A Green-Floral Beauty with a Classic Soul: Puredistance WARSZAWA Perfume

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In the mere ten years of its existence, Netherlands-based perfume company Puredistance has produced some knock-out perfumes. Over the years, I’ve purchased flacons of AntoniaWhite, and Sheiduna, and have often considered a purchase of their masculine-leaning scent, M. While my favorite perfume in their collection remains the green-floral scent Antonia (its herbal beauty reminds me of the original, ’70s version of Herbal Essences shampoo, and that is no trite comparison), the company’s latest offering, WARSZAWA (pronounced var-SHAV-uh) is another dazzling green-floral that is likely to win over many a jaded heart in the perfume community. Particularly those who lament the passing of a specific genre of vintage perfumes known as chypres. Before I go further, let me be clear: technically, Warszawa is not a chypre — there is no cistus labdanum or oak moss listed among its notes. However, neither is Chanel No. 19, which often gets labeled as a chypre by perfume lovers for the same reasons that Warszawa likely will, too. These similar-spirited beauties smell mossy, sophisticated and every bit as fine-boned and feline as they do rich. To my nose, there is a fabulous contradiction inherent in the makeup of chypre perfumes: they possess an assured richness which gives them great presence, yet their mossy nature imparts an airy sense of refinement and movement that dispels any sense of dense weight. Whereas the amber-oriental genre of perfumes offers up the cushiony “Baby got back” scents of the world, chypres are the fragrances with arresting bone structure. Speaking of which . . .

“If you care for classic feminine beauty, Puredistance WARSZAWA will unveil a dreamy world of old-time chic,” says the company in its promotional materials for this scent, and this is one of those rare times when I am in complete nodding agreement with every word. Jan Ewoud Vos, the owner of Puredistance and the person who creatively oversees the development of each perfume, worked with French perfumer Antoine Lie to create a fragrance that pays homage to the city of Warsaw, Poland, and to the fashionable and gracious women he encountered on his travels there. Vos was particularly inspired by the relationship he has developed in recent years with the Missala family of Perfumeria Quality Missala (they own boutiques in several cities in Poland and are the exclusive retailer of Puresdistance in that country), and in particular with the family’s matriarch, Stanislawa Missala, who invited him into their home to share lavish lunches she prepared during his business visits there. Her warmth, beauty and style reminded him of the elegance of pre-war Warsaw he had observed in old pictures, and this connection became the inspiration for Warszawa, a perfume with a distinctly vintage sensibility. Vos underscored his tribute by limiting the availability of Warszawa to the country of Poland for its entire first year of existence — a decision I find impressive. When you’re the owner of a small and relatively young company, intent on delivering a luxury experience to your customers and making the kind of studied choices that such a stance dictates, launching a new perfume is no small undertaking. Considering how swoon-worthy Warszawa is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were moments when Vos might have been tempted to unwrap it, so to speak, to the rest of the world, but true to his promise he waited a full year before launching it globally, and only now is it available for sale at the Puredistance headquarters and web-store in the Netherlands.

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The first day I tested Warszawa (it’s spelled in all capital letters, but I’m going to use upper and lower case), I got very excited because it reminds me of some truly classic and iconic perfumes: namely, the vintage versions of Hermes Caleche, Chanel No, 19, and Estee Lauder Private Collection; the long discontinued Coty Chypre and Deneuve (the fragrance that actor and perfume lover Catherine Deneuve created for Avon); and Frederic Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese, a more recent perfume that, nevertheless, was composed in the 50s by the late-great perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, and which recalls his classic fruity-chypre perfume Diorella (for French fashion house Christian Dior). Perfumes like these aren’t being made much today because, on one hand, popular tastes have changed and fragrance is generally targeted towards a younger demographic that seems to have a predilection for sweeter fragrances (from Thierry Mugler’s Angel, to Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, to Prada Candy, there’s been a bent towards confectionery fragrances in the mainstream sector, while in the niche sector, a 180-degree retort to these sweet perfumes has resulted in a preponderance of oud-based scents). On the other hand, even if chypre scents were still in vogue, they could not be composed the way they once were, given the sobering restrictions on perfume ingredients that have been imposed by the International Fragrance Association (the self-regulating body of the perfume industry). So, when one encounters a perfume like Warszawa, a fragrance that by some perfume magic manages to smell like an oakmossy chypre of yore, when no such note is present — a fragrance with a jasmine accord as luminous as the floral accord at the heart of Hermes Caleche, but also as fruited and seductive as the florals at the heart of a fragrance like Le Parfum de Therese — then one has come upon something very special indeed.

