Top Notes: Ginger, Black Pepper, Saffron, Olibanum
Heart Notes: Sandalwood, Cedarwood
Base Notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Benzoin, Birch Tar, Cacao, Castoreum
I was impressed with the initial collection of three fragrances launched by Eris Parfums last year. Creative Director, Barbara Herman, is a vintage perfume expert and author of Scent and Subversion. You can read my mini reviews of Ma Bête, Belle de Jour and Night Flower here.
The latest fragrance by Eris Parfums, Mx. (pronounced “Mix”) was launched this year and once again, was created with perfumer Antoine Lie.
I recently discovered the meaning of the word Mx. in the most prosaic way imaginable. I was placing an online order with a supermarket when I noticed one of the options in the contact details section was ‘Mx’. I correctly deduced that this is a new gender-neutral title, with the ultimate aim of replacing Mr, Mrs, Miss etc.
You may be thinking “Okay, but we’ve had unisex fragrances for a long time now”. However, Mx. rebels against the idea – prevalent in the mainstream at least – that gender-neutral perfumes have to be clean (read asexual) or lean masculine in style (presumably so as not to scare off the fellas).
In sharp contrast to the cool and fresh unisex style that dates back to CK One, Mx. is warm and inviting.
I often find ginger notes tricky but the accord that forms the opening of Mx. is like gingerbread baked with a good deal of saffron and a sprinkling of pepper. Come in close and you may even be treated to a spike of incense.
This combination of gourmand spices over light, pliable woods brings to mind the excellent Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle. Both are comforting yet stylish, but unlike the Malle, Mx. completely bypasses florals. It also has an enticing dark twist in the base with vetiver, patchouli, a dusting of cacao powder and a shadow of smoky leather.
The animalic aspect here is very much of the soft and purring kind. The musk is at the furry end of the spectrum and adds to the luxurious feel. Mx. seeks to blur the gender boundaries and the whole feel of the fragrance is soft focus. It’s someone coming home late at night, lighting a fire and wrapping themselves in a faux fur blanket after an indulgent evening of excess.
It doesn’t have the retro stamp of the first three Eris perfumes, but it shares the same sophisticated, sensual character and may be more approachable for some. While Mx. seeks to challenge the binary nature of gender, the fragrance is easy to wear and fits like a second skin. It possesses intimate sillage and lasts incredibly well.
Gender politics aside, Mx. is cosy, comforting, chic and more than a little romantic. It works beautifully at this time of year as the temperature starts to dip and the nights are about to draw-in.
Do you find gender distinctions in fragrance helpful or would you rather that we did away with them completely?
15 responses to “Mx. by Eris Parfums”
Hey Tara! Only this week I saw the pronoun Mx – and yes, didn’t take Lo g to work out what it was.
The only reason that gender-marketed perfume is useful to me, is to help guide my expectations when first trying it or making a decision to test. There’s enough other descriptors around that you could give genders away altogether. What annoys me more is discussion about fragrance, when someone starts a conversation with ‘hey ladies, what do you think of xyz?’ No. Stop. Chances are most people have tried, why cant everyone have an an opinion?
Seems like its use spreading then, which is great.
In fragrance, gender distinctions can be a useful shorthand, but as you say, it’s not very hard to work out if it’s for you or not anyway.
Some men seem to be focused on finding the magic fragrance that will automatically get them into a woman’s knickers – hence the Aventus obsession – so maybe that’s why they want the opinion of the “the ladies”?
Hi Tara, Mx sounds lovely actually, the Eris perfumes are so hard to come by though…
I dislike the word unisex very much, for the reason you mention; it’s asexual and assiociated with CKone. I always say shared fragrance, although it seems people don’t pick up as easily what’s meant by that as you picked up on the Mx 😉
When I met Vero Kern she said she hated the word “unisex” for the same reasons. Unisex usually means no sex appeal.
Oh yes, “shared fragrance” is a great way of putting it.
Well, I hadn’t heard of the title ‘Mx.’, which strikes me as political correctness gone mad, but as it is here now, I think its application to a perfume in this vein is quite fitting. I like the sound of Mx. in every way, not being familiar with any of the Eris line. Nor have I got round to reading Barbara’s book – my very bad.
I do have to mention that up here at least, the nights are already drawing in with a vengeance. It is pitch black at half six already, which I find quite shocking. 😉
I’m all for people not feeling excluded but I can’t imagine it replacing the existing titles – or at least not for a very long time. Ms hasn’t managed to eliminate Miss/Mrs, sadly.
I think you’d really like this perfume,V. It’s soft, warm and lightly oriental. You’re certainly not “too fragile” to handle it 🙂
What an interesting topic and perfume. I like “unisex” and I don’t see it as asexual. I have to admit that for me “shared” doesn’t quite convey that this will suit everyone. What is shared? Who shared what? It’s a vague amorphous word in my opinion and has a distinct meaning so that the denotation does not work with the connotation of a “perfume fitting everyone” i.e. “shared.”
For many years, even when I was 15 in the late 80s, I went by Ms. I still do. Now that there’s Mx. I like it even better! I still feel that biological sex distinctions have a place somewhere (the medical field?), but certainly not with perfume.
