Papillon Salome: Seduction, Sex & Skin (N.S.F.W.)

Naked skin bared under fur. Seduction played out through a series of Helmut Newton vignettes. Breasts covered by slips of fabric that slide away as glances meet across a room. The sound of blues throbbing in the darkness. The scent of arousal in the air. The clarion call of the wild.

Charlotte Rampling. Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: culturaeculture.it

Charlotte Rampling. Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: culturaeculture.it

Meeting. No pretense at the purpose. Fingers running down a bare chest, then down further still. The scene changes. His place. Clothes pushed aside. Torrid. Tender. Trickles of sweat on quivering thighs. Skin on skin. Culmination. Then, finally, tangled limbs, limp with skin as soft as suede. Snuggles. Burrowing deeper into the embrace. A languid repose under a golden sheen of sweat. The air bearing witness to the last hours, rippling with echoes of their bodies. Skin, more skin, and the scent of his crotch. Slowly, the candle flickers, turning all to soft gold, sweet and warm, then fades away.

It’s a tale that crosses from the first moment of seduction all the way through to the musky scent of post-coital skin and the final, sleepy embrace. It’s a timeless and universal story, rather than the biblical tale of Salome.

It’s the script for Salome from Papillon Perfumery, and all of it plays out in my head to a constant stream of images from the legendary Helmut Newton every time I wear the scent:

Photo: Helmut Newton via Pinterest.

Photo: Helmut Newton via Pinterest.

Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: fotografie.nl

Photo: Helmut Newton. Source: fotografie.nl

Photo: Helmut Newton for Playboy. Source: Christies & artwall.ru

Photo: Helmut Newton for Playboy. Source: Christies & artwall.ru

Artist unknown. Source: timeslive.co.za

Artist unknown. Source: timeslive.co.za

Charlotte Rampling by Helmut Newton. Source: w12.fr

Charlotte Rampling by Helmut Newton. Source: w12.fr

Charlotte Rampling by Helmut Newton. Source: w12.fr

Charlotte Rampling by Helmut Newton. Source: w12.fr

Salome is the newest fragrance from Liz Moores, and is an eau de parfum that will launch worldwide in about 10 to 14 days’ time. It was inspired by the infamous biblical figure of the same name, the step-daughter of King Herod. As the story goes, he had his lecherous eye on her and begged her to dance the Dance of the Seven Veils for him (which would leave herself naked at the end of it). She finally agreed, but only if he swore to grant her any favour she wished. He gave his word before all his court. So she danced… and then horrified him by asking for the head of St. John the Baptist on a silver platter. (Some say it was to protect her mother whom he was denouncing.) Later, the tale got a hyper-sexualized twist from Oscar Wilde‘s play, Salome, and it forever altered her image, turning her into a symbol of debauched evil, perversion, and sexual manipulation.

Papillon's Salome. Photo: my own.

The two faces of Papillon’s Salome. Photo: my own.

The two faces of Salome. Photo: my own.

The two faces of Salome. Photo: my own.

I love Oscar Wilde, but I’ve never seen Salome as he presents her. I don’t associate her with evil, filth, or perversion, though her seductive skills are hard to deny. More to the point for the purposes of this review, I associate Salome with vintage Opium. In fact, my tribute to that scent was actually an olfactory retelling of Salome’s story (the non-Oscar Wilde version that is). Opium — and only Opium — brings to mind Salome for me, which is one reason why I depart from all the British bloggers who have reviewed the new Papillon fragrance in terms of how I see it. It’s all about Helmut Newton imagery for me, not Salome of the Seven Veils.

I read some of their reviews after I tested Salome (I didn’t want to be influenced beforehand), and saw that I also differed from some of them in another way: I don’t see Salome’s skank as being filthy. And this brings me to a key point that I want to mention at the very outset, before I start analyzing the scent: how you interpret Salome will depend widely on your personal baseline or the yardstick by which you judge “filth,” as well as your comfort level with animalics, your experience with it in fragrance, and on the very definitions you use. I will talk about all that at the end of the review, but you need to keep in mind that definitions and personal baselines vary.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

All I can tell you is that, to me, Salome is not “filthy.” Not filthy or dirty at all, as I define those words. Instead, it is sexy, extremely sophisticated, and classically seductive before turning in the drydown into something oddly comforting. In fact, I find its animalics to be much milder and more moderate than Bogue‘s stellar, intense MAAI and less so than the somewhat tamer Masque‘s Montecristo (relative to Maai) as well.

Salome is ostensibly a chypre, but it might be more accurate to call it a chypre-oriental hybrid, because it has a second side, a very animalic one. In fact, the specific bouquet that Liz Moores sought to capture was the scent of Salome’s skin after her Dance of the Seven Veils, the smell of lust, skin, and furs. Ms. Moores had found an old 1920s photograph of an erotic dancer who made her think of Salome as well, and that made her decide to use a variety of animalics like hyraceum, civet, and castoreum.

Hyraceum from the Hyrax rodent. Also known as African Stone. Photo: my own.

Hyraceum from the Hyrax rodent. Photo: my own.

When I first tested the fragrance, I didn’t know the full note list beyond those animalics, but I became confused at photos of Salome’s boxes on Papillon’s Facebook page, showing an extremely short list of notes. I detected much more, so I wrote to Ms. Moores. She explained that the boxes merely contain the nutshell synopsis, and do not represent everything in the perfume. (So if you buy the perfume, know that it contains much more than what is written there!)

She gave me Salome’s complete list. It is actually significantly longer than what is provided on the Papillon website and also adds 4 things to the list shown on Les Senteurs’ website. (The fragrance is available for pre-order at both places, but they only ship within the U.K.). The full note list is:

Turkish rose, Jasmine, Carnation, Oakmoss, Castoreum, Civet, Hyraceum, Styrax, Tobacco, Orange Blossom, Patchouli, Sweet Hay, Bitter Red Orange, Bergamot, Cumin, Clove bud, Birch tar, and Vanilla.

In addition to that, there are a variety of musks which have been added. Ms. Moores said the note list was merely for “the naturals.” She added:

I used a ratio of 68% naturals to 32% synthetics. Salome just happened this way, I don’t pin myself down but all the perfumes I make are a minimum of 50% naturals because I prefer them this way. The hyraceum makes up 4% of the compound in a 50ml bottle.

Source: ngm.nationalgeographic.com

Source: ngm.nationalgeographic.com

Salome opens on my skin with a dark velvety rose, pollinated with cloves, layered with sweet and indolic jasmine, then lightly splattered with bergamot before the whole thing is wrapped up with strands of hay. The floral bouquet is delicately nestled within the gauziest oakmoss, a filmy suggestion in the background. Mere seconds later, the cumin bursts on the scene, swaggering full of bluster, beaded with tiny drops of sweaty warmth from his exertion.

Art by Jaison Cianelli at cianellistudios.com.

Art by Jaison Cianelli at cianellistudios.com.

He’s followed by an army convoy of animalics and musks, rolling powerfully like tanks over the landscape, squashing down the oakmoss every time it pokes out its head from the sidelines. Together, the cumin, civet, hyraceum, castoreum, and amorphous musks act as sinewy tendons and muscles to flesh out the classical chypre structure, and to give it a brawny shape. In more concrete terms, the overall result is a rapidly moving slideshow that smells of vintage Femme (if only for a few minutes), chypres melded with warm bodies, and the whiff of gently-used panties.

Yet, everything about it — even the convoy of animalics — feels elegant, powerfully sophisticated, and, dare I say it, practically restrained in a way. The notes are balanced to such a perfect pitch that Salome never feels vulgar, cheaply trashy, excessive, or bombastic. It’s a surprise but very clearly intentional, given how noticeable the animalics are and just how powerful hyraceum can be. And, yet, I’m never reminded of actual, real animals in a way that makes me recoil: no peeing panthers or male tomcats marking their territory; no “ho’ panties;” and no “rancid yak butter.” Since hyraceum can often evoke the former, while aged civet paste smells exactly like the latter (as I recently learnt with some cringing), the skank here is much tamer than what I had expected.

