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What is your "Holy Grail" of perfume?

What is your "Holy Grail" of perfume? 8 years ago
A sales assistant gave me a sample of "Fougère Royale (2010)" Extrait de Parfum. I was very happy with that because I always wanted to try it and because the extrait must be quite a precious juice. So this got me thinking about the "Holy Grail" of perfume.

What is your "Holy Grail" of fragrance? Did you find it?
8 years ago
"La Route d'Emeraude (2012)" by Isabey.

It is so beautiful that I don't wear it every day, nor was it named as my signature.

Everyday perfumes have to be less demanding, one cannot eat caviar every day.
Following this topic with Keen Interest! 8 years ago
Honestly, I have been 'down the rabbit hole' so many times...chasing a dream...followed by capture and release, disappointment...I can't even set my sights on another "Precious" so many to try and "still haven't found what I am looking for". Those that have come close as in if I had I would wear daily and adore- Malle/ Ropion's "Carnal Flower", Peau de Peche by Keiko Mecheri, Revelation by CB I hate Perfume...
8 years ago
I haven't been looking for a Holy Grail, actually. I don't even have anything I'd call a signature scent because I'm more interested in having fragrances that I love for different seasons, occasions and moods than one stupendous perfume that outshines all the rest.
8 years ago
I think there is more then one Holy Grail in perfumery.

Holy Grails are kept at the Osmothèque at Versailles. There is a report of it by Luca Turin in one of his books since he was allowed to take a sniff of the historical Fougère Royale. But normal perfume enthusiasts like us can only test contemporary fougères and guess what the quintessence of it was like.

Personally, I don't think that Houbigant's remake Fougère Royale from 2010 comes particularly close to the original. Fougère was a success story of 19th century perfumery, and a few decades after its launch, many perfume manufacturers had their own Fougère. So, it is a good idea to look for traditional fougères from early 20th century perfumery that are still available.

For reference purposes I recommend ordering a small amount of Fougère by Harry Lehmann in Berlin. The manufacture was founded in the 1920's, and they still produce some perfumes according to the traditional formulas. The web site is in German so you might need to use bing or google translator, and it has no shop. Orders are simply accepted via e-mail or phone.

Taking Harry Lehmann's Fougère as a role model for the supposed original helped me to explore the world of those fougères that could be called 'classic' in modern perfumery. It helped me discriminate between the general fougère essence and the specific or individual touch of a fougère. The Holy Grail of classic fougères is somewhere in between the following:

Fougère by Harry Lehmann,
"Sartorial" by Penhaligon's,
"1445" by Castle Forbes,
"Jacques Zolty"
"MPH"
"Fougère Royale (2010)"

Some lighter variants are:
"Knize Two"
"1872 for Men"

And a vetiver with a classic fougère heart:

"Vétiver de Frédéric"
8 years ago
Thanks for your replies, and for the perspective on fougères. An interesting read for sure!

By now I'm testing "Fougère Royale (2010)". It's no holy grail, but it's a 'distinguished' smelling fragrance that will be fun to wear and test further.

If you wish to write about what your holy grail of perfume is, please do so!
8 years ago
Sleuth, the term "holy grail" indicates to me a feeling of satisfaction to the point you feel there's little use in searching further. As much as I love "Samsara" original formula, I can only apply the holy grail distinction to "Coromandel" at this point.
Osmothèque and the Holy Grail 8 years ago
Recently I visited the Osmothèque to attend a talk on the history of perfume.
In the course of the lecture smelling strips are supplied for reference.
Even though they are recreations, great classics are available for sampling.

Personally I found Fougère Royale disappointing, a bit too hard and simple in profile.
Although it's interesting, I would prefer to wear something more modern and complex.

Another highlight, and for me the most outstanding perfume by far is La Rose Jacqueminot - the first Coty. A gorgeous verbena pink Rose with delicate powdery and creamy facets, its exquisitely imbalanced structure gives this masterpiece a truly fascinating allure.

I was also privileged to be allowed to smell the reconstruction of Iris Gris.
A wan pink fruity iris, quite peachy but evidently not containing C14 which was not around at the time it was composed, over a body accord based on the well known profile of iris butter.
After all the hype, it turned out to be quite a modest thing.

So for me, the great chefs d'ouvres by Coty are those I would run into a burning building to save, if only they could be resurrected from their chilly vault in Versailles.
8 years ago
Thanks for the insights about the Osmothèque, WildGardener. Did you have an opportunity to sample "Chypre de Coty"? I'd love to hear more about your experience.
8 years ago
Cryptic:
I'd love to hear more about your experience.

Ditto here, Wild Gardener, I'm jealous. Please tell us more!

As my fragrance collection grows I look for specific Holy Grail scents to fill gaps in my wardrobe, particularly when it comes to a particular occasion. I do have what I think of as my signature scent - "Fille en aiguilles" - but it's more a reflection of my personality and history rather than something I wear all the time.
Chypre at the Osmothèque 8 years ago
In amongst the many great classics held at the Osmothèque, Chypre by Coty is one of the most renown.
François Coty was not only a great technician but a perfume visionary. Probably the most celebrated of his creations is Chypre, the perfume that started a new genre.

We all know the formula is based on bergamot, labdanum and oak moss, and is reputed to be in the style of the perfume which first came from the island of Cyprus many years before.
Without going into the details of its formula, which can be found on Yesterdays Perfume and elsewhere, I can tell you what I remember of the Osmothèque reconstruction and what remains on the touche after a few weeks.

