Rivertown Road Pour Homme (Soivohle)

Sometimes a perfume calls to mind a snatch of melody, a ripple of color, a thread of memory. Sometimes it evokes even more fully-realized parallel creations: a beloved symphony, a well-known painting, a verse committed to heart. And sometimes you're just sitting there with an empty head the first time you hit the sprayer. Lacking prior associations, the perfume that comes out latches on to whatever happens to be at hand-- and like it or not, that's what sticks.

I was half-watching Chocolat on cable the first time I wore Liz Zorn's Rivertown Road. Roux, a roving Gypsy boat pilot, drifts downriver into the stuffy Gascogne hamlet of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, where few welcome him aside from the town's more obvious outcasts. Prickly and defiant, Roux demonstrates the sort of feral swagger and smouldering charm that does little to fend off female admirers. (Those mean manouche guitar licks don't help very much, either.)

Then you have the way the man dresses, for godsake. Despite the fact that director Lasse Hallström situates Chocolat in the mid-1950s, Roux (as portrayed by Johnny Depp) is all Joshua Tree-era Bono-- sleek ponytail, leather vest, and all. (Even a Northside Dublin accent, bless yiz!) His perfect cheekbones appear subtly streaked with engine grease and campfire smoke; dried black silt perpetually cakes his fingernails. I question whether he bathes in anything other than cold river water; I doubt he smells as lovely as he looks. But since this is a movie, and my imagination can run with it in any direction it wants, I like to think that Roux (and Johnny Depp, too; sure, why not?) smells like Rivertown Road.

"Inspired by rivers grand and small... a complex yet modern Bay Rum Fougère", Rivertown Road (isn't a river a road, in its way?) is a lighter, sweeter version of Riverwalk, with whom it shares not only a birth year (2011) but a base. The two fragrances clearly came into existence together, as intimately related as a stream to its banks. But while Riverwalk is opulent, weighty, and serious -- and believe me, I love it for these qualities, no matter the season -- Rivertown Road is more laid-back, loose, even insouciant in the way it lets its layered notes float free. Here is a scent whose natural habitat is miles from gravitas. (Ashore is where all the thorns and tangles are found-- isn't it better to relax and dream on deck, lulled by the rhythmic lapping of water on wood?)

I've gotten myself in trouble before wearing Riverwalk during the summer. Now that I have a hot-weather alternative, I'll be rolling on the river all year round.

Scent Elements: French and Seville lavender absolutes, bay rum, key lime, bergamot, jasmine sambac, rose, Saigon cinnamon, mimosa absolute, tobacco absolute, carnation, foin coupé (fresh-cut hay) accord, tonka bean tincture, balsam Tolu, animalic musk, cedar, sandalwood, frankincense, Haitian vetiver, ambergris, Liquidambar, nutmeg absolute, oakmoss accord, aged patchouli