Persolaise Review: Peau De Bête from Liquides Imaginaires (Karine Bouin; 2015)
When Karine Bouin's Peau De Bête pounced on us last year, it elicited a fair number of gasps, with several writers stating they were overwhelmed by its scandalous dosage of animalic notes. As is often the way, the hype led to disappointment in some quarters, because leather-lovers hoping for the ne plus ultra of barnyard orgies - in other words, scentusiasts with considerable experience of the sweatier end of the olfactory spectrum - soon realised that this isn't the hoof-stomping, nostril-flaring Minotaur some would have us believe. But that shouldn't be held against the creative forces at Liquides Imaginaires. After all, with the name they've chosen, they've given us a clear indication of how this scent ought to be read: it's not just about the beast, but about skin as well. So yes, there's no denying that bodily, near-scatological odours form the sinuous backbone of this fragrance's composition: you can't use substantial quantities of cumin, cloves and leather materials - made transparent through the use of cedar and citrus notes - without evoking steaming flesh. But it's the nature of the fabric covering the backbone - the texture of the perfume - that's far more compelling. Situated somewhere between velvet, suede and angora, it envelops the wearer like a hybrid epidermis, sleek and inscrutable, yet concealing a deep-rooted core of heat. Last year's Alaïa scent played the skin-hugging card, but it lacked sufficient personality to be distinctive. Papillon's Salomé dished up some gorgeous dirt, but didn't know when to pull back. And Frederic Malle's new Monsieur. opted for riot-causing levels of testosterone, but then forgot about the need to be beautiful. Somehow, Peau De Bête succeeds where all three of those scents fall short, and it does so without ever raising the volume of its growl.
[Review based on a sample of 'eau de peau' provided by Liquides Imaginaires in 2015.]