Here they come: a slew of late summer and early fall men’s mainstream and designer fragrance launches. I have weeks’ worth of reviewing ahead of me, and everyone who reads this blog regularly knows the chances are slim that one of these fragrances — designed to appeal to a wide audience, everyone from collegiate Lotharios to middle-aged chiropractors — will strike a new chord (or accord) and please me (let alone thrill me). Kenzo Power was the first to arrive at my doorstep and if any of you watched the Olympics, you know “performing” first has its pitfalls — the first performer does not want to be average, he wants to astound and dominate the field.
Kenzo Power, “A Flower for Men,” was created by perfumer Olivier Polge and is described in Kenzo’s PR materials as “an imaginary flower in the heart of a woody amber-y fragrance”. Kenzo Power contains bergamot, coriander, cardamom, an abstract floral note (created using jasmine, rose and freesia), tolu balsam, cedar wood and labdanum.
I put on cologne first thing in the morning before getting dressed, so I never spray fragrances directly onto my clothes; however, when I first wore Kenzo Power, I applied it mid-day, while fully dressed, and the perfume got on my collar and sleeves. Kenzo Power has a long ‘life span’ on fabric, where it develops differently than it does on skin. (Kenzo Tokyo also smelled different — better — on paper cards that it did on my skin.)
Kenzo Power begins with strong vanillic bergamot accented with light coriander and cardamom. After the citrus and spice opening, comes the “abstract floral” accord — it smells a little like osmanthus, a little like green tea and a little like what I’ve come to regard as “water lily” in perfumes. Overall, Kenzo Power’s flower smells fresh-aquatic and artificial. On fabric, the bergamot opening (my favorite phase of Kenzo Power) lasts and lasts and when the flower accord kicks in, it takes up residence in the fabric for hours, remaining bright and blending seamlessly with the spices and wood notes. On skin, Kenzo Power begins to “fragment” and soften within 40 minutes; I can detect faint vanilla-cedar and labdanum in the dry-down. As I’ve worn Kenzo Power over the last week, I’ve come to think of it as a spring fragrance: its floral heart has a “coolness” and “freshness” about it. (Readers in the Southern Hemisphere may want to keep Kenzo Power in mind as spring arrives.) In style, Kenzo Power reminds me of Dsquared2’s He Wood (a scent that still has not arrived in the United States a year after its European launch!)
Kenzo Power performs better than “average” on my Perfume Olympics scoring scale, but I’m usually not a fan of cool, pale, ‘watercolor’ fragrances and I rarely meet an abstract floral accord that keeps me entertained for long. Kenzo Power is much more interesting on fabric and, I assume, paper cards, so put this fragrance on SKIN before buying it. If you like fresh, sheer, lightly spicy, faintly floral fragrances, give Kenzo Power a try. (Kenzo Power was made for men, but women won’t find the fragrance too masculine.)
I like Kenzo Power’s heavy, Kenya Hara-designed stainless steel container (in the shape of a sake bottle). Kenzo Power is available in Eau de Toilette (60 ml., $55, 125 ml., $75, 750 ml. $300) and grooming products; it launches this month in the U.S. at Bloomingdale’s and in Canada at The Bay.