Launched in 1999 by Tom Ford, then at the height of his success as the mastermind of Gucci’s renaissance, Rush owes as little to nature as a polyester disco dress draped over a pair of silicone-enhanced breasts. And that’s the charm of it: Rush is ostentatiously artificial, good-natured and a little cheap, a perfectly balanced product of the more is more, tongue-in-cheek Fordian aesthetics.
Mostly, Rush is about the skillful overdose of three materials: C-12 aldehydes (the ones that smell like metal heated by an electric coil), decalactone (the peach smell of Mitsouko), and jasmolactone (a jasmine reduced to its smallest denominator, then blown up a thousand times). The notes given by Osmoz (gardenia, freesia, jasmine, rose, coriander, vanilla, patchouli and vetiver) collapse under the onslaught of these synthetic molecules: a hint of rose, vanilla to fill out the peach lactone, and a patchouli base eventually emerge.
The effect doesn’t evolve much over time: it is as flat as the red plastic bottle that holds it. But it sizzles with a bluish glow, like neon strips on lacquered peach walls, or seen through a glass of a sparkling Bellini cocktail. According to Chandler Burr of the New York Times, it is the exact smell of a hairdressing salon; Luca Turin compares it to an alien with warm blood.
Despite its provocative name, Rush doesn’t take itself seriously. But this perfectly post-modern artifact is a contemporary classic, because it succeeds according to its own terms: synthetic materials, displayed as such.
Image: Empress of India 2 by Bertrand Lavier (2005)