As a Ms./Mx. I have always been drawn to either “unisex” or scents that were deemed “manly” in some way: the dark, the wood, the incense, the heavy, the patch, the fecal animalic, etc. But in MY mind–those were never really “manly” to me. I’ve felt like the woman who walks into a room with presence, magic, a state of mind of power and exoticism (everything I want to be) could and does wear these perfumes, historically. For example, it may not be popular to admit liking Estee Lauder Youth Dew (still do–snuck it away from my mother, and love to this day). But EL YD is a powerhouse! Now I like Salome, Alahine, many Tom Fords, anything with incense, etc. Other more “typically feminine florals” such as jasmine, gardenias–often the whites (think Amarige), I have never felt overwhelmingly drawn to. Because I was anosmic up close, and just didn’t enjoy Versace Crystal Noir, I gave it to my husband (bio. male) who it smells sexy fantastic on. And I can actually smell it. It’s a gardenia-centric scent, but on him, just plain good.
I have associated the super-clean, citric-centric aqua and CK light minimalist styles with men (with the possible exception of Old Spice). I associate woods, incense, heavy dark orientals with ANHYONE with power and presence.
In short, I’m probably going to continue for now, at least to use “unisex.”
If someone says that a scent is “distinctly feminine”–I usually think white florals. But, I take it with a grain of salt because my guy rocks a lot of “feminine” perfume and just smells fantastic. I think skin has a lot to do with this. What we also “imagine” as “feminine or masculine” is nonsense. On some of the fragrantica comments, often a writer will says this is a “masculine” fragrance. I will sometimes write, this “skews masculine or feminine”–but I add the caveat that is based on societally conceived notions of what that means, and, that while that opinion is based on “the world around me” as it is today–“anyone can and should try the perfume based on the notes, my review of it, their personal taste and their skin.” I always add that. Most of the time, I just don’t mention gender unless it is brought up a lot by other writers.
Alternatively, when writers speak of a scent that is “ultimate feminine” or use phrases like that–I tend to walk away from the scent. It does bring up certain connotations in my mind that I often have to override as a woman. I wear skirts; I wear polish and makeup; but I’ve been a total “tomboy” after hours hanging out at Lowes and Home Depot. Now I just think I have a lot of “androgynous” characteristics, that I like to do a lot of activities, mentally and physically, that I’m strong, powerful (Yes, I am woman and hear me roar). But I would agree as a feminist that gender designations are often unnecessary and become predictive of our responses. So I’m interested in this movement and where it will take us. For now, I am going to seek out Mx. The notes sound right up my alley with the pepper and incense!
Great comment, many thanks. I think you make a good point in regards to the history of perfume. Fragrances started out being “unisex” and both men and women wore Jicky. Traditionally female scents lent much more towards what we would think of today as masculine. Perfumes such as Tabac Blond and early Shalimar were heavy on the leather for example.
I will sometimes mention that a perfume leans feminine or masculine but that is purely to give an idea of style and is no way a suggestion of who should be wearing it. I love that the niche and artisan markets are gender free.
I hope you like Mx. It is light on the incense but has a gentle spicy/woody feel.
PS – I forgot to mention that my avatar is “Shiva-woman.” Shiva, as one member of a three-part godhead is more “masculine”–but Indian gods are often androgynous or take on characteristics that the West might label “feminine.” I’m down with Mx., and I think I’ll start to use it today–but I still like “unisex.” Oh the conundrums and contradictions!
Labels are tricky, aren’t they?
It’s great that you feel Mx. works for you as a title and are gong to start using it. We all embody male and female characteristics to a greater or lesser extent.
Sounds like another goodie, Tara. I prefer the term “unisex” to “gender neutral”. Personally, if I like it, it doesn’t matter if it’s male or female. But a lot of people still want those distinctions and a lot of the companies are not able to move beyond it either. Thanks R
What an interesting topic! I’ve been thinking about it (in terms of perfumes, not in general) for a while, and I still might write a post about it – just because I need more time to put my thoughts together in coherent sequence than is reasonable for writing a comment 😉
I’ve never tried any of this brand’s perfumes but I recently heard about this new perfume and, while I do not care for what the name stands for, I got interested in the brand itself – just because I’m curious to see what a person who tried and valued the best perfumes that are/were out there came up with. I almost placed the order but – who doesn’t use PayPal these days?!! I was too lazy to go for my wallet – and then I forgot. I still might do it at some point.
As to the name… I will never respond to that title, no matter what. I do not mind addressing people Mr/Mrs/Ms/Mx/Hey you or whatever else they want me to address them – just make up your mind already and let me know. But until they tell me, I’ll probably keep addressing a human being who looks and dresses like what in my culture is considered as “man” – Mr Y, and use Ms X for the culture-defined counterpart.
As to perfumes… People should wear whatever smells/looks/feels good for them.
Hi Undina, I hope you do write a post on the topic, it would be really interesting and open up the discussion more.
I do think it’s good that it’s being highlighted more and more that anyone can wear anything. Even Guerlain have their own gender neutral perfume in Lui!
I hope you get to try the Eris perfumes at some point. I’m sure you’d find them interesting.
As for the titles, I’m all for inclusiveness.
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