Chanel Pour Monsieur is more or less a barebones, elegant chypre; like a muted Mitsouko without the peach. Not particularly exciting, but very pleasant and suitable for any situation.
Recent formulations appear to be more fleeting, like a classic citrusy eau de cologne, compared to vintages.
LouLou is a big, spicy, sweet white floral. Jasmine, orange blossom and tuberose sprinkled with soft spices, resting on top of sandalwood, vanilla, tonka and incense. The sweet florals slowly start to fade after a couple of hours which is when LouLou turns into a more intimate, slightly smoky and vanillic sandalwood. "Intimate" is a relative term though: LouLou is not a shy, quiet kind of fragrance and has a definite prescense well into the deep drydown.
So, what we have here is a loud, sweet floral on a cozy sandalwood base. Very nice, but not my thing. LouLou is just too sweet and pretty for me. I prefer my florals less sweet, perhaps cut with something sharp or bitter to make things more interesting.
Parfum de Peau is a perfume with plenty of personality, or maybe plenty of personalities; I've seen it classified as a leather, floriental or fruity chypre. In any case, it's filled to the brim with fruit, berries, spices, flowers, oakmoss, sandalwood and animalics and is a classic 80's powerhouse with plenty of sillage and longevity.
It opens with black currant, plum and peach, spices like pepper and cardamom and some greenery, followed by the main floral impression which is that of tagetes. Tagetes is a flower with a distinctly sharp, fresh, slightly spicy and pungent smell that keeps everything in check so that it never gets sweet or cloying. The base contains generous amounts of animalics like castoreum, musk, civet and amber along with incense and patchouli.
This is an unusual tangy leathery fragrance that has been referred to as an avant-garde chypre, and I can only agree. It's definitely not anonymous or boring.
Parfum de Peau has been produced in three major formulations and packages that I know of. The original 80's formulation was packed in a blue box with the Montana name and text printed in a darker blue. This was reformulated with synthetic castoreum during the mid 90's and packed in a similar box with the printed name in black, edged in silver, and smaller text in silver. This was later discontinued. Parfume de Peau is now owned by an Italian company which has re-issued a weaker reformulated Italian version that is a shadow of its former self. This is packaged in a blue box with a depiction of the helix bottle in orange, and my simple advice is to avoid this version. Some online retailers pass this off as the discontinued French original, despite being aware of the fact that it is an Italian re-issue. Beware.
In the hands of its new owners, Parfum de Peau has also spawned a few flankers such as Montana Mood Sensual, Montana Mood Sexy and Montana Mood Soft. They share the distinctive helix bottle and a "Parfum de Peau" print on the box. I assume that the Parfum de Peau designation is the only similarity to the original.
Prada No 1 Iris is a soft, slightly sweetened and powdery iris soliflore.
It does resemble the Infusions a little bit, but the iris is fuller, richer, more nuanced. There is a distinct carrot-like air and an earthy rootiness which is softened and dried out by the slightly powdery and sweet base.
This is a beautiful, warm and wearable iris on the cozy end of the spectrum compared to Serge Lutens' aloof and mentholated Iris Silver Mist.
l'Instant Magic has a pleasant and somewhat generic cosmetic smell. It doesn't really smell like a perfume, but like a luxurious body cream. This makes it intimate and suggestive of bare skin and sensual beauty habits.
I have trouble deciding between a neutral or thumbs up, but I will go for thumbs up since it's not bad at all and it can be pretty sexy.
Untitled has a sharp, almost sour green opening which quickly calms down and softens to reveal what smells like discrete orange blossoms and jasmine, along with some musk and warm woods. Low-key, pleasant and clean, bordering on soapy, without getting boring or clinical. Lasts a few short hours as a skin scent.
Vintage Cuir de Russie is a hardcore, animalic leather. Despite the fact that the tarry leather is clearly dominant, its rough edges are smoothed out by rich florals and things like sandalwood, musk, civet and castoreum. The leather here is thick, sturdy, soft and of the highest quality.
Current Cuir de Russie is still gloriously animalic, but in a different way. The leather has been toned down and the florals amped up. Today's Cuir de Russie is like a fine leather saddle soaked with sweat rather than a luxurious leather jacket or car interior. There's also a natural, outdoorsy feel to it; something vaguely stable-like with a sense of damp earth and dormant vegetation similar to what you can feel in the air during early spring or autumn.
But despite what might sound like a murky skankfest, CdR manages to project an elegant and luxurious aura that is floral, leathery, salty, animalic, earthy and sexy.
09th July, 2010 (last edited: 14th May, 2011)
I see that I'm not the only one noticing a resemblance to Knize Ten, but Royal English Leather is more subdued. The leather is not as harsh and petrochemical as K10's, and it's sweeter and smoother. REL feels a bit like K10 on Valium.
I prefer the confrontantional K10, but I can see myself getting a bottle of the more polite REL some day. Some might call it dull, I say pleasant.
I've compared full wears of the vintage and new Antaeus recently. The vintage formula has a totally different presence.
A few sprays project like a dense cloud and the smell is much more leathery and animalic (castoreum, which I suppose is replaced by more dry patchouli in the new). The beeswax base is noticeable almost from start to finish, getting more and more obvious towards the beautifully sensuous finish (in comparison, you get a whisper of honey towards the finish of the new).
The reformulation is a washed out Antaeus. It's still strong, but less focused and less powerful. It's still rich, but miles away from the old opulence. The new version feels bone dry during some stages of its development, while the vintage version gives the olfactory impression of being lightly covered by fresh sweat.
It's like the intensity has been reduced. It's no longer glorious technicolor, but black and white. Less leather, bees wax, power, sex, sensuality.
I have worn and loved Antaeus since the 80's and will continue to do so, but I mourn for the original.
This is a wonderfully rich leather and amber fragrance. Elegant and luxurious leather, paired with a touch of warmth from the amber (which is dry and non-obtrusive).