Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A friend who’s fallen on hard times found this crumpled document while dumpster-diving near the New York Times building. It appears to be a discarded draft of Chandler Burr’s upcoming review of Flame, the new Burger King fragrance. We present it here as a public service.
When Coco Chanel asked Edmond Roudnitska to capture the essence of masculinity for her new men’s cologne, he knew he would have to transcend the contemporary clichés of French perfumery. Chanel would not be satisfied with the Gallic banalities of acrid armpit, garlic breath, and the portable toilet on Pier 6 of the Marseille docks. Roudnitska needed to create something revolutionary and by loading the formula with dimethoxypenisone—the olfactory equivalent of taut foreskin—he succeeded. Viande d’Homme redefined how a man should smell in the 1960s. With its sharp top note of fresh beard clippings and warm drydown—the comforting muskiness of Tuesday’s briefs on a Thursday evening—Viande d’Homme established a new family of fragrance.
Viande types such as Tronc d’Abre by Hugo Boss, and Thierry Mugler’s Testicule were wildly popular in Europe but less so here. Mass market abominations—Fabergé’s Wanker and Spume by Quintessence—left American consumers with a bad taste. Then, in 1992, perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena gave the viande type a new introverted minimalism and rectangularity. His Après le Boeuf for Hermes has a tender, yet joyful meatiness, the olfactory equivalent of Caravaggio’s Armor Vincet Omnia.
Now Burger King has launched Flame, its own take on the viande theme. The fragrance was creative-directed by José Montoya, whose previous work (Chalupa Hombre for Taco Belle and Acqua di Scampi for Sean Jean Silver) set a bold new direction for culinary cologne. The perfumer behind Flame is Olivier Boisdur, a talented newcomer with a gift for enlivening traditional accords with exotic elements.
Flame’s topnote unfolds like a prepubescent Asian contortionist climbing out of a crate of overripe Algerian pears. The bold viande accord in the heart introduces itself with solid, yet suave confidence—it’s Richard Gere on steroids. Boisdur delivers a signature touch with a trace of instantly recognizable isopropylparabenzyldicaproic acetate. The effect is stunning: like spare ribs slow-cooking on a Weber E-210 at a Section C tailgate party in the Meadowlands. The drydown is long and satisfying.
Flame combines the virile patience of an Argentine gaucho with the American genius for cuisine rapide. It’s a magical blend—enigmatic yet approachable, radiant yet abstract. A Mark Rothko done medium rare. Awesome.
(Four stars, delicious.)