Writing a fragrance review is usually a question of listing the various ingredients and assessing how well they go together but for Lush's new Dirty range, a different tactic was required. With a strap line that boasts ‘designed for men but leaves girls wanting it,’ how could we resist comparisons with that old classic, Lynx, and its well-known effect? Thus, it was decided that I would spend my weekend pitting the Lush and Lynx effects against each other to find out which was the real deal.
Hitting the town on Friday night doused in Lynx and Saturday night in Dirty, my mission, should I choose to accept it, was to accost women in bars and find out which scent really lived up to its billing. I had high hopes for Lush’s effort, with its nicely refreshing spearmint top note made sophisticated by undertones of sandalwood, oak moss and lavender. It’s masculine but in a José Mourinho sort of way. By contrast, the Lynx Africa I’d picked up was pure John Terry: rough but attractive to a certain sort of girl. My money was on Lush, a conviction backed up by the girls in the office and the missus, all of whom declared it to be significantly better than Lynx. But would the unsuspecting ladies of London agree? I was about to find out.
Friday: Lynx Africa (£2.91, Boots)
On Friday night I headed out to meet some friends at a bar on Marylebone High Street, making sure I had time to swing past a shop and pick up the all important Lynx. With seven different types available (including the classily named ‘Dark Temptation’) choosing which Lynx scent to go for was a mission it itself. In the end, I settled on Africa, mainly because it was my fragrance of choice during my teens. It smells like rotting mangoes with a hint of vanilla and a large dose of cheap, synthetic musk, so I can only guess what I was thinking back then. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Dark Temptation; a scent so awful, it makes Africa look classy. Or it could have been fogey favourite, Old Spice. The bar where we’d planned to meet was more high-brow than my usual watering holes and the pungent tones of Africa were a little (a lot) out of place. Where's the Creed when you need it? Once I’d been to the bar for some much needed Dutch courage (Czech actually), I set about my task. The first girl I approached was friendly enough, but once I got on to the subject of my scent things turned a little cold. ‘Oh, actually I can smell that, it’s err… it’s very sweet isn’t it.’ Fail. But with hopes still high, I was introduced to a fresh group of girls, courtesy of my co-tester, and immediately got to work. Things were going well so I decided to find out what they thought of my scent. They were all very polite but noncommittal and I don’t think my raw animal magnetism was being helped by the Lynx. A few minutes later their true feelings came out when one said: ‘I’m sorry; I can’t concentrate on our conversation. I keep smelling Lynx. It’s very strong,’ at which point the circle closed, with me on the outside. Still, I wasn’t about to give up that easily so I worked the room a little longer. The reaction was much the same throughout the night, with the exception of one reassuring woman who told me that Lynx reminds girls of their teens, their childhood crushes and all the emotions associated with that, which would, apparently, work out well for me. It didn’t.
Saturday: Dirty (£12.50, Lush)
With memories of Friday night’s fiasco fresh in my mind, I was hoping that Lush’s effort might do a bit better, or at the very least, save me some embarrassment. After a quick spritz of Dirty, I headed east, having decided that Hoxton Square would be the perfect venue for testing the scent’s powers of female persuasion. I picked up my wingman on the way. It was just the two of us tonight and I felt we’d work well as a double act. Right from the start, things were more successful. Phew. The first two girls we approached genuinely liked the smell of my new spray and when asked to describe what it was they liked about it, came up with ‘clean’ and ‘masculine’. That has to be a winning combination. Clean and masculine: surely these are both admirable qualities in a man? Things were looking up, and with my first complimentary response in the bag, we headed across the road to find more of the same. We were struggling to find any suitable targets so I employed an age-old pulling trick: hit on the barmaid. I explained my brief to her but I think she just thought it was an unusual opening chat-up line. Either way, she liked the ‘earthy, wooden’ smell. But nothing is ever foolproof and another lady I chatted to, certainly wasn’t impressed. ‘Yeah, I can smell it,’ she commented. ‘I thought the barman was cleaning something.’ Ouch. With the bar scene covered, we jumped on a bus and headed over the river to a club by London Bridge. By this point I was fed up of chatting up strangers and decided to let Dirty do the talking. Sadly, I wasn’t accosted by any heavenly women, although one girl did dance against me momentarily, but I think she’d mistaken me for her boyfriend. As an aside, Katy B was next to us on the dance floor for a while and she seemed to be able to stop herself from jumping on me, so I can safely say that Dirty has the same effect on celebrities as it does on civilians.
So what have I learnt from this experiment? First, that Lynx is just as bad as we all remember and a terrible call for anywhere that’s not the local boozer - and that's being charitable. Not entirely surprisingly, I’ve also had my long held contention that no fragrance is totally infallible where women are concerned, well and truly confirmed. But more pleasingly, the response on Saturday night was genuinely positive. From this, I’ve concluded that while a fragrance is no substitute for looks, brains or charm, it definitely helps; as a marker of discerning taste at least. Besides, even David Beckham would have trouble pulling in Lynx. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.
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