Warszawa’s list of ingredients include galbanum, grapefruit, violet leaf, jasmine absolute, broom absolute, orris butter, patchouli, vetiver and styrax. It goes on the skin smelling sveltely green and sparkling, thanks to the combination of its green and citrusy top notes that have an uplifting, aldehydic expression in the early stages of this perfume’s long wear time. There is also a delicate sweetness at this stage, such that Warszawa isn’t as herbal or as grassy green as its notes might lead one to believe, but a more chiffon-like “shade” of green. And then, fifteen minutes into its wear, the floral notes emerge and the effect can be likened to a ripening of the scent. The jasmine absolute at the heart of the fragrance is not sweet and lilting, but a rich, stone-fruited aroma that has shades of plum and peach about it. The assertion of the jasmine over the greens changes them, rendering them mossy, although this effect is likely also achieved by way of the broom absolute — an aromatic which reportedly smells like a combination of hay, honey, tea, white florals and leather. By whatever means it is achieved, the melding of the perfume’s green notes with its fruited-floral heart deepens the greens, and Warszawa overall becomes more velvety. One would not smell Warszawa at this stage and think of a spring lawn or something sprightly; one smells it and can’t help but have a more visceral reaction. Personified, this perfume is a young Lady Constance Chatterley (D.H. Lawrence’s famous heroine).  Sensual, sexual, yes — but also a lady, and a thinking one at that (“well-to-do intelligentsia” is how the novel describes her). I say this because, to my mind, Warszawa strikes a balance between intellect and sensuality; between cosmopolitan elegance and earthiness. Its smart green elements keep the composition reined in and composed, while its fruited-floral heart symbolizes all things feminine and womanly.  Each element keeps the other in check, such that the greens never become astringently cerebral, nor the florals flagrantly wanton.

There is a quote by the famous perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena about Hermes Caleche (a perfume not created by him, but one he obviously admired), in which he refers to it as “the essence of classicism. Seduction through the beauty of the soul.” I think this quote quite rightly describes chypre perfumes as a whole: they are perfumes that speak of intelligence married to a deep, corporal awareness. Regardless of whether it can be labeled a modern-day chypre or not, Warszawa fits that description, too. There’s a reason this green-floral beauty reminded me of an esteemed group of classic perfumes from the first moment I wore it, and it’s not because Warszawa smells identical to any one of these great perfumes, but because it mirrors the spirit, complexion and temperament of all of them.

Puredistance Warszawa 60 ml-001

Puredistance WARSZAWA has notes of galbanum, grapefruit, violet leaf, jasmine absolute, broom absolute, orris butter, patchouli, vetiver and styrax. It is a perfume extrait, with a 25% concentration of perfume oils, and is now available for purchase from the Puredistance website, where a 17.5 ml flask is priced at € 175.00 (price is in euros), with larger bottles also available (pictured above is the 60-ml bottle).


I’m assuming that it will join the line of Puredistance fragrances available in the United States at LuckyScent.com, but as of this writing it’s not available there yet)

My review is based on a small spray vial of Warszawa that I received from the company.