Part of it is that Salome’s animalics are at a much lower decibel (and quantity) than the full-throttle urinous aspects of Maai, but a major part of it is how well everything is blended. No one single note really dominates center stage. The opening movement is, as I noted early, a constantly changing landscape where each element blows out like the skirts of a Southern belle or Edwardian beauty dancing the waltz. One second, you sniff the lushly sweet roses; the next, the jasmine flashes its indolic side in the opening moments, before turning into heady voluptuousness. The bergamot weaves in and out; the tiniest suggestion of leather runs underneath from time to time; flashes of dark orange, orange blossom, spicy patchouli, or tobacco briefly pop up before quickly melting into the floral-bergamot bouquet; and on and on it goes. A mere 15 minutes into Salome’s development, the notes become so seamlessly and perfectly blended that it becomes hard to pick out where one note ends and another begins.

"Macro Water Light Refraction" by Cody Rooney Photography on Flickr. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Macro Water Light Refraction” by Cody Rooney Photography on Flickr. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Salome is what I call a “kaleidoscopic scent,” reflecting different nuances and chords every time I wear it, like rays of light bouncing off water or a crystal chandelier. Each time, different facets show up in the opening all the way through to the end, but the central strands — that overall chypre skeleton given flesh by the animalics’ sinews and muscle — remain largely the same. For a good portion of the first 4 hours, there is always a rose-jasmine-bergamot-oakmoss core, layered with musky, urinous, and sometimes leathery animalics, then dusted with spices that are centered mainly on cumin. The order or prominence of some of the main players occasionally changes, while some of the tertiary notes pop up once in a while in a noticeable way, but those are a question of degree more than anything else.

Helmut Newton, Catherine Deneuve. Source: toutsurdeneuve.free.fr

Helmut Newton photo of Catherine Deneuve. Source: toutsurdeneuve.free.fr

All of it feel to me like a Helmut Newton montage of a screamingly chic woman in partial deshabille, confident in her body, sexuality, allure, and, yes, in the lushness of her body’s aroma. That is not to say that the cumin in Salome smells like fetid, unwashed body odor or that the civet/hyraceum evokes grossly soiled panties, but there is a definite whiff of arousal that wraps itself around the chypre accords. Again, though, the careful, moderated balance ensures that none of it feels tasteless or dirty in a repellent way. In fact, every time I’ve worn Salome, the animalics, the cumin, and the “arousal” element consistently soften on my skin after about 20 minutes, taking a few steps back to let the chypre accords move into the limelight. The bergamot, jasmine, and oakmoss now shine, while the rose is more demure. Sometimes, during this stage, the hyraceum and civet actually seem to fade into the background entirely, leaving only the cumin as part of the secondary wave or chorus. Then, at the end of the first hour, the scene changes again, and the animalics return to weave their way around the central chypre accord.

It’s a carefully calibrated dance that manages to make Salome feel both classical and very modern at the same time. A format like the chypre lends all its fragrances a veneer of traditionalism, but the animalics in Salome go a step beyond the typical cumin or castoreum in such scents as vintage Femme. There is a definite modern vibe to the scent, even if it’s not truly evident until Salome’s middle phase and, in particular, the drydown. As I’ll discuss later, at that stage, the perfume shifts to retain only the barest bones of the chypre skeleton, highlighting instead the wholly modern boudoir aromas of a lover’s body, from post-sex skin to the whiff of a guy’s crotch.

Source: animalhi.com

Source: animalhi.com

The opening phase is very different, though. For the first four hours, fluctuating waves of animalics seep back and forth over the classical rose-jasmine-bergamot-oakmoss quartet, letting each note take its turn before the next one replaces it. Yet, that relay race doesn’t really tell the full tale. Somehow, Salome goes beyond simply being rich, sweet, spicy, floral, and musky, to actually seemingly alive at times on my skin, as though a warm furry, musky animal were moving across it, shedding its essence before pulsating outwards to wrap its magic around you and in the air at large. This odd sensation from the animalics is a good reason why I don’t mind the fact that it becomes hard to pick out Salome’s finer details as early as 20 minutes into its development. Normally, that makes me a little grumpy, because I prefer a much clearer delineation of notes so early in the process — and, yet, here, I don’t mind it one bit.

It’s not due solely to the carefully edited balance or the elegant sophistication that I’ve talked about, but the fact that Salome feels more like a mood and atmosphere to me than mere perfume materials that have been blended together in a technical pyramid. It’s due to that constant stream of Helmut Newton images that flash through my head every time I wear Salome; the sense that the fragrance’s furry animalics are oddly alive on my skin; and what AbdesSalaam Attar would undoubtedly say is the genetically pre-conditioned priming that all humans have when faced with the pheromones that are in precisely the same animalics used in Salome. (See, Part I of my AbdesSalaam Attar perfume series for more on animal and human sexual pheromones, as well as their impact on us.)

Helmut Newton photo, Catherine Deneuve. Source: christies.com

Helmut Newton photo, Catherine Deneuve. Source: christies.com

What amuses and appeals to me intellectually is how Salome’s note evolution and profile symbolically play out like the seduction scene in a slightly erotic movie. At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, the waves of animalics start to grow stronger. Like a woman (or man) who has fixed their eye on someone at the other end of the bar and is beginning to reveal more and more skin, Salome starts to radiate come-hither whiffs of muskiness along with what I shall only call “arousal.” (It’s not intense enough to my nose to be pure or hardcore raunchy skank, so “arousal” it shall be.) At the same time, the rose starts to finally re-emerge from behind the jasmine, but the real action is taking place in the base where the spicy patchouli, quietly smoky styrax, leathery birch, and vanilla begin to stir.

By the middle of the third hour, the opening phase starts to draw to a close. The vanilla and patchouli rise to the surface, while the muskiness grows stronger. The castoreum begins to really emerge now from its place behind the cumin and the urinous duo of civet/hyraceum. About 3.25 hours in, Salome is no longer just an animalic chypre but, for the first time, is starting to waft the musky warmth of post-sex skin. It feels as though seduction is leading towards culmination, an impression that only grows stronger when the castoreum, civet, and hyraceum gradually push the chypre accords aside.

Photo: Andreas H. Bitesnich, "Male Nude Study, 2000." Source: lgp.cz

Photo: Andreas H. Bitesnich, “Male Nude Study, 2000.” Source: lgp.cz

Salome’s heart or middle stage begins roughly 4.5 hours into its development, and it’s all about the smell of a lusty romp. The floral/chypre notes have finally slunk to the sidelines, though faint tendrils still curl out from time to time. Now, center stage is dominated by the musks and animalics, supported by the base notes, particularly the spicy patchouli. It is a skin-centered bouquet that is warm, musky, occasionally ripe (in a good way) and extremely evocative of the scent of your lover’s body.

Photo: Gideon Koh on Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Gideon Koh on Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

There is even an occasional whiff of the male crotch, the first of many to come. Tom Ford explicitly said that he wanted his Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (now discontinued) to smell like a man’s crotch, but it never did on me, probably because the amount of blackcurrant wasn’t great enough to trigger the plant’s urinous muskiness. Instead, it simply smelled like sour ammonia in a way that made me think of bad litter boxes. Salome, however, has a most definite aroma of musky male crotch and, honestly, I love how well it works with the “sex skin.” (A highly untechnical term, I know, but I’m trying really hard to keep things as mild as I can manage, given the scent and circumstances.)

