A tableau of musky, humid Havana painted in dense, opaque oils; an old-fashioned speakeasy where the rum runs wild; the refined drawing rooms of an old, aristocratic London club where the rich leather armchairs are always accompanied by snifters of the best cognac and a fresh pipe; and a testosterone-laden version of China’s osmanthus, given musculature through an emphasis on its leather, smoky black tea, and apricot tang — there is so much more to Tabac Grande than merely the tobacco in its name. It’s a complex attar from Sultan Pasha Attars, and its review today will mark the start of a short series on several new releases from the brand.
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.
So, I guess luxury “Choco-Florals” have now become a thing. This year alone, there have been three luxury-priced Roja Dove chocolate floral orientals ($500+) and a luxury-priced Amouage ($300+) one. And, at first glance, Serge Lutens‘ new Veilleur de Nuit (“The Night Watchman” or “Watcher of the Night”) would appear to be joining their ranks.
The reality feels different, though. To me, Veilleur de Nuit is quietly and only tangentially floral, and the fragrance is primarily an animalic chocolate with leathery, musky, and smoky facets. When wearing it, I never thought of something like a chocolate version of Tubereuse Criminelle. Not even once. I thought of a chocolate twist on Boxeuses instead, albeit only briefly.