Monday, May 20, 2013
King Kong out of the Jungle: Fragrance Sleuthing
A bottle of this surfaced on Ebay again recently. It was funny to see it amidst a sea of genuine articles by the same seller. Despite everything, you see, I honestly think King Kong de Kenzo is a knock off produced to ride on the coat-tails of the infamous Jungle fragrance (and Kenzo's Jungle Jap fashions) and not a genuine article. If you notice, the brand is "Parfum de Kenzo" (singular), not "Parfums Kenzo" (as in every other authentic perfume by the designer Kenzo and on the official site). Besides Parfums Kenzo division was founded in 1987. The databases online seem confused as to King Kong's date of release: Basenotes gives it as 1980, Fragrantica as 1978. Michael Edwards, the definitive perfume encyclopedia, with access to discontinued perfumes, doesn't list it at all. That should give us pause.
Additionally, the typeface, general aesthetic, generic spray bottle and typical red box might suggest something that didn't come out straight off the factory. The argument that the Right Bank resto on top of the Kenzo offices is called Kong is neither here nor there; it only opened in 2005...
Furthermore, the original fragrance Jungle (L'Elephant) by Kenzo was introduced in 1996, composed by Jean Louis Sieuzac and Dominique Ropion (with the "flanker" Jungle Le Trigre introduced one year later). The scent of King Kong further cements the tie with the 1990s (and particularly with Jungle of course which it copies closely), when intensely fruity notes first came to the market in various contexts (Yvresse, Deci Dela, Yohji, Poeme, Eden), with its mix of wild green banana, whiskey notes, intense ginger spice and what looks like a classic sandalwood-vanilla-amber base.
True enough, the people mentioning that it actually smells good and "like perfumes used to be" in so many words (such as the Perfume Posse and The Non Blonde) aren't delusional, all the same; after all they're experienced sniffers. Posse goes as far as saying that according to the procurer of her sample the fragrance was made by someone who loved the King Kong movie with Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges (*editor gives slow wolfish whistle*) back in 1976. I'd be willing to believe that, only thinking that if a Japanese designer would be intimately enamored with a beast out of the post-nuke era, that would have been Godzilla, wouldn't it? Anyway...What's the truth? It's just that dupes of old times smell better than the genuine article circulating on counters today. It's sad, I know.
Furthermore, someone created this obviously, lovingly du fond du coeur and didn't anticipate it to become the object of so much dissecting. But for history's and posterity's sake, we might as well set the record straight.