DemonHeadDemonHead's Perfume Reviews

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DemonHead 9 years ago 1
7
Scent
7.5
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
5
Bottle
Eau de Verveine - an oft-unheard-of 'eau' from the Guerlain stable.
Verbena (whose perennial varieties are common to both Europe and the Americas) has been used for centuries for its herbal remedial properties. Its abundant accessibility and aromatic character also saw it feature heavily in perfumes of the late 19th century.
Aimee Guerlain first gave prominence to verbena around the 1870's with the release of 3 fragrances; Verveine, Eau de Verveine, and Eau Spiritueuse Double a la Verveine. It was Eau de Verveine which re-emerged in the 1960's for a short time in the "Abeilles" bottle, and stayed in production up until the mid 80's where it could also be purchased in a number of other flacons.

Eau de Verveine opens with a sharp, uplifting blast of citrus-green. Lemon verbena accords dominate the topnotes, which are piquant like the zest of a freshly grated lime. I find the very act of smelling this fragrance on the skin causes the ducted glands inside my mouth to flood with saliva. The shimmering topnotes are energising and bright, but below, I sense the prickle of something darker... a tiny scattering of carnation or clove perhaps; a few notes that in part, resemble the polarising "dirt" in Jicky. As the scent rests on the skin, it develops a dryness that I would liken to the aroma of dried tea-leaves. I can easily imagine deep glasses of iced tea perfumed with aromatic lemon verbena leaves, sipped as the shadows grow longer in a mossy sun-speckled garden. There is an inherent feeling of summer's end, and the chirrup of cicadas ringing in the ears.

Despite my vintage bottles being an eau de toilette, I find the longevity to be something more alike an eau de cologne. Eau de Verveine, like many of Guerlain's "eaux"; is something to be applied liberally and enjoyed for just a couple of hours.
This impossibly rare scent will quench your thirst, and leave you longing for more.
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DemonHead 9 years ago 1
9
Scent
10
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
7.5
Bottle
Vintage Tobacco: Chérigan Fleurs de Tabac
I grew up around old people, and as a child of nine years whose mother worked as a sole charge nurse in a number of aged-care homes, I got to know many of the patients by name. A bespectacled lady called Daisy taught me how to knit, a mute named Sylvia to write with my left hand, and Sam... well, he taught me not to smoke.
Sam terrified me every time he would follow me down a hallway with his emphysemic rattle and persistent wheeze. Gaunt and ashen, he had been a heavy smoker all his life. I would watch my mother dispense his daily allowance of cigarettes (usually three) with his medications after breakfast, but also knew he rolled his own thanks to contraband smuggled in to the resthome by other patients. But that was our little secret.
Right up until the day before I found him lifeless one morning in his bed, I would watch Sam roll his illicit cigarettes and would always indulge if invited to push my nose into his outstretched bag of stringy cured tobacco. It smelled pungent and sweet. Now, some 30 years after Sam's passing, I recall that distinct odour... though not by way of a bag of tobacco.

Chérigan Perfumers is a company for which there is little recorded history in the public arena. It was said to be established in the 1920's in Paris by a Czech immigrant named Ota Polacek whose Champs Elysées address was shared by so many influential perfume houses of that age. In 1929, no less than three perfumes were launched to the house's credit: Mascarades, Chance, and Fleurs de Tabac. Examples of all three perfumes (as well as a number of others released in the 1940's) still exist to this day, though they are found quite infrequently. Fleurs de Tabac is a wonderful example of the European penchant for tobacco-inspired scents in the 20's and 30's, and is the cause of today's vivid recollection from my youth.

It is often Tabac Blond - the masterwork of perfumer Ernest Daltroff and founder of the house of Caron - that is seen as the yardstick against which all other tobacco scents are measured, however Fleurs de Tabac emerges as a strong contender for the ultimate tobacco accolade. Whilst Tabac Blond was primarily marketed to women, Fleurs de Tabac was geared towards men; although it is fair to say that both perfumes seem to have a shared respect and appreciation across both genders.