Puredistance Warszawa-001

Image credits: Photo of woman in white dress, top of page, is by Enrico Carcasci of Florence, Italy, and can be found at Unsplash.com. (“Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers,” is how they describe their site, and justifiably so.)

Photo of the Missala family is by Jan Ewoud Vos, the owner of Puredistance, and the images of the Warszawa perfume bottle and promotional art work are from the Puredistance company.

Interested in reading more of my perfume reviews? Please visit my other site, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal, where I have reviewed close to 300 different perfumes.

Perfume and a Movie: Musc Ravageur and Stranger Than Fiction

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There were many times in the past when I thought about writing a review of Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur — an iconic fragrance among perfume lovers. The last time was at Christmas, when I roughed out my ideas for a post which I had planned to title “In Lieu of Eggnog.” Wearing Musc Ravageur was a delicious substitute to indulging in that sinfully good beverage; I think it probably saved me from packing on five pounds. However, Christmas came and went without me writing the post, and the reason had little to do with me being either holiday busy or holiday lazy. I like Musc Ravageur a lot, but it’s one of those musk-centric perfumes I feel hesitant about reviewing since I’m not certain I smell all of it — which is to say, the musk portion of it. On the manufacturer’s card that came with my sample, Musc Ravageur is described as “Sensual and sophisticated. Powerful yet perfectly controlled. Dramatic and mysterious.” A little further on, the adjective “lusty” is used. If this description were borne only on the wings of a marketing label, I might not question why my own experience of the fragrance doesn’t match up. Thing is, there are a number of credible reviews on perfume blogs, vlogs and scent forums describing Musc Ravageur in these same lusty terms, making it sound like the itty-bitty, perfect thing to wear if you want to be, well, ravished (in the purely hyperbolic sense of the word).

I suspect I’m anosmic to certain musks (not all, but some). I don’t “get” the sensual, powerful, dramatic and lusty elements of Musc Ravageur that other folks do. Sweet and sophisticated is how it comes across to me, and if I were writing the marketing blurb it would say something like, A vanillic bonbon for grown-ups. Yummy, cuddly and lightly boozy. There is more of a gourmand sensibility to Musc Ravageur than a carnal one, and more of a sense of softness than drama or mystery. To my nose, it’s the scent of confectionery with a side of fuzzy blankets. While not the kind of animalic musk I associate with sex, I would agree that it’s sexy in the way that it speaks of cozy intimacy and sweet indulgences. In regard to the latter, it occurs to me that candies, cookies and other treats are sometimes referred to as “naughties” (because we’re being bad when we eat these sensual, calorie-laden morsels). The act of eating naughties while under the covers with someone is very much the vibe Musc Ravageur gives off (to my nose, anyway), and though I intend no double entendre with that statement, in stating it I realize I’ve more or less made the olfactory leap to how others perceive this scent.

Still, I’ll keep this post where I originally intended it — on the PG-13 rated side. And along those lines, I have in mind a movie that is the perfect cinematic treat to pair with Musc Ravageur.

Hoffman and Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction is an offbeat, romantic film full of talent. Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah play key roles, but it’s the subdued performance of Will Ferrell that might surprise you, if all you’ve ever seen him in are the goofball comedies for which he is known. Here Ferrell plays the straightest of straight men: a by-the-book, IRS taxman named Harold Crick, whose lonely existence seems to hinge on the numbers he keeps in his head and which govern his daily practices. He brushes his teeth a precise number of strokes each morning; he ties his necktie in a single-knot Windsor, instead of a double, to save 42 seconds of time; and his math skills form the basis of most of the conversations he has with his office colleagues (they treat him like a human calculator and he really only has one friend at work). If he were a character in a novel, Harold Crick would be an easy character to kill off — which is exactly the plan novelist Karen ‘Kay’ Eiffel (Emma Thompson) has in mind. Harold, as it turns out, is the lead character of one of Kay’s novels — a fact of which he is unaware until one day he hears her voice in his apartment, narrating the mundane routine of his life. To say he is disconcerted is understatement. Especially when, at the bus stop one evening, while resetting the time on his wristwatch, he hears her crisp British voice intone: “Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would lead to his imminent death.”

