My younger brother's relationship with fragrances is quite a strange and rather inexplicable one. Although he looks totally mesmerised every time he visits my house and sprays some antediluvian '70s or '80s powerhouse on him, he has never bothered to buy any. Not even in their current, way less potent formulations. On the contrary, he always falls for trendy and tremendously popular new launches, which I wouldn't buy even if my life was depending on it. So upon my last visit to his place, I found a bottle of Eau Fraiche on his desk and sprayed two spritzes on me just out of curiosity about how "fresh" is interpreted nowadays. The fact that the other two fragrances lying on his desk were 1 Million and CK One Shock should have alerted me like an apotropaic sign, but I ignored the prognostics and went home to evaluate the newly acquired entry in my fragrance encyclopaedia.
There, I took a quick glance at the fragrance's pyramid and I got completely befuddled by smelling something which was growing into something too outrageous to be true as time passed.
10 minutes mark: Why on earth do I smell green apples when the composition has none?
20 minutes mark: Why on earth does this smell so familiar?
29 minutes mark: Why on earth did someone put Light Blue in an Eau Fraiche bottle?
Yeah, that's right. It took me no more than half an hour to realise that this was definitely a hybrid that should be called either Dolce & Gabanna Man Eau Fraiche or Versace Light Blue.
And to get things straight, I'm talking about the original Light Blue, launched as a feminine scent in 2001.
Olivier Cresp must be either a serious case of selective amnesia or a con man. There's no other way to explain how he managed to duplicate one of his creations, sell it as a new one to a large and well acknowledged company, and get away with it. And I suspect that his amnesia falls in the selective kind because I'm sure he didn't forget to get paid.
I wonder whether it's possible that no one in Versace had ever smelled the hugely popular firstborn Light Blue that was launched only 5 years before and less than ten blocks away, since both companies are literally bumping heads in the center of Milan. Cause if that's not the case, then something is rotten in the state of Denmark (or Italy for that matter). And it's not the fragrance. The fragrance is what it claims it is. Fresh. A nice although mundane copycat, based on a concept that was repeated countless times, but fresh nevertheless.
I don't know what part CEOs are playing in the creation of a fragrance. I guess it depends on the house. So if the ones running Versace are not of the kind that's usually involved, I believe they had a helluva WTF moment upon smelling Eau Fraiche, while Olivier Cresp was already away counting his money.
I'm facing great difficulties to evaluate Eau Fraiche, and most of them belong to the ethical kind. I like Light Blue very much, thus I should like Eau Fraiche equally. The problem lies in how I define "generic". The abundance of near clones of an original fragrance that have come to dominate the market and therefore render the way that the said original smelled as "generic" because of its widespread use, doesn't mean that the smell of the original was generic when it was launched. On the contrary it might have been groundbreaking. And this has nothing to do with whether I like it or not. Davidoff's Cool Water might have a story or two to share about how these things work. So all I can say is that Eau Fraiche is quite a nice fragrance, but rather stale and no fresh at all when it comes to originality, since it's yet another example of a concept that was done to death, resurection, and death again. And this kind of karmic wheel will always be a far cry from immortality in olfactory terms.