Fleurs de Tabac is a paradigm of masterful blending. Without any olfactory notes to refer to, I follow my nose and enjoy a brisk citrus opening and am instantly charmed by a dry, smokey vetiver which swells from beneath. There is an 'unaired' mustiness that the vetiver brings and it possesses a certain 'olfactory temperature' that I immediately recognise: Guerlain's illustrious Djedi instantly springs to mind. Star-shaped tobacco flowers and jasmine tippy-toe over generous splinters of cured tobacco leaves, and a spicy warmth spreads laterally across the heart of this perfume. Here is where Fleurs de Tabac and Tabac Blond converge slightly in style (though the former lacks the punchy clove and leather notes that the latter possesses). A rich amber/vanilla base can be felt through a a light haze of smoke, and as the perfume dries down it becomes increasingly fleecy and powdery. A sensual muskiness reveals itself - one that can be likened to the sensation of burying ones face in the plush fur or hide of a magnificent beast. With it's final whispers, Fleurs de Tabac becomes a cas fortuit of carnality.

When coming to know this perfume, it is an important revelation to discover that Ota Polacek opened a second outlet after the store on Champs Elysées was established, and that was in Havana, Cuba. I would speculate that the raw tobacco materials used to create Fleurs de Tabac might well have been sourced (and even distilled) locally, and a retail outlet created to meet the demands of the Cuban contingent. Whatever the case, Fleurs de Tabac is a virtually unknown tobacco perfume which possesses all I love about the Art Deco age.

Although not having made a splash in the industry for decades, it is interesting to note that Chérigan Paris have a basic website, registered through a company in the Netherlands.
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DemonHead 9 years ago 4
9
Scent
7.5
Longevity
7.5
Sillage
5
Bottle
Eau du Fier sets Goutal's perfume portfolio alight!
In-house Annick Goutal nose Isabelle Doyen has a resumé of perfumed creations that reads like a shopping list of the rich and rare. Having studied as Goutal's apprentice prior to her passing, Doyen inherited her master's keen intuitiveness and passion, which translate into a portfolio of fine fragrances that are resolutely French in their approach.

In 2000, Goutal launched the polarising masculine Eau du Fier to a mixed reception. A scent that focuses chiefly on the marriage of organic birch tar and black tea, Eau du Fier is quite possibly the blackest, sootiest perfume one might ever encounter. Coming right off the back of a decade of sanitised androgyny in perfume, Eau du Fier proved the absolute antithesis of perfume models that were popular at the time. By 2005, it had been already been retired.

In the years since the early 2000's, appreciation for niche, rare and artisanal perfumery has grown exponentially, thanks in part, to flourishing fragrance communities both online and offline. How peculiar that the scent which was globally rebuked in 2003, is now generally regarded by perfume aficionados in 2012 as a triumph, and arguably Doyen's magnum opus.

Olfactory notes aside, this fragrance launches from the flacon like a flame-thrower - an impenetrable wall of fire and embers, fed by combustable accelerants. On skin, Eau du Fier is equally as uncompromising... I am automatically transported to mechanic's workshop... I smell of a man who has worked under a car for a whole day; hands blackened with grease lying on a floor littered with oily rags. Open jerrycans in one corner reek of evaporating gasoline, whilst in the other, a fire is burning in a barrel that has been lit with small combustable firestarters. This daydream plays out for 6-8 hours, until a final lingering huff of smoke eventually vaporises from my skin.

Black tea and tarry birch are the key components upon which this perfume is built, but one has to turn away from the vivid film playing out in their mind's eye to become cognisant of the individual accords. Doyen's masterful hand has interwoven subtle floral nuances of osmanthus and herbaceous/citrusy facets into this scent, which can only be picked when one knows where to look. Every note is treated like a fine brushstroke, forming a small but integral part of the whole.

Eau du Fier will unquestionably evoke a response in the wearer. Some will fan the air around them and cough and wheeze, and others will sit, silent, and wait for the visions to begin.

If only more perfumes could be as accomplished and profound.
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