Wearing Les Zazous is like seeing Paris and then being content at home on the farm because you've internalized the fabulousness that I suppose Paris is meant to offer. Keiko Mecheri celebrates the exoticism of the known and elevates lavender to a place in perfumery typically reserved for incense, labdanum and the other great botanical resins. She focusses our attention on lavender's woody-resinous-floral aspects instead of its cool cleanliness. In a manner similar to the fougère where coumarin transforms lavender into something unexpected, Mecheri uses woods and woody spices to mold lavender into a nouveau power frag like the masculine beasts of the 1980s. It's a wonderful trick and while it makes me liken les Zazous to a number of other perfumes (to follow) it makes for a distinctive, but instantly comfortable fragrance.
Les Zazous notably steers clear of the aquatacism and sweet aromatics common to many contempo macho fragrances. It is a classic woody floral to my nose, with rose and lavender combining to form a lovely dusty-powdery density. The sweet resinous woods are tied to the florals by a honeyed tobacco note. Tobacco makes an excellent bridge between floral and woody tones (as in Lauder's Beautiful and ELDO's Jasmin et Cigarettes) and Mecheri plays it flawlessly.
This is a masculine fragrance in the same way that Guerlain Habit Rouge, Lancome Sagamore and de Nicolai's New York and Pour Homme are masculine fragrances. They manage to pass some boyish test of apparent masculinity while never relinquishing an ounce of prettiness. They are tempered by their tests of gender and have a matter of fact beauty.
This fragrance does make me reflect on others, but it doesn't suffer by comparison. If you can see A Taste of Heaven (by Kilian) as a concise lavender and Caron Troisièmme Homme as a more intricate play on the note, think of Les Zazous as running a little further afield, but in the same direction. Combining lavender with incense and tobacco and vanilla gives the perfume a wide harmonious range that feels intrinsically at ease. It is large and gregarious, but neither loud nor rude. Perfumer Yann Vasnier has translated his style of voluminous florals for masculine use. Les Zazous feels (and I mean this as a sincere compliment) like a lavender version of the original early 1980s Chanel Antaeus.
I love the allusion to the Algerian dancers, but my masculine point of comparison for Les Zazous is a stout club chair. The comfort doesn't come from any pliability of the materials, it's the result of firmness and proper angles. The same goes for les Zazous. It's got spine and shape and it's as pretty as all getout.
02nd November, 2013 (last edited: 18th June, 2014)
From Phul-Nana to Brit, passing through Amber et Vanille E.Coudray and the Dreamer, this Les Zazous represents another variation of the same huge theme.....aromatic notes and flowers (any fruit in this case) over a balmy/woody/incensey foundation (characterized by the whiteness from milky balsams, some dustiness/powder and the tobacco presence combined with amber, honey or vanilla). In this case the mahogany presence on the side of other woods enhance the woody/paper type of feel while the combination of iris and incense is responsible about the "dusty volatility" of the juice. The interaction between vetiver, woods, aromatic notes/lavender, spices and incense turns this scent out unisex (leaning on the masculine side) in my perception. I detect anyway white powder smelling about honeyed tobacco and woods with some rosey/iris trait which contributes (on the side of vetiver) to cut the powder imprinting a spark of spicy/floral sophistication (probably the feminine side of the fragrance) perceivable as aftertaste swirling under the nose as a ghost. Not bad.
Pros: Honey tobacco and lack of linearity
Cons: Too much common in the world of powder"</p>
15th August, 2013 (last edited: 28th November, 2014)
So I'm sitting here over 12 hours after I put this on and the cloud of honeyed rose has not dissipated. This thing can hang; the longevity is outta sight. I'm very impressed that something so natural-seeming lasts so long. As for the scent, well, that pyramid is looking pretty accurate. I don't really know about vetiver, ambergris, and mahogany, though. And who the hell the knows what "fresh aromatic notes" is? Anyway, the honey and rose dominate here, with everything else kind of hanging out in the background. The tobacco is nice and the whole thing reminds me a bit of Back to Black, but the rose makes things ever so slightly feminine so if given a choice I would probably go with the By Kilian.