Not surprisingly, hearing a statement like that becomes a catalyst for change, which is where Dustin Hoffman’s character comes in. He plays a college professor, an expert on literature theory, who initially thinks that Harold is nuts yet agrees to help him identify the author. Hoffman’s character brings sly humor to the film: humor that is light and dry like champagne in comparison with the darker, quirkier humor of Thompson’s character Kay, who is nutty in the way that writers often are when the writing is not going well. No small-time author, she’s a literary star with a bad case of writer’s block, desperate to find a way of killing off Harold Crick for the ending of her unfinished book. Her publishing company has even sent an assistant (Queen Latifah) to help her finish, thus underscoring the fact that time is ticking away. Of course, no one is more aware of this ticking than Harold, who knows he must track down the author and make the case for his life before she literally writes “The End.”

Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction

Perhaps he also knows that his case would be better made if he lives some, first. As fortune would have it, around the same time he begins hearing the voice Harold is sent by the IRS to audit a bakery owned by a young woman named Ana Pascal (Maggie  Gyllenhaal). Feisty, intelligent and openly hostile towards Harold when he shows up (after all, she’d already written a detailed letter to the IRS stating why she would only pay 78 percent of her taxes), Ana makes Harold’s job as difficult as she can. Nevertheless, Harold finds himself physically attracted to her and quietly accepts the abuse she heaps on him, which includes digging his way through a mixed-up box of receipts she presents to him in an intentional state of disarray. Out of respect for the way he handles the situation — and proving she also has a soft side — at the end of the audit Ana presents him a plate of freshly-baked, chocolate-chip cookies. It’s a gesture he almost ruins (it goes against IRS policy to accept gifts, he tells her, thus insulting and getting her guard up again) but later rights. The old Harold — the person he was before he heard a voice determining he could be dead any day now — likely wouldn’t have bothered to recover from his error, despite the attraction. The new Harold — who is still very much himself, but a man willing to change his habits — finds a way to win over Ana Pascal. And watching that happen, even when you know it is about to happen, is the tender, chewy, delicious part of this film.

Maggie Gyllenhaal yelling at Will Ferrell

I won’t spoil the ending and tell you what kind of transaction occurs between Harold and the author who seemingly holds his life in her hands, who is known for her “beautiful tragedies.” Except to say that when he falls in love, his life becomes his own more than it is Kay’s, and it’s the small things — the cozy delectables of life — that trump death and taxes. Seeing Harold wrapped up in Ana’s arms in her fluffy bed, listening to their pillow talk, watching him at a later point eating her Bavarian sugar cookies: these are the kinds of things that many of us crave and find sexy. They are also good talking points for a perfume like Musc Ravageur. I know I don’t have to make the case for it — it already has many fans. But if I did, I would say that its commingled aromas of sugar cookies, warm blankets, rum-splashed eggnog, and musk (that may or may not smell dirty to you) conveys a feeling that is beyond intimate. Other musk perfumes should be so lucky!

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger Than Fiction

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Will Ferrell in bed

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur eau de parfum was composed by perfumer Maurice Roucel and has notes of bergamot, tangerine, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, and amber, according to the company website. (A number of other perfume sites, such as Basenotes.net, list the notes as being top notes of lavender and bergamot; heart notes of clove and cinnamon; and base notes of gaiac wood, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka, and musk.) It can be purchased from the Frederic Malle boutiques and website, as well as from fine department stores such as Nordstrom and Barneys. A 50-ml bottle is currently priced at $192 and a 100-ml bottle is $280.

My review is based on a spray sample I acquired at Barneys department store in San Francisco during a shopping trip with perfume blogger Undina three years ago. I can’t believe it took me this long to write about it!

