Anyone who has spent time in a boy’s grade school locker room has been traumatized, at one point, by a flood of Axe body spray. It’s not necessarily that Axe is that bad – it’s more that the combination of body odor and cheap fragrance seems to bring the worst out of both smells. Thankfully, most students grow out of the need to assault the noses of those around them. Unfortunately, some grow into the oversprayers we true perfume nerds dread to this day.
This week, I had the truly unpleasant experience of experiencing the only thing worse than a roomful of Axe – a roomful of Xerjoff. I teach at a high school, and while most students either wear minimal fragrance or none at all, a few are packing serious bottles in their backpacks. One student proudly showed me his new bottle of Renaissance on Tuesday. By the end of the week, he let it fall into the hands of another student, who promptly unloaded fifteen or so sprays into the air by the time I could address the issue.
The fallout was awful. Cue student complaints, pleas to go outside (usually a reward for good behavior), and my own rapidly-increasing headache. Unlike Axe, which disappears in fifteen minutes or so, Xerjoff was determined to stick around for hours. The qualities I tend to dislike in Xerjoff were amplified tenfold. Specifically, the medicinal bent that runs through the house was amplified into a nightmarish recreation of a doctor’s office.
So like the self-punishing person I am, I decided to review Renaissance this Scent Saturday to try and recontextualize my understanding of the fragrance.
Top Notes: Lemon, Tangerine, Bergamot, Petitgrain
Heart Notes: Mint, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose
Base Notes: Musk, Cedar, Amber, Patchouli
I was pretty certain that Renaissance would fare better sitting on skin rather than clogging the air, and I was right…slightly. It’s certainly nice to encounter this fragrance on a smaller scale where its leading notes are strong rather than suffocating. Yet to my nose, Renaissance is still a hammer to the face, a sibling of Versace Eros that thinks itself classy because it wears neon yellow instead of neon green. It’s a musky citrus-mint concoction with the depth of a kiddie pool that honestly wouldn’t seem out of place there. It doesn’t help that Xerjoff bottles often have industrial-grade sprayers that coat skin in a tangible layer of fragrance.
A few hours into its dry-down, the composition mellows out a bit and becomes a touch more elegant. However, it’s hard to tell whether the improvement was due to the actual development of the fragrance, or simply due to my relief that I didn’t have to smell it as much. Xerjoff as a house has such a reputation for stellar citrus fragrances that even minor failures like this one seem vaguely offensive. I can’t imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t want something more complex, airy, or naturalistic than what Renaissance has to offer.
In the aftermath of the Renaissance classroom incident, I sprayed on some much-needed Tommy Bahama St. Barts to cleanse my palate. The fifteen-dollar perfume burst to life on my skin and reminded me why I became passionate about fragrance in the first place. When it disappeared within the next few hours, I felt relief. Even the best of friends sometimes need to be enjoyed in small doses. Renaissance is not the first Xerjoff perfume to overstay its welcome, and at this point, I’m becoming uninterested in inviting them in at all.
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The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.
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