There is such a strong evocative feeling in Futur of an echo from the past that it makes its name a conundrum. This one speaks from the dimness of a different time, surrounded by the trappings of a different type of space than many of us inhabit. There is no electronic buzz in this one, no urban-ness, no city; no synthetic recreation (though in actuality there must be). It resonates from a space that is less plastic, less electrical, less neon. It belongs on someone who still reads books.
There is a lot of dark, rich, green soapiness and aldehydes in the start-up, a vegetal slightly frumpy cleanness, very comfortable, very unpretentious, but not without a sense of its own self. This is not a striving fragrance by any means, in spite of the aldehydes, which I wish were less. I know they give it part of its old soul character, but there is a touch of radiant sneeziness in them also.
Is this really a chypre? It has a darkness to it, many chypre notes, and is built like one, but for me chypre will always be about oakmoss, and Futur strikes me as having every element but oakmoss, which is interesting to me in its own right. It's been compared to Bandit a lot, which I love, and they share a certain dark air, but Bandit is drier, friskier and has such a different personality than Futur. Bandit is for adventure, while Futur is more grounded, for staying home in one's library.
I really like Futur. It is fairly unique, is its own person, and has a character I like to sit down and visit with, a fragrance that's comfortable with its place in the world and has much comfortable conversation to share, and also a cup of tea.
16th April, 2015 (last edited: 19th April, 2015)
This review pertains to the 2009 reissue, which goes on as a bracing blend of bitter green notes and aldehydes that briefly reminds me of its sister Bandit, though without the birch tar. The scent settles down into a green floral chypre with a crisp, dry, woody bent. Besides galbanum, I detect cedar, green jasmine, vetiver, and perhaps even some black pepper. The resulting accord smells serious, stark, and extremely “modern.” So much so that Futur would seem at home next to some of Marc Buxton’s or Bertrand Duchaufour’s scents for Comme des Garçons. Futur is particularly striking in its seemingly incongruous combination of transparency and darkness. The black glass Piguet bottle couldn’t be more apropos. Dry as it is, Futur also seems like an easy scent for men to wear, more so even than Chanel No. 19, Yendi, or Bel Respiro. The biggest liability is longevity, which seems limited to three or four hours, though the brisk, woody drydown is a pleasure. Whether it smells at all like the 1974 original hardly seems relevant: the new Futur stands tall on its own virtues.
Futur was marketed as avant-garde at its release in the late 1960s, an era known for its conviction that the future was more about style than science. In the 60s, the future was in fact the 1960s with sleeker fashion, poses and objets (rayguns and cocktail glasses). Smelled in the present, the revived Futur can be considered a bit retro not because it smells tired, but because the green floral didn’t so much evolve as (with a few exceptions) become extinct. Futur’s points of direct comparison are this handful of extant green florals from the 1960s-1970s: Chamade, Metal, Silences, Weil de Weil, No 19, Alliage and especially Private Collection. (I’m not going to stare into the abyss of attempting to distinguish the green floral from the green chypre.) Niche perfumery has produced a few examples of the style since the late 1960s, but mainstream perfumery has more or less dropped it.
The green floral might appear out of step with current trends in mainstream perfumery, but Robert Piguet are smart to include it in their line. It is comparable in archival tone to Fracas and Bandit, and like these two, smartly encapsulates a genre. Additionally, as a well composed melodious floral it fits in with more recent releases from Piguet such as Douglas Hannant and Petit Fracas. It is also composed by Arelien Guichard, the perfumer responsible for the recent spate of new RP releases (Casbah, Mademoiselle Piguet, etc.).
Futur is a beautiful green floral. It reminds me that green florals can capture beauty, complexity, and intrigue in ways that mixed white florals aspire to and fruity forals don’t even attempt. Green florals are alluring, and Futur is no exception. It has a bright-eyed composure and doesn’t come off as heavily coiffed and made up as Private Collection and Chamade do. It’s not as stagey as Metal. Informal, but not slack Futur has a simple chic to it. It shows an astute abstraction in the composition that makes it one of the black-box perfumes. You can see into it whatever you please, and as a result, it works in most any context.
(Current version) A wonderful green chypre. As others have pointed out, Futur emphasizes both aspects of the genre. It is both very dark, vegetal, mossy, and very soapy. On paper, I had the impression that it became in fact too soapy, but on my skin, it maintains a good balance. Both more vegetal and more soapy than Givenchy III vintage, cleaner and less haughty than Cristalle, greener and more synthetic than Ormonde Jayne Tiare.
I see others drawing comparisons, so I'll contribute mine. The drydown—anisic herb, clary sage, muguet, & ylang-ylang are what persist for me—is identical to vintage Antilope, tho a bit weaker in strength and longevity. Nonetheless, it answers my burning question: can I find that drydown in a still-in-production fragrance? For now, the answer is—yes! Good to know.