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur photo from Fragrantica

Images are film stills from Stranger Than Fiction, released in 2006 and directed by Marc Forster. The screenplay was written by Zach Helm. I love the film so much that I purchased a digital copy from Amazon.com (where it can also be rented through their video-on-demand program).

Bottle image of Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur is from Fragrantica.com.

She Was Just Passing Through

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She was just passing through, on her way to Alaska on her motorcycle with her black-and-tan Chihuahua dog tucked into a sidecar that served as his doghouse. I can’t remember her name, only what she looked like: a tall, big-boned woman with a wide, smiling face—her long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail—wearing leather chaps over her jeans and a leather vest over her denim shirt. Her motorcycle was tricked out in all kinds of things: leather fringe, chrome-studded leather guards, a couple of those little American flags on sticks, attached to the back of the bike where they fluttered in the wind, and a handmade sign on the front that said “Alaska or bust.” She was an immensely attractive woman—there were dimples in the corners of her mouth when she smiled—and her build, sturdy leaning towards thick, worked in her favor. She looked like she was built to ride in the saddle of that motorcycle.

I was working for a small weekly newspaper in upstate New York, my second job in the six years I lived there and my favorite job ever, perhaps because it was a kind of newspaper I‘d never encountered before and was most certainly a relic, even in those days, the mid-eighties. In addition to items most people consider newsworthy, this paper had a fair amount of “social” news, owing to its graying readership, and it regularly published items that read like so: “Mrs. Elsie Wood and her niece, Miss Josephine Shawley, attended an afternoon tea and bridal shower at the Woodstock home of her cousin on the last Saturday of April. Tea and assorted sandwiches were served….” It wasn’t that I found the social items in and of themselves particularly endearing, it was that I loved how this quaintness extended to the staff of the newspaper and to the way the whole affair was put together. Oddly enough, I didn’t write for the paper but did everything else: from selling and designing ads, to being in charge of the newspaper layout—which was not done on a computer but by pasting everything up with the aid of light tables—to proofreading columns, and even to managing the paper boys and mailing out subscriptions. Don’t ask me why I found all of this so exciting, I just did. I loved staying at my job until 10:30 pm on Tuesday nights, which was when we “put the newspaper to bed” before it went to the printers in the dawn hours of the next morning. And working elbow to elbow with the editor, a sixty-year-old country gentleman who loved Manhattans and regaled me with his stories from a lifetime of working at the paper. Then having the entire next morning off to do as I pleased until the freshly-printed papers arrived back from the press in the early afternoon, all smelling of ink and ready to go.

It’s funny to think that when the motorcycle lady rolled into our parking lot, her story of riding to Alaska, from whatever Southern state she rolled out of originally, was deemed important enough to be a feature story, yet it was. This smiling Amazon in leather with her tiny-dog sidekick charmed the country-gentleman editor. So much so that, rather than assigning her story to someone else, he wrote it himself on the spot and asked his best reporter (who usually wrote the features) to take a series of photos to accompany it.

Of course, she thrilled the rest of us too, being that free-as-the-wind American dream that each of us had squarely tucked up in our heads but had never taken out to contemplate, for all of life’s valid reasons. The motorcycle lady didn’t have a husband or kids, and she didn’t mind looking for odd jobs that she could do on the way to help support her trip. (The oddest of odd jobs, at least in terms of availability, because she was intent on moving on, and how many restaurants only need a dishwasher for one or two nights?) Who knows whether she even made it to Alaska—at some point she might have turned around and headed back home—but that thought never crossed any of our minds, and if it did, I’m not sure we would have cared. She was living the dream we wanted to believe in, and everything about her (including her pint-sized dog, clad in his own leather gear) seemed larger than life.

