L'Artisan Parfumeur is an old friend. I've owned bottles of Ananas Fizz (discontinued), Mûre et Musc (original version), L'Eau de L'Artisan, Passage d'Enfer, L'Eau d'Ambre, Dzongkha, Séville à l'Aube, Traversée du Bosphore, Dzing!, Timbuktu, Méchant Loup and Bois Farine, not to mention amber balls and candles. When I saw the ads for the new Bana Banana,* with their antique botanical illustrations of banana plants, I was primed to BUY (I love the scent of banana).
Things started off swimmingly. Bana Banana opens with spiced banana leaf, flower and fruit (lots of pepper and nutmeg); the vibe is smooth and liqueur-y. A wonderful violet leaf note shades the background (this is my favorite violet leaf note since Carven Pour Homme). Bana Banana's fruit note seems "reconfigured": some leaf and unripe peel, a hint of candy, and the "salad" scent of the banana flower. Bana Banana has a tropical character, even when powdered iris arrives. The silky iris seems "apt" and blends beautifully with the other notes, providing a "post-bath" refreshing/talc scent. Tonka bean, sharp and vibrant, arrives next and is joined by a sheer (non-cloying) amber accord.
All this good stuff happens in 7-10 minutes on my skin. If you're a no-nonsense shopper, that's enough time to sniff a tester, pull out your credit card and be on your way. Too bad that at the 10-minute mark of development, a suffocating white musk note/accord arrives and coats everything of interest. Ten minutes of originality and fun, followed by ten hours of cheap-smelling vapidness. Such is the marketing ploy for many contemporary perfumes. (This may be based on ingredients' pricing — add a few drops of the good stuff and load up on dreck — and wanting to make as much profit as possible. Ramón Monegal is the emperor of this tactic.)
When I think of the interesting perfumes L'Artisan has dropped from its line-up...smelling Bana(l) Banana annoys me even more. And it won't wash out of fabric! I've washed the shirts I wore during testing TWICE without dislodging the musks. If you want a great, longer-lasting banana scent, I recommend Blackbird Y06-S.
Wish: L'Artisan would release Bana Banana as a cologne, with only the top notes included. One can dream....
L'Artisan Bana Banana Eau de Parfum is available in 100 ml for $165.
* Perfumer Céline Ellena; listed fragrance notes of pepper, nutmeg, violet, jasmine, iris, banana, banana flower, tonka bean, musk, amber.