Aptly named, Fete is indeed a party — in your nose! Brought to you by the same folks who gave 20s Flappers and other such minxes the spicy and dangerous Le Numéro Cinq, you’d almost think that Molyneux was to spice as Jicky was to civet…
Speaking of civet, it’s definitely prowling around the edges of Fete, not officially invited to the party but crashing its velvet ropes anyway, adding its inimitable louche brand of chic. But as you initially approach Fete, luscious and tart iterations of peach, plum and bergamot (maybe galbanum?) hit you like the bubbles from a freshly cracked open bottle of champagne, lifting your senses. But wait, what’s that eyebrow-raising funky “off” scent that’s lowering your inhibitions? Riff-raff Cumin and Leather must have distracted the doorman.
Once Fete starts drying down, there’s the wonderful effect of smelling its multiple layers at once — a brightness from the top notes, the spiced fruit and florals in the middle, and the stunningly chic and sexy base, at once creamy, woody, and animalic. When I first sniffed Fete, it recalled Rochas’ 70s Femme — with its added cumin — to me. (Although Fragrantica doesn't list cumin, I smell its spicy body odor magnificence in Fete. Femme doesn't list it either.) Fete also reminds me a bit of Miss Balmain, Sikkim, and Aramis in its well-rounded leather personality.
Top notes: Caraway, plum, peach, bergamot and Brazilian rosewood
Heart notes: Lilac, orris root, jasmine and ylang-ylang
Base notes: Sandalwood, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss, civet, and leather
Fete is one of the one of few perfumes I've smelled in the odd but wonderful perfume category known as the fruit-animalic chypre. You get a little bit of everything with this: the happy sport-scent opening, the immediate funk from the base notes snaking their way through the lightly sweet florals, and the creaminess of benzoin and vanilla married with moss, sandalwood, leather and…civet. There’s even a saltiness I forgot to mention, coming from what I couldn’t tell you. The effect is like eating savory and sweet together.
In an interesting article about scent, scientists claim that a good nose is more than genetics — it's training. The more you smell and categorize what you're smelling, comparing one scent with the next, etc., the better you get at recognizing aspects of perfume, even being able to conjure it up in your memory. (In a fascinating anecdote, the article discusses how certain parts of the brain that pertain to olfaction will light up in the MRI scans of seasoned perfume specialists even in the absence of a scent. The brain's olfaction centers register activity as if a scent were being sniffed!) I think that's really true, because after years of sniffin' perfume and writing about it, I've developed the ability to remember what something smells like, to be able to even recall it as if it were a line of poetry. Take this morning. I actually had a full-on memory of Fete, and recreated it in my mind; I could actually smell it.
If you could watch me inhale Huff this stuff for the umpteenth time, you’d see that the reaction it gets resembles my reaction to eating something particularly tasty. Eyes get wide, then they close, then they roll to the back of my head, and finally (this is when you know this is some REAL good stuff), I begin to shake my head and mutter under my breath, “Wow…” Fete de Molyneux is not for everyone, but for those who like this style (you know who you are!), you, too, will shake your head and say, “Wow.”