Created by : Jean Louis Sieuzac
Date : 1986
Genre : Peppery leather
Concentration : eau de toilette
When I read that a Parisian woman long in the industry told Chandler Burr of the New York Times that the people at Hermes “like animals more than people”, I burst out laughing. Now, there’s a statement!
Much has been written of Hermes’ new minimalist trend but I don’t want to talk about this today. I want to go back in time to when perfume didn’t have to be discreet or apologetic… when it was OK to wear perfume and have people around you notice. I’m talking about the bombastic 80s when Bel Ami was launched and added its exquisite baritone voice to the somewhat small choir of leather perfumes.. a choir which today is almost silent.
But Bel Ami, although launched in 1986, draws its inspiration from an even earlier time. I wonder if it wasn’t created after Georges Duroy, Guy de Maupassant’s scoundrel of the classic novel Bel Ami (1885) who uses women like rungs of a ladder. Bel Ami’s cumin-laced peppery-leather accord is absolutely perfect for the character… nasty, ultra-sexy and with an in-your-face animalic facet. Cumin with its sweaty notes is not for everyone but Bel Ami itself is not for everyone and so to add cumin to this leather marvel fits perfectly.
The musk drydown must be of excellent quality because it resisted my laundry detergent and it gave my clothes a wonderfully clean laundry musk scent when I pulled it from the dryer… so, so beautiful… and so different from where it all started. Those who read me know that I love movement and surprises in my perfumes… so Bel Ami has moved to the front of the shelf. Leather, sweat, pepper and musk… masculine, sexy AND repulsive… like Hercules after a night out.
Wear it when you want to channel your inner bad boy… whether you have an inner bad boy or not.
In closing, 2011 will see the release of Bel Ami, the movie, with dark-hearted Georges Duroy played by pretty boy Robert Pattinson. Odd choice. Very odd.
Top image : Drunken Hercules (detail, c. 1611) by Peter Paul Rubens
Bottom image : Robert Pattinson in Bel Ami (2011)