my city home. Walking down the street, jostled by the neverending crowd, I'd ponder my own inner vulnerabilities. We build so many defenses around ourselves just to survive. Is the softness at our core worth preserving against the ravages and challenges of urban life? Or is it better -- more generous, less cynical -- to just let the world in when we hear it knocking?

If I'd allowed the miserable Vamp à NY to completely jaundice my attitude toward Honoré des Prés, I might never have found the answer to this question. (Could Vamp ever really have made me dislike Olivia Giacobetti? Come what may, her work interests me; perhaps one tiny misstep here and there does not entirely ruin the tango.) For anyone who pounds cold hard pavement day after day, this mellow and graceful coconut fragrance is a reminder to stay kind inside. After all, what's best about a coconut is its sweet, pure interior-- which just happens to be protected by a very stubborn husk. An amazing amount of toil, trouble, and tools (machetes, hammers, crowbars!) is needed to break through, yet people around the world routinely reach that sweet, sweet goal.

Love Coconut is pure Cocos nucifera tinged with sea salt and palm fronds rather than sugar syrup and cheap little paper umbrellas. Its "husk" -- the tricky part you have to get through to reach the sweet -- is a distinctive, lifelike, and unapologetically weird cilantro note that may well turn away those unused to so spicy-soapy a scent in a perfume. (I happen to adore it.) Giacobetti describes Love Coconut as "unconventional... It opens up the fibers: very ravaging, very pungent, very sensuous." Well-chosen words, for this fragrance really does force an almost physical reaction out of me: a gasp, a widening of my eyes, an oh-no-you-did-NOT! balanced by the sudden forward lean that communicates that I really, really hope that you DID.

I wouldn't exactly call Love Coconut tropical, but one forgets that Manhattan IS an island. Now and again, even its most hardened inhabitant is entitled to a dream of balmy breezes, gentle sunlight, and a sky unscraped by anything higher than a palm tree.

Scent Elements: Coconut milk and essence, coriander seed and leaf (cilantro), tonka bean, Bourbon vanilla, white cedar