Back in 1988 I was a poor student, and for your information, while the noun is long gone, the adjective still remains. So when I managed to save enough money and buy a gorgeous heavy woolen jacket, I was more than happy to take a long walk downtown and enjoy its comfort, warmth and quality. It was a couple of days before Christmas, and along with a blissful pixie who pretended to be my human girlfriend, we thought it would be a good idea to test some fragrances, and perhaps get a couple of free miniatures. I have to clarify to younger readers that back then most perfume samples were miniature bottles, and not the bland plain vials that they are nowadays. Truth be told, I was looking forward to return home and spray my new jacket with a generous dose of Davidoff by Davidoff, and turn it into my signature jacket soused in my then signature perfume. But what harm could a little window shopping do? So, I, armed with a brand new '80s jacket (which would be thought a curio today) and she, armed with the obligatory '80s perm, headed for the cosmetics stores.
A sales assistant who was lurking by the door and surely was a faster shooter than Billy the Kid, managed to shoot three huge sprays of something that nearly knocked me off my feet on my jacket, in less than a second. If she was holding a gun instead of a huge bottle of the most potent and fresh Fahrenheit ever imagined in her hands, I'd be dead before hitting the ground. And I have no doubts that had I tried to duck her attack, she wouldn't hesitate to spray me square in the face, if it had come her way.
I shook the impulse to strangle the harpy on the spot and search for a dry cleaner in the next 20 seconds, and proceeded with our perfume testing.
And then the horror begun...
For the next four months or so, every time I'd put my jacket on, I smelled like someone who was working in a car repair shop or a gas station, although if this was the case, I would be the swankest car repair shop or gas station employee ever.
And to add insult to injury, can you imagine what were the only miniatures that we were given in the end? Yeah, you got it right...
Fahrenheit is a heavy scent. A very heavy scent. And of course I'm not talking about its potence in aromatic terms only. Even though it's a prolific scorer in the fields of sillage and longevity (the vintage one at least), it's mainly a very serious player in the field that produces legend material.
I have to admit that Fahrenheit is an incomprehensible scent to me.
Peppery notes, but no pepper! Perhaps it's a dirty trick played by some strange reaction between leather and nutmeg. Since I can't point at any other notes and consider them the culprits for this elusive accord, these two have to be the ones responsible.
And then there's this strange, unique and unequalled (but not necessarily nice) accord, which I'm completely incompetent to decipher and therefore to describe it. Not in an satisfying degree at least.
But perhaps it's worth giving it a try.
Since my nose is no big deal, I rarely talk about notes in my reviews. However, Fahrenheit has kept me wondering since 1988 about this "What the hell am I smelling here Christian?" stuff.
The fragrance has three hesperidic notes (Is "hesperidic" a valid word? Internet has not decided yet, so I apologise in advance for the possible barbarism.)
Well, I don't smell them.
It also has five sweet flowery notes.
I don't smell them either.
So, according to their absence of prominence, none of this eight notes is directly responsible for Fahrenheit's distinctive and unforgettable drydown.
So what is it?
I say that it smells like gasoline soaked sandalwood, that someone was crazy enough to set it on fire, and then put the cinders in the inside pocket of an old leather jacket, which he then wears after the gym and without showering first.
And before extolling my imagination... I've done it...
But it just made the whole thing even trickier, because it added a slight cummin note, and cummin is not included in the scent's pyramid. So, what I finally got with my "analysis" was a hint of something that shouldn't be there at all. Very helping...
I could also say that it smells the way some old taxis used to smell back in the '70s, but maybe my mind is playing tricks, trying to place the leather and diesel/gasoline/kerosene/motor oil notes to a matching vessel. However, I can see some connection here, since I believe that if we ask ten people how the inside of a brand new or a very old car smells like, five of them will say that it smells of leather, the other five that it smells of fuel, and all ten of them that it smells of Fahrenheit.
But maybe it's these very same oddities about it, which render Fahrenheit one of the few instantly recognizable fragrances in my book.
I have no idea how the current formulation smells like, and to be honest I don't care. I don't love and I don't hate Fahrenheit. For me it's a perfect example of uniqueness and an unparalleled specimen of aweless perfumery, but I'm still unable to decide whether this example is a paragon or a byword, and whether Fahrenheit's universe and mine are any parallel at all. But my personal likings have nothing to do with the objective stature of the fragrance. Fahrenheit has become a cornerstone and a legend over the years, and it doesn't give a damn if I like it or not. It's just there, too busy being itself.