Over time, as an aficionado of fragrances, one comes to understand the nuances of marketing that are designed to interest people in a product, exclusivity ranking high among those: the more exclusive, the more desired, and therefore the higher demand merits a higher price point. It’s something I would expect from a Guerlain or Serge Lutens or even perhaps a Bond No. 9. It’s not something I expect from Le Labo given their seeming counter-culture view toward fragrance and the industry.
Yet, here I am about to state the obvious: Exclusivity alone is not an indicator of quality. Were that the case…well, let’s just leave it there and let you decide.
And as much as I respect the folks at Le Labo for their approach to perfume manufacturing, I need to also respect their experimentation in both the science and art of fragrance. Making one of those experiments an ‘exclusive’ or ‘limited edition’, however, does not automatically merit the cachet that accompanies such a product.
Le Labo AnOther 13 (2010): AnOther 13 is a fragrance created around the cult of fashion culture known as AnOther Magazine, a bi-annual publication focused on fashion, celebrity, and cultural icons. It was marketed as a ‘limited edition’ of 500 units last year as if to present an aura of exclusivity, similar to the aura the publication captures. if you don’t begin to see the slippery slope ahead, it’s likely a good time to speak about Nathalie Lorson’s emphemeral work-in-progress.
AnOther 13 is a study in Ambrox, stripped to a very sheer level, removed of its animalic elements, and surrounded by Ambrette, green citrus, pear, musk and apple are minimalized into such a overly subtle form that there’s very little to focus upon. While I use the word ‘sheer’, the more appropriate description is to suggest it as glossy and transparent. It is simple, almost overly so. The minimalist view of it takes the amber down and removes the powdery aspects. The musk is so light as to be barely noticeable. The citrus seems…well, barely existent.
I’ve seen some comments that suggest that the fragrance is much like wearing something so sheer as to feel as if you’re only scented but without distinct notes. After trying it personally, I felt it was too much like a blank canvas awaiting a level of creativity. Subtlety is one thing, but were it possible to be “too subtle”, “too diplomatic”, “too minimalist”, I’d nominate AnOther 13 as an award-winner for the categories. In the attempt to present an avant-garde fragrance that presents no sillage or projection, Lorson has achieved a very interesting and emphemeral concept that is inoffensive but timid.
The fragrance appears to be marketed toward the more avant-garde and cosmopolitan set who are seeking a very sheer, very transparent, very minimalist view toward fragrance. The product itself seems to be more an experiment in minimalizing components to create a unique end result. While artistic, the experience is left more to the beholder or wearer.
Projection and sillage was — here’s that word again — minimal. I won’t comment on longevity since the overall transparency of the scent did not lend well to depth, much less feeling as if the emphemeral experience had the durability to recall it hours later. The lightness of the scent would likely do very well for a warm summer evening, or be an inoffensive evening scent for an evening out where projection is not desired (intimate surroundings, etc.) Overall projection is linear in nature: the scent you experience at first spray is what you experience at full dry-down/base.
The compliment I can pay to AnOther 13 is that the sheerness of the musk/amber/citrus/fruit combination might be perfect for more intimate surroundings where something cloying and overpowering would be less appropriate, and I make that comment from the view that the scent can only be detected with nose against skin. It’s also my biggest criticism of the product. If you want to experience the product hours on, this is not for you.
Rating: 2/5. Not recommended.
Bottom-Line: Without completly maligning this scent, it offered me very little character and was simply an exercise in creating a minimalist experience in art using fragrance as the canvas. As a result, it felt much the same as staring into completely white room void of stimulation. Where for me fragrance is a far more personal and ephemeral experience, one meant to evoke certain feelings and moods and designed around seasons and occasions, this was a very neutral and non-descript event. Not dreadful, but simply dull and lacking that factor that evokes emotion.
In short, it’s singular, dispassionate, and disappointing.