Genre: Woody Oriental
Ah, the fearsome, cumin-drenched, armpit-reeking Kingdom!
So? Where is it?
Years of wearing scents like Muscs Koublaï Khan, Eau d’Hermès, Ungaro II, and Kouros must have left my nostrils very jaded, because Kingdom smells like a pleasantly spicy, sweet oriental scent on a vanilla-sandalwood foundation with a moderate animalic accent. I’m neither shocked nor scandalized, nor would I really expect anyone who’s enjoyed wearing Jicky, Chanel’s Cuir de Russie, Bal à Versailles, or Bandit to be either. It’s just not that far out of the box. What killed Kingdom, I suspect, was that McQueen (bravely) introduced it at a time when the mainstream feminine fragrance axiom was the candy-sweet fruity floral and the commercial men’s fragrance archetype was the ultra-sanitary, “fresh” aquatic scent or fruity fougère. (And make no mistake about it, Kingdom could just as well have been a “masculine” scent as a “feminine,” and is equally wearable for non-squeamish members of either gender.) This would have been popular on the niche market as a slightly heavier and more subdued alternative to Muscs Koublaï Khan. Too bad the general public didn’t have the stomach for it.
I pulled out my sample of the discontinued (?) Kingdom edp with the thought that I’d single it out in my general complaint of the misuse of cumin to attempt to recreate animalic notes. When cumin is used to imply animalic notes, it typically doesn’t work, smells fake and makes the perfume seem cheap. I can’t say that Kingdom entirely escapes this trap. My complaint isn’t that the cumin is strong, but that it doesn’t actually recreate the animalic, and therefore, seen simply as a heavy spice note, is imbalanced and out of place. As I revisit Kingdom, I still find that a spurious note sinks the fragrance, but its not the huge cumin topnote. The real culprit is the mushy-musky drydown that seems like a thwarted attempt to emulate sandalwood.
Francis Kurkjian’s Lumière Noire pour Homme made me rethink the use of cumin. It pairs a roasted cumin scent with rose and recreates the feel if not the exact scent of the rose chypres of the 1970s-1980s. Kingdom reads more as an oriental than a nouvelle chypre, but both show that cumin is more effective as a patchouli adjunct than as a castoreum/civet/musk parallel.
Colder days are here so I took out Kingdom and wore it today. Years later it still amazes me with its wild mixture of smells, I always find Kingdom a bit unruly and uncivilized (if a perfume can be described this way) and I enjoy it. A strange beauty .
A complete, well-done job from opening to drydown.
Am I the only one who thought that a fragrance with the name KINGDOM would be intended for men? Am I the only one for whom this odd assortment of oriental notes ends by smelling like a reduction of redwood oil in the drydown? Honestly, this is one of the strangest creations I've ever sniffed! How do I get a woody-spicy perfume from an assortment of notes NONE of which is wood?
The ever-so-brief citrus opening of KINGDOM holds promise, but what happens next is an inexorable march to a pseudo-wood oil drydown, which becomes clunkier and woodier over time. I've worn this composition a few times, with the same final effect: the woodiest fragrance I've ever worn--yet it contains no wood whatsoever?! If the categorization of perfumes into feminine and masculine makes any sense at all, KINGDOM really is destined for men, it seems to me.
I am not put off, as are some, by what they are identifying as cumin in this composition, for in my case everything blends with everything else: celery seed, oakmoss, rhubarb, mint, carnation--you name it, it appears to be in here--as though mashed together with a mortar and pestle to produce something that is not in here at all! Weird, weird, weird.
Although I do believe that this composition is unique, when I put it on I find myself wondering: 1) when will the wood chips stop flying into my face? 2) can I actually wear this anywhere? 3) wouldn't this be a nice time for a bath?
For the record: this smells *nothing* like DUNE to me.
I find Kingdom (edp not edt) similar to Dune, but minus the sweetness and the cumin turned up. Alas.. both perfumes are not cheap... so Dune is not exactly a cheaper substitute.
10th June, 2011 (last edited: 15th December, 2011)