Is Clive Christian Hedonistic worth the $790 price tag?
Welcome to Fragrance Friday, where each week we’ll update you on the most iconic new releases from the dynamic world of men’s fragrances. Born out of a desire to showcase one of the most overlooked, yet versatile elements of any discerning man’s style, this weekly column will help you polish your own signature scent.
The question posed in the title is of course entirely up to you and how much disposable income you are willing to invest in niche luxury fragrances. This is a Clive Christian, widely known as one of the most expensive brands in perfumery. Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty is, after all, one of the most expensive perfumes ever made – not that it’s something you’ll ever find, given that only ten 500ml crystal French Baccarat bottles were made available over a decade ago, priced at around £115,000 (~AU$204,000).
I’m not even going to pretend I’ve had the pleasure of smelling this illustrious scent, which is said to center around its creamy sandalwood base in a way unlike any other modern scent. I was, however, able to discover Jump Up And Kiss Me Hedonistic from the new Clive Christian Addictive Arts collection – one of two new fragrances from the much-loved British perfumer and a must-have when it comes to complexity and projection.
I’m not talking about a disproportionate projection and an overpowering wake in the manner of a typical Amouage or a NATIONAL COSTUME, but rather a sober and rather elegant expression of the 203 ingredients of the juice. That’s not to say that these other two brands – some of my favorites – are heinous in the way they fare, but it should give you a good idea of how smooth Hedonistic is despite its rather high bill.
With a 25% fragrance concentration, this bold fragrance comes in a cobalt blue bottle believed to symbolize poison in the Victorian era. The collection it is part of, Addictive Arts, revolves much of its identity around the words of British literary giants, and in the case of Hedonistic it is the “Jack Jump Up And Kiss Me” – a nickname given to William Shakespeare’s favorite flower, the wild pansy, which features as a plot device in Dream of a summer night.
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As with all high-end perfumes, a complex image of high culture must be attached, and that is certainly the case with Hedonistic. Any airy pretense is erased as soon as you feel this. It’s an approachable and incredibly seductive scent, playing mostly in the woodsy oriental family, but replacing it with very well-placed gourmand notes that help give it a juicy, fruity quality that’s almost a little soapy thanks to a green accord. herbal black cherry and clary sage.
Although you have a lot of high quality ingredients – remember, 203 – that appear throughout the show, the most consistent of them would be these top notes of bergamot, grapefruit, cherry, clary sage and neroli. You have lemon and violet leaf on the backing, but perhaps the best ‘background ingredient’ would be tangerine. I’m only guessing here, but that might be why the grapefruit is so important in the first place, working well with the mandarin orange for a citrus accord to help soften the bergamot spiciness and lift the neroli .
The surprising tobacco bridge brings us to the second act, softened by the more pleasant notes of jasmine, iris and papyrus. It’s not a subversive fragrance, just an elegant interplay of incredibly well-extracted classic ingredients, which is why the base is a pretty logical continuation of the heart: amber, cashmere, leather, cedarwood, sandalwood, musk , labdanum, mousse, vetiver, vanilla and a little tonka bean.
Sweet, creamy and powerful. It’s the interplay between the opening and the base that is such a spectacle for anyone who wants a more approachable Clive Christian. I know, $790 for 50ml isn’t “reachable” for more casual perfumery fans or anyone just starting to build up their collection, but considering the brand reliability and quality displayed here, it comes close on the more reasonable side of the top. – end scale.
Niche perfumes are great for experimenting with because they train one of your most important senses to pay more attention to nuances and small details. It’s when we get to that granular level that you can really decide what type of fragrance is right for you and what deserves a place on your shelf. Clive Christian Jump Up And Kiss Me Hedonistic deserves a spot because of its complete character – an elegant “greatest hits” that goes from something sensual and gourmand, to slightly smoky and resinous, to creamy and oaky. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but once you feel how transparent everything is, it’s hard not to buy into the hype behind Clive Christian.
If you want something that will really elevate your style, then yes, I would say $790 is an easy price to pay for Clive Christian Hedonstic.
Top notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Neroli, Cherry, Clary Sage, Violet Leaf.
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Orris, Tobacco, Papyrus, Addictive Fusion.
Basic notes: Amber, cashmere, leather, cedarwood, sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, musk, labdanum, patchouli, moss, vetiver.
Clive Christian Hedonistic is available now in Australia at $790 for a 50ml bottle.