Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Desert Rose Lost in Time - Paco Rabanne's Ténéré

Ténéré, a 1988 scent marketed to men composed by perfumer Pierre Wargnye, who more recently created YSL homme and Viktor & Rolf Antidote, is a beautiful failure, a risky venture undertaken at the wrong time. Naming it after a desert could not conceal the fact that this is a distinctly floral-green fragrance, something male consumers in the West tend to keep away from. Despite the strong tradition of floral aspects in gentlemanly scents to this day (sartorial scents such as Green Irish Tweed, Grey Flannel, Kiton Men still feature violet notes), the problem of male heterosexual insecurity regarding scent was still an issue in the 1980s. Moreover the metrosexual trend that would thereafter evolve sailed on acquatic unisexism rather than explicit florality. Still, Ténéré might have been seen as a bold avant-garde statement, if it weren't for the fact that it's forward-looking florality was tied to a retro-masculine vibe in the form of a notably Paco Rabanneish fougère aspect: a soapy green mediterranean masculine "trad" feel based on lavender, artemisia, tarragon, perhaps galbanum, which clearly pulls the fragrance in the direction of the Seventies. Add the animalic-indolic component in the form of honey and jasmine and this challenging fragrance, launched of all times at the dawning of the age of Cool Water's aquatic hegemony, was bound to fail.
The intact vintage bottle I own, contrary to a previous flawed miniature, is not excessively urinous, as has been said of Ténéré, but in fact balances all components quite well. From a 21st century perspective there is nothing even remotely girlish about this scent, despite the notable presence of rose and muguet. It smells debonair, distinguished, romantic - and decidedly unmodern due to its green-herbal complex. The base is high quality, a powdery melange of masculine wood and spice with soapy florals. Ténéré never was and never will be a popular fragrance , but I believe it could be the signature scent of the most interesting man in the world.

top: bergamot, cassia, green notes, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, lemon
heart: anise, artemisia, tarragon, honey, orris, jasmine, muguet, carnation, rose, cinnamon
base: amber, leather, musk, patchouli, vetiver, cedar

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