Histoires de Parfums, Discovery Kit pt 2

1740: Marquis de Sade

Depiction of the Marquis de Sade by H. Biberstien, 1912

Marquis de Sade was someone I had to look up. Apparently he was sort of a famous erotic kind of fella who dabbled in politics and philosophy, but was really made famous because he was rich and naughty. Reading about him, I didn’t find him to be all that interesting.  He was a rapist and pedophile with ideas that probably publicly may have been unpopular, but were certainly not privately that interesting at the time or even by today’s standards. What is interesting, is that “Sadism”, the pleasure derived out of harming another, is named after him. Fortunately enough for him, time makes history blind and he now has fans and a perfume.

Histories de Parfums lists 1740 as an spicy woody fragrance for men.

  • Top Note: Bergamot, Davana Sensualis
  • Heart Note: Patchouli, Coriander, Cardamom
  • Base Note: Cedar, Birch, Labdanum, Leather, Vanilla, Elemi, Immortelle

A truly unflinching scent for the modern male hedonist. A perfume where Leather and Davana explore the scandalous liberties of the Century of Lights.

My thoughts on the scent when I first applied it to my skin:

Lovely. Leather, smoke, herbs crushed underneath oiled fingers. What’s really lovely about this is that it takes these traditionally hard, brash, masculine ingredients, and it mellows them out into something comforting, warm and inviting. Really feels like you’re in someone’s home and dinner is just about ready. It’s light and mild, not something I’d imagine someone really wearing in 1740, but it’s composed effortlessly. There is a long trail of powder and musk as it sits on the skin. Superb. Between a 7.5 and 8/10 for me.

My thoughts haven’t changed too much, except significant mental disturbance with the awareness of what the perfume is intended to be reminiscent of. And also it’s not as pleasant on paper as it is on skin. On skin with my chemistry, it was way more green herby and much more woodys and leathery. On paper, Coriander is a strong stand out as well as the vanilla which is a nauseating mix. As well as the Bergamot, a note I generally love, makes the whole dish seem tart and sour. It does try to mellow out but it just never evolves into what it is on skin. So maybe a peg down, a 7/10? Maybe even a 6.5. No longer on the higher spectrum of taste for me.

1826: Eugénie de Montijo

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1853

Eugenie was the last Empress consort of the French. Whatever that means. She doesn’t seem to have been that interesting of a lady, her legacy including having a moon named after her and her extensive collection of jewelry being owned by some other wealthy someone. She is most known for her interesting relationship with Napoleon III, who married her despite protests from his people (who were against the marriage due to her being a Spanish woman). Her husband was never faithful, but is assumed to have loved her very deeply as he rarely acted without acquiring her advice beforehand.

Histories de Parfums lists 1826 as an sensual amber fragrance for women.

  • Top Note: Bergamot, Tangerine
  • Heart Note: White Flowers, Violet, Cinnamon, Ginger
  • Base Note: Patchouli, Amber, Incense, Blond Woods, White Musk, Vanilla

The future and last French empress, Eugénie de Montijo, was born in Granada, the jewel of Andalusia. A sparkling beauty, her seductive nature and temperamental elegance delighted Napoleon the third. This beautiful lady who influenced the mundane life and artistic refinement of her time inspired this luminous fragrance, a sensual amber carried by the power of white flowers and patchouli, of which the empress loved the unforgettable vapor trail.

My first impression: You’re initially hit with a heavy blow of tart citrus. But it quickly starts to dry down into some florals, apparently there is cinnamon but I can’t detect it, however the ginger it’s noticeably lining each wave of scent that comes out of it. Just as that is starting to get comfortable on your skin, the patchouli, vanilla and wood notes come through to hold it all up. This isn’t bad at all, and it reminds me of their 1740 except with sweetness and lightness. And more importantly, it feels like it fits into 1826. 7.5/10

This smells better on paper. The cinnamon pops right up with the ginger giving it a nice zing. The musk is weaved through everything. A light incense and wood note. Overall a very light scent hard to really pick up much from it because it’s so faint. But what you do pick up is lovely. Still a nice 7.5 for me maybe a peg down but nothing worth getting fussy about. Not all that interesting but a unique spicy scent that feels inoffensive. That top note of ginger just sings for me, really nice. Very low note on paper of the patchouli, which comes through much stronger on the skin. It’s pleasant on paper, really completely inoffensive.

Ambre 114

Amber, as most perfume fans know, is basically a made up fragrance. There are some fragrances that use real raw amber, but it smells nothing like what we’d imagine it would smell like. And what exactly does it smell like? I think most of us don’t know. Amber is an idea. We all have a different idea of it. For me, amber is golden and honey and dark and heavy like a deep forest. So my opinion of amber fragrances is shaped by this feeling that the idea of amber conjures for me.

