While I’m rarely one to gravitate towards men’s fragrances, this sample of Parlux’s Decadence for Men plays to all of my weaknesses:
It’s got a great name, an image of a tuxedoed Marlene Dietrich (plucked from Morocco, quite obviously), and a cheeky, almost camp tagline to (bow)tie it all together. Were I already familiar with this scent, I’d most assuredly make an “Falling In Love Again” joke even though that song was from The Blue Angel, but since this was the first time I tried Decadence, I can’t. Besides, the joke is on me, because this fragrance is nothing like I was expecting.
For starters, I’d like to draw attention to the composition as it’s described on Fragrantica:
Top notes are wormwood, big strawberry and mimosa; middle notes are peony, violet and anise; base notes are musk and cherry.
I’d hardly say my experience with Decadence was bad, but it was definitely not what’s described above. It starts out quite clean, for one brief moment almost mentholated even. It’s a generically handsome guy fresh out of the shower, already dressed, and putting on a tie. It’s plain yogurt, the missionary position, and Topher Grace’s character in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton: pleasant, blandly satisfying even, but definitely not something you would describe as decadent.
What’s peculiar, then, is what happens next.
At some point the musk base arrives, and while I never noticed any cherry notes, it has the kind of delicate, powdery scent I associate with women’s fragrances like Guerlain’s L’Instant Magic and Montale’s Powder Flowers. It’s not Dietrich-in-a-tux gender bending brilliance, but there’s a certain quality to this reveal that still feels draggish, and heaven knows I’m a sucker for a powdery scent. I’m not sure it’s intentional, but Decadence for Men feels like a knowing put-on in every way, a fragrance from a time when sexual orientation was spoken about in code instead of conversation:
And–if you ask me–that’s good enough to warrant stocking up on this discount power powder gem. After all, I can’t help it.