Skates versus stilettos, pucks versus purses, goalies versus glossies.
Until recently, finding parallels between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jimmy Choo would have been an exercise in futility. But both the NHL team and the luxury footwear label have just unveiled their first fragrances, which can only mean one thing: Let the perfume playoffs begin!
First, some context. A scent from Jimmy Choo was long overdue. The luxury brand, now 15 years old, continues to be both successful and much coveted. Product extensions include handbags and men's shoes, sunglasses and scarves (let's pretend the collaboration with UGG boots never happened). For Jimmy Choo, overseen by co-founder and former British Vogue editor Tamara Mellon, a fragrance is a natural and expected ancillary category.
Now consider how Leafs jerseys and the related apparel represent one of the most ubiquitous clothing logos in Canada. It is the very antithesis of exclusive. The problem is that a fiercely loyal fan base does not guarantee the success of a product that has little relation to the overall brand.
So whereas a fragrance allows the Jimmy Choo brand to be more accessible, the Leafs scent is designed to work in the opposite way – to elevate the brand. Guess which approach makes for an easier sell.
Thankfully, the Leafs fragrances (Blue for men, White for women) do not smell like sweaty jerseys and locker rooms. Neither is the Jimmy Choo juice redolent of leather or suede.
Scent-wise, the Choo works on many levels. Floral, fruity and dessert-like, it is sweet but also complex thanks to notes of toffee and patchouli. Teenagers, thirtysomething professionals and soccer moms alike would all appreciate its bright sensuality and soft suggestion
White is also surprisingly wearable, although not nearly as sophisticated. The olfactory profile includes white lily, rose, patchouli and vanilla and the effect is somewhat evocative of hairspray. Let's just say I've smelled much worse.
Alas, the men's scent, Blue, deserves time in the penalty box. Its base consists of apple, bergamot and sandalwood and other notes including musk. If a Tom Ford fragrance is akin to Most Valuable Player, Blue wouldn't even rank as a peewee player. It reminds me of colognes from the mid-1990s and I'd be mighty peeved to have season tickets beside someone who smelled like Blue every game.
But I reserve my biggest complaint for both Leafs flacons. Sporting the logo in black ink, the clear labels are no better than what I'm capable of printing at home, while the shapes – squat and bean-like for women, square with a nipped centre for men – have little visual appeal. The caps are a particularly fine example of cheap.
By contrast, the Jimmy Choo bottle is a playful juxtaposition of a blush pink, cocoon-shaped, faceted bottle with a black and silver cubed cap.
Although Leafs wives and girlfriends were apparently involved in the creation of the scents, the players sat out the sniff tests. Mellon, meanwhile, told fashion scribe Derek Blasberg in an interview last November that she had to do a lot of smelling. "You just have to go with what you like and hope everyone else likes it."
Now if I told you that one brand offers 50 millilitres of its fragrance for $89.99 and the other sells a 60-millilitre bottle for $73, you'd probably guess Choo was the former and Leafs the latter, right? Think again. It is, in fact, the other way around. How's that for sticker shock! (In the Leafs case, though, $25 from each sale of the fragrances will be donated to the MLSE Team Up Foundation, a youth sport and recreation charity.)
Ultimately, White and Blue have all the trappings of novelty product, while Jimmy Choo seems poised to become the season's top scent. So it's not that one is necessarily a winner and the other a loser. It's a matter of whether each achieves its goal.