Monday, February 15, 2010
Based on positive recommendations from some of you fine folks, I snagged this - another reissued classic - when it turned up at a bargain price on Amazon. I finally got my chance to wear it today, and I'm going to need more than one wearing to finish wrapping my mind around it. But when did confusion ever stop me from posting?
My first reaction was that it's feminine. Extremely feminine. This is a lady's scent, a lady who puts herself together with care. Problem is, I can't place where the strong feminine vibe comes from. Leather tends to be daring rather than ladylike, and there is plenty of leather, a rather harsh version for the first few hours. It's as if the leather were a jewel mistakenly placed in an elegantly girly-baroque setting of other notes - a setting that was perhaps designed for a killer indolic floral, but one that turned out to suit the substitution beautifully.
My second reaction is that this is a back-of-the-neck scent, which is why I'm going to have to wear it again to feel that I've really tried it even once. I usually test a fragrance for the first time with nose-to-skin sniffing, and that doesn't work for this one. The leather was too harsh, the spices too, well, spicy. It was aggressive, nearly headache-inducing, when experienced up close.
But the whiffs, as I move, are lovely. Soft but rich and, again, feminine. A very pulled-together feminine - this scent wears high heels, owns a string of real pearls, and never sets foot outside the bedroom without doing her hair. But she's not as distant and elegant as Chanel Cuir de Russie - she's just a nice, friendly, pretty woman. In the movies, she's the one that you want the hero to end up with, because you know that she's better for him than that icy society vamp.
The notes list for Cuir de Lancome includes top notes of bergamot, mandarin, and saffron, middle notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, hawthorn, and patchouli, and base notes of iris, birch, and styrax. I read that list and nod, and agree that it makes sense - I'd expect richness, and bitterness, and a little resinous darkness, from all that, and that's what I get. But I can't actually pick out even one of those notes - and that'll make it all the more fun to wear again.
Review Roundup: Now Smell This and Fragrantica and Basenotes and The Non-Blonde and 1000 Fragrances and Perfume Shrine (old and new) and mossyloomings and MakeupAlley and Bois de Jasmin (brief mention) and Perfume-Smellin' Things (the original) and Perfume Posse and PeredePierre and WAFT and OpenLettersMonthly (scroll down).
(Edited to rewrite the whole post, because I didn't like it the first time. I'm flighty that way.)
Photo of Myrna Loy and William Powell: Wikimedia Commons.
Brooch photo: By mockbird. Wikimedia Commons.