Art de Parfum describe their latest fragrance, Sabotage, as a “bold and self-ironic citrus floral scent. A feast for the fragrance gourmand…” That’s a lot of information contained in not very many words, and I needed to live with this one and wear it a few times before I could start to unpick what this might mean.
The brand goes on to write, “Bliss out to a scented soundtrack of vivid and boozy Negroni accord paired with an olfactory explosion of bitter orange and red mandarin and mountain herbs. Float away on the creamy floralcy of tuberose petals followed by a trail of creamy woods and white musk.”
Now the old adage in fashion is that if you can remember something coming around the first time, then you should probably not do it the second time it comes around, so it was with some trepidation that I approached this scent.
I don’t know about your adolescent years, dear reader, but mine were not spent drinking Negronis. You were far more likely to find me down the local park on a Friday night swigging a single alcopop that someone’s older brother had pity-bought for them, or Archers and lemonade from an unpleasantly warm bottle, furtively passed around at the back of a carpark (long before Covid or basic hygiene were on our minds). Growing up in semi-urban Yorkshire was indeed a classy affair! So whilst doubtless Negronis were indeed part of someone’s 1990s experience, they were not mine. And whilst it might indeed be a digression, I can only imagine a perfume from the 1990s smelling of poor decisions, awful Saturday night telly, and white musk. Nevertheless, there was definitely part of me that was intrigued to see what a different take on the 1990s would smell like.
Thankfully, Art de Parfum’s experience of the 1990s was clearly a more refined affair than my own, because Sabotage is playful, fun, and doesn’t smell at all like regret. Nor does it smell dated either, which was another pleasant surprise.
Brand owner, Ruta Degutyte, says, "Sabotage is my audacious creation that dares to challenge the conventional boundaries of scent. With every spritz, it whispers secrets of rendezvous and mischief. How delightful it is to embrace your inner rogue! Let the music of scents carry you away…”
Mischief is an excellent word to describe Sabotage (whose name must surely be a reference to the 1994 hit of the same name by the Beastie Boys, although the brand hasn't gone so far as to say that explicitly). The citrus and mint positively whoosh out of the bottle, forming a diaphanous halo around the wearer in just a few spritzes. The mint adds a cooling element, whilst the citrus side bathes in sunshine and summer days. There is a lot of sourness in the citrus here, firstly from the pink grapefruit and bitter orange, and then, a beat later, from the sharp tang of the rhubarb which is very noticeable in the early part of wear.
The start of Sabotage is tangy and focused, the sort of scent which makes the mouth pucker with how sharp it is. I can indeed see Negronis in this, due to that astringent sourness which is inherent here. There’s a green element which starts to creep in and which, at times, feels a little oily. It calls to mind the thick, rubbery rhubarb leaves, and is boosted further by the petitgrain which gives the faintest whisper of something like gasoline in the background. It isn’t as if the scent itself smells of gasoline; it's more like you spilled a drop on yourself and then decided to peel some citrus fruits and just lingering hints of it remain.
Sabotage leaps from the skin, wildly diffusive, bold but not obnoxious. Perhaps because it is a raft of familiar citruses which are being propelled away from the body? I don’t get much of the tuberose, at least not in an immediately identifiable way, but there is this slightly heady feel going on in the back of the fragrance which it may be causing. It’s a bit like you’ve drunk an alcopop in the sunshine and your head is swimming, just a little, as you tap your feet to the beat of a song on someone’s car stereo.
An herbal strand starts to become apparent. Someone has walked past, across the other side of the park, smoking a joint, perhaps? Or perhaps it is something more innocent than that — a cough sweet, an herbal mouthwash — it’s hard to tell, but this facet really encourages and pushes the citrus even more. If you were to lay back on the grass and just experience the scent, it would feel as if you were swirling in a cloud of juicy citrus and green herbal notes.
As the scent wears on, it becomes a touch drier as the mossy facet comes to the fore along with the white musk. Incidentally this was a very prevalent aspect of life in the 1990s in Yorkshire, as White Musk from The Body Shop was an adolescent girl staple. There’s something a touch sappy in there, but that gives the fragrance more of that youthful, carefree feel. The sense of excitement and energy that Sabotage conveys is palpable. It’s an electric fragrance, with zap and zing. It grabs you by the scruff of the neck, but not unkindly.
Personally, I haven’t loved all the scents of Art de Parfum, but it has to be said that I think Sabotage is one of their strongest offers to date. Citrus scents are never out of fashion, and wearing Sabotage in the heat we are experiencing in the UK at the moment has been a delight. If you want to feel crisp, cooled and revitalised then you could do much, much worse than this scent. This is the sort of fragrance you could wear to impress your young relatives or friends (be careful they don’t love it so much that they steal it from you though) or to freshen up on the hottest of days, even in the office. Zingy, energetic and ebullient, there is a lot to be said for a scent like this which is unselfconscious and crisp. So spritz this all over, kick back in a deckchair with some 1990s hits on your speaker, sip your alcopop (or Negroni, if you want to pretend you’re a real adult) and enjoy what is a distinctly nostalgic and fun scent.