In my last review I paired a neroli fragrance and body lotion. This week, I'm turning my attention to lemon, that commonplace citrus whose scent has become (unfairly!) linked with household cleaning products. I recently purchased some organic lemon essential oil to use in a class and once I'd opened it, I couldn't stop sniffing it. So bright, so radiant, so satisfying! Here, then, are two very different products with lemon-centered scents that have entered my current rotation.
Acide is a contemporary interpretation of a classic Eau de Cologne, developed by perfumer Will Inrig for French menswear brand Éditions M.R. Its composition includes notes of lemon, bergamot, bitter orange, cognac, lavender, valerian, patchouli, oakmoss and coumarin, and it's described as "[f]resh and fleeting...a tart lemon balanced with rare naturals of the best quality, accompanied by light florals and woods. This cologne is a memory without nostalgia and modernity without fantasy that unfolds in the bottle."
Acide's promotional copy occasionally approaches Prix Eau Faux territory (e.g., valerian gives "an atmospheric ambiance through its sensual, carnal and herbal note that intrigues, repels but ultimately compels"), which is too bad, because it potentially distracts from a very appealing fragrance. Acide uses natural Sicilian lemon oil as well as a Givaudan synthetic named Lemonile to craft a lemon note that's sharp yet sparkling, like the rind and juice of the fruit combined. The supporting ingredients of bergamot and neroli round things out.
Acide also has a subtle floral note in its heart, thanks to a good dose of lavender absolute. The coumarin, with its soft almond-y quality, adds something harder to define. Many citrus fragrances can feel somewhat thin or one-dimensional, but Acide works in enough heart notes and base notes (including the softly woody patchouli and oakmoss) to add depth and longevity to its astringent citrus theme. Speaking of longevity, I was pleasantly shocked by Acide's persistence on my skin. I can't think of any other Eau de Cologne or citrus fragrance that holds up this well and lasts through an entire workday on me. The dry down is still lemon-y, but not "just" lemon, thanks to Acide's skillful composition.
I'm no expert on men's fashion, but Acide seems like a good match for Éditions M.R.'s casual take on classic menswear — i.e., lots of slouchy overcoats, pleated trousers, and cashmere turtlenecks, plus a few minimalist leather accessories for good measure. My only reservation about reviewing Acide, which occurred to me after I'd already sampled the fragrance, is that it's a limited edition only available (for now?) at the Éditions M.R flagship in Paris, alongside those modern-retro fashion items.
Now that I feel guilty about recommending a fragrance most of us can't actually obtain, I'll balance out this review with something more accessible. I'm a longtime shopper at the C.O. Bigelow flagship in Manhattan's Greenwich Village and I've become a loyal fan of Bigelow's namesake line of toiletries as well as the more esoteric brands they carry.
Bigelow's Body Lotion is a lightweight, quickly-absorbed formula that's perfect for daily use, and the Lemon scent (also available in body wash, hand wash, hand cream, and other products) is one of my favorites from the collection. The tartness in C. O. Bigelow's lemon scent is balanced by a slightly creamy aspect, so that it reminds me more of lemon meringue pie filling than an actual lemon. However, it's still citrus-forward and not a gourmand blend, so it would layer well under any kind of Eau de Cologne. Its fragrance feels clean and cheery when the lotion is being applied but doesn't linger strongly enough to interfere with other scents, whether they might be lemon-inspired or otherwise.
Éditions M.R. Acide is available as 100 ml Eau de Cologne (€120) and is currently exclusive to the brand's flagship boutique, located at 10 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, Paris XI.
C.O. Bigelow Lemon Body Lotion ($14 for 295 ml) is available through the C.O. Bigelow website.