What is most interesting is the way the carefully controlled progression of notes from seduction to sex and consummation matches Salome’s drop in projection. Planned or not, the castoreum’s “sex skin” phase occurs almost precisely at the moment that Salome starts to hover just above the skin with one spray, and at one inch (at the most) with two sprays. It feels like a thoughtful touch to ensure that the scent is never so hardcore or intense that it should be kept in the bedroom. I wouldn’t be so comfortable in wearing Salome to, say, the vet if I were wafting “male crotch” at high decibels or with the perfume’s initial sillage strength in the first 30 minutes. (More on that in a moment.)

By the end of the 6th hour, roughly 5.75 hours in, Salome’s “sex skin” aroma has essentially taken over. As the vanilla mixes with the castoreum, styrax, and birch tar leather, Salome has turned into a bouquet of warm, animalic, musky skin laced with “male crotch” and licked by soft animal furriness. The whole thing is blanketed by a golden warmth infused with abstract spiciness. Now it’s the chypre accord’s turn to ebb and flow like waves lapping at a body. What surprised me is how, in a few of my tests, Salome took on a textural quality to match the olfactory changes. It felt like plush suede at times, or like vanilla-drizzled leather-suede at others. In all cases, though, there is a definite creamy streak deep in the base that slowly rises to the surface.

Photo: Chris Maher via his Etsy store, Energy Work. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo: Chris Maher via his Etsy store, Energy Work. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Salome’s drydown begins at the start of the 8th hour. It’s absolutely fantastic, and is my favorite part of the scent. The perfume essentially smells like plush, musky, animalic creamy skin laced up with ribbons of nebulous leatheriness, then splattered with vanillic sweetness and saturated with a surprisingly cuddly warmth. I suspect the latter stems primarily from the spicy patchouli which pops up occasionally in a clearly delineated way but which generally works indirectly with the musks to create that snuggly warmth. At times, it is joined by flickers of something vaguely tobacco-ish. On other occasions, wisps of syrupy sweet jasmine or juicy orange rear their head before falling back into the blurry haze of notes.

This phase of Salome is as evocative as all the rest. In some tests, the perfume conjured up images of the best leather jacket, one that has been worn-in and bears the musky traces of spicy, warm, masculine skin. In other tests, it felt like the crook of your lover’s arm around you, leading to a desire to burrow your nose in deeper. I cannot tell you how much I wish the drydown stage were as strong, voluminous, and projecting as the first 30 minutes. Every now and then, I have to actually remind myself that simply spraying on more of the fragrance will not magically get me to this phase right away. I really wish it could because it’s unquestionably my favorite part of Salome, and a large reason why it is one of my favorite things I’ve tried this year.

Carl Warner, "Bodyscape 1" via www.carlwarner.com/bodyscapes/

Carl Warner, “Bodyscape 1” via www.carlwarner.com/bodyscapes/

For me, it’s a unique bouquet that I’ve never smelt elsewhere in quite the same way, that moment in time when heated, post-sex bodies lose their ripeness and snuggle in musky sweetness. Here, the patchouli, vanilla, and the merest glimmer of tobacco cover the edges of the musky “sex skin” and the “male crotch” like sheets over naked lovers. Together, they slowly take over from the creamy leather-suede, creating a vibe that moves away from the lustiness of the earlier phases into something more languidly cozy, set amidst the soft glow of the metaphoric candle that is waning in the corner.

Yet, as I said at the start, Salome is a very kaleidoscopic scent so the amount of time that it takes to get to this snuggly phase is never quite the same. In most of my tests, both the “sex skin” and the whiffs of “male crotch” repeatedly fluctuated, coming back every time that I thought they had gone for good, sometimes bringing the cumin with them, sometimes bringing faint echoes of the rose-oakmoss chypre accord.

Source: rgbstock.com

Source: rgbstock.com

The final hours are always the same, though, and always deliciously wonderful. Salome turns into spiced vanilla musk, all golden, sweet, and warm, smudged with the daintiest dabs of something animalic, and drizzled with the merest suggestion of something almost like honeyed water or honey nectar. It’s beautifully cozy, addictive, and comforting, and as soft as candlelight, the final tableau in Salome’s long night of seduction.

Salome has enormous longevity when I apply two sprays, though less when I only use one. With 2 sprays, the perfume consistently lasts between 15 and 16.5 hours on me. With 1 spray, I typically get 11.5 hours to 12.5 hours.

One thing I want to emphasize is that the quantity I applied seemed to dramatically influence not only the longevity, but also the projection and sillage. With two sprays, Salome opens as a rich bouquet that radiates roughly about 4-5 inches in projection with two sprays from a bottle, and about 6-8 inches of sillage at first. With one spray, the numbers are slightly lower: 3 inches in projection, but there is still about 6 inches on the scent trail in the air. The perfume seems to soften in body and heft around the same time that the accords first soften to let the chypre notes come out, around 20 minutes in. When Salome’s animalics return at the end of the first hour to re-join the chypre accord, the projection starts its slow drop: roughly about 2.5 to 3 inches with 2 sprays, and about 2 inches with 1 spray. The sillage starts to lessen, too.

By the time the perfume begins to take the first steps towards a “sex skin” accord, Salome is 1 inch above the skin, paralleling the symbolic intimacy of its notes. There, the perfume generally stays for quite a few hours with 2 sprays, though it is a total skin scent with 1 spray by the time we get to the “male crotch” stage. I doubt any of this was planned, but it is a fortuitous symmetry.

The funny thing about dirty musks is that they often trigger anosmia in people, at least according to AbdesSalaam Attar’s texts on sexual pheromones and animalics. I haven’t experienced that… until now. There is something that happens to me about the time Salome’s middle or heart phase steps into high gear, and that’s a difficulty in detecting the perfume’s projection, sillage, and a few of its notes. For example, I kept thinking Salome had turned into a skin scent around the 6.75 hour mark, only to be surprised 30 minutes later to find it back at its old 1-inch place. Then, it seemed to drop again, only for the cycle to repeat itself a few more times.

Source: superbwallpapers.com

Source: superbwallpapers.com

The key seemed to be whether I had sniffed my arm continuously without much of a break. In those cases, my nose seemed to slowly tune out the muskiness, and the cumin in particular. I repeatedly thought it had finally disappeared, only to smell my arm after a 15 minute break to rediscover it lurking on the sidelines. It was the same story with the sillage. If I took a break from smelling my arm, I noticed small tendrils of Salome curling in the air around me. They were much harder to detect from the 6th and 7th hour onwards if I had been sniffing my arm continuously. (All of this applies to tests where 2 sprays of Salome were used, because it’s a significantly weaker scent if I applied only a single spritz.)

The bottom line is that I can’t really tell you when exactly Salome turned into a skin scent on me or what the sillage was like after the start of the 6th hour. My best guess, after 3 tests using 2 sprays is that Salome generally hovered less than an inch above the skin from the 5.75 hour mark until somewhere around the 7th hour. At that point, it typically seemed to become a skin scent, although it was easy to detect without any effort whatsoever until close to the 10th hour. That’s impressive, particularly given how much softer the other Papillon fragrances were on me. When I tested Salome with 1 spray, things were much clearer because the perfume was so much weaker and didn’t seem to trigger any anosmia. Salome became a skin scent after roughly 5 hours, but I had no trouble detecting it if I brought my nose right to my arm for a while to come.

How you feel about Salome’s bouquet on your skin is going to depend on a number of things. What is “dirty” in your eyes, versus something that is merely (and enjoyably) animalic? How do you even define “skank” to begin with? Finally, at one point does “skank” make you recoil as something negative? I think the answer to each of these questions will impact how you see Salome, in addition to the usual issue of how your individual skin chemistry brings out the notes.

