Proenza Schouler launched its first and only fragrance, at least so far, in 2018, and it’s called Arizona. I only have a mini version of this floral woody musk fragrance, and although this perfume is happily unique enough to stand out from other designers, I won’t be purchasing a full bottle. We’ll get to why that is in a second. But first, here are the notes:
- mandarin orange, orange, bergamot
- cactus flower, solar notes, strawberry, orange blossom, jasmine, rose
- orris, cashmeran, musk, vanilla
With a name like Arizona, you would expect this fragrance to have a dry and airy quality to it, and that it does. I didn’t know that cactus flowers smelled of anything – perhaps it’s listed just to add to the allure? I do smell the jasmine, which is not an original choice for a floral heart, and makes not a great deal of sense as you cannot find them in the desert, but it does work – I’ll give it that. The orris root or iris at the base successfully delivers a powdery lipstick moment, but that moment is fleeting for me. The florals and musk are a little synthetic and sharp. I think I smell wax melting. Or is it crayons? And I’ve read that some people are able to pick out a strawberry note from this, but I don’t pick it up. In any case, all these things do not constitute the problematic facets of this fragrance.
The part that I am having a problem with is also the part that makes it interesting, sadly. There is a solar note in here, and from what I understand about solar notes, they are components in perfumery that are used to bring out a sunny and airy disposition in perfumery. They can be synthetic compounds like benzyl amyl and cis 3 hexenyl, or they can be citrus notes like bergamot and mandarin, or sadly, they can be marine notes or aqueous notes like calone. Apparently, there are now natural products in perfumery made from algae! And it’s this latter element that I am picking up from Arizona, and I am not happy about it. Those ozonic, minerally, seaweedy smells, however subtle, tend to cause a puke reflex in me that I cannot shake off, or in this case – scrub off. I’m just not a fan of aquatic notes.
I don’t hate all fish-related notes. For example, I do like the salty caviar effect in Thierry Mugler’s Womanity, but perhaps that is because of a delectable sweet fig note to balance it out.
I really want to like this fragrance, but I think there is calone in here. It’s a shame, too, because there must be another way to create the mineral aspect of this scent that I do like. What I can thankfully perceive in here are the scents of sand, rocks, shells perhaps, and driftwood. This fragrance reminds me of Beach Walk, in that sense, from Maison Margiela. There is somehow a watery component to Arizona, like my brain is wading thought cactus flesh.
What do sand, rocks, algae, salt, or driftwood have to do with Arizona (as in the state)? I get how the lightness or airiness and powdery quality are appropriate – kind of like dust, I guess, and of course there’s the cactus flower, if in fact that produces a smell, but the state of Arizona is not exactly next to the ocean.
The fragrance does sweeten up a little over time, and perhaps there is a fleshy red fruit in there somewhere. But upon testing it all day, It was not scrumptious strawberries that I picked up, but sadly that dank, seaside vibe. I could hear the seagulls fighting over a dead piece of fish on the beach.
Projection and longevity are good with Arizona, which for me, as you might guess, is not good. If you like that minerally seaside vibe in your fragrances, however, this is objectively a very-well constructed and rather original, distinctive, and intriguing scent. Objectively, I do approve. It’s not up my alley.
The perfumers, by the way, are Carlos Bemain and Loc Dong. I think Carlos is responsible for the likes of Polo and Flower Bomb. Loc Dong also has a larger repertoire. Last I checked Arizona is sold in 90 and 50 ml bottles for 130 and 100 USD respectively. Like most PS goods, they are expensive.