I went into the new Miller Harris store at Westfield London recently to try the pair of fragrances launched in January this year which were inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel Tender is the Night.
Miller Harris gave a passage from the classic novel to two perfumers and asked them to interpret it in scent as they wished.
Here is the text: –
“…She walked on, between kaleidoscopic peonies massed in pink clouds, black and brown tulips and fragile mauve stemmed roses, transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window – until, as if the scherzo of colour could reach no further intensity, it broke off suddenly in mid-air.”
It was clear from the packaging alone that the perfumes were very different and I discovered it mirrors their contrasting characters. I kept muddling up the names because Scherzo is very tender, while Tender is very striking.
Scherzo (by Mathieu Nardin)
Top: Tangerine and Davana
Heart: Olibanum, Narcissus, Pittosporum and Dark Rose
Base: Patchouli, Vanilla, Oudh and Sweet Note
I had to look up what ‘scherzo’ means. It’s a musical term for a composition that is light and playful in character. Now I understand why this feel-good fragrance is named as it is.
The opening of Scherzo is the best part for me. I love a tangerine note and the juicy, fruity opening is fantastic. I would have really liked to get those heart notes of narcissus olibanum (incense), pittosporum (Mock Orange) and dark rose, but after 10 minutes it has morphed into a fluffy vanilla. I don’t pick up on the oud.
Scherzo takes its inspiration from the ‘pink clouds’ and ‘sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window’. The SA said they only had two bottles left and I can well imagine it pleasing a wide range of people.
Tender (by Bertrand Duchaufour)
Top: Pink Pepper, Aldehydes, Green Hyacinth Note and Cinnamon
Heart: Black Tulip, Leather, Saffron, Geranium, Cyclamen, Incense and Turkish Rose
Base: Amber, Cedarwood, Myrrh Absolute, Patchouli, Frankincense, Vanilla Absolute, Storax, Sandalwood and Musk
If Scherzo is more mainstream in appeal, then Tender is more niche. Where Scherzo seems to focus on the word “fragile”, Tender seems to take its lead from the word “intensity”. It picks up on the kiedoscope of peonies, black tulips and mauve roses in the passage. Its character is as introverted and stealthily seductive as Scherzo is buoyant and innocent.
The first chapter of the perfume is the scent of a bed of green hyacinths; deep and heady in the shade. This combines with the black tulip accord and rose in the heart to create a dark floral aroma which is uncommonly gorgeous.
This gradually slides into the familiar Duchaufour base of musky woods spiked with incense. It’s not as strident as it can be, but it’s still not something I’ve ever enjoyed in his work. All the same, I still favour Tender over Scherzo because I’m not much of a vanilla fan and up until the base, I find it quietly intoxicating.
Are you attracted to perfumes inspired by literature? Which of this pair of fragrances is more your style?