Source: animalswecare.com

Source: animalswecare.com

It can be a fine line sometimes. For me, the urinous aspect of civet or hyraceum is generally not an issue, but when something evokes bad, ammonia-heavy. litter box odors or male cats marking territory, then I start to struggle. The smell of warm, musky skin — even skin that is a little sweaty — can be lovely, but when cumin or musks veer into stale, fetid armpit odor, that’s a different matter. Neither problem arose on my skin with Salome.

And skank? Sex odors are fine, and soiled panties are okay if lightly soiled, but anything too excessively raunchy is going to depend on the totality of the circumstances. If the animal odors rise to the level of fetid yak (e.g., aged civet paste), panther pee (e.g., Amouage’s Opus VII), dirty goaty leather, or fresh animal poop, then I’m turned off. I smelt enough of those aromas recently in AbdesSalaam Attar’s Italian perfume course to be rather attuned to their presence, but they weren’t there with Salome. Warm pee, though? Absolutely, yes, it’s in Salome, thanks to the civet-hyraceum combo. How you feel about that will all come down to your definitions, degrees, and personal comfort zone.

Bogue MAAI. Photo: Roberto Greco.

Bogue MAAI. Photo: Roberto Greco.

Perhaps some comparisons will help by providing a different context. On my skin, Salome’s skank is unbelievably moderate and tame as compared to Bogue‘s Maai; it’s roughly comparable in vibe or degree to MFK‘s Absolue Pour Le Soir, but it’s skankier than Serge LutensMuscs Koublai Khan. I really think it does not begin to compare to Maai. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most, Maai’s animalics would probably come in at a 10 on my skin (and Masque’s Montecristo probably at an 8). In contrast, Salome would be about a 7, at best, roughly similar to where I’d place APLS. I think Salome is softer in projection and lighter in body than Maai, but it’s much richer, deeper, and lusher than MKK. On the other hand, it matches MFK’s APLS in terms of body and weight, but the MFK fragrance actually felt skankier at times to me. Some of that may be because its animalic, urinous honey feels sharper than comparable notes in Salome. Ultimately, though, I don’t think APLS is a truly analogous scent because its sources of animalics are so different (honey and cumin), so it evokes different bodily aromas.

Painting by Peter Colstee via home.planet.nl

Painting by Peter Colstee via home.planet.nl

It’s the same story with Histoires de Parfums 1740 (Marquis de Sade). It smelt of different body parts, too, because, like APLS, I think it has far more cumin than Salome. 1740 also has a significant and dominant amount of leather, in addition to the slight smell of the male ass in leather, neither of which is the case here. The whole profile is different, thanks to heavy immortelle and resins which help to make one an oriental, while the other is a chypre (or oriental chypre). That said, both fragrances share the intensely sensual, lusty vibe, even if their notes and bouquets differ dramatically.

Print by Anonymous. Source: magnoliabox.com

Print by Anonymous. Source: magnoliabox.com

A closer match for Salome, note-wise, might be Amouage‘s Jubilation 25, in pre-reformulated form, because they’re both skanky chypres with cumin, whiffs of panties or arousal, and skin-like aspects. The difference is, Salome is much skankier than Jubilation, and it also has a profound post-coital sex aspect along with the civet/hyraceum urinous aroma. So, I suppose the closest example might be a combination of Jubilation 25 with dashes of Maai and Histoires de Parfums’ 1740. Where Salome excels above all the others, though, is in just how well it recreates the smell of musky, warm skin. None of the others ever reached the same degree, and that includes Oncle Serge’s MKK.

In terms of overall wearability, I think Salome is firmly unisex. I also think it’s a more approachable and versatile scent as compared to the divaesque, baroque, intensely Wagnerian Maai. Sometimes, Maai wears me, rather than the other way around. That is never the case with Salome. It fits like… well, like a second skin. (Sorry, that’s the last skin reference, I swear!)

Salome won’t be for everyone, but I loved it. If I hadn’t received a bottle for review, I would buy one the minute it hit American shores. If you love Maai, APLS, or any of the skanky fragrances mentioned here, you should order a sample immediately. For some of you, those with a particular love for animalics, I think it’s even worth a blind-buy.

Disclosure: My bottle was provided courtesy of Papillon. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Salome is an eau de parfum that only comes in a 50 ml bottle for £98. The fragrance won’t be released for another 10-14 days, so I don’t know its price in other currencies, but it should be around $160 and €135. Since Salome hasn’t launched yet, the following links are to the general Papillon pages at its main retailers. In the U.S.: Papillon is carried at Luckyscent, Indigo Perfumery, and SF’s Tigerlily. Luckyscent and Indigo both sell samples. Indigo also has a Sample Set of 5 perfumes of your choice in 1 ml vials for $18, but they only ship within America. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, the Perfume Shoppe carries the line, but the individual Papillon fragrances aren’t shown for online purchase the way they are for other brands. You may want to call them instead. In the U.K., Salome is now available for pre-order directly from Papillon. You can also order a sample for £4.10 or a Sampling Quartet (Salome + the original trio) for £15. Papillon only ships within the UK at this time. London’s Les Senteurs has Salome for pre-order, with the same shipping limitations. Outside of the UK, the Papillon line is generally available at: First in Fragrance; the NL’s ParfuMaria and Annindriya; Italy’s Profumeria Artistica; Barcelona’s La Galeria Basilica; Brussel’s Chaussée de Waterloo; and Dubai’s France Gallery. None of these sites have Salome yet, but should receive it in about 2 weeks.

104 thoughts on “Papillon Salome: Seduction, Sex & Skin (N.S.F.W.)

  1. Dear K another excellent in depth review! I’m so glad you loved Salome as did I believe it or not! I smelt a pre-released bottle just last week at Les Senteurs and just fell head over heels in love from the very first spritz to the point where I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist for the next raunchy 12hours. I also had to update my Facebook about my new found love and also had to message the lovely Ms. Moores and congratulate her on composing this rare beauty and to reserve two bottles for me! Yes I went a bit laa laa but do you blame me! 😀
    The bridge between vintage and modern was absolutely spot on and truly has got to be Ms. Moores finest works to date in my humble opinion.

    • I completely agree that it is the best Papillon fragrance to date, Sultan, and I think it shows how much Ms. Moores has grown as a perfumer in just the last year to harness the animalics the way that she does, with such finesse and balance, as well as the movement of the fragrance and that whole vintage classique/modern edgy contrast she has.

      All of which is to say: I’m not at ALL surprised you loved it, my dear. You seem almost surprised yourself, but you’re hardly a stranger to animalics or skank. Or did you think I wouldn’t believe it because it’s not exactly your normal genre/style of scent for yourself? lol

      • Dude! I looooooove skank and you know I do!! 😛
        There’s nothing I love more than layering a fragrance with some skanky Hindi Oud or some diluted animalics such as civet, castoreum, ambergris etc. however saying that…..one of my kryptonites is Serge Lutens Miel de Bois….Lord have mercy that hurts my stomach even thinking about it.
        Anyway I’ve enjoyed all of Ms. Moores other compositions such as Tobacco Rose and Anubis but to me Salome was just another level…..I didn’t just enjoy it, I loved it…..it was just so full of twists and turns and incredibly multifaceted as a very good perfume should be.

        • Heh, I know you lurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrve your skank, which is there was no need to say “believe it or not” or that you went a bit nuts. I would have wondered if aliens had taken over your body if you hadn’t responded to the animalics. ;p 😀 But isn’t the drydown the best?! And you’re right, it’s totally on a different level than the others. You know, at the rate I’m wearing and going through this perfume, a back-up or second bottle might be in my future sooner than I had anticipated. Smart man for ordering two right from the start.

          • The dry down is to die for and as a result I messaged poor Ms. Moores in the middle of the night to ask what the base consisted of…….see cuckoo! Cuckoo!

