Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sinful Chocolate

It's no secret that New Yorkers have this thing for chocolate. From Vosges' "yoga + chocolate (haut-chocolat)" holistic approach to chocolate marketing to the lesser-known Mom & Pop shops that make the best German chocolate cakes in Queens, they're here. Come fall, we look forward to the Chocolate Show ( where, besides tasting/buying chocolate from places unheard of, you could enjoy a live chocolate fashion show where designers showcase the best original outfits made of or with chocolate. Chocolate in New York is more than just sinful dessert; it's a celebrated medium of expression.

Somewhere along the line, chocolate became a note in modern perfumery, much to traditional perfume lovers' despair. Chocolate is still a relatively new note which Thierry Mugler Angel (1992) is known to have brought into the mainstream. Angel, which at the time was controversial but now could be smelled almost everywhere, is a heavy (nothing is heavier, they say), distinctive, hypersweet, patchouli-driven woody-Gourmand Oriental blend with loads of fruits, caramel, honey, helional (described as celestial notes) and did I mention patchouli?--supporting the chocolate. There are new variations of Angel out now which incorporate floral notes with the original Angel smell--because as you know, anything goes with chocolate and everything is better with it. Angel is known as a rebellious perfume, and there's no denying the hippy patchouli of the shocking and scandalous Angel accord that's here to stay no matter how the trend is trying to lean toward the proper clean green act, reminiscent of the "innocent" 1950s. I doubt Rock 'n Roll of the '60s will ever die, either, hard as they may try to make us forget or not know had ever existed. Sorry, but you can't go back after Jimi, either.

Serendipitous by Serendipity 3, a popular tourist attraction on the Upper East Side, is another perfume that followed in the unorthodox chocolate way. Although Serendipitous isn't nearly as widely known or regarded as a prestige perfume, it's a personal favorite that was made in NYC. It's a no-frills cotton candy-sweet milk chocolate scent with some orange peel-y garnish thrown in over whipped cream. I think it has a New York vibe: a little extravagant with a sense of humor. It doesn't take itself too seriously but as far as chocolate perfumes go, it's Divine. Incidentally, there's a book I absolutely love called "Kissing In Manhattan" by David Schickler which features a perfume called "Serendipity" but there's no relation. Nevertheless, I found reading this while wearing Serendipitous to be an interesting experience.

There are more perfumes out there with chocolate as a main or supporting note: Pilar & Lucy The Exact Friction of Stars and the new launch by Ralph Lauren, Ralph Hot come to mind. Because it's a new note, there aren't so many of them yet and I still haven't found my ultimate chocolate holy grail perfume but I'm on a sweet kick this year, and I believe that the perfume industry's love affair with chocolate has only just begun.