On a visit to Madrid years ago, I walked inside a Loewe shop and picked up and sprayed a perfume tester. A human shark, made up in the crudely hyper-theatrical style of an amateur touring production of Carmen, ran across the store and grabbed the bottle from my hands. She snapped: "Ask if you want to smell!" as she held the bottle protectively to her breast. My traveling companion looked at me with pity. I imagined him thinking: "Poor Kevin...to be reprimanded in public." I did not say a word. I did not smile. I turned and walked out of the shop.
Whenever I see the word "Loewe," that crass sales assistant comes to mind and I want to go back in time and spray that mediocre perfume I had smelled into her eyeballs. Yes, I have a temper...and a long memory! ("Italian by way of Virginia.")
Last week, Now Smell This's Jessica sent me a sample of Loewe 001 Man1 and suggested we do back-to-back reviews of the 001 Man and 001 Woman scents. I immediately saw red (and Señora Grosería). I felt I needed to preface my review with this story in fairness to everyone involved.
Loewe 001 Man (and 001 Woman) are the brand's first perfumes under the creative direction of designer Jonathan Anderson. 001 Man lacks the heaviness and leaden quality most of the Loewe's men's line possesses (or did, I've not smelled a Loewe perfume in over a decade). Loewe's offerings were always too dense for me; their weightiness was like a hammer to my forehead that gave me pounding headaches and made me realize I could go without wearing perfume (if Loewe's perfumes were my only choices). Loewe's colognes were ordinary, but more so.
001 Man is a trifle. It begins well enough with tangy mandarin and bergamot (with a sweaty edge); the opening would make an enjoyable Eau de Cologne for summertime (it has a brand-new-white-linen-shirt vibe). Next up is a puff of light sandalwood-cypress, then things go wonky. 001 Man's base is awkward, with fleeting aromas of herbal salad dressing, pickles, powdery violet and white musk. The extreme dry down is very light: woody with a touch of vetiver. Except for the too-sweet white musk, everything fades away quickly.
If Loewe had exaggerated the weird elements, fortified the formula, nixed the violet and white musk, 001 Man could have been fun. Instead, Loewe opted for a "mincing" tone. Tomorrow, Jessica will tell us if Loewe 001 Woman has more gumption.
Loewe 001 Man Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml ($90) and 100 ml ($123).
1. Listed notes of bergamot, mandarin, cardamom, sandalwood, vetiver, cypress, ambrette seeds, violet, white musk and patchouli.