Ginger beer, ginger ale, ginger tea. Ginger-molasses cake with crystallized-ginger-and-cream-cheese frosting. Ginger ice cream. Ginger-y Southeast Asian soups. These are some of my favorite ginger-flavored drinks and foods. Ginger in fragrances? I don’t think ginger has been ‘served’ in perfume as well as other gourmand notes like vanilla, cocoa, cardamom, nutmeg or fruits. Bite into a fresh, crunchy ginger rhizome — has its zing, its heat, ever been realistically represented in a perfume? Is it even possible to do so?
Original Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme is a bore. Yves Saint Laurent Cologne Gingembre takes us from ‘boredom’ to “queasiness.” Cologne Gingembre includes notes of bergamot, aquatic accord, ginger, white pepper, violet leaves, basil, cedar wood, oak moss, vetiver and musk. As I wear Cologne Gingembre, I smell phony bergamot, a Calone-like chemical, desiccated violet leaves, dull cedar and vapid ‘vetiver.’ Cologne Gingembre smells like bug spray.
Marc Jacobs Ginger (described as a “cool, sweet cocktail”) was developed by perfumer Yann Vasnier and features ginger, nutmeg, coriander, cognac oil, geranium bourbon, passion flower, rhubarb, sandalwood, amber crystals and musk. Marc Jacobs Ginger is not “caustic” like Cologne Gingembre; Ginger has weak, citrus-y ginger, some tart rhubarb, orange peel, a smattering of cardamom/nutmeg mixed with a ripe passion fruit/flower note (“cognac oil” is nowhere to be smelled). All Ginger’s aromas arrive at once and jostle for dominance: no note wins till soft, clean/white, fruit-tinged musk arrives in the base. (I’m REALLY sick and tired of cheap white musk being loaded into fragrances, mainstream and niche). Marc Jacobs Ginger smells like an inexpensive air freshener you’d buy at the grocery store.
Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger smell pretty awful, and neither scent is focused on “ginger.” Cologne Gingembre has average lasting power and sillage. Marc Jacobs Ginger disappears quickly (unless you get it on fabric); as with the other Marc Jacobs splashes it is meant to be applied lavishly and often. Cologne Gingembre and Marc Jacobs Ginger are good ‘diet’ perfumes; they don’t whet my appetite: for ginger, or anything else.
Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme Cologne Gingembre is available in 60 or 100 ml ($55/$72). Marc Jacobs Ginger (a limited edition fragrance) is sold in a huge 300 ml Eau de Toilette splash bottle (with an optional spray attachment) for $68.
Note: top ginger images via Wikimedia Commons.