I definitely carry my biases. There are brands where they get my patience throughout many derivatives of their best sellers. While there are others who don’t get the same amount of tolerance. The perfumer of malls everywhere Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the latter. The fact that anytime I visit the mall when I walk by the storefront that I will be engulfed in a cloud of Fierce is enough to engender my attitude. That they have spun out seemingly infinite flankers since its release in 2002 also doesn’t help. Back at the end of the summer of 2016 I received a bottle of the brand’s attempt to branch out called First Instinct. I looked back at my notes and had labeled it as “good try maybe next time”. Then as I was talking with some in the vlogging community they kept asking me what I thought because it was showing up on a lot of year-end “best of” lists. It was enough to make me give First Instinct a second chance and I’m glad I did.
One of the things I appreciate about First Instinct is they veered away from the Fierce architecture. Even though First Instinct is described as a fougere, like Fierce, it really isn’t. Two perfumers, Gino Percontino and Philippe Romano, gove First Instinct a distinctly aquatic heart; but one which is comprised of some different ingredients than the typical ozonic sea air suite normally found in that genre. It gives it a fresher effect overall than a traditional fougere.
First Instinct opens on what the note list calls a “gin and tonic accord”. I definitely get the gin, as juniper is very prominent. But the drink I get is some version of a melon martini as the perfumers use melon with a hint of almond to construct this olfactory cocktail. There is a real playfulness to this to provide some fun. Violet leaf provides the aquatic vibe in the heart and it is made more expansive with a series of citrus notes to give it that effect. A very nice use of Szechuan pepper provides some atypical spiciness to the overall cleanliness of the heart accord. Up until now First Instinct has been clean and fresh, in the base it gets warm with a mixture of cashmeran, amber, and some of the warmer musks. It is a shift of mood which works without feeling like First Instinct is grinding its gears making the transition.
First Instinct has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
While First Instinct wouldn’t have made any of my year-end lists I understand why it has appealed to many. This is not Fierce but it is Abercrombie & Fitch. Despite my best try to lump it in with Fierce it is better than that and worth giving a try if you’ve been avoiding it for the reasons I was.
Disclosure: this review was based on a bottle I received from Abercrombie & Fitch.