New Perfume Review Marc Jacobs Decadence- Once More Unto the Breach

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There was a moment in time where I thought the Marc Jacobs fragrance collection was trying to do something different in the mainstream sector of perfume. 2007’s Daisy, 2009’s Lola, and 2010’s Bang were each an attempt to lure in a different perfume buyer with tiny nods to a niche aesthetic. I admired the ingenuity to see if there was a consumer out there for this style of mass-market perfume. Somewhere along the line this kind of thinking evaporated as the brand became a flanker factory with numerous Daisy, Lola, and Splash entries cluttering things up. All of these were so painfully pedestrian that even when they made the odd foray into something different like 2012’s Dot it just felt half-hearted. Over the last couple of months it looks like Marc Jacobs has decided to give it another try.

I generally liked the summer release Mod Noir although the name is a bit of false advertising. Bottom line was it wasn’t another flanker and it was definitely in the upper percentiles in the department store category. About a week after I wrote that review I received a sample of the new fall release Decadence. Because I had liked Mod Noir and the timing was right I tried Decadence right away. My first impression was this was very different than any of the other tent pole fragrances for the brand. Mr. Jacobs along with Ann Gottlieb were the creative team working with perfumer Annie Buzantian on Decadence. What they have created is the strongest floral in the line as they move away from the fruity floral and run headlong into floriental territory.

Annie-Buzantian

Annie Buzantian

Mme Buzantian adds the niche like-flourishes in the top and the base. The top notes are iris, plum, and saffron. The saffron exerts enough of a presence to keep the opening from being a boring fruity floral accord. There is enough familiarity there for someone who is a fan of previous Marc Jacobs to find a safe place to start their Decadence experience. The triple whammy of orris, rose, and jasmine in the heart is meant to sweep them off their feet in a swoosh of heavy hitter florals. So often this kind of power is carried by a bunch of white florals. I like the change by Mme Buzantian as the orris bumps up against a spicy rose and slightly indolic jasmine. It doesn’t go as far as a typical niche release but it goes a lot further than most of the other bottles on the perfume counter. This is the tricky part to give a consumer something different without alienating them. From my perspective I think it is a brave choice which could go either way. The base is a very green mixture of papyrus and vetiver matched with amber. It forms a verdant Oriental accord for the florals to rest upon.

Decadence has 10-12 hour longevity and way above average sillage. A lighter application than other perfumes is probably necessary for best results.

It looks like Mr. Jacobs has not given up on his desire to try something different as with Decadence he is really taking a bold step outside of the previous oeuvre of the brand. He is doing a smart thing and putting this in a spectacular looking bottle which looks like a clutch purse complete with tassel. The bottle will drive some sales all on its own. I think many of those and others who give Decadence a chance will be surprised at the new direction for Marc Jacobs. I hope they like it because I would like to see more of this from the brand. I know they have my attention, again.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Coty.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Fashion of Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford- Fall 2014

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As fragrance fans we eagerly look forward to the next perfume release from Marc Jacobs or Tom Ford. Both of these, now, ubiquitous names started with their fashion lines before expanding into the accessories and beauty sectors. The fragrance calendar goes all year long but the fashion calendar is pretty much concentrated on two times of the year, February-March and September-October, when fashion designers show their latest couture in runway shows. The shows happen about six months before the season they are meant to be worn in. Thus the February shows are for Fall of that year and the September shows are for the Spring of the following year. It is also a traveling circus as there are fashion weeks starting in New York, then London, followed by Milan, and finishing up in Paris. For the current cycle, fall 2014, we are about halfway through with New York and London finished and Milan ongoing.

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Marc Jacobs (l.) and Tom Ford aking bows at their Fall 2014 Runway Shows

My interest in fashion is similar to my interest in the great perfumers. Both endeavors are highly informed on what has gone before with the best designers and perfumers using things from past creations as the launching point for the future. Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford are perhaps two of the savviest at doing this. Their designs are based on classic lines but always there is a bit of a modern or retro-modern twist apparent. It is a big reason why they are the most anticipated runway shows at New York where Mr. Jacobs is the closer with the last show; and London where Mr. Ford moved his shows to from New York a year ago.

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Marc Jacobs' "Cosmetic Colors" (l.) and Tom Ford's Jay-Z Knockoff of a Knockoff

(Photos George Chinsee/WWD (l.) and Giovanni Gianonni/WWD)

One of the things I always find fascinating is how each season forms its own zeitgeist as all the designers seem to work towards the same big ideas. Halfway through the Fall 2014 offerings the colors seem to contain more pastels than you see in the Fall. Spring is usually where the pastels fill the runway. These pastels are of the cooler variety. Mr. Jacobs described them as “cosmetics colors” when describing his collection. Both designers brought in sportswear themed flourishes with the most talked about of those Mr. Ford’s knock off of a t-shirt Jay-Z has been wearing on stage when he performs his hit “Tom Ford”. The sequined couture version will carry a price tag, 100 times more than the $65 t-shirt, which has its own shade of social commentary underneath.

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2014 (Photo: George Chinsee/WWD)

Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2014 collection was all about soft colors and fabrics to go with it. It was almost as if the Marc Jacobs Blush fragrance could’ve been the tagline for the fashion. There were lots of examples of great separates the best which was the chunky knit look with its own slouchy vibe to it. All of this was brought together in one look as a sparkly stunner.

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Tom Ford Fall 2014 (Photo: Giovanni Gianonni/WWD)

Tom Ford’s Fall 2014 collection was less pastel and his color palette was more focused on black, navy, and red. In a collection of dark looks it was the reds which provided impact as either a red crocodile skirt suit or a luxurious velvet dress both of which are the kind of aspirational couture Mr. Ford does so well. The middle look above represents where hemlines will be next fall as it looks like the knee and lower will be on trend.

By the time fall rolls around I am sure we will be getting new fragrances from both designers to match the looks above.

Mark Behnke