Maison Francis Kurkdjian Ciel de Gum: Golden Delight

Francis Kurkdjian. Photo source:

Francis Kurkdjian. Photo source:

A swirling vortex of gold and red lies at the heart of Ciel de Gum, an eau de parfum created by Francis Kurkdjian in commemoration of the 120th anniversary of Moscow’s famed G.U.M. department store. The fragrance was released in 2013, originally as a GUM exclusive but later available at other Russian retailers.

I try to avoid reviewing fragrances with extremely limited availability, but several bottles of Ciel de Gum found their way to American shores last month. The New York niche boutique, OsswaldNYC, obtained quite a few and the American decanting site, Surrender to Chance, began offering samples soon after. That’s still not the widest availability possible, particularly as OsswaldNYC only has 2 bottles left at this time, but I decided to review the fragrance after a friend told me that Ciel de Gum was available on the Maison Francis Kurkdjian website for €195 and could be shipped worldwide.

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David Jourquin Cuir Altesse & Cuir de R’Eve

Lovely. Ghastly. Intoxicating. Nauseating. I want a small bottle. I can’t wait to scrub the revolting mess off my body. Two completely antithetical reactions to two supposedly parallel companion fragrances, both created by Cecile Zarokian for David Jourquin. The first is Cuir Altesse. The second is Cuir de R’Eve. Both fragrances are eau de parfums that were released in 2014 and that David Jourquin describes as “women’s fragrances,” but I think Cuir Altesse is completely unisex, thanks to a strong similarity to vintage Lagerfeld Cologne, classic bay rum tobacco colognes, and vintage Shalimar parfum. Let’s start with the dreadful one first, so that I can block it out of my mind immediately thereafter, and then we can talk about Cuir Altesse at greater depth.

Cuir Altesse & Cuir de R'Eve duo. Photo via

Cuir Altesse & Cuir de R’Eve duo. Photo via

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Farmacia SS. Annunziata Tabacco d’Autore

"The Dark Matter III" by AthosLuca on Deviant Art. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“The Dark Matter III” by AthosLuca on Deviant Art. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Tabacco d’Autore is an homage to the complexity of tobacco from an ancient Italian house known for its rich, intense soliflores. It’s a new fragrance that explores tobacco’s many innate facets through a dark landscape that is embellished with dry woods, spicy patchouli, smoke, amber, and artemisia’s dual sides of bitter herbal greenness and oud-ish woodiness.

Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 (hereinafter simply called “Farmacia SS Annunziata” or “Farmacia”) is an Italian house whose history goes back centuries. It’s a completely unpretentious, good quality, moderately priced brand whose fragrances are often more like extraits in their concentration, and they typically focus on one main note whose every characteristic or feature is then explored in great depth. I’ve never really understood why the brand gets so little attention; some of its soliflores are impressively hardcore treatments of their subject (like Patchouly Indonesiano), richly beautiful (like the gorgeous Ambra Nera), or just very easy-to-wear, versatile fragrances. The new Tabacco d’Autore very much bears the Farmacia SS Annunziata aesthetic. It may not my personal cup of tea, for reasons I’ll explain shortly, but, like every Farmacia soliflore, it takes the main note and runs with it.

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Parfum d’Empire Tabac Tabou Extrait de Parfum

Perfume names carry weight. They bear certain promises, or hint at things to come. “Tabac Tabou” is a name that portends a hedonistic, sensual, or illicit exploration of tobacco. That last part turned out not to be the case for me. In fact, judging by what appeared on my skin, I wouldn’t consider Parfum d’Empire‘s latest fragrance to be any sort of tobacco soliflore whatsoever. Now, hay and narcissus…. that’s a different matter.

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