Histories de Parfums lists Ambre 114 as a spicy oriental, unisex.

  • Top Note: Thyme, Nutmeg
  • Heart Note: Rose, Geranium, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedar, Vetiver
  • Base Note: Amber, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Benzoin, Musk

This mythical raw material improves a 114-element composition. A caravanserai of scents for this hot oriental intensifying the natural sensuality of grey amber, sweet perfume and tinted with exoticism.

My first impression: So far a pattern is emerging, of the 3 fragrances I’ve tried from Histoires de Parfums, all of them have been overwhelmingly powdery. I’m a fan of amber-esque fragrances. This is a light rendition of one, and by light I mean light. The initial scent is not of my taste, it’s dry and foodie and brash. But it quickly mellows down into something smooth, creamy and warm. This is one that takes time to shine, but it does shine well once it gets there. On the border for me between 7 and 7.5/10.

This is much better on paper than on skin, but almost deceivingly so as though it really weren’t. It’s certainly more of an amber. On skin all I got was powder and patchouli for the longest mile. On paper it’s more wood. More tonka bean. More vanilla. All nice notes that vibe well together. The patchouli is still there and still as unpleasant as I recall it, but it’s masked. I’d say the real leader here is vanilla. It’s kind of an uninteresting fragrance though. I feel like most of Histoires de Parfums fragrances try so hard to set themselves apart that they just over do it and make themselves uninteresting. It’s like that scene in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai where Anjali shows up to the school in bright colored girly clothes and a pound of makeup, trying to impress her best friend who is falling in love with another girl. But she just looks ridiculous. That’s how I feel about Histoires de Parfums. Anyway, Ambre 114 is much much better on paper the longer it sits and the more I sniff. It jumps from that 7/7.5 to at least a 7.5/8. It’s nice and woody. Not so much for me an amber scent, but an excellent smoky one.

1828: Jules Verne

Photograph by Nadar, 1878

Jules Verne! The guy who wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days. Everyone’s childhood hero. Verne has influenced us all in one way or another. Through our imagination, our ambitions, our sense of adventure. “Man, a mere inhabitant of the earth, cannot overstep its boundaries! But though he is confined to its crust, he may penetrate into all its secrets.”
Histories de Parfums lists 1828 as an aromatic hesperide, for men.

  • Top Note: Grapefruit, Citrus, Tangerine, Eucalyptus
  • Heart Note: Nutmeg, Pepper
  • Base Note: Cedar, Incense, Vetiver, Pine cone

He was born in Nantes, at the beginning of that century of discoveries. The close ocean took him far away, inspiring in him extraordinary novels of adventure. Inspired by the father of literary science fiction, this eau de parfum for modern globe-trotters breathes its aromatic Hesperides-like scents, just as a marine breeze over a wild heath. A freshness tinted with sophistication.

This is nice. Sharp citrus, sharp cypress tree, pine, eucalyptus, some smoke and pepper. Smells like a car air freshener, in a good way. I think it’s lovely. It’s a soothing summer stroll up through the hills in the forest. The nutmeg eventually peaks it’s head out to offer something herby and spicy. But it’s really a rather simple fragrance that doesn’t try and stretch it’s legs, nothing wrong about that. The eucalyptus is the real showstopper here, it’s wrapped around every other note, so if you’re not a fan then I’d steer clear. I’m a fan, so this is a winner for me. 7/10

Wow color me surprised, I’m finding pretty much the entire collection so far is better on paper than on skin. This is especially nice. Where the eucalyptus overwhelmed my wrist, it’s perfectly balanced on paper. I like eucalyptus quite a lot, so I wasn’t bothered by it, but it’s much more composed here. Eucalyptus sort of makes everything smell like a mentholated topical ointment. It’s medicinal. In no way does 1828 even begin to conjure the idea of Jules Verne for me, so in that regard it’s a failure. But as a fragrance? It’s lovely. It’s so clean. It reminds me of my mother nursing me to health as a child when I was getting over a cold or the flu or simple allergies. It’s comforting. “Marine breeze over a wild heath”, you know, I can dig that direction if that’s what they were going for they actually hit that nail on the head. It’s got garden vibes, something in a greenhouse. My grandparents used to run a greenhouse, and maybe it’s an herby thing I’m getting but it just brings me back to that. To the cold top soil against my sun warmed skin. It’s relaxing. Nurturing. The trees are freshly cut. The sap is sticking to the soles of your shoes and following your footsteps. I’m gonna have to bring this up to a 7.5/10. It smells quite predictable, as lovely as it may be. But I’m going to be spraying this on paper all the time, it’s so bloody comforting. Found myself a soft spot I guess. Makes me feel young and safe.

That’s all I’ve got in me tonight! Next post hopefully will wrap this kit up with 1876, 1725, 1969 and Noir Patchouli. Until next time, masalama.

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