  2. Absolutely stellar and evocative review! This sounds like a must try. I adore APLS, though I don’t wear it often. Can’t wait to see how this is similar and how it isn’t. Also, that Bodyscape photo is amazing! Well done, K!

    • Thank you, Kevin. I’d love to know how this turned out on your skin. Do let me know if you get to try it. And, yes, isn’t that Bodyscape photo fantastic? Carl Werner does some incredible stuff, including with food!

  3. Lovely review. You make me want to try this to see what happens on my skin. I’ve mentioned before that skank has never happened to me. For me, skank is urine, fecal (nice way of saying shit), or ripe crotch. No perfume has ever become any of this on me so it will be fun to try Salome. 😉

    • Maya, I don’t think Salome would suit you, my dear. You see, this is where personal baselines and definitions are important. How you defined “skank” is actually a core, fundamental part of what skank IS and what it smells like, though the degrees or combinations will vary from one animalic fragrance to another. Sometimes, there won’t be a fecal note, just “ripe crotch.” At other times, there will be urinous aspects AND ripe crotch — as there is here. Civet and hyraceum each smell urinous. And I think I referenced “male crotch” enough times to tell you clearly that you *WILL* smell crotch here, too. lol. Whether Salome also eventually manifests the other aspects that I’ve talked about her, like the musky “sex skin,” won’t matter if you hate the fundamental aspects of skank to begin with. Trust me, you definitely *have* encountered actual skank before, but perhaps the definitions weren’t stated.

      Judging from your comment, I don’t think you would enjoy Salome. This is where personal baselines come in. Whatever you’ve encountered before is bound to be milder than Salome, unless you’ve tried Maai, Montecristo, and perhaps a few other scents. So, by your baselines, I think you’d find Salome to have all the aromas you’ve noticed in previous scents, but to an intensely strong degree. 🙂 Bottom line, I wouldn’t waste your money on a sample if I were you. I don’t mean that in any bad way, I hope you know that. We all have different tastes and baselines. 🙂

  4. Wonderful detailed review, dear Kafka! Methinks this is not for me either (like MAAI); however, since I really should not summarily dismiss everything that has cumin or has a sweaty note or skanky, I will include Salome and MAAI as my freebies choice the next time I order from the retailers.

    • I would NOT recommend you trying MAAI, dear Hajusuuri. I really would not waste your time. It most definitely will NOT be your tastes. I would bet money on it. Get a sample of Rania J’s Ambre Loup if you haven’t already instead. I don’t think you’d like the Salome, either, but it’s not as much of a sure bet. Well, it’s more like a 75% to 80% likelihood that you would not enjoy it, versus a complete 100% in the case of Maai. LOL 😀 xoxox

  5. This sounds really complex and amazing. Loved your review. So detailed and evocative. I feel like I already smelled the fragrance. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Thank you, Ricky. I’d love to hear how it turns out on your skin. I hope so much that your skin chemistry brings out the sides I saw and that you love it just as much. But if you’re not keen on a lot of skank, you may want to stay clear of this one, sweetie.

  6. This will be my next purchase. I read with interest your comparison of the skank levels of Salome & Maai. I normally dab Maai on myself, but I sprayed it on last weekend & it was more intense & long lasting–I loved it! I was still getting whiffs of it as I moved around approximately 12 hours after applying. The skankiness didn’t scare me at all, so I’m sure I’m going to love this perfume that has such a beautiful, sensuous name.

    • You know I almost NEVER recommend a blind buy if I can help it, and you know how I feel about doing those willy-nilly, Ed, but in your case and that of a few others, JUST GO BUY IT. Blind. The minute you get notice that it’s hit the U.S. and available for purchase. Really, you are guaranteed to love Salome. With your tastes, it’s guaranteed.

      • I have to agree with you that the words “filthy,” and “dirty” don’t come to mind at all when I wear Salome. The word that come to mind are “erotic” and “sexy.” This is a deep, grand perfume, and I love it.
        Despite the name, I found this to be very unisex and addictive. This is my kind of perfume!!!

        • “Erotic” and “sexy” are much better suited than “filthy” or “dirty,” in my opinion, but it ultimately does come down to individual baselines, tastes, and skin chemistry. I’m really happy that it worked so well in your case. (I knew you’d love it!)

        • Finally got my sample of Salome. You know how I tend towards complex yet discreet scents, I can’t believe how much I am loving this. Posting here because I totally agree with Edward’s descriptors. Skank and dirty don’t come to mind at all. Quite lovely. FB worthy for sure. I’m beginning to wonder if my skin just absorbs the ‘skank’ or animals, because Maai was waaaaaaay more tame than I anticipated and yet you know how I find some perfumes utterly cloying (Ambre Sultan!). …. Hope all is well in Kafka and Zola land, and that Zola is currently in a good space.

  7. I’m not sure how to begin…I had to wait until my pulse slowed down before I could type. I decided to check the blog before my shower: good thing I did phew. Helmut Newton, your review, male crotch and Salome, which I must smell. Blind buy. Period.
    I have some coffee table sized Helmut Newton books. Rampling, Deneuve, Grace Jones and Romy Schneider.

    What the hell was i gonna say? All the talk of animalics, MKK, APLS, MAAI, MONTE CRISTO…..CUMIN I may be in love with Ms. Moores

    May I say cuckoo, cuckoo too?

    • Heh, this may be the best response yet. 😀 😉 I’m glad the post had such an effect on you, Don. It took a truly RIDICULOUS amount of time to find some of the photos, especially the non-Helmut Newton ones, you wouldn’t believe it. They had to fit the exact mental image I had *AND* be tasteful *AND* be somewhat unrevealing so as not to offend anyone (at least, not too, too much). If you only knew the hours I spent looking through …. er, never mind. Long story short, this review took a monumental amount of time to put all the various parts together, so I’m glad it (and the fragrance, obviously) had such an effect on you.

      BTW, I’d forgotten your love of cumin and clove, though I remembered the animalics well. You’re another one who is going to love Salome, and should definitely consider a full bottle.

      • I’m laughing thinking that if someone had decided to read “Kafkaesqueblog” for the first time tonight, they would have to double check the blog name.
        Nor do I think any of your devoted lemmings would be offended at anything. Although I have been laughing, this is one of your best descriptions for a perfume; even more so than LM Parfums Hard Leather. 🙂

        • Lordie, that is high praise indeed! Hard Leather was one of my most frequently-read reviews for the longest time. Thank you, Don!

          • Lol. I actually ordered a sample of HL after reading that review. I sampled it eagerly, only to get the following response from my (usually more tolerant) husband: “urgh – it smells like a gimp’s jock strap”…

      • This is off topic, but the rosewood I love is in a new Farmacia SS. Annunziata called Nero Incenso. They also have a new perfume witj tobacco called Tobacco d’ Autore.

  8. Another stellar review. I can hardly wait for the release of this one. You’re first photo of the bottle is a gem. Could be a new sideline for you. The cat photo made me laugh out loud. Thank you so much for this review.

    • Thank you, for the kind words on both the review and the photo. In truth, I find lighting to be frustratingly trickly, and conjuring up appropriate or interesting backgrounds might be even harder. In this case, I was lucky to find material that fit both the floral and animal/fur sides of Salome, but it still a huge number of tries to get the right light, shadows, look, etc. I’m so pleased to hear I succeeded with the rose/floral one. Thanks, Rich! Promise you’ll let me know how Salome turns out on your skin?

      • Doesn’t matter how many tries it took. You nailed it. You can be sure I will let you know when I get mine. Right now I am trying my latest blind buy, Ex Idolo’s Ryder, which is quite nice. Also enjoying their Thirty-Three.

