I had had a vague impression that Moschino’s fragrances fared pretty well in Perfumes: The Guide, having been moved to try a couple of them on the basis of their reviews. However, I went back through the updated paperback version, which is actually titled Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and found that three Moschino fragrances (Cheap & Chic, L’Eau C&C, Friends Men) received three stars, two (Funny!, Moschino) received four stars, and three more (Glamour, Hippy Fizz, and Uomo?) received only two. So, not as consistently good as I had remembered, but still, the brand’s overall grade is a solid, if undistinguished, C.
The review of L’Eau Cheap and Chic (“aldehydic resinous”), by Tania Sanchez, compared it to one of my dear loves, La Myrrhe:
This sleek little number uses a big dose of some funny salty-anisic herb, like sage or tarragon, plus a smooth, translucent pine-resin smell and vetiver background to give its soap-powder floral a haunting twist, which for a while does a pretty good likeness of Serge Lutens’s insanely wonderful (and not sold outside of Paris) La Myrrhe. A nice surprise.
The “pretty good likeness of… La Myrrhe” reference completely overwhelmed my natural resistance to “soap-powder floral,” “pine-resin and vetiver,” and “salty-anisic herb” references, the more fool I, and I bought a mini bottle on ebay late last summer. I was thrilled to open the little green-and-orange box and pull out the bulbous little bottle, hoping against hope for something that approximated the rosy, calm, shot-with-gold-light peacefulness of La Myrrhe, at a price less than Firstborn Child.
I was disappointed pretty quickly. I knew the review had said L’Eau C&C resembles La Myrrhe “for a while,” but honestly? It’s not even close. Sorry, but it’s Just Not. Not even the aldehydic start has much in common with La Myrrhe, much less the overall impression. I realize that LM is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it surely is mine: the sparkly aldehydes, the florals that don’t nominally include rose but somehow add up to a glowing deep pink color, the sharp, nearly medicinal aspect, the almost metallic tang. I love it. I find it comforting.
L’E C&C starts off with some dry aldehydes that make me think of talcum powder, and I suspect that if you hate aldehydes this is not going to be your kind of fragrance at all. Aldehydes can sometimes come off like powdered sugar, as in Chanel No. 22, but here they’re not sweet. The aldehydic start is followed by something vaguely herbal – it’s a little like opening up your spice cabinet and getting a whiff of all your tightly-closed herb jars, but less foody-savory. There may be some lavender in there, too, and definitely a pine note. I cannot pick out any florals at all, unless there be just a bare hint of some miscellaneous “fresh” note like freesia, or (a very bad) orange blossom; there is definitely a soapy quality to the fragrance that I don’t care much for. I don’t smell any anise, either. The thing is just so dry, it’s like unbuttered toast. After the almost-savory middle, there’s a salty, thin vetiver to end, and L’E C&C tails off rather gracefully into nothing. The whole ride is over in about three hours on me, if sprayed, and in about two if I dab, even generously. I certainly think it’s unisex (not that I’ll be able to talk The CEO into wearing it).
L’Eau Cheap & Chic is not all that bad, really. It’s certainly more interesting than a lot of middle-of-the-road fragrances that I’ve smelled: dry, outdoorsy, restrained by choice, sober, yet quirky. It reminds me a little bit of L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer (the pine), a little bit of Santa Maria Novello’s bizarre-yet-compelling Melograno (the dry, powdery aldehydes, the herbal and woody aspects), and a little bit of Cacharel’s Noa (the soapy floral), but does not remind me at all of La Myrrhe. And of course, Moschino is very reasonably priced, so it’s easy to pick up a mini here or there. But if I’m being honest, I have to say that I don’t like it.
Notes for L’Eau Cheap & Chic: Lily, rose, freesia, grapes, anise, orange, vetiver, heliotrope, amber. It was composed by Ilias Ermenidis and released in 2001. Oddly, the aldehydes – which are most definitely present, are not listed. Vetiver is the only listed note that really stands out to me, and I would not even call this thing a floral, as it doesn’t smell in any way floral to me. As for the grapes and orange, I don’t smell them either. Could be they’re buried under snowy aldehydes, but typically I like fruity-aldehydic florals (witness my love for Iris Poudre and Ferre 20), and I don’t get even a hint of fruit in L’Eau C & C.
I can only find reviews at the fragrance forums – Basenotes, Fragrantica, Makeup Alley – and they seem singularly unhelpful in this instance, being mostly made up of descriptors like “clean,” “young,” “powdery,” “musky,” “stinky,” “boring,” or “sexy.” (Yes, apparently some people have a fetish for soap.) Image from Fragrantica.