It is gratifying to see a well-known perfume brand take some risks with their overall aesthetic and succeed. Clean, when it was established by Randi Shinder, wanted to live up to that adjective. For twelve years the perfumes which had Clean on their label were straightforward fragrances of linen, or soap, or fresh cleaned skin, or rain, they were as advertised. In 2015, Ms. Shinder developed a new collection with the name of Clean Reserve. Early on it was just deeper versions of earlier releases Rain and Skin. Within a year Ms. Shinder was collaborating with some great perfumers in a new direction. The first releases had trouble fully letting go of the Clean aesthetic. Last year with the second set of Clean Reserve releases there was more of a separation with Sel Santal standing out for being quite different. Because of this I was surprised when I was cruising Bloomingdale’s and found a new set of six Clean Reserve releases.
This a sub-collection dubbed Avant Garden which is an interesting concept for a brand which has very much not been about being avant-garde. Just as before there is still a little reluctance to let go of what Clean does well and so Galbanum & Rain, Muguet & Skin, and White Amber & Warm Cotton feel like Clean fragrances in both brand and adjective. The other three are intent on carving a different path. Saguaro Blossom & Sand grafts green succulent into a traditional floral. Sweetbriar & Moss lets the green come through a citrus and floral opening via vetiver and moss. The last one was the one I took home as a sample Hemp & Ginger.
There is little information to be found on this collection at this point and so I was not able to track down the perfumer. Which is a shame because whomever composed this did a fantastic job at creating a hemp accord in the heart of this which deserves to be recognized.
The ginger shows up in the beginning matched with bergamot for a typical top accord featuring that ingredient. In the heart the hemp accord is made up of two ingredients a sticky green Guatemalan cardamom and Sichuan pepper. Hemp has a slightly stinky green quality when dried out. The green cardamom provides the green and the Sichuan pepper provides the slightly stinky quality along with a mustiness which completes the accord. The ginger is a great choice as foil to the hemp accord which is where this lingers for quite a while. When it moves onto the base an oud accord and saffron are waiting.
Hemp & Ginger has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
For the first time there is a Clean fragrance which is a little dirty. Don’t get me wrong this is not a skankfest, in any way, but it does show Ms. Shinder is willing to see if there is a Clean way to get dirty.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Bloomingdale’s