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January 31, 2006

Fragrance Review: Space NK Melodrama

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Melodrama was created by the perfumer Christopher Sheldrake (the nose behind Serge Lutens fragrances) for Space.NK, a perfumery in Covent Garden, London. It is a fragrance that pays homage to the 1920s, although its composition is closer to the aldehydic floral chypre like Millot Crêpe de Chine (1925), Weil Zibeline (1928) and Hermès Calèche (1961), than to the aldehydic floral like Chanel No.5 (1921). It marries the sparkling floral aldehydic canvas with the classical chypre accord, the mossy woodiness of which beautifully complements the sweet floral notes.

Beginning true to its name, Melodrama explodes with a firework of aldehydes that settle into an opaque veil over the top accord. A metallic green notes cuts through the aldehydic whiteness, allowing the floral notes to appear one by one. The sweetness of jasmine rises up to enfold the velvety note of bergamot, its sparkle dimmed in the white floral heart. ...

The characteristic aldehydic quality paired with the coolness of the composition suggests a soapy quality, resulting in an effect that is at once understated and clean. The composition warms up in the base, where a pleasing vanillic sweetness softens the crisp vetiver and delicately powdery oakmoss. In contrast with the loud top, the base notes speak softly, perhaps a bit too much so.

Unfortunately, I find that Melodrama lacks tenacity on my skin, vanishing rather quickly, with only a touch of sweetness remaining on my skin after a couple of hours. Moreover, I am ambivalent about it in light of the fact that I would have liked to see more innovative touches, rather than a retro composition. To give another example, Sheldrake’s Rose de Nuit explores the classical chypre accord, however it is executed in such a way as to highlight the interesting chypre interplay, while bringing new elements to the fore. Nevertheless, Melodrama is certainly an interesting composition, and lovers of fragrances like Hermès Calèche will be pleased to discover it, especially since it is quite reasonably priced.

Notes include bergamot, orange blossom, French lavender, pink roses, heliotrope, gardenia, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli and vetiver. Melodrama is available directly from SpaceNK.

Madeleine Vionnet, "Bas-relief" (1931). A French fashion designer (1876–1975), she greatly influenced the fashions on the 1920s. Her dresses followed the lines of the body, much like the garments of the classical Greek statues.

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