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Kenzo Ça Sent Beau- That smells good, that smells beautiful! – October 7, 2017


I got up this morning and checked the news while I drank my coffee, and immediately felt anxious. 2017 has been a rough year for the world. A new crisis or scandal or disaster from somewhere unfolds every week, and it’s a hard slog to sort through the daily media download, and make sense of it all. It’s frustrating and upsetting. Civility has gone out the door, everyone’s skin seems a little thinner. It’s time to click the off button, step back, and take a break. It’s perfume time!

When the paperback edition of the “fragrance encyclopedia” Perfumes the A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez came out almost 10 years ago, Gwen and I made it our mission to experience every fragrance in the book’s 5-star Masterpiece category. I think we’ve finally achieved that goal, and had a ton of fun in the process!

One of the last in the 5-star Masterpiece list was the 1989 Kenzo fragrance, Ça Sent Beau, which translates as That Smells Beautiful (p.163), which they describe as a Tangerine Fougère, and also list as one of the 10 Best Fougères (p.576). The bottle was a little hard to track down because you won’t find it at retail counters but I finally found it online.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, the Japanese designer Kenzo Takada was a  revolutionary Paris designer, whose big geometric shapes in dark colours and natural fabrics evoked Japanese minimalism, ancient and futuristic cultures, and were otherworldly and totally unique. The Kenzo perfume line that grew out of his fashion brand followed his design aesthetic to a T. We’ve listed the wonderful spicy brews, Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant with its unusual clove and plum accord, and Kenzo Jungle pour Homme, with its smooth citrus-nutmeg heart.

Kenzo Ça Sent Beau was the first of the Kenzo fragrances, created by nose Françoise Caron in 1987 and released for women as simply Kenzo, which was quickly discontinued, re-formulated, renamed, then released in 1989 as the more unisex Ça Sent Beau. Built around citrus, spice, and powdery woody musk notes, Ça Sent Beau has the Kenzo stamp, a singular elegant quality that sets it apart, and creates the “Aha!” moment. Tania Sanchez says in The Guide that it is “…trim, chic, and reminds you of nothing on earth…”. I agree.

The citrus opening of bergamot and mandarin orange is sunny and juicy and soon becomes a delicious nectar as floral and fruit notes are revealed in the heart. Imagine a white bouquet of gardenia, tuberose, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, sprinkled with drops of peach and plum and sweet mandarin juices, dusted with fresh grated nutmeg and coriander. The indolic floral notes are sweetly lush, warmed by the aromatic spice and fruit notes, full to the brim with a sensual opulence, but every note in perfect balance. The effect is mouthwatering.

And the dry-down has a surprise. Creamy and powdery wood notes, moss, vanilla, musks, and then iris, the pivotal note which creates the “Kenzo effect”.  By including iris in the base, the classic perfume note praised for its damp earthy character, Kenzo Ça Sent Beau becomes like “nothing on earth”.  The scent takes on an airy, green quality, opening up the dry-down and sending spent notes into the stratosphere, while the woods and musks remain behind, blending elegantly with the scent of warm skin.

Floral, fruity, spicy, and earthy, Kenzo Ça Sent Beau smells beautiful, for sure.

I’m just sorry I waited so long to confirm this fact.

Kenzo Ça Sent Beau is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.