Today we are looking at 4 of the Parfum d’Empire range of fragrances. I’m glad I’ve had a couple of days to do this because they have been so delicious, interesting and fun to wear, not to mention totally enjoyable to look up on different sites all the reviews, chatter, science and mystery surrounding them. Considering how little we know about the perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato there is a wealth of information about his fragrances, which has made my job easier and harder in equal measure. What to put in, what to leave out, what is true, fantasy, science, madness or necessary to give a complete picture? The samples were bought from the Parfum d’Empire website, all of them were purchased late 2011 and I had tried only a couple and from that have 2 unopened bottles awaiting a suitable opening ceremony. I hope you enjoy this short journey through about a third of the range. This is not a favourite list it is merely a random snapshot of the magicians art of fragrance in one house. I will give you my first impressions in words then work through the fragrance as my often wonky nose takes me through each perfume. Come.
Eau de Gloire EdT
The first fragrance that Parfum d’Empire brought to the world in 2005, modeled on Marc-Antoine Corticchiato’s scent memory of his boyhood home Corsica, literally translated as Water of Glory and dedicated as an homage to all those who’ve left their homelands to go into the world and conquer. Especially to his own home island boy Napoleon Bonaparte.
Bracing, Citrus, Salt, Squeaky, Floral, Masculine
WOW! This opens with a powerhouse icy cold screech of bergamot, citrus twig and broken branch and briny sea air then the herbs and flowers come and take the edge off. As the rosemary, lavender and star anise waltz in they warm the scent slightly but still it stays cool and laid back. I don’t believe in fragrances for the sexes but I keep imagining Eau de Gloire on a very masculine man though I would love to see how it smells on a woman. There is a squeaky dissonance here, the trilling of the citrus which lasts well into the heart of the fragrance and the rumbling of the incense, anise, oakmoss and tobacco. Unfortunately my nose misses the tea and leather in the composition completely, maybe you will have more luck. At about 3-4 hours I get more soft and flowery notes over the various resins, this fragrance grows more interesting and textured as it matures. At 7 hours it is soft as butterfly kisses and almost as ephemeral.
Osmanthus Interdite EdP
The French missionary and plant hunter, Jean Marie Delavay in the mid 19th century “discovered” Osmanthus (O. fragrans), a native of the GuiLin area of China (GuiLin means “Forest of Osmanthus” in Chinese). Osmanthus is a fast growing “bushy” tree that can grow 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide with glossy leaves and clusters of small, highly fragrant, yellow tubular flowers. Traditionally a symbol of love and romance and one of the 10 famous flowers in China and Taiwan.
Green, Crisp, Fresh, Light, Cold tea, High florals.
Osmanthus Interdite, which means Forbidden Osmanthus, is like arriving late for the presentation of tea during the cooler days of jasmine and rose blooming. Honestly, I don’t smell jasmine and rose as I know them in life, this is an aloof, cool and soft scent on my skin, not a clean scent but reminiscent of cleanliness. Discernible and noticeable without a fanfare or scream, this is no bombastic floral. It is an old perfumed leather pair of driving gloves kept in perfect condition but worn, used and loved. The leather notes are far gone but you still can almost smell them, do I make sense? Almost as if they have become soaked with the wearers tea scented perfume and bodily fragrance over time, on top of a soft floral fragrance impregnated into the leather pre-purchase. They work side by side to create an intriguing unisex dichotomy through the heart. At the 8 hour point and there is still a whiff of something lovelier than me, faint and clean.
Wassamba or Wassahoumba is a percussion instrument or disc rattle played rhythmically in loud, penetrating pulses by dancers during ceremonies in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Made of gourd and white wood the Wassamba usually weights about half a kilo.
Char, Sparkle/fizz , Olive green, Incense, Bark, Intense
Once the initial screaming, burning rush of Wazamba cools it becomes another perfume, churchy and sepulchral. It reminds me of years spent in Roman Catholic churches and the theatre and drama of religion. I think it’s interesting that many ceremonies of religious and tribal spiritual cleansing over the world smell similar. Having never been to West Africa personally, a neighbour once bought back a good luck talisman in the form of a fragrant pillow of woven grasses with smokey herbs, spices and incense inside, this has almost the same smell. What a powerhouse of memory and reflection Wazamba has been for me. A fragrance that wanders through a thousand shades of itself, more a journey than a scent. You must try this. Wazamba gave its all for about 5 hours and then became a skin scent, discernible to my partner as something other but lost to me.
Cuir Ottoman EdP
Heat, Medicine, Booze, Fire, Hot new patent leather, Rubber, Road tar
OMG!! This opens like a Banshee wailing on my skin. It’s infernal and smells like I imagine being in Paul Chenavard’s (1807-1895), Inferno di Dante would smell like if they were burning tyres and a road in the background while drinking Kentucky bourbon in a hospital. I can’t believe I am smelling these things and wish I had a fragrant Godmother here so I could talk it through. WOW! Awesome MC AWESOME! After about 15 minutes Cuir Ottoman starts to breathe a bit, there’s air between the notes and I have a moment to think, leather, sweet leather and the flowers have arrived. There is a softening and prettying of the abrasive opening, we are covered in luscious leather and blossom and root. By the one hour mark we have arrived at the seraglio, beautiful full lipped sweating women, incense, hookah, floral unguents, leather and horses. There is still a beautiful ride and drydown to dark vanilla and spice but that is hours and hours away.
The Scented Hound has done a lovely review of Iskander by Parfum d’Empire today also, go check him out,
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our mini trek through the Parfum d’Empire range. I think I’ll do another set of four next month for you all,
Happy, fragrant and loving hopes for your day,