        • I got a sample of Ryder in the mail, but I haven’t tried it yet. In the last week alone, I got 13 samples, 10 the week before, and I had about 30 that arrived right before I left. I’m honestly drowning in samples and don’t know how I’ll tackle the ever-growing backlog. Not to mention that I have 6 AbdesSalaam scents to test before I can do even a mini-review, and I also need to cover the Santa Maria Novella headquarters in Florence and the perfumes I bought there. Long story short, it may take me a while to get to Ryder. But I’ll get there! 😀 (I have tried/reviewed his 33 though. Wasn’t for me, though it had some interesting sides.) Have a super night, Rich!

          • It will be primarily for one fragrance, a mimosa one, since I had previously reviewed and liked the other one I bought. I thought of you while I was there in the store, Jane. 🙂

  9. My dear Kafka, I am still laughing aloud at the memory of this showing up in my inbox earlier (a lesson in checking email while at work!). For a brief moment I wondered if you had put aside reviewing perfumes, and were instead sharing a blow-by-blow of something you had discovered on pay-per-view ;). Wonderful review, as always, and my interest is definitely piqued.
    Anubis is one of my absolute favourite perfumes, and Ms Moores is masterful in her treatment of leather in that incarnation. I’m excited to see what she has done with Salome. It sounds to be just my kind of thing. I didn’t connect with either Tobacco Rose, or Angelique.
    My radar is most definitely skewed In the area of ‘ripe’ scents, and I doubt my judgement of skank would align with many! My earliest memory (from infancy) is vintage Femme, a favourite of my mother’s; it was the first perfume I owned too, at the grand old age of seven ;). Shock, horror! Who would allow such a thing? All I can say is I was definite in my tastes early on! My Femme was swiftly supplemented with Diorella, so I think I was a lost cause to begin with :). I wear Jubilation 25 quite comfortably, and have never found any of these to be particularly raunchy, though have observed the reactions of others from time to time, who evidently find them so. I’ll confess that Maai was not good on me at all, and a total scrubber. It wasn’t overly sexual, just loud and somehow… wrong. Like a punch in the face with a dirty glove that leaves your ears ringing. Perhaps there was something off with my sample as my experience seems to be far removed from the reviews I’ve read. There’s certainly a lot of love for Maai, and I’m sure on others it’s wonderful.
    MFK absolute Pour le Soir was definitely funky on me. NOT in a sexy way I hasten to add! On me it has a liturgical aspect that gives it a strange and disturbing vibe: unwashed habits do not set my pulse racing! As far as sexual odors go, it leant more towards the male than female scent for me, in spite of the hefty dose of honey. Maybe it’s something to do with the type of animalic? Does the extract itself convey feminine or masculine signals for arousal, do you know?
    I’m not sure how I would fare with Salome. But, as with most things in life, experimentation is part of the fun 😉 Thanks for another wonderful review!

    • As soon as I’m back before a computer, I’ll reply properly, but I just wanted to say quickly how sorry I am for your work contretemps. I had hoped the “NSFW” (Not Safe For Work) in the header would give people adequate warning, but I kept worry about those unfamiliar with the acronym. I considered writing out NSFW in full, but didn’t think it would fit with the way WP often cuts off long titles in email notifications. Regardless, I’m so sorry you opened it at work!

      I’ll reply to the rest tomorrow, but I’m so glad you wore Femme at age 7! And your husband’s comment about Hard Leather almost made me snort up my dinner. Hilarious! I’ll reply to the rest tomorrow, but thank you (or him, rather) for the laugh.

      • No apology needed, it was a much needed jolt of hilarity in an otherwise dry day ;).
        I wasn’t sure if the husband’s comment would pass moderation, but had to share. The association once made can’t be unmade, and it has tainted (pun intended) HL for me permanently!

    • I love the sound of your mother, buying you vintage Femme at such a young age. It sounds like you and I were extremely similar growing up, and if you’re ever bored, you can look up a post I wrote on my Scented Memories and perfume journey. Alas for me, my parents chose things I hated as my initial fragrances because, like you, I definitely knew what I liked and didn’t like back then.

      I’ve been thinking about your experience with the various animalic fragrances you mentioned. I think that cumin must be the culprit in the case of MFK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir, because it definitely can skew towards “unwashed” bodies in large amounts and/or on certain skins. To the extent that your nose interprets unwashed, fetid, armpit odor as a male thing, that would explain the gender association in your mind. For what it’s worth, post-1989 Femme’s reformulation involved the addition of cumin, but it’s hardly in APLS quantities, imo. So, cumin may possibly be a tricky note on your skin chemistry.

      Then again, it could just be APLS itself and/or its overall combination of notes. We all have some fragrance that goes wonky on us while everyone else raves about it. For example, on me, cumin generally works wonderfully but the much-revered Rubj by Vero Profumo turned into… stinky, stinky feet and jock-strap odors. I seem to be one of 3 people in the world who got such a hideous bouquet but everyone else loves it. Sometimes, it’s simply the overall combination and one’s individual chemistry.

      The situation with Maai on you is harder to pinpoint. It could be that your skin turns it extremely bombastic, or it could be a sample thing. Was the “punch in the face with a dirty glove” more of a urinous punch, a musky one, or a leathery one? Perhaps we can narrow down the cause that way, so you know for the future which animalics can turn funky on you in large quantities.

      By the way, out of curiosity, did you apply Maai (or even APLS) in the summer? And do you live in a place where the summers are very hot? Where I live, the summer heat is hellishly intense but I generally wear what I want, when I want, without regard to the seasonality theory for perfume genres. Unfortunately, I learnt the hard way that some animalic fragrances (particularly those containing honey) are best avoided in blistering heat or applied in very small quantities (as opposed to my usual “spray a ton” style for my personal usage). You have no idea how shrill, shrieking, and nasty/sour APLS and Serge Lutens’ MKK turned on me in the height of the summer heat. The humidity and temperatures brought out some really unpleasant aspects to the animalics, even in low doses actually, so I stick to wearing them in cooler weather. In your case, if you tried Maai in really hot weather, maybe that is an additional explanation for why it turned so bombastic and loud as to be unpleasant? Again, it could be that Maai simply doesn’t work on you — period — and we all have fragrances like that, but it might be nice to know why for the future. 🙂

      BTW, have you tried Rubj or Histoires de Parfums 1740 (Marquis de Sade) and, if so, how were they on you? Also, what about Peety in terms of knowing how honey works on you?

      • Dear Kafka,

        Thanks so much for your detailed reply. I really appreciate your help in identifying some of the notes that may be problematic for me. Cumin is an interesting suggestion. I have some post ’89 Femme too which is fine on me, though not as good as the vintage. I think that it may be a note I’m okay with to a point, but which bothers me in larger doses. I didn’t love the intense cumin note in Nuwa – which was probably a good thing for my wallet! I don’t find it skews towards sweat on my skin though, just an intense bitterness that I don’t particularly like. I’m not sure whether it was the cumin in APLS, or some other note (or combination thereof), but it definitely veered towards groin sweat and unwashed undergarments on me. The opening few minutes were lovely though, before it turns quite funky.
        As for Maai, I’m really not sure what I’m reacting to in my sample. I even find it difficult to describe the notes I’m smelling in it. I pulled out my sample again yesterday to try it again with a more evaluative eye, but I struggled to identify much concretely; that’s probably a sign of how skillfully its blended, but I get the overall symphony, not the individual parts. I first tried it in the spring, so warm temperatures, but not crazy heat, and yesterday was cool, so I don’t think that’s the whole issue. I’m not even sure if it’s the animatics that I’m struggling with. I get zero urine, and zero leather (excluding a general plushness that I’m attributing to the animatics here). As for the musk… I’m not sure. There’s a definite muskiness on my skin, but I don’t find it offensive. The two strongest elements on me are rose, and something that I’m struggling to identify, but that I associate with hippie shops from the early 80s. Is there any amber or patchouli in this one by any chance? It could be the musk, but I get the sense that the musk is just amplifying something else that I’m not keen on. I really struggle with rose in perfumes, so perhaps it’s just this in combo. There’s a dirtiness to my sample of Maai, yes, but what I struggle with most is the heavy, overwhelming rose-something that hits me full in the face every time I try this. Again, it might just be my sample, as no one else seems to have found this a rose-bomb, but there you go. I also get no green whatsoever, and I usually love green scents. I could just be weird 😉
        I haven’t tried HdP MDS, or Rubj, but Mito is wonderful on me. Peety is another I’ve not tried, but I have Tabac Rouge, which has lots of honey, and it’s glorious on me. Honey is usually a safe note on my skin.
        Your scented memories are wonderful, btw :)). I also have an intense dislike of Rive Gauche, which, sadly, was a favourite of my paternal grandmother. I’ve never been able to get along with it!
        Thanks again for your insights, and I’m going to keep working at figuring this out!
        Loving your Italy series 🙂