Over the past couple months I’ve been wearing the gorgeous plum-leather fragrance Boxeuses, by Serge Lutens. Boxeuses is French for “lady boxers” (yep, women who box), but when I wear it I have a hard time conjuring up such an image. The fragrance is leathery, yes, but it’s a little too fun, a little too breezy to make me think of a lady boxer, or anyone in the heat of combat. This leather has a green-tinged (almost absinthe-like) anise coolness on initial application that spurs the image of my motorcycle lady to come riding into my consciousness. Give it a few minutes, and this leather is as fringed and tricked-up as her ride, with its dried-plum yumminess enhanced by a hint of chocolaty patchouli. If I were to use only one sentence to describe Boxeuses, I’d call it leather in the guise of a Fruit Roll-Up (that densely chewy, pectin-based confection approved by mothers for inclusion in school lunch bags because it fulfills the requirement of “fruit” while being conveniently portable).

Leather is one of my favorite notes in perfume. Sometimes it reminds me of men (for whatever reason its a scent that triggers masculine associations in my brain); other times it reminds me of freedom (because of saddles and horses), as it does here. Green-tinged, slightly woody, and sweetly prune-like, Boxeuses is one far-out-of-the-ordinary leather perfume that tugs at my heartstrings with its free-wheeling beauty.

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Serge Lutens Boxeuses eau de parfum can be purchased from the official Serge Lutens website, as well as from Barneys.com, where a 75-ml bell jar is currently priced at $300. My review is based on a decant I received from my blogging friend, Ines, of All I Am – A Redhead.

NOTE: This post is reprinted from my other site, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal, where it originally appeared on April 17, 2011. The story is true: I can see that woman in my mind as if it was yesterday, and I still wonder whether she made it to Alaska (and if so, did she stay or motor on?).

Image credits: Yamaha motorcycle is from Motorcyclecruiser.com; photo of Serge Lutens Boxeuses is from Fragrantica.com.

The Sweet Nothingness of Cartier La Panthère Édition Soir perfume

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Simple yet beautiful La Perla lingerie.

A couple of months ago I ordered a bottle of a perfume I’d fallen deeply in love with — Must de Cartier — which I purchased through the Cartier website in order to get the older-style refill bottle. I’m really glad I did so! Their service was fast, the packaging was elegant, and they sent me spray samples of a couple of their most recent perfumes, which I wouldn’t have had occasion to try otherwise. Cartier La Panthère Édition Soir is one of those samples: launched last year, it is a flanker to La Panthère (2014), which I can’t compare it to, being unfamiliar with both it and the original (now discontinued) Cartier Panthère — the one without the “La” in the name – which so many people loved and which today can only be hunted down on auction sites like eBay. From what I’ve read, vintage Cartier Panthère was one of those animalic and audacious scents of the 80s that more closely matched up to the concept of a panther. Whereas this latest twist on the perfume legacy, La Panthère Édition Soir, doesn’t live up to its name at all (or at least not to my mind), though I still quite like it. I think of panthers as being showy and fierce, and I think of “edition soir” as referring to something dark and risque, conjuring up nighttime prowlings out on the town or leading to the boudoir, yet this perfume is sweetly kittenish with nothing dark about it. Instead it is sexy in a quiet and classy way; its left-of-center gardenia note, enhanced by the scent of something peachy or apricot-like, being reminiscent of a woman’s creamy skin. Once one has put aside any notions of there being a growl attendant with a scent of this name, then La Panthère Édition Soir delivers up some delightful feminine froth. To me, its gentle nectar has a filmy quality that reminds me of lingerie — of something that sits sweetly on the skin, hidden beneath a business suit perhaps, to remind a woman of the underbelly side of herself: the side that is is infinitely soft, curvy, and yielding. A tasteful matching bra-and-panty from La Perla, in a soft color like peach, comes to mind when I smell this perfume . So does a scene from a book — Rich in Love by Josephine Humphreys, one of my favorite novels — which begins:

     We went into Sweet Nothings, where underwear floated in the air. Bikini pants and bras and camisoles hovered just above my head, and Billy’s eyes were on a level with the garter belts. He batted at a slip that touched his hair, then tangled with a length of monofilament holding up a Christian Dior teddy. The plastic popped, dropping the little silk suit to the floor. A salesgirl picked it up.

