Friday, September 28, 2012

Persolaise Review: Fragrances Of Leather (Angel, Alien & Womanity) + A*Men Pure Leather from Thierry Mugler + Printemps from Laggridore (2012)

I wonder if the clever folk at Parfums Mugler are being economical with the truth. They've claimed that in order to create their latest quartet of limited editions, all they've done is pour the original versions of their signature scents into vats containing strips of specially made leather. That's it. No other tweaks. No other additions. Having worn the perfumes, I confess I find this difficult to believe.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. Fragrance brands have always exploited the power of artful advertising and I'm not going to begrudge Mugler a compelling story. But if the brand is being completely honest and if these new scents really are nothing more than a maceration of the existing juices with lengths of animal hide, then you can start looking for a candy-scented feather with which to knock me down.

My guess is that there's more to the leather than we're being told. As is well known, the material possesses a remarkable ability to absorb and carry a wide range of odours - an attribute on which the modern perfumery industry was founded - so I suspect that the druids at the Clarins labs produced a few accords to complement Angel et al, and then decided not to pour them into the perfume concentrates, but to fuse them with the leather instead.

Of course, on one level, none of this matters, especially as the results are so praise-worthy. The three feminines are now much more nocturnal, dense and mature, although not overtly leathery. There are moments in Alien's development when the balance of Dominique Ropion's original feels as though it has been compromised - the Cashmeran in the base makes its presence too obvious at times - but the central woody jasmine is intact and as distinctive as ever. In fact, the strength of the musky base serves to make this the most 'masculine' version of the brand's extra-terrestrial classic, so gents who've been put off in the past by the floral aspect may find this particular flying saucer has a seat with their name on it.

Angel (Olivier Cresp) is remarkably well-behaved. Fear not, it remains loud and diffusive, but here, the patchouli seems to be more prominent than the caramerlised ethyl maltol, creating a less piercing, less cloying overall effect. And Womanity (Fabrice Pellegrin) tones down the weirdness too: its unearthly salty-marine fig is completely legible, but it now projects more confidence, as though it doesn't feel the need to announce its presence from several hundred yards away... now, it announces it from a mere fifty feet.

But for once, the star is Jacques Huclier's A*Men. I don't know where the leather for this particular baby came from, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had hitched a ride on the back of a biker dude who'd spent a few nights camping out with some camels in the Moroccan desert. This stuff opens with one of the boldest animalic notes I've smelt in a mainstream release for quite some time. Sweat, dung and various other unmentionables leap off the skin with an abandon that will doubtless petrify the unsuspecting shoppers at John Lewis. But thankfully, this facet never gets out of hand. The familiar patchouli/coffee accord quickly takes over and then makes room for a genuinely surprising development: an incense note, tarry, smoky and yet as saintly as its predecessor is sinful. This delightful, unexpected twist helps make the scent one of the most striking masculines of the year.

Finally, a few words on presentation. In a break with tradition, Mugler have decided to house the feminines not in their usual bottles but in a special multi-faceted flacon decorated with a shiny, claw-like star and a small leather tag. These are placed within drawstring pouches which are then tucked into gleaming, square boxes adorned with the brand's '20th Anniversary' logo. It's a wonderful way to finish off a collection that deserves a firm pat on its leather-adorned back... or perhaps a gentle stroke with a riding crop.

In brief... Speaking of pretty packages, I recently had a chance to sample Printemps, a powder perfume from a new French set-up called Laggridore. I've never known quite to what to make of solid fragrances. I'm sure they have their fans - I gather Lush's solid versions of their Gorilla scents are very popular - but they've always seemed rather timid to me. By their very nature, they don't radiate in quite the same ways as liquid-based scents, making them ideal for anti-perfume types. Then again, perhaps some people prefer them for practical, dermatological reasons. On the strength of Printemps, those who feel the need to avoid alcohol or oil ought to give Laggridore their consideration. It's a delicate, unobtrusive, green lily, with - surprise surprise - a pronounced chalky, powdery note. It displays greater projection than most solid scents, pushing its floral facet well above the wearer's skin. But its most attractive feature is the ornate, golden compact in which it's housed. Yes, the allegorical representation of spring on its lid veers close to Versace-like grotesqueness, but the occasional hint of vulgarity never did anyone any harm. You'll be sure to catch people's attention if you pull it out of your handbag... although you'd then surreptitiously have to spray some 80s power-frag in order to complete the effect. 

Don't forget that you've got until 10 pm tonight (UK time) to enter a draw for a copy of my brand new perfume book. Click here for more info.

[Reviews of Angel, Alien and Womanity Fragrances Of Leather based on samples of eau de parfums; review of A*Men Pure Leather based on sample of eau de toilette; samples provided by Thierry Mugler in 2012. Review of Printemps based on a sample of powder perfume provided by Laggridore in 2012.]



  1. An excellent review as always, sir. I wondered if the story was a bit theatrical but then A*Ment blew me away and I was like, whatever ;-) I agree with is one of the most striking masculines of the year.

    1. Barney, thanks very much indeed. And yes, I do hope lots of guys have the courage to wear this version of A*Men.

  2. The more I hear about these the more I want them. A*Men sounds so wonderful. I think hubby will be getting it for Christmas.

    1. Poodle, I was very impressed with them. Do try A*Men first: it's pretty potent.


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