Chypres in general and leather chypres more specifically seem to be enormously popular perfume genres among perfume fans. I think their complexities and balances of starkness and richness make them make them ripe for the continuing consideration (read: obsession) of perfume fans (I include myself here). Azurée is a perfect fit for this group. I’ve smelled the current Cabochard, and while it doesn’t appeal to me, I can see the strong family resemblance to Azurée. And I really came to Azurée via Aramis, a sororal (fraternal, you choose) twin to Azurée. (Aramis, unlike the current Cabochard is a leather chypre that I love.) The fact that Estée Lauder continues some of these older fragrances apparently in their original, largely unedited form also means that this is our link back to the good old, bad old swaggering fragrances of the mid 20th century. (Thank you, EL.)
Azurée really matches the description of those iconic fragrances---filling a room, conjuring a presence, having dimension and character. It has all the bitterness of a hard, green chypre, all the dryness of the stark leathers, all the complexity of an era of perfume that had little legal restriction on use of ingredients. Which makes it ridiculously funny to see Azurée described in EL press as “light” and a “woody citrus” as if we were talking about the latest meager masculine with a celebrity name slapped on it. Personally, I would want to own up to this fragrance. It is brilliant, gorgeous and needs no apology or subterfuge. Even the mythology of its origin: Mediterranean colors (well, yes, I guess---Mediterranean covers a lot), citrus (yes, but it’s a blasting dose of bergamot), and sunny (huh?) seem to want to hide this beauty. It is stark to the point of harsh, scorchingly dry, and inedible in the way strong leathers are. It is perfect.
It is remarkably similar to Aramis by Aramis (Bernard Chant, same era, same company---I’ll try to juxtapose them when I write about Aramis.) The two fit spectacularly well in the EL feminine-masculine tradition of Aliage-Devin, Cinnabar-JHL, Aromatic Elixir-Aramis 900.
Two other small points. I don’t really care much about perfume packaging and bottles, but this is my favorite bottle in production. Also, I’m happy to point out that this perfume, in its potent concentration (“pure fragrance spray”) is shockingly inexpensive, and possibly the best-spent money in perfumery.