“Can I help you, sir?”

He looked lost.†

This is a scene in which Lucille, the novel’s protagonist — a girl in her late teens, on the cusp of womanhood — takes her brother-in-law shopping for a nightgown for his pregnant wife, Lucille’s sister.

     “We want a nightgown,” I said.

….

“Did you have a color or a style in mind?” the girl said.

“We want something beautiful,” I said. “Something white. I’ll just look through these, thanks.” I slid the hangers one by one along the rack, looking at every gown. They were all either too glamorous or too matronly.

“Here you go,” Billy said, holding up a pink negligee with fur on it.

“No fur,” I said.

“No fur,” he said to the salesgirl.

“This one,” I said, coming to a white silk. It stopped me cold, its plain bodice cut like a slip, with thin rolled straps. It was soft and wispy, and just the thing to make Rae feel beautiful again.†

The only problem is that Lucille has forgotten her sister’s new girth. Since the gown won’t fit Rae, Billy suggests that she get it for herself — and because Lucille is modest and somewhat tomboyish, his suggestion surprises her. Under normal circumstances she would likely reject it, but the beauty of the gown has already worked its magic on her, and she follows the salesgirl to the dressing room.

     I hated dressing rooms because I didn’t like to watch myself undress; it was unnerving. In addition, I didn’t really like the look of myself once I got undressed, awkwardly standing there in the cubicle. So turning my back to the mirror, I took off my shirt and bra, then slipped the nightgown over my head. Then under the gown I unzipped my jeans and let them drop in a stiff heap to the floor. I turned around and faced the mirror.

The sight was almost too much for me. I stood there ogling myself. I even wiggled my hips some, regretting it immediately, but then I did it again. I stood sideways to my own reflection and tried to keep from smiling.†

This scene, in many ways, strikes me as a perfect analogy for the kind of feeling I get when wearing La Panthère Édition Soir. It has an understated beauty that is elegant and simple, yet, in the way that understated things often do, has the effect of amplifying one’s sense of one’s own pulchritude. Like the lingerie that Lucille had in mind when she went looking through the racks for the nightgown, La Panthère Édition Soir has no fur — no strong animalics: it is a perfume of pure cosmetic silkiness, with its liberal dose of musk and oakmoss enhancing the fruited gardenia heart of this fragrance in a way that speaks of glide, of “sweet nothing” sheerness, and of cool dewiness. Its oakmoss coolness recalls the silk fabric of lingerie; the warmth of a note that smells like apricot, combined with the creaminess of its white-floral accord, recalls skin. La Panthère Édition Soir is a little sweet when first applied, but quietly so, and over its many hours of wear, the oakmoss and some woody notes deepen the scent, making it smell just mossy enough that the scent steers womanly rather than girlish. The floral heart, which smells like it is composed around an iris note as well as gardenia, becomes more cosmetic smelling in the late dry-down, too, albeit the transition happens slowly. One might be tempted to describe this as a linear perfume, and perhaps it is, but a warming effect takes place, like body heat taking up residence in the sheer lingerie.

Bottom line (no pun intended): La Panthère Édition Soir is more of a daytime, pretty kitty than a panther running fiercely into the night, and that’s fine by me. This quietly luminous perfume might not live up to its name, but it more than gets by on its own merits.

La Panthère Édition Soir eau de parfum can be purchased from the Cartier website and fine department stores like Macys, where a 1.6 oz bottle is $112. (Btw, I have no affiliation with Cartier or Macys, I’m just someone who loves to review perfume!)

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Rich in Love, copyright © 1987 by Josephine Humphreys (Viking Penguin Inc., New York, 1987, pp. 225-226)