Today I’m comparing three scents that are not exactly smell-alikes but that have at least three notes in common out of leather, violet, birch, and rose. The three scents are Armani Privé Cuir Amèthyste, Heeley Fine Leather, and Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces. Leather is actually not listed among the notes I found for Cuir Amèthyste but since it’s in the name I assume it’s there, which means it scores four out of four:
Cuir Amèthyste: coriander, bergamot, rose, violet, birch, patchouli, labdanum, vanilla, benzoin
Fine Leather: violet, mimosa, birch, leather, vetiver
Putain des Palaces: rose, violet, leather, mandarin, ginger, amber, animal notes, face powder
I didn’t quite trust my nose when I did the side-by-side tests, so my impressions are based partly upon my old notes from when I tried them one by one, weeks apart. I blame PMS, which I will henceforth take to stand for Perfume Muting Syndrome, since that’s what it does – making all scents weirdly dull and flat and plasticky. At least I hope it’s PMS, I want my pretty smellies back!
Fine Leather is supposed to be a sophisticated leather scent for gentlemen. The leather is refined indeed, so refined I can hardly detect it at all. What dominates is the cool, sweetish, slightly stale scent of birch sap. The first time I tried it I got a lot of cool, unsweetened, slightly soapy/sharp violets, and I didn’t find it particularly masculine. I thought it was a scent for a sentimental, very young, early 20th century poet wandering around in a birch grove on a melancholy spring evening. Retrying it, I get a lot less violet and find it much more masculine. In fact, it verges upon the generic type of supposedly “fresh” men’s scents I loathe. It’s not the coolness of mint, luckily, it’s the coolness of birch sap, which makes it a little more interesting. The birch and leather also make the scent slightly spicy or aromatic, verging upon a fougère rather than some horrid ozone/aquatic. Still a huge letdown after my romantic first impressions.
When I first tried Cuir Amèthyste it reminded me a lot of my first impression of Fine Leather: cool violets and birch on soft, subdued leather. Unlike Fine Leather, it had the added sweetness of rose and a subtly earthy tone, but it was just as melancholy and beautiful, like a cool early summer night in a palace garden. Upon retrying it, I find it powdery sweet with candied violets, more in the vein of Putain des Palaces. It’s still cooler and less sweet than Putain des Palaces, with a more pronounced violet note and the slightest hint of birch. It reminds me mostly of the soft, supple floral leather that is Chanel’s take on Cuir de Russie. They share a quality I associate with white musk: a certain soft, powdery sweetness not uncommon in luxurious scented lotion. Alas, where did my palace garden with a variety of natural odours floating upon the cool evening breeze go?
The violets in Putain des Palaces are definitely candied, and it’s more evocative of a boudoir than of a garden or grove. Still, it has something in common with Cuir Amèthyste. Judging from the last time I tried Cuir Amèthyste, they’re both soft, sweet and powdery with some candied yet cool violets thrown in. Putain des Palaces isn’t all sweet either. It’s almost sweet-and-sour, with emphasis on sweet, but still with a rather mouthwatering green/citrusy sourness which I assume is the ginger. It makes it more chic than white thrash, despite the candy sweetness. Another quality I really enjoy is a feeling of warm skin with smudged makeup and a hint of fresh perspiration. Just a hint. This may be due to the face powder and the powdery warmth of amber, one of my favourite notes.
By Tove Solander
Image source: osmoz.com, luckyscent.com
16 comments April 3rd, 2007