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.]