One of the more fertile inspirations for fragrance is the era of The Roaring 20’s. It allows for a creative director to imagine a time of rapid change. When gender roles were in flux and people smoked and drank in wood paneled rooms. I’m being a bit simplistic. There is a long list of perfumes based on this. The most recent example is Vilhelm Chicago High.
Creative director Jan Ahlgren has always enjoyed translating the glamorous past into perfume. For this he is considering the final days of this time. The stock market crash is on the horizon. There are enough callbacks to the kind of touchstones familiar to other fragrances. At first, I went along with it too. But on the second day I wore it I wasn’t reminded of the 1920’s. I was thinking this was more a 2020 kind of perfume. Instead of smoke-filled party rooms I was thinking of a craft cocktail party in an elegant loft.
When I received the press release here are the list of ingredients in the top: pineapple, champagne accord, tobacco, and honey. You might look at that and think effervescence over the two sweet notes. Because that was where my head was when I first tried it, I saw the trees. What happened on subsequent wears was those notes coalesced into what I now perceive as a Prince of Wales cocktail accord. That cocktail is a sweet drink of rye and pineapple juice with a top layer of champagne. The first half of Chicago High smells just like it to me. The remainder of the development is a rich leather accord with patchouli and amber around. This feels like a nice leather wingback chair in a library. That is a timeless reference.
Chicago High has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I have enjoyed the renaissance of cocktail making in recent years. A part of it that draws me to it is the scents of the ingredients and the finished product. Chicago High feels like it hit the target of the 20’s just a century later than it was aiming for.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Vilhelm.