Like me, do you hold onto the past a little too tightly? Even if a favorite author, or singer or perfume company has devolved into mediocrity and endless repetition, do you still give them a chance every time a new book or CD or fragrance is released? I’ve given Comptoir Sud Pacifique second, third, fourth…fifth chances over the last, what, ten years?
When I started discovering perfumes as a teenager, Comptoir Sud Pacifique provided many of my best fragrance experiences, but the glory days of Comptoir Sud Pacifique are gone. Like many other once-innovative companies (Diptyque, Comme des Garçons, Eau d’Italie, Serge Lutens) Comptoir Sud Pacifique now wants mainstream cred and has dumbed down its scents to achieve it but unlike those other companies, Comptoir Sud Pacifique has started to smell (might as well say it) cheap.
Comptoir Sud Pacifique recently launched Souffle des Indes (Breath of India), the first fragrance in a brand new series, Collection Autour du Monde. Souffle des Indes is a unisex fragrance inspired by the ‘vastness and contrasts’ of India.*
Souffle des Indes opens smelling like any number of mainstream designer fragrances for women; it’s an opaque, “thick” (this breath is heavy, not light), vanillic concoction with suffocated-by-vanilla flowers (wan ‘jasmine’) and spice (diluted cardamom). Souffle des Indes is so well blended I felt only a few fragrance notes were used in its creation…and they all smell artificial. Within minutes of application, the strong scent of benzoin becomes apparent. As Souffle des Indes develops further, I detect the sickeningly sweet scent of white musk.
Souffle des Indes is “unisex” — in a sense. The opening smells like a women’s (semi)oriental — accent on vanilla-musk, and then the perfume transforms into a sweet, men’s department store fragrance in the style of Givenchy Pi, Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris. Souffle des Indes presents two perfumes in one bottle: one feminine, one masculine, both vanillic, both boring.
I used to wait anxiously for each Comptoir Sud Pacifique release; some of the best fragrances from the line were Piroguier, Vétyver Haiti, Kumquat Alhambra, Thé, Opoponax (which I still use to “remind” my nose of the scent of opoponax) and L’Eau du Gouverneur. All those distinctive perfumes have been deleted from the CSP line-up and replaced by overpowering and obnoxious fruity vanilla bombs and non-entities like Souffle des Indes.
Are these new-type Comptoir Sud Pacifique perfumes selling? To whom? Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s pricing has not decreased even if the quality of the perfumes has (the bottles used to be more interesting too). I never hear anyone talk with excitement about the company here in the U.S.; and after the release of the dull oud line and now Souffle des Indes I won’t be going to the trouble of finding new Comptoir Sud Pacifique fragrances to sample. I've reached the end of the line.
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Souffle des Indes is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum for €69.
*Souffle des Indes listed notes are tangerine, bergamot, kumquat zest, jasmine, cardamom, cassis, vanilla, musk, teak wood, benzoin and ambergris.
Note: top image is the international sign for “Boring” (mouth in a yawning position, as imagined by the author…with help from Wikimedia Commons.)