    • Timmy boy send a tiny sample to this poor body over here will ya once you get your bottle. Can’t really afford another blind buy, although I know I’ll be chomping at my arm to stop pushing that button

    • You’ll have to let me know what you think when you try it, Tim. 🙂 I don’t think you’ll find it to be very hardcore at all, just something very wearable with a moderate edge. The drydown is fantastic!

      • will do. tis inneresting that you’ve always regarded maai as so skanky/animalic. i see it as a well-behaved robust chypre with tuberose i can wear most anywhere….. (maybe i HAVE moved too far to the dark side 😀 )

        • LOL,Tim I think I’ve joined you long ago in the darkest depths. I have the same view on MAAI. I don’t find it particularly skanky at all, the drydown is just a rich, golden aura of warmth and comfort. Chewy, sticky amber like but soft at the same time. And by the way, I think Avril is going to send me a sample of Salome soon, praise be to heavens! Can’t wait!

          • The drydown is like that on me, too, but not the opening and first few hours. Not on my skin.

  10. I very much appreciate your response. It made me smile because I think you’re probably completely 100% thoroughly right. 🙂 I really do love my flowers best of all!

  11. Oh yes! Now, I do own all the fragrances you mention with the exception of MAAI (tried again a while ago and became a skin scent at the 2nd hour :-() and I’m with you on the blind buy. It’s tempting! As for Jubilation, is the new formulation so bad? I’ve tried the original, but I’m scared to buy it since I’m sure I’ll get the reformulated magnetic cap version. I love the older one, and I’m kicking myself for not buying it when I could. Same with Fate though I don’t think it’s been reformulated yet. But I think I’ll bite the bullet with Salome. In case it feels light on me I can always add a bit of La Nuit (YOU MUST TRY) or Musc Tonkin!! 😉

    • I’ve heard some unfortunate things about how Jubilation 25 has been watered down and weakened. Sadly, just a few weeks before I left for Italy, I read a comment somewhere saying that Fate has also been reformulated by now. It was the first time I’d seen that claim and I don’t know how true it is, but I was surprised because it usually takes a 2-3 years before reformulation is done on a scent and Fate is still relatively new(ish). Then again, it was 2013 and we’re now slowly drawing to the end of 2015, so….? Who knows. It was only one person’s claim, and I haven’t seen it repeated elsewhere, but Fate will undoubtedly be changed at some point, alas. It’s simply the way the industry works.

      As for Salome, I do think you’ll find it to be lighter in weight and body than something like Maai. Speaking of which, it turns into a skin scent on you after 2 hours???! Oh nooooooooooooooooos!! I wonder if some of that is due to the musk anosmia that AbdesSalaam mentioned for animalic/dirty musks, or if it is simply a very unfortunate skin chemistry issue? Either way, I’m such a shame.

  12. WOW! What a fabulous review. So detailed and informative, it was like an X-rated Research Paper! 🙂 I need to try Salome to see how it smells on me! thanks 🙂

    • Welcome to the blog, Patsi. Thank you for the kind words on the review, and I hope you enjoy Salome on your skin. 🙂

  13. Curious, you know me Kafka. I love florals and somewhat foody and even freshies. But….every now and then I get a wild hair up my arse and want Bal a Versailles, MAAI or Hard Leather (which isn’t fecal on me and even my 8 year old says smells good). I am after all the progeny of a Youth Dew, Opium loving mother and the right amount of skank oddly enough takes me back to childhood, seeing her get ready for a big night out with Dad. I will at least grab a sample of Salome.

    • You do have a wild streak in your perfume choices from time to time, Vicki. It always makes me smile how you love Hard Leather, for example. lol. I hope you enjoy Salome when you get to try it. 🙂

  14. NSFW indeed. I was in bed reading this, thank goodness. Of course I want to try this one, though I’m not sure it’s my particular cup of tea. Doesn’t matter, though. Awesome photos. Fantastic review.

  15. This sounds utterly fascinating, but, much as I like clove, it might be too- agressive? sexual?- not sure, but maybe too much- at least while I live with my father. 🙂

    Also, I’m very glad I checked this at home, and not at work! Marvelous review as always!

  16. I was waiting for your review – was tremendously curious about your opinion. With Salome it became clear to me that I’m not a real lover of animalic notes – and while I very much appreciate the quality and story of Salome I couldn’t wear it. Liz Moores has such a feeling for scents, she’s a parfum artist and one of my favorite noses out there. Her Anubis remains my favorite, followed by Angelique and Tobacco Rose. Salome is in my heart – but not on my skin.

    • Mi’Lady, so good to see you. I don’t think animalics are really your heart passion, either. Honestly, I couldn’t see you wearing Salome. Anubis, yes, but Salome doesn’t seem very you.

  17. Great review! My husband walked in and asked what the heck I was reading. When I told him it was a perfume blog he sighed and said “well, at least the pictures are better than usual.” 🙂
    I haven’t tried a Papillon yet that I didn’t like and My skank-meter doesn’t work properly so sounds like a winner to me. If I hadn’t promised no blind buys unless at a huge discount I would grab myself a bottle for my birthday. I’ll certainly snag a sample ASAP.

    • Dearest Kafka,

      I am swooning, about to faint and overcome by your description of Salome… I think I need to order this seductive juice as soon as it lands on these shores….

      Sunny

      • Sunny von B! So happy to see you here, my dear. I would love to smell Salome on you, especially as your skin does some marvels with animalics. Keep an eye out on Luckyscents email notices, and you’ll know when Salome arrives in the U.S.

    • Heh, sighing husbands when faced with more perfume stuff. 😉 The legendary Helmut Newton deserves the credit for much of the “better than usual” photos, but I’m glad your husband approved. Helmut Newton isn’t for everyone. Much like Salome, actually. lol. As for perfume, I look forward to hearing what you think of it once you get the chance to try it.

  18. Goodness! This review should have come with its own cigarette. I am very curious about this scent now. I don’t think I’ve anything remotely like this in my collection. I’ll be on the lookout for a sample of this via LuckyScent or some other retailer.

  19. I’ve been avoiding reading this review since it came out because I knew ~exactly~ where it would lead….. you are such an evocative temptress, my dear Kafka. Off I go to seek out my own bottle of animalic magic, mmm. Gratitude, as always, for your incredibly detailed and analytical, yet passionate, scent reviews.

    • Lead where exactly, my dear? A full bottle? 😛 I do think you’d enjoy this one, Cacomixtle, so I hope you order a sample at least and let me know what you think.

      • A full bottle is indeed where it led. I’m absolutely in love with this fragrance, and it’s the first fb I’ve purchased in many many months. Animalic chypres with orange blossom might be my true downfall…. it’s funny that I often wear big florientals when I’m out among other humans, especially those involving incense and tuberose, but when I’m by myself and am wearing perfume just for me it’s almost always something in the animalic chypre vein.

