Radical Chic

Yeslam Bin Laden launches a new brand of perfume

Geneva-based businessman Yeslam Bin Laden, a half-sibling of Osama, has recently introduced “Yeslam,” a perfume to be launched on European and Mideast markets by early 2005. “Yeslam is a rare name,” the Swiss citizen Bin Laden explains, “it means ‘bliss,’ although there is no single translation.” The fragrance is based on a 1920s French formula called “Air de Paris.” Mr. Bin Laden is a man who spends generous amounts on charity, and is quick to point out that he hasn’t seen his half-brother in decades. In recent years, he concedes, the police raids, searches, insulting headlines and pointing fingers have been taxing. But, he is quick to add, it is “only natural” for people to become “cautious.” For the numerous reporters covering the product launch, Mr. Bin Laden dabs the women’s blend of “Yeslam” on his wrists. “I prefer it,” says the gender bending millionaire. Yeslam is represented by Benador Associates, a spicy mix between a right-wing news agency and a PR consulting firm.

Listening to Yeslam Bin Laden wax lyrical about his particular blend of lily-of-the-valley, narcissus, jasmine, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and musk, one cannot blame the press for pouncing on sarcastic comparisons with the relative, wondering which sprigs and bushes, which aromatic herbs and blossoms are lining his path through Northern Afghanistan. How many competitors on the perfume market can boast of such an edge. Even Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears are about as sexy as après-sport deodorants or dashboard fresheners by comparison.

So what is the Yeslam aroma? Bidoun reassures you that if you enjoy the scent of jasmine, but still want to smell professional, this is the perfume for you. To be sure, the first whiff from the bottle is a powerful blast of incense and woody sticks, but as it warms up on your skin it brings out discrete floral notes that make the scent more solemn. From this point on, it lingers for hours, and one doesn’t detect any changes in its notes at all; you don’t have to walk away from the fragrance section and wander through the department store to get the authentic smell. One might think of this perfume as Versace with a twist — think dark grey suit with meticulous tailoring, but with a ruched lace paisley shirt of silk chiffon in the middle. If this is your style, this is your perfume.