When I want to smell like make-up, I want to go full on Priscilla Queen of the Desert, thank you very much, and Moulin Rouge is what gives me my Cecil B. DeMille moment. I was locked in with Moulin Rouge early on and I don’t think my need to smell like lipstick is so all-encompassing that I need to look further afield. This is perhaps the real reason why the classy, serious Misia and the fey Lipstick Rose never stood a chance with me.
1889 Moulin Rouge has the edge purely because it’s obviously a fine-boned actress with a large, camp gay man fighting to get out.
The lipstick note at the beginning is almost putridly stale. Kind of like discovering a years-old Chanel lipstick at the arse end of some forgotten handbag and deciding, for old times’ sake, to give it a lash, only to spend the next four hours trying to wipe the stale, waxy, decaying stench off your lips with a face cloth.
This is almost as bad as eating that graying, whitish chocolate you find down the back of the couch one night when tidying away after the kids. But you know what I mean. I hope. It’s an almost attractive kind of staleness. I love it, because it’s so mega disgusting and mega delicious at the same time.
There is a boozy, overripe plum note, or pear, but some stone fruit anyway, collapsing and decaying unnoticed inside the leather bag along with the stale lipstick, and this gives off an interesting scent of booze as smelled on someone’s breath, a few hours after they’ve had a drink. It is almost sickly sweet, but in a good way. The iris continues throughout to be the defining element in the mix, though, casting its noble, rooty dust all over the stage and throwing lipstick shapes up on the spackled mirror in the dressing room.
Patchouli adds a shade of darkness and gloom in the basenotes, and I can completely see the vision of the dark dance theatre and the lonely Moulin Rouge dancers that Gerard Ghislain wanted us to see when wearing this fragrance. But this is far from a serious or dark scent. It’s very fun, retro, tongue-in-cheek fragrance, and one that calls for stockings with the line down the back of the legs, black patent Mary Janes, about an inch’s worth of Caron face powder, and Chanel’s Gabrielle red.
Oh, and if you have small children? Totally worth buying this fragrance just to hurry along those olfactory memories they’re already busy making in their tiny heads – kiss them goodnight while wearing this and they’ll remember that you smelled like perfume, face powder, and illicit booze just like any good mother does.
Very sweet. Like lipstick or make-up. Also wet cardboard. The pear reference mentioned by others is accurate. The wet cardboard note is quite unappealing, unglamorous, unpleasant.
Powerful, powdery iris, at least another pair of fresh, crunchy floral notes I do not get clearly (gardenia, geranium...?), a rose heart, green aromatic notes, ginger and pepper, and patchouli. Lively and sensual with just a hint of decadence: quite a good depiction of a Moulin Rouge dancer, somehow innocent and somehow naughty, young and pale but "experienced". The powerful and bold opening tones down quite early, it gets graceful and pleasant although not that unique – basically a spicy floral with a balsamic breeze and a nice interplay between silky flowers and earthy patchouli, with just a bit of spices and musks. Overall refined and cozy, pleasant and elegant, but not much memorable and also, sadly, a bit short-lasting.
I've tried and worn loads of different perfumes across genres and price ranges, though I recently came to understand that L'Heure Bleue haunts me as a fixed point of reference - my true loves always have a lot in common with some aspect of it. And that's certainly true of 1889 Moulin Rouge. It's not that these two fragrances smell "alike", yet I experience their personalities as being quite similar - contemplative, odd, cool; unsettling and comforting in equal measure. I rarely find a modern perfume like that, and I fell hard for Moulin Rouge.To see the notes listed, I would not have guessed it could possibly work, let alone that it could be so austere, even serene. I do smell the absinthe accord, though mostly it lives on my skin as the scent of pink Capezio leather ballet slippers and ripe plums or pears in a dusty theatre - definitely a theatre smell. It's a very a tenacious fragrance, though the sillage is intimate. I love that about it, actually - I can wear it in close quarters where a vintage oriental would be problematic, yet it's in no way a sparkly, generic, "daytime" scent. In my imagination, it's an olfactory portrait of the Moulin Rouge from the backstage viewpoint of a young dancer. She's classically trained, and she's a little melancholy getting ready to go home alone to her austere flat, because this isn't the artistic life she set out to have.
20th August, 2013 (last edited: 18th April, 2014)
Histories de Parfums consistently turns out beautiful, thoughtful fragrances, and 1889 is no exception. Its central chord of iris and musk is somber and very pretty, and is accentuated by a clever pear ester which evokes a beam of light breaking through a grey sky. Great work.