Les Liquides Imaginaires Peau de Bete: Sex & The Beast

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, "Girl gone wild." Source: kontraplan.com

Photo: Mert & Marcus from their video for Madonna, “Girl gone wild.” Source: kontraplan.com

Sex, heated skin, animalic musk, wild horses sweaty after their ride through forests, sweaty balls, and even S&M leather — they’re all things that come to mind with the very evocative and aptly named Peau de Bete (or “Skin of the Beast”) from Les Liquides Imaginaires. An immensely animalic fragrance, it is bold in aroma, but skin-like in both its feel and soft reach. Above all else, though, its animalic muskiness is redolent of human sexuality.

While other fragrances have trodden this path before, most recently Papillon‘s fantastic Salome, few of them have done so with quite as much singularity as Peau de Bete. It strips everything away but its sexualized animalics; there are no extraneous elements like chyprish bergamot top accords or middle-layer florals to adulterate the purity of vision. It’s as though the composition were merely one, single (albeit multi-faceted) base accord. Depending on your tastes and on your experience levels with raunchy, sexual, and dirty animalic musk fragrances, that’s either a good thing or something that will make you scrub right away. I happened to think Peau de Bete was damn sexy, but it is certainly not a scent for everyone.

Peau de Bete. Source: beautik.ro

Peau de Bete. Source: beautik.ro

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AbdesSalaam Attar: Alchemy, Spirituality, Love & Memory

Artwork by Lisa Dietrich (part of her Spirit Art collection): www.lisadietrich.com

Artwork by Lisa Dietrich (part of her Spirit Art collection): www.lisadietrich.com

The love of perfumes springs from a quality of the soul, from a memory or from a premonition of paradise.

Those beautiful words come from AbdesSalaam Attar who generously gave up a lot of his time over the last few weeks to answer a lengthy interview. His answers are filled with poetic grace, thoughtfulness, and honesty on such varied subjects as his perfume background, alchemy and spirituality, animal pheromones and human olfactory instinct, the economic challenges of making fragrances, the myths of modern marketing which dominate the mainstream perfume industry, olfactory psychology, the role played by our mind in translating scent, and whether we can ever really know what we smell at all.

 AbdesSalaam Attar or Dominique Dubrana via the NYT. Photo by Domingo Milella.

AbdesSalaam Attar or Dominique Dubrana via the NYT. Photo by Domingo Milella.

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, AbdesSalaam Attar is an Italian perfumer (born “Dominique Dubrana“) who became a Sufi convert. His all-natural creations for his Italian house of La Via del Profumo are some of Luca Turin‘s favorites, several of which have received Five Star reviews. His last scent, Venezia Gardini Segreti (which I’ve reviewed here) was included on Luca Turin’s list of the Best Releases of 2014 on his column for Style Arabia. And The New York Times calls AbdesSalaam “a genius of sorts,” “a Saracen Willy Wonka.”

Yet, to me, and in my mind, he is above all else, first and foremost, a gentleman — and I mean that in every sense of that word. He is a very gentle, extremely courteous man, one whose vast knowledge is imbued with an old-world, Eastern mysticism and spirituality, as well as enormous humility and modesty. His words may seem simple on the surface, but they are usually laced with layers of meaning that often make me think deeply long after I’ve read them. Perhaps it’s because of his philosophical nature, or perhaps it’s AbdesSalaam’s very unique world view that stems from his travels far and wide. Whatever it is, there is a thoughtful quality to both the man and his creations that always shines through. Regardless of whether a particular fragrance works for me or not, they are always distinctive and unique, always seem to convey either emotion or a sense of a place, and always beautifully crafted.

Oud Caravan perfume. Photo and source: La Via del Profumo

Oud Caravan perfume. Photo and source: La Via del Profumo

My main goal in this interview was to show you the AbdesSalaam Attar that I’ve gotten to know in email correspondence, but also to have him share his knowledge and to teach us. However, I started with very similar questions to what I asked Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes and Liz Moores of Papillon in their interviews, focusing on the process of learning notes, handling raw materials, and creating fragrances. The reason for the deliberate overlap is that many of the perfumers in my interview series are self-taught, so I think seeing differences in how they answer the same or similar questions will be revealing. Other questions, however, are very different, such as AbdesSalaam’s views on the Myths and Marketing of Modern Perfumery, or how our mind filters information to interpret a perfume. I hope you will find his answers as fascinating, as poetic, and as beautiful as I do.

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Bogue Profumo Maai: Valkyrie Chypres & Vintage Animalism

"Panther Rider" by Jee-Hyung Lee. Source: blog.naver.com/leejeeh84

“Panther Rider” by Jee-Hyung Lee. Source: blog.naver.com/leejeeh84

A chypre Valkyrie called Maai descends from vintage Valhalla, riding a growling black panther called Hyrax down a thick spiral of smoky black resins into the drab modern world, infusing it with oakmoss from times gone by. Roses and jasmine are intertwined in her hair, their scent mingling with the fierce musk of the castoreum leather armour that shields her. As Maai sings Valhalla’s anthem about vintage chypres, oakmoss blooms around her like a force-field, growing more and more powerful, touching everything in her path. The cloud of green is stained with black from smoky styrax and leather, and with yellow from a urinous stream of civet left in the panther’s wake. It is so powerful that it blows the flowers from her hair, creating a vortex of jasmine and rose deep within the green. As she approaches Earth, Maai’s cloud sweeps up soft, earthy vegetation and humus from the ground below her, unearthing a deep core of labdanum amber whose warmth softens her warrior cries. Her panther roars along with her, baring his teeth in a feral song and raising his leg to mark his territory with a steady stream of animalic skank. Yet, in the end, both are tamed by the Earth’s golden heart, which coats their bodies, defuses their power, and transforms the feral panther into a labdanum steed with only a hint of musky leather. This is the tale of Maai, a Valkyrie from a bygone age, and her return to Earth.

Source: cn.forwallpaper.com

Source: cn.forwallpaper.com

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O’Driù Peety: Honeyed Tobacco & Animalics

Bespoke perfumery, your own urine, bears and honey, and tobacco sweetness. Those are some of the elements at the heart of Peety, a fragrance that I’d argue is actually much less edgy, revolutionary, or weird than you’d think. I think it is a very rich, rather classical fragrance that plays with French animalic traditions in a swirl of honeyed tobacco that can be quite addictive.

Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O'Driu. Source: Basenotes

Angelo Orazio Pregoni of O’Driu. Source: Basenotes

Peety is a fragrance released in 2013 by O’Driù (henceforth spelled simply as “O’Driu” without the accent). It is a small Italian niche company founded in 2010 as part of a project by the Pleasure Factory, a specialty communications company. All of O’Driu creations are made by Angelo Orazio Pregoni, and several involve a “su misura” approach, or a “sur mesure,” bespoke touch. In the case of Peety (which was originally called “Secration“), the result is extremely clever and creative marketing which has certainly increased the company’s profile.

Peety via Fragrantica

Peety via Fragrantica

You see, you’re supposed to “personalize” Peety with your own urine. The 50 ml bottle comes with 49 ml of fragrance, and you’re supposed to fill the rest with your own … er… liquid. No, I am not joking, and, no, I myself have not tried it. (Nor am I planning to, by the way. This is one area where my normally limitless curiosity comes to an abrupt, withering halt. So, obviously, this review of Peety is for the unadorned, more universal version.) However, others have “personalized” their Peety, and a few claim that, yes, their urine actually does make a difference in making the fragrance bloom. A small difference, but a difference nonetheless. I’ll take their word for it, because I like Peety a lot just as it is. Continue reading