Ex Idolo : Thirty Three

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

Created by : Unknown perfumer

Date : 2013

Genre : Rose patchouli

Concentration : eau de parfum (at least)

One of my favourite courses in library school was Collection Development, i.e. what to buy! With all that is being published and evermore shrinking budgets, libraries are becoming more and more choosy. The Acquisitions Librarian of a large library in Québec City gave us a presentation of their purchasing policy. It was detailed and complex and fascinating. And the presentor ended it with, “And, of course, we NEVER buy first novels!” I said, “Excuse me, did you say never?” He answered, “NEVER!” (Unless of course the novel becomes a best-seller or a subsequent novel becomes a best-seller or the first novel wins a literary prize… but I digress.)

So… here we are with a first perfume launched by Ex Idolo from an unknown perfumer. Should I review?  Well… the creative force behind Ex Idolo, Matthew Zhuk, sent me a lovely email and a sniffing expedition was in the works so I decided to give it a try.

Both Matthew and the SA at Etiket talked about Thirty Three as being an oud… “thirty three” being the age of the oud which was used… but actually, it’s not really an oud perfume, not on my skin anyway. Yes… the oud is front and centre for the first 20 minutes, but it quickly takes a backseat to a beautiful, quality rose-patchouli accord which is the heart of Thirty Three. Yes, there is musk and some powder and maybe the oud is in there somewhere but for the most part it’s an exquisite red rose-patchouli… not yellow roses, not pink, RED! Over time, the patchouli disappears, the powder lingers as does the rose, and a soapy note emerges (perhaps the musk) making me smell cleaner at the end of the day than when I stepped out of the shower that morning!

So… what impressed me most? I would say the quality of the materials. That rose note is exquisite.  In addition, the composition is good… no rough edges, no overly chemical smells. It has a few twists and turns but I like that in a perfume. The longevity is similar to extract strength. And, Thirty Three is totally legible which I think is a plus in these days of “just feel the perfume.” There are others in the same genre but this composition straddles deftly between a rose soliflore and one of the many big rose chypres on the market making it quite unique. I would say its closest competitors are David Yurman and Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud. Evidently, Matthew Zhuk has been able to steer Thirty Three through a narrow opening on a crowded dance floor.

Now people who read me regularly know that I never discuss bottles or names but I love the bottle and I particularly like the art deco-inspired font. There is some marketing savvy behind the packaging.

Overall… it’s very beautiful and if you’ve been thinking of adding a quality rose fragrance to your collection, check this one out.


Ex Idolo's Thirty Three - beautiful presentation!

Ex Idolo’s Thirty Three – beautiful presentation!

Hermès : Terre d’Hermès

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Created by : Jean-Claude Ellena

Date : 2006

Genre : Bergamot patchouli

Concentration : eau de toilette

I’m sorry I’ve been away from the blog recently.  You see, I usually have a pretty good idea how I feel about a particular perfume but sometimes it takes me awhile to sort things out.  Take Terre d’Hermès for instance.  When it first came out in 2006, it soon became the 4th best-selling men’s fragrance in France and with very little advertising.  A woman at work who smelled it on a scent strip exploded… “Ah… it’s like an aphrodisiac… I wish my husband wore this!”  And, a waiter at my favourite weekend hangout restaurant said, “Yes!  This is it!   This is what I’ve been looking for!”

So why don’t I absolutely love it?  I don’t know.  I mean, don’t get me wrong… it’s very smart… maybe even bordering on genius!  I would never hesitate to wear it on any given day. But to my nose, it’s “aloof”.  There’s nothing warm about it… nothing that says, “hey… come closer”.  Or for that matter, nothing that says, “woah.. back off!”  To me, it has no feelings of any kind… it’s more of an intellectual thing.  It’s all in the head… with no heart.

As for actual scent, Terre is an icy accord of bergamot and wood-centric patchouli.  There is no “terre” in sight… even Jean-Claude Ellena admits to that in his “Journal d’un parfumeur : suivi d’un abrégé d’odeurs” of 2011.

Maybe Terre is cool because Ellena himself is an intellectual.  That comes out loud and clear in his book.  Or maybe I’m just not used to Jean-Claude Ellena’s shorthand style.  When it was first launched, Terre was reported to have only 13 notes!  I think I need more notes… a bigger orchestra.

I would never hesitate to wear it because, intellectually, I “know” it’s beautiful… but I don’t feel it.

Image : Portrait of Nietzsche (1844-1900) who coined the phrase “God is dead.”

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

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