Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BCBG Max Azria Bon Chic

The newest launch by Max Azria BCBG was created by Elizabeth Arden, and is the only one I can recall there being since the BCBGirls collection. I like the fact that the name Bon Chic sheds light on the meaning of the brand name, and the scent itself very much. The bottle is slightly garish for my taste, but the celluloid flower cap shaped like a fan or a shell briefly brought to mind the famous painting by Botticelli, which is just about the best point of reference for a perfume. The full-bodied Floral scent and the golden color motif also bring to mind Dior's modern classic J'Adore, although Bon Chic is a unique creation, not a blatant copy of another perfume. In a whiff, it's a more complex version of Marc Jacobs Oh Lola, but all in all, Bon Chic is an impressive new fragrance that went against the tide and brought back a type of scent that fell out of fashion, even though it traditionally sold well among women: a true Floral with fruity, ambery and woody notes, with emphasis on the heart.

The scent is very sweet, a bit on the boozy side like a Rusty Nail, which for me is too intensely sweet and fruity a cocktail it makes me nauseous. I can handle the same bodacious qualities in a perfume if I'm in the mood. However, for this reason, it's hard to wear for some, but it will probably attract many people at first encounter. Since the days of Narcisse Noir, a perfume like this epitomized perfume and the power of what it can actually do.

Whether it's due to the intensity of its sweetness, compositional complexity (too many notes?) or the concentration of notes in a certain olfactory range (the heart in this case), some people's threshold for perfume-related nausea is lower than others; therefore, some people will not speak of a scent like this with enthusiasm, as with J'Adore, which I recall a Saks SA had talked me down from buying, pushing "the less sweet" (his words) Christian Lacroix shaped like a conch shell; I still bought J'Adore because that's what I'd gone there to buy after seeing the liquid gold ad featuring Carmen Kass in The New York Times Magazine. Is it a love-or-hate scent? I'd say it is, which is often a mark of success in perfumery. Only time will tell if Bon Chic will in fact become this generation's J'Adore.

Bon Chic really captures an era spanning from the 1980s to the early 90s for me. Led by the popularity of Giorgio, followed by Red, Gayle Hayman (Delicious) and Fred Hayman perfumes (273, Touch, Hollywood), the all-American style was characterized mostly by a brazen profusion of decadent white flowers, scintillating fruits and base notes which took a back seat for a change. I recall Oscar de La Renta Volupté, Halston Catalyst, Scaasi, and Estée Lauder Beautiful (1985), one of the iconic, most widely recognized and adored Floral perfumes of the time.

In truth, I like all kinds of perfumes from sweet to unsweet, floral to herbaceous, and can always find one in every genre to love, but it's refreshing to smell something so overtly, unadulteratedly, strongly and yes, traditionally feminine again. I am not itching to create one like it because there's lots of these already in the world, and in my wardrobe (including a mini size Bon Chic, my latest acquisition), but it's just a bit thrilling that someone's brought the ultimate mainstream back into the mainstream, no holds barred.