My impressions were of a substantial, somewhat resinous profile, with a surprisingly hard overtone and a cold, even slightly metallic air to the debut.
Firmly supporting this head was a cool resiny-woody and green, dark brown colour-value core.

Without any one note being evident, the character was dominantly resiny and mossy, the presence of moss making itself known in lending a bitterness and a slight coarseness to the texture, adding interest to what may otherwise have felt glassy - like a polished piece of amber fossil.

Coty supplemented the heart accord in what is now classic fashion, with Jasmin and rose. Rounding out the hard and bitter unforgiving side of his materials with a delicate floral bouquet.
At a guess I would say he may have used Virginia cedar for its dry aroma and texture.

He probably used both natural florals and those isolates which were available in 1917, along with coumarin to bolster the floral sweet aspects, and to offset the heavy resins with some powdery effects.
Vanillin which was widely available by then, and I have no doubt Coty would have put some in there, but not so much as to push the profile in an overtly oriental direction, and again for powdery effect.

It is evident that the trajectory of the profile moves towards labdanum and oak moss - not an enticing prospect with all those heavy bitter resinous notes.

From the drydown on the touche, which is now several weeks old, there seems to be the presence of heliotropin, sandalwood and vanilla, which leave a tang of bittersweet powderyness built around orris root. This gives a sense of both top quality naturals and judiciously dosed synthetics.

Coty evidently mastered the prospect of the grim dry down afforded by heavy doses of labdanum and moss with the brilliant and novel use of synthetic isolates as well as sweet wood.

I regret that I can't give you a fuller picture of its evolution, there were over a dozen samples given out and it was a lot to take them all on board at the time.

However, I take my lead from Luca Turin on this, and I'm afraid to say I found it formidable and brilliant but not so loveable. I'm sure that given the chance to wear it a few times, I would be able to qualify my judgement and maybe find hidden corners in its heart where I could find myself.

Others have since built on the brilliant and ground breaking innovation of Cotys' Chypre, but like the Model T Ford which was a phenomenon in its day, the original idea has been developed and improved in many directions.
8 years ago
"I regret that I can't give you a fuller picture of its evolution..."

Please! Your description was wonderfully detailed and exceeded my expectations. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

"...I'm afraid to say I found it formidable and brilliant but not so loveable."

But that's part of the essence of a proper chypre. Orientals aim to attract while chypres and greens tend to be somewhat remote and unapproachable. It's interesting to me that the chypre was introduced at a time in history when women began to vote, crop their hair and wear flapper dresses, which represented a drastic departure from the hourglass figure of the Gibson girl. Women were coming into their own and the chypre was part of the zeitgeist.

Did you have a chance to meet Patricia de Nicolaï while you were there? For me, that would've been the icing on the cake. Thanks so much again for allowing us a wonderful glimpse of your visit. Smile
Chypre and Les Garçonnes 8 years ago
That's interesting what you say about chypre's being part of the zeitgeist, when Les Garçonnes shocked the establishment with their short hair and gender disguising clothes. I can imagine how well Chypre would have gone with a mans style suit, or silver flapper dress, jade necklace and cigarette case.
Quite the opposite of the come hither oriental with its much less challenging trope of otherness, the harem.
Glad you liked my piece. If I go again, I will do some more reviews.
No such luck to meet PdN, but Maurice Roussel will be giving a lecture soon!
8 years ago
Holy Grail? Systematically sniffing my way through houses and genres to find it, while teaching myself about perfume. Almost done organizing my decants (can't locate, means can't sniff) and made a mens collection from them to familiarize myself with those notes. For now, for women, I'd also have to say it's the early Cotys, (except Muguet de Bois), though periodically, just when I think I've smelled it all, something new (to me) takes my breath away. Lately it was Cabochard and Russian Tea. I also adore several Carons, especially Infini. A minor private grief is that for 12 years of my working career I was frequently in Paris, but--not being a perfumista at the time-- bought not a single perfume and visited not a single Caron or Coty or Chanel or Guerlain and the like. Ah, sadness, to think I could have been visiting the Osmothèque as well! Now that I can locate my Fougere Royale sample, must give it a sniff and look for smell-alikes. I also love Isabey's La Route and ... have I ever sniffed Coromandel? I don't think so! New adventures. Thanks, WildGardener and all.
8 years ago
More information on the Osmothèque from Flaconneur. Be sure to check out the video.

perfumuschicago.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/osmot heque/
8 years ago
What a fantastic thread. I've learned so much. Thank you Aspicius and WildGardner. Russian Tea? ScentFan I am gonna hunt this one down.

I have always been awed by the classic Caron Urn scents. N'Amiez Que Moi is one that would be the absolute star of my collection. I only have a tiny .5ml sample of it I sparingly use on my birthday. I have always found something incredibly magical about the way the old Carons treated the roses. They were so full, creamy, rich, amazing. I always have a difficult time reviewing my tiny vintage Caron samples because I get so blown away by them. I almost have a difficult time finding words. Caron Acaciosa pretty much blew my mind I managed to buy a small decant of it from a sweet boy with amazing taste in Melborn, FL.
8 years ago
If any scent could be a signature for me it surely will be "Azuree" by Estee Lauder.
Due to its recent reformulation and new presentation in a different bottle I suddenly realized how much I love this perfume.
I had to get 2 back-up bottles additionally to my almost full current one....otherwise I would have had nightmares on being without one day.
8 years ago
I've been Trying to get my hands on a vintage sample of Azuree, It's proving to be a tricky one to find. Now that I have read your glowing recommendation, PontNeuf I will redouble my efforts to sniff it.
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