Friday, 10 November 2017

Persolaise Review: Promise 'الوعد' from Editions De Parfum Frederic Malle (Dominique Ropion; 2017)

I’ve long considered Frederic Malle to run as close to a perfect perfume brand as we can get. Staggering compositions. Intelligent marketing. Genuine respect for customers. There’s very little that the man gets wrong. And even when he does (Angeliques Sous La Pluie and Monsieur come to mind) the reasons for his decisions are apparent and, to some extent, worthy of respect. In recent years, his releases have tended towards largesse: monolithic creations that would even make some 80s monsters seem like wallflowers. Sure enough, for his newest piece of work - Promise, put together by Dominique Ropion - he’s decided to go bigger still. But I fear the result is one of his very few ill-conceived choices.

I think I can see what Promise is supposed to be. In the same way that The Night was an attempt to make the final, indisputable statement on the rose + oud genre (an attempt which is damn near 100% successful) Promise was probably envisaged as the last word on the ‘gigantic, Arabian leather-rose’ category. Everything about it is cranked up to ludicrous proportions. The labdanum feels not like a tendril of smoke on a desert breeze, but an industrial-sized vat of balsamic blackness. The cypriol isn’t a subtle charcoal glow, but a raging, choking conflagration. And the apple note isn’t a gentle fizz of tart fruitiness but a restrictive cocoon made of sour peel. In short, Promise misses the most crucial element of this style of perfumery: elegance. No matter how brash and attention-grabbing Arabian leathers may be, they always know that, at their core, they must retain a sense of unhurried sophistication. And that is precisely what’s missing in Promise. In its place is disappointing crudeness.

Having said all that, I ought to end with a qualifier, in the interests of fairness. On each occasion when I wore Promise or sprayed it on a blotter, I found it impossible to generate any affection towards it. However, Madame Persolaise had a markedly different experience. Sometimes, she wasn’t been able to get far enough away from it, but there were a few instances when the stuff made her purr with feline satisfaction. Clearly, something about its make-up ‘worked’ on her, albeit inconsistently. So perhaps the scent is a shape-shifter, revealing endearing facets only when it chooses to. If that’s the case, then I hope it finds a suitable audience. Personally, my little lab sample is a Promise I’m quite happy not to keep.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Editions De Parfum Frederic Malle in 2017.]


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