"The One" By Luca Turin
While flying for the price of a beer from London to a quiet Italian airport recently, I noticed that the flight attendant was wafting a pleasant, slightly bland fragrance all the way down the aisle. Two hundred nautical miles later I figured out what it was. The trick never fails: 1- Hmm, that’s nice ! 2-What the hell is it ? 3-(belatedly) CK One ! On the return flight, I sprayed some on at the duty-free and marveled at this piece of quiet genius. CK One is not so much a perfume as a chemical time machine. Most fragrances happily operate on a logarithmic time scale, each successive phase occupying a span ten times longer than the previous one: six minutes of topnotes, an hour of heart, and the rest of the day for drydown. A lot of interesting things can happen during scene changes, for example in the first half-hour of Patou’s EnJoy or the first three of Guerlain’s Insolence. Some fragrances manage time differently, by fading seamlessly from one accord to another, similar one, for hours on end, as, for example, in J’Adore or DK Gold. But cKOne takes a different tack, by stopping time altogether. In the Eighties, this used to be called linear perfumery, and was usually applied to big-hair contraptions that, alas, froze the clock at 11 on a Saturday night. The rest of the time, they worked like heels and a gold lamé dress on the morning train to work. Instead, CK One takes a soapy, fresh topnote and fleshes it out with a skin-toned ensemble of middle and drydown materials. Every one is picked for its radiance, so the chord can then be heard just as clearly thirty paces away as up close. Something then instructs the all the components of CK One to hold hands and fly off in formation. Because of this, the mix in the air is unvarying, and time forever stands still at 8AM: the frozen morning of a day full of promise. There is a similar case of brilliant, maybe fortuitous chemical engineering, this time in flavors. An expert told me that the secret of Coca Cola resided, not, as many people think, in some magic ingredient, but in the fact that while the chemical composition of the flavor changes wildly between mixing in Atlanta and sipping in Bangalore six months later, the taste itself does not budge. Could it be that the chemical key to glory for both Coke and CK One, the whispered message our nose loves to hear, is the same: Stay Young Forever ?