Givenchy : Givenchy Gentleman

Tennessee Williams and Anna Magnani - click to enlarge

Created by : Paul Leger

Date : 1974

Genre : Patchouli leather

Concentration : eau de toilette

This past Saturday I was invited for supper at a friend’s place with some very interesting guests… l’Opéra de Montréal’s guest conductor for their Die Fledermaus opera and a classical music and opera critic among others.  One of the guests talked about a pool party at Tennessee Williams’ New Orleans home back in the 70s… and of course, Truman Capote was there! And one wonderful woman, Maria, described to me how she escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia by walking across the border in the middle of the night!  Can you just imagine it?

Although I knew that some very smart people were invited, I’m glad I didn’t think about it too much.  I might have cancelled.  I mean, I like opera… but I’m no expert!  So… just before leaving I reached into the magic closet and pulled out… Givenchy Gentleman.  I hadn’t worn GG in a long time and I had a good feeling about it… but I took a risk.  So many other fragrances were safer choices… just about any Chanel or Guerlain… but I wanted to throw the dice!

I like to be concise when I describe fragrances and this review is not going to be any different.  Givenchy Gentleman is a patchouli leather scent with a herbal, gourmand note that I can’t quite describe… all I know is that it makes my mouth water.  So… wearing Givenchy Gentleman to this dinner party turned out to be a lucky bet because GG goes well with food.

If you read other reviews, Givenchy Gentleman is sometimes referred to as “wan” or “sad, little”… but not my bottle!  My Givenchy Gentleman is anything but… it’s strong, unapolagetic, dense and with only a little space between the notes.  It’s very sexy and very masculine so on a woman, it could easily seduce victims of both sexes.

As for classification, I disagree with both the Société française des parfumeurs and Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World.  Both classify Givenchy Gentleman as a “wood”.  For me, it’s an obvious leather fragrance… classy and out there… perfect for a fancy dinner party.  Just go easy on the atomizer, Givenchy Gentleman has both throw AND sillage.

Victoria from Bois de Jasmin correctly lists Givenchy Gentleman as one of the 100 perfumes that influenced perfume history… and she is so right.  My only criticism is that it might gain from more natural materials in that it smells somewhat synthetic to me but on the flip side, it has great staying power and had my evening ended in a more intimate setting it would have been a very intoxicating scent.

Don’t let the price fool you… this one is great!

Image : Tennessee Williams and Anna Magnani

puredistance : M

Created by : Roja Dove

Date : 2010

Genre : Oud leather

Concentration : perfume

When I researched this perfume after wearing it for two days, it didn’t really surprise me that Roja Dove, noted Professeur de Parfums, had created it because M has so many references to masterpieces of French and British perfumery of the late 19th and 20th centuries… the dark rose note from Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet (1872), the smoky-leather accord from Tabac Blond (1919), the cumin note of Eau d’Hermes (1951) and the overly-sexy oud note of Yves Saint-Laurent’s M7 (2002).  Add to all this, a frankincense that popped in and out of the mix throughout the day giving it an oriental feel.  This one, readers, is a lesson in perfume history… and it is gorgeous!

M starts with a deep-orange, mouth-watering bergamot that floated ever so slightly above the heart which is powerful and sexual.  Although not listed, I picked out the decidedly “down-under” male scent that only oud can produce… bringing to mind L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh.  But what is so special about M is the way it evolves… sometimes leathery, sometimes woody, sometimes smoky, but always interesting.  The drydown surprised me many hours later leaving me with a powdery, clean vanilla-musk accord… all the sexy notes gone.

In short, M is intelligent, rich and researched. It feels like a fragrance that Edwardian men might have worn… big and unapolagetic. They don’t make perfume like this anymore, or rarely… complex and controversial and with “space between the notes” as FiveoaksBouquet would say.

When I thought of who might wear it, I thought of King Edward VII and his frequent trips to Parisian brothels, notably Le Chabanais, his favourite room being the Hindu room with its “siège d’amour”.  As depressed as I’ve been about the state of perfumes recently, this one was a very welcome trial.

On both men and women, M could easily seduce both sexes.  Its sublime, fleshy animalic qualities are universal.

Have a nice week everybody!

Top image : Portrait of King Edward VII (1905)

Bottom image : Male nude by Dan Lacey

Estée Lauder : Azurée

Created by : Bernard Chant

Date : 1969

Genre : Citrus leather

Concentration : eau de parfum

Save perhaps Ernest Beaux, is anyone better at making leather scents than Bernard Chant?  There is?  Well I haven’t met him!  Of course, I haven’t met Bernard Chant either but when it comes to leather fragrances, no one comes close… imagine Aramis, Cabochard and Azurée… a citrus leather marvel that waters the mouth and just smells luxurious!  But this leather isn’t the grey leather of Cuir de Russie… it’s the sepia-tinged variety bringing to mind traditional woody notes instead of iris.

Azurée’s opener is leather from the word “go” with veins of bergamot and other citrus notes… perhaps orange.  Jean-Daniel, my favourite SA, kept sniffing the scent strip saying, “there’s something floral in there… what is it???”  Turns out his nose was correct with listed jasmine in the topnotes and rose in the middle notes, according to the Estée Lauder website.  Bottom notes are patchouli, moss and amber.  It didn’t surprise me to see patchouli in there… Bernard Chant also being the creator of Aromatics Elixir, another patchouli-based beauty!

Azurée is rich, distinctive and unapolagetic. When I got to work on Friday and a colleague asked me what I was wearing, I knew that this one would move to my top ten in very short order.  So if you like to be noticed, this one’s got throw!

Falling in love again,
Never wanted to.
What am I to do…
I just can’t help it.

Wearing Azurée, Marlene Dietrich’s closing lyrics from her iconic 70s concert tour came to mind… not only because Marlene Dietrich is EXACTLY the kind of woman that would have worn Azurée but also because I was just absolutely smitten with it.  Not available in Canada (anyone at Estée Lauder reading this???) Azurée was a gift from my sister who purchased it on a recent trip to New York City.  My precious bottle comes from Macy’s.

Gender-bending Azurée can be worn by both men and women… on a man it would smell sensual.  On a woman it would smell sensational.  And so my love affair with all things Lauder continues.

I’m ending this post with Marlene Dietrich singing a Pete Seeger tune that is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.

Have a nice week everyone!

Top image : 1950 photo of Marlene Dietrich by Milton H. Greene

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