It’s not often that I come across clear evidence of fragrance dilution and reformulation within so short a period of time as a mere two years, but it happened this week. Two bottles of Parfum MDCI‘s Chypre Palatin, purchased roughly two years apart, are unquestionably different in both their visuals and their scent.
One of the best fragrances that I’ve tried this year is Siberian Musk by Areej Le Doré, which is the fragrance arm of Feel Oud‘s Russian Adam. A kaleidoscopic scent, it starts as a head-turning chypre with such a lavish greenness of spirit that it evoked not only fragrances like Chypre Palatin but, more importantly, vintage days long since lost. From there, it slowly transitions into a floral oriental with a strong kinship to the glorious vintage Bal à Versailles, a fruity floral vetiver, a smoky woody-oud oriental, and a sexy, cozy, inviting amber-musk that’s flecked by honeyed floral sweetness.
A central vein of deer musk runs throughout it all. While it varies in its animalics and intensity, it never rises to the level of some of the more famous (or infamous) animalic fragrances, like MAAI, Montecristo, or Muscs Koublai Khan on my skin. Some of the time, it simply evokes an expensive fur coat infused with vintage perfume, musky velvet, or even heated, musky, suede-like skin. But all of the time, it adds a very sensual and sexy touch to a glamorous, opulent, and sophisticated fragrance.
Superstitious is the latest fragrance from Frédéric Malle, created in conjunction with the great couturier, Alber Elbaz. Monsieur Elbaz is perhaps best known for his stunning work at Lanvin in the 2000s, but what is less well-known is that he had his start when Yves Saint-Laurent‘s partner, Pierre Bergé, handpicked him in the late 1990s to take the helm of that august fashion house where he successfully carried on the Maestro’s style, albeit with his own twist.
At first glance, this might seem to be nothing more than an irrelevant factoid or bit of biographical background, meaningful only to those of us, like myself, who continue to worship Monsieur Saint Laurent (a god, a total fashion god!) because, let’s face it, there is usually no olfactory connection between a couture house’s design style and how their perfumes actually smell.
Superstitious, however, is a rare exception. You could have knocked me over with a spoon when I tried it because the early hours of the scent reflect not only Monsieur Elbaz’s sleek, bold, streamlined, seamless, and incredibly sophisticated personal design aesthetic but also, and above all else, the Yves Saint Laurent olfactory signature as exemplified by its early floral-aldehydic fragrances like (vintage) Rive Gauche and Y. Superstitious was intentionally created to be both vintage and modern in feel, but where it stands out for me is in its early hours when it is a perfect rendition of the grand old style of the YSL classics. I’m unenthused by the fragrance’s second chapter when the Ropion olfactory signature kicks in and Superstitious dissolves into something wholly modern, structureless, and excessively clean, but those early hours were the boldest that I’ve seen from a Malle fragrance in a long, long time.
I press soft flesh to bark in the evening’s gold dusk,
to breathe heavy hues of a Satyr’s musk.
My body is swelling with the oak’s root and seed
Our veins and our vines weave together with ease,
And as your chatter dispels at the shake of our leaves,
You set your ear to our chest, to hear the whisper of trees. [….]
Beneath the dark of your eyelids, our damp forest floor rises.
The lilac of lavender soothes dwindling sight.
The essence of our body’s sap stained perfume
Soars above oak beams, drenched in silk, silver light.
I press the soft suede of an apricots sheath to your lips.
The sweetness jars with narcissus’ bitter.
Head tilted, enchanted, you breathe your first breath, with the timber of touch I lead you, bereft
of sight and of sound, but with gilt dew on your skin
each of your pursed pores unravels, and the forest seeps in.
I watch moist emerald moss survive in the sun,
I catch burnished, bronze leaves that fall from each stem.
While dwelled in the canopy, I skim saplings in starlight,
And dust gilded galbanum through the dim of the glen.
From autumn to summer, from winter to spring
The branches and bow are open.
The changing of seasons ticks with the sun.
Each colour prints petal marks to rest at your chest; it is dappled with wolf’s blood and the slick of deer’s tongue.
Roses creep at my ankles, bergamot blooms
Clary sage clouds you with billowing fumes,
and here in my tree I watch you awaken; I do not hide behind trunk or stem.
So dance with the Dryad’s, sip all you have taken
Fall blind, deaf and drunk in the pearl of the glen.