Whenever I was on a big sailboat there was always this exhilarating moment when the sails get trimmed correctly and it vibrates with the energy of the wind being transferred into thrust. There was this delicious tension as the wind and the engineering of the ship were in a precarious balance. This really would hit home when we would be running downwind with the breeze coming from behind the boat; billowing spinnaker full of air. This was when the spray shot up over the side. It also took the most concentration from the helmsman because with all of Mother Nature’s windy horsepower behind us it was like mashing the gas pedal to the floor. There is a scent to all of this as the sea spray and the canvas of the sails along with the smell of the fresh air that was unique. I have smelled a lot of aquatic fragrances over the years but the recently released Tommy Bahama Maritime captured this accord with an added twist.
Tommy Bahama Maritime was overseen by Parlux creative director Jennifer Mullarkey working with perfumer Frank Voelkl on his second release for the brand. The Tommy Bahama brand is meant to stand for fun and most of the fragrances released over the past ten years or so have been predictable variations on well-known perfume genres. For instance, the first fragrance M. Voelkl did was last year’s Island Life for Her which was as straight forward fruity floriental as it gets. Maritime is something different as it is an aquatic where the sense of the ocean is set up by accords in the top and base but in the heart, he presents a fabulous floral intermezzo.
M. Voelkl cleverly uses lavender as his core note for the top accord. He wants to make sure it displays its herbal nature and so it is tilted towards that by the inclusion of baie rose and clary sage. This forms that breathy exhilaration of being on the deck sails full. Then he adds one more note which represents the snap of those sails in the wind, red apple. This never rises to such a level that it becomes fruity instead it is a note which provides an orthogonal whip-crack across the herbal mixture of the other notes. Then as much as I like the top this evolves into a floral heart of geranium and jasmine made greener by violet leaves and waterier with water lily. This is so much better than the notes portend. The geranium and the violet leaves form one half of the effect while jasmine and waterlily provide the complement. Maritime picks up speed again as we round the mark into the base accord. Here M. Voelkl matches that smell of the sun-warmed wood of the deck with the canvas in the sails. Cedar, sandalwood, and a few white musks provide that. The final addition is an accord of sun-warmed skin from ambrette and some of the lower octave musks.
Maritime has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.
I think this might be the most original perfume Tommy Bahama has ever released. Even saying that it is still at heart firmly a member of the aquatic fougere family. What makes it stand out for me is the intelligent use of different ingredients by M. Voelkl to achieve some of the more familiar beats in this type of perfume. I know this is going to be one I take out for a sail again sooner rather than later.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tommy Bahama.