Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Question of Aquatic

Among my contemporaries and fellow perfumistas, I have noticed that fragrances described as "aquatic" or "ozonic" do not get much love. My inability to find much information on the making of them has been frustrating. Perhaps the best known aquatic fragrance is the original L'eau D'issey by Issey Miyake. Others in this category include Calvin Klein Escape, The Body Shop Oceanus and Ralph Lauren Polo Sport. One of the defining aspects of aquatic fragrances are their "freshness" or "crispness". In fact, Davidoff Cool Water defines the category "aquatic fresh". Typically, they combine cool florals to create a fragrance reminiscent of a cold splash of water or a refreshing dip in the pool.

However, among fragrance connoisseurs they are less than popular. In fact, they are quite abhored. I am one who cannot tolerate most fragrances described as "aquatic". Perhaps it is because they are so popular and widely available now that my nose has grown tired of them? On this lazy Saturday when I really need to sleep and relax rather than research this, I beg the question of you. Can you wear aquatic scents? Why or why not? If you can, what are your favorites?


Jenavira13 said...

Interesting look at the infamous aquatic/ozonic category. I myself have never been able to wear them, they just do not rest on the skin well. While I abhor Escape and L'eau d'issey; I have never really minded to much the scent of Oceanus or Davidoff Cool Water. Intriguingly I think men actually pull off this catagory far better than women(which sadly has lead to mens fragrances being overtaken by this category for what feels like the last 15 years). My boyfriend rather wears the insanely popular Aqua di Gio rather well. Ironically he only wears light fluid fragrances, but he adores voluptious and heavy fragrances on me an example being CK Euphoria which a he got me for Valentine's day. I think if would be interesting if aquatics/ozones went away from the sickenly sweet notes and explored the concept of "salty tang", it is the only way I can see this category artistically moving. Otherwise it is a dead end category that I don't see having a further life.

greeneyes said...

I just don't try many of these. One of the Bonds--was it Fire Island?--was an aquatic fragrance I fared rather well with...but honestly, I do shy away. I'm worried they'll be scrubbers.

edwardian said...

Even in times when i didn't know much about perfume my nose was not intrigued by aquatic fragrances.
Maybe I don't understand them, but they all seem to fail in rendering the sensation of waves and seaspray and end up smelling synthetic.
I recently smelled Sandflowers by Montale, a marine scent with a nice bitter juniper note, and tough well done I don't think I'd wear it.

TMH256 said...


Thanks for your thoughts. There may be something to your theory that this category of scents smells better on men. I concur that they do not lay on the skin well. "Salty tang" was attempted by Satellite Ipanema and I think they did a decent job. (see my review) Yup. It's dead end category alright.

TMH256 said...

Hi greeneyes,

Nice to see you! Fire Island smells to me like suntan lotion. It lacks the whole oceanic vibe and just reminds me of laying in the sun - something that has caused me pain and illness throughout my life. (Fair skin be damned.) So I certainly can't wear that one. Give me coconut and I am much happier. ;-) I shy away from this category as well for some reason.

TMH256 said...


Yes! I just used the word "synthetic" to describe L'eau D'Issey to a novice in fragrance. After all, how do you possibly naturally produce the smell of the ocean. Impossible, no? On the other hand, Frederic Malle has developed a quite interesting gadget to perfectly capture the smell of a tuberose naturally. That, and others like it, just feels like better artistry to me. I think you nailed it! And now I'm curious about Sandflowers. Thanks for the tip.

chayaruchama said...

I find these attempts troubling as well- because they just don't feel authentic to me.

CSP's Motu isn't bad, I suppose.
I guess I'd prefer seaweed, seashells, or rotten fisheads, I think.
What a party pooper I am !

TMH256 said...

Dear Chaya Ruchama,

In my experience you are NO party pooper! Hehe. Rotten fish heads, eh? Well, considering the conversation between Edwardian and me, they might be more authentic!

Isa said...

I must be the only one around here who can wear aquatic fragances without suffering.
I'd rather wear this kind of scents than oriental and extremely sweet ones.
Sometimes I have the mood to wear something fresh and light. I found them suitable for summer mornings.
My favourite aquatic scent was Pierre Cardin's Blue Marine, but the fragance has been completely changed and now it's horrible.

TMH256 said...

Hello Isa,

Thank you for your comments. So, since Blue Marine has been horribly changed, what do you like to wear most on summer mornings? Have you tried Antica Farmasista Acqua? That is one I can tolerate and it comes across as very fresh. Have a great weekend!

nicola said...

I've been wearing New West for Her by Aramis since I was 18. As well as Elizabeth Arden Green Tea, and Dior Poison. So my tastes vary hugely. I love the ozonic notes but most of the perfumes are so cloying - witness Issey Miyake, which I so wanted to like, but after about 15 minutes it would dry down to something so sweet it'd give me a headache. Same with Chanel Allure. I think New West is a great example of a marine/ozonic fragrance, but, it has been discontinued. Not popular enough, I guess. Will just have to create my own.

red_scarlett said...

I love wearing Davidoff Cool Water Woman and i love the men's scent too! Take the plunge and go aquatic!

Anonymous said...

Trying t wade through the never ending inundation of florals leaves me amazed at the comments and initial posts. Aquatics are unique in comparison; I am now looking for a green aquatic combo, that is how I came upon this.

I was thinking of an aquatic for men; anything to spare me the boring chain of florals.