Calyx Vintage Fragrance (Prescriptives for Estée Lauder)

How best to sum up the repertoire of perfumer Sophia Grojsman? Too-too? That old synonym for 'overblown' may be outmoded, but it fits Prescriptives Calyx like a custom-made merry widow.

In the main, Grojsman's fragrances are very much like Grojsman herself-- hard-faced, a bit garish, yet uniquely sympathisch. For the same reason that I always watch The Fisher King for Mercedes Ruehl's poison-tongued sexpot Anne (and that astounding Grand Central Station waltz scene), I admire Sophia Grojsman's parfums de poitrine (Jaïpur, Spellbound, Trésor, Yvresse, Sun Moon Stars) for their patented, built-in OOMPH!. Yet it's equally easy to envision these dames bare-faced and denuded of glitz, staring into their dressing room mirrors in the harsh glare of a naked lightbulb. For such moments, Grojsman created White Linen, Paris, Eternity, and Calyx.

I'm not implying that Calyx lacks cleavage. How could it, with such an overdose of tropical fruit? Passionfruit, guava, and papaya all boast of a dizzying sweetness, but you truly have to be comfortable with rancidity and rot to tolerate their stomach-turning enzymatic quality. Luckily, Sophia Grojsman knows the value of a demure cover-up to balance a stunning décolletage. Cyclamen, muguet, and mint provide the "tulle tucker" effect that transforms Calyx from fermented fruitbomb to something cool, rain-dappled, remote-- the promised fragrance exaltante.

When this metamorphosis was first achieved in 1986, the trend for cloying, Giorgio-esque florientals wavered, then toppled. It seems we need Calyx (tweaked and rereleased by Clinique last year) to work its magic again. Hasn't the last decade been one endless parade of supersized dessert-cart perfumes? So long have we lived with fragrances that wear us instead of the other way around that a return to nature would be welcome. It needn't be red in tooth and claw. Just clean and green will do.

Scent Elements: Mandarin, bergamot, passionfruit, peach, mango, melon, papaya, grapefruit, guava, raspberry, cyclamen, lily of the valley, jasmine, rose, neroli, marigold, mint, cassia, vetiver, oakmoss, sandalwood, musk.