        Your detailed description and chosen illustrations are perfect for the scent too, and so accurately evoke the feel, depth, and complexity of Salome. Thank you again, reading your blog is very akin to losing myself in a favorite novel. And if you ever decide to write a novel, I will be the very first person in line to buy it!

        • I knew you’d love it, Cacomixtle! It had your name written all over it. Hurrah for a new perfume love! PS — did you sample it first, or order a full bottle blindly?

          • Oh, in this case, totally blind 😀 – I know I can trust your descriptions and taste with these sorts of things based on past experience.

            I do want to sample all of her other fragrances though, as I haven’t yet, and am especially curious about Anubis.

  20. Hi everyone – what a fantastic review and living in the UK it was easy for me to send off for the sample pack. Unfortunately Salome on my skin was not good! :(( Don’t blind buy this one…..there is no Jasmine no Clove no Carnation or Rose instead it is just CUMIN and more CUMIN!! Unlike MKK which has many faces and nuances this one is more or less a flat line of the above. Anubis is much better altho it is fairly linear on me and is more or less Benzoin with a few added bits but my favourite is Tobacco Rose – now that one is glorious on me. As an aromatherapist I can easily pick out the essential oils used in most perfumes and this house uses a lot – not many synthetics altho I did detect some synthetic rose in TR. Uncle Serge for me is the Master Perfumer and he did MKK beautifully – its not for me but I can appreciate the complexity and skill in that one and to be honest he’s pretty much done it all. Anyone coming on after is going to have a helluva job making an impression or making anything groundbreaking unless the palate of ingredients changes or expands. I sense that the heady days of the early part of the 20th century will not be repeated in our lifetimes and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to inhale the original Opium the original Miss Dior and the original Mitsouko……now they were indeed fine fragrances!

  21. For those not on the mailing list: Salome is now available at lucky scent. Archived under ‘vintage and erotic’. Evoking Charlotte Rampling’s legs?!?!? I’m in for a sample for sure.

  22. Am just trying my sample this morning. The first 10 minutes immediately reminded me of DSH’s Le Smoking–Salome has since diverged. So funny that the comment above describes nothing but cumin–I’m detecting a preponderance of carnation and birch. Will have to do a wrist by wrist comparison w the DSH soon!

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  24. Kafka,
    My bottle of Salome arrived this afternoon. The moment I got home from the Studio I dove right in and sprayed my arm. WOW! Immediate intense slap of skanky animatics! Shortly thereafter rich oriental incense, and saturated flowers revealed themselves followed by the most divinely sensual/sexual smell of fresh perspiration .
    This is the most sublime and sexually driven perfume I have come across in years.
    Thank you for writing such a great review. Spot on!

    Sunny

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  26. Kafka, please help me. I tried a sample of Salome and I didn’t find it particularly “filthy” at all. What has driven me crazy is trying to identify what else smells like this, because I swear I’ve smelled something very much like this. I don’t have Femme, which you mentioned, but I do have Maii (which actually I like a lot) and although I think they have qualities in common, that is not what I’m smelling. Someone on FFF mentioned Joy, which I don’t have either to compare. Years ago I wore Femme, so maybe? Now I have to get a sample of Femme and see. Any thoughts?

    • I personally think it’s far closer to Femme (both vintage and vintage-but-post-1989 cumin Femme) than to Joy. My memory of vintage Joy was a floral with an opening aldehydic bouquet and then some moderate-to-minor civet. It wasn’t a chypre, didn’t have cumin or a strong oriental spice blend, and wasn’t quite so musky as Femme. Have you tried other semi-skanky chypres like Amouage’s Jubilation 25? Perhaps that’s what you’re thinking of? I think that’s a closer fit than Joy. Or, at a stretch, perhaps you tried Hiram Green’s Shangri-La and that skewed skanky on you with its castoreum?

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  28. Dear Kafkaesque:

    Hello from Los Angeles! I have been reading your blog frequently for quite some time now but it’s the first time I write a comment. First off, let me congratulate you for an amazing blog, and to thank you for such thorough, on-point yet poetic reviews. They make my day! Please keep up the amazing work 🙂

    I just found out about Salome’s existence, and your review has made me seriously consider a blind-buy. I own and ADORE Montecristo. I also own MKK and while I like it, I wish it had a slightly stronger punch. I have tried APLS but the honey aspect didn’t really convince me. I have also tried 1740 but, while I liked it, I felt it lacked in depth (it’s probably due to that ominous reformulation people talk about). I also own and very much like (but don’t wear too often) Bal a Versailles. As you can imagine by know, I love me some skank, setting the limit at something like Boadicea the Victorious (which I thought to be too much).

    I am also a fan of the classic orientals (Coco Chanel was my signature perfume for quite a while), and there are some florals that I love (I think Malle’s Carnal Flower and Une fleur de Cassie are magnificent compositions, and I proudly own a bottle of each).

    So, do you think Salome would fit like a glove with my olfactory profile? Because it sure as hell sounds like it 😛

    • Welcome to the blog, Mr. Pardo, and thank you for your kind words on the reviews. With regard to Salome, if MKK was too mild for you, then I don’t think Salome would hit the spot for you in terms of extremely and powerfully skanky fragrances. I think Salome is more sensuously erotic than purely raunchy. It is tamer than Montecristo, in my opinion, because it’s far less overt in its urinous qualities. Salome’s sensuality skews more to the spicy side, and it’s significantly more classical in feel. That said, given what you’ve mentioned about your perfume tastes, I think you would thoroughly enjoy Salome, even if it’s not as hardcore as Montecristo.

      For something more intense or perhaps more overtly raunchy/skanky, I would strongly recommend trying Bogue’s MAAI. That’s an outstanding fragrance that was my choice in 2014 for the best new release, and it’s another chypre-oriental mix but far more overtly skanky, urinous, and animalic. Like Salome, it has civet, hyraceum (Africa Stone), castoreum, musky spices, and dirty muskiness, but their degrees are greater or more intense than they are in either Salome or Montecristo. Definitely try Salome, but add MAAI to your sample list as well. Then you can decide between them, though I suspect you may enjoy them both for different reasons.

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  32. I am such a newbie. Your blog is the best thing I had encountered in the perfume world. Love love love your reviews! <3

    My role model is Lou Andreas-salome (a Russian woman who broke Nietzsche's heart and caused many suicides, not the biblical one). The name alone make me want to buy. I have a baby face and the voice of a little girl. I know that this perfume can make a great contrast to my features.

    The only problem here is the weather. We experience 28~35°C weather all year round. Sometimes, it's even over 40°. I really want to know if Salome is hot weather appropriate or not. Also, I am such a perfume newbie and never experienced animalic perfumes. Is it ok if Salome is one of my very first perfume experiences?

    • Welcome to the blog, Zero, and thank you for your kind words on the reviews. With regard to Salome, no, I would absolutely NOT recommend it as a first perfume experience if you’re not accustomed to animalics in perfumery. This is the sort of fragrance that even those who have worn perfume for a long time have problems with if they don’t know and absolutely LOVE old-style, vintage skank and “dirtiness.” It’s also a scent that will become even skankier or “dirtier” in extreme heat. I really fear that starting your perfume journey with a fragrance like this will put you off niche perfumery entirely.

      • Hehehe… I love dirty! Not exactly the ‘crotch’ kind, but I love the smell of sweaty bodies and a little bit unwashed scalp from a nice smelling person. I used to mix up my fruity body mist with olive oil to make the smell a bit dirtier when the heat is up. (I used it as a body oil.) My mom thinks I am too young to wear perfumes. But if I wear, I would wear Salome. 🙂

      • Any cheap options to try before Salome?
        Salome is already very expensive to me but I think that’s the only perfume worth spending money in the expensive category.
        (My allowance is not permitting me to buy niche perfumes. )

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