Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Michael Kors Island Hawaii: fragrance review

"Pack your bags chicka and let’s get to the tropics!", shouts excitedly the dark haired beau with the bright polo shirt and the suave moves. "South Seas to be exact!" If the promise of a lei and tropical beaches of sugar spun sand and gigantic palm trees moving in the wind weaves a spell on your innermost hedonist and you associate summer pleasures with such paradises then get yourself prepared for a joyful journey to that destination with a prolonged sniff of Michael Kors Island Hawaii.
This is a variation of his more watery Island fragrance that was encased in an aqua bottle of the same heavy square-lined design and is accompanied by another edition called Island Fiji.

Michael Kors has been instrumental in one of the sartorial masterpieces of modern day cinema, for which I will be always grateful: the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair” (and the original is right up there in my pantheon of pantheons). In it Renee Russo prances around in his prĂȘt-a-porter with much aplomb, all flushed cheeks and coppery hair (it suited her to a T!) exhibiting the kind of clothes we would all want to wear and feel like a million bucks every single day of our existence. It was breathtaking and this is an Yves Saint Laurent enthusiast that is talking to you now. The artwork (since this “scam” is taking place in a gallery and not a bank this time around) didn’t hurt either. But the costumes on both protagonists are perfectly enhancing their enviable bodies. In one memorable scene Renee is going to the Caribbean on a spur of the moment thing, in which dressed in simply a vest and a sarong she looks stunning and oh-so-carefree. Wish I could wake up to look like that every day too!

From then on I paid some closer attention to Mr.Kors and his designs. His advice too with whom he was profuse it seems, garnering column inches in glossy mags such as Allure and In Style. I still remember his advice to always smile and always have a little subtle tan on (I do hope in those ultraviolet-menacing days he means the fake kind) and I figured “now there’s a man of summer mood!” (something which I am not; I mean “of summer mood” of course, in case it was vague…).
Anyway, it was even funnier still when that camp masterpiece of American satire in film “Zoolander” came up with what is the most ingenious caricature of designing to this day embodying both the personae of Gaultier and Kors into the personification of Mugatu/Will Ferell making for hilarious results.
Click here to see a sample:

Kors had my sympathy still.

And so when his perfumes came out and became available where I live I gave them the proper time of day.
His original Michael is a tuberose symphony that is heard loud and clear as if you put Wagner into the stereophonic installation of a big car with windows rolled down, coming up from streets ahead, loud bass swamping everything across its way. It was lovely, magnificent, but so potent that it had me seriously questioning whether anyone could sustain so much of a good thing.
His other creation Kors was featuring a port note that to my nose was very welcome and it shall be included in upcoming posts of a different nature altogether that pertain more to the sommelier than the parfumeur (hopefully I have thus intrigued you!).
And then came Island which to me was pleasant, but not too much note-worthy. A decant saw me through last summer and that was that.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the very same bottle encased in bright vermillon on the shelves of Sephora tagged Island Hawaii. The brightness of the colour was beckoning like a light in the sea. A sign of coming to it or to avoid it? The doubt is only really answered when one sniffs and then lives to tell the tale.
And so I did.

The initial burst of very tart and sweet fruits in the guise of clementines and oranges was irresistible and although these are fruits that do not pass my lips in any shape or form I do enjoy smelling their delicious rind aroma in perfumes. It was mouthwatering and despite the much despised “fruity” tag they captured my attention right away.
Right after this a phase of slight soapiness segues in milled in jasmine and neroli which exude a lovely latheriness like emerging sprite-like from a blue lagoon of crystal clear waters. Hydroponic pineapple is a fancy word for a watery synthesized pineapple note that is not too apparent to my nose (certainly not like in Maitre Parfumer et Gantier’s Bahiana) but the lusciousness of the juicy fruit is continuing madly seducing me into getting a frilly cocktail with little paper umbrellas (so not me, the straight vodka and red wine consuming type I could scream!). Yet it is indeed lovely and I can’t hide the fact. It carries the tropical flowers torch from Michael original scent but with much more playfulness and gusto.
As the scent dries down, it retains much of the orange tone of the original impression with jasmine overlays that are married to a little amber that accounts for warmth and nice longevity on the skin.

In comparison Island Fiji is much closer to the plainly named aqua Island and to my nose a tad inferior. But if bent you need to test for yourself to ascertain.

The press release has this to offer:
"Developed jointly by International Flavors & Fragrances and Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for Aramis and Designer Fragrances, the fragrance breaks down as follows:

TOP NOTES: clementine, juicy orange, hydroponic pineapple & neroli
HEART: orange flower, jasmine sambac & Hawaiian ginger lily
DRYDOWN: white amber, creamy sandalwood & balsamic notes"

I am so getting a bottle of this!

Available at major department stores and Sephora (60$ for 1.7oz/50ml)

Artwork Hawaiian Pin Up girl 1949 by Al Moore courtesy of
Bottle pic from Kors advertising campaign.
Clip uploaded by LPAS


  1. It's funny, the evolution of this scent on my skin reminded me of something by Creed. Is there a megadose of ambroxan in there mingling with the orange notes? Anyway, I liked it, and was pleasantly surprised!

  2. Bryan,

    I'm positive that there is a megadose of ambroxan in most everything these days. So, you're probably right, though no official info admits it.
    Yeah, it's a pleasantly surprising scent all right. That should teach me (at least) not to be a snob. :D


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