Thierry Mugler • Le Parfum - Perfume the movie Coffret • Fragrances
|Would buy this product again.||100%|
Age: 36-43 Skin: Combination Hair: Black Eyes: Black
My friend John Marangos, Thierry Mugler's PR director for Asia Pacific, was so generous and respectful of my obsession for both the book and the movie that he gave me his own coffret since it was sold out the world over. Here is all the info in as condensed a form as possible, plus my own humble impressions of this great work of art.
The inspiration: The sweet-sour, milky scent of freshly cleaned baby skin, which the protagonist Grenouille is born without.
The interpretation: 25 ingredients were sourced from a female flavorist who creates flavor notes for the food industry, including the aromas of heavy whipped cream, Iles Flottantes (a French dessert made from meringue and fine custard), crème fraiche, warm milk topped with brown sugar, and Pyrazine, a note reminiscent of baked goods fresh from the oven and fresh butter, which provides Baby its yummy kick.
My impression: Instant love. Despite the plethora of gourmand notes, they are so subtle they smell like the top of an infant's head, or the nape with its almondy sour-milk smell. This is more an atmosphere than a wearable fragrance. On pulse points it is gone within an hour. Mugler should make this an actual EDT... it blows every other "petit" fragrance out of the water.
2) PARIS 1738
The inspiration: The stench of Paris in Grenouille’s time, in the days before bathing and sanitation became fashionable.
The interpretation: Blackcurrant, which can smell like either fruit or urine depending on its use, cassis, and absolute of seaweed were used to evoke the book’s “thousands upon thousands of odors” that formed an “invisible gruel that filled the street ravines.”
My impression: Literally a "breathtaking" scent, like tar that has been baking for millennia and has absorbed every kind of sewage imaginable. Very dense -- so much so that its molecules are tenacious and hang inside your nostrils for hours. You'll thank your lucky stars you weren't born in the middle ages.
3) ATELIER GRIMAL
The inspiration: The smell of the tannery young Grenouille works in.
The interpretation: “What’s really interesting about this is that the smell of leather actually came from Egyptian mimosa,” John observes, combined with red fruits and a pumpkin potage.
My impression: Like elegant leather gloves that have been used to apply hair dye, then are worn by someone who grabs you by the throat. Completely evocative.
4) VIRGIN NO. 1
The inspiration: A 13-year-old girl sitting at a table cleaning yellow plums, whose scent draws Grenouille all the way from the opposite riverbank. “He was like a human computer of smells, but the smell of the virgin totally eclipsed all other smells for him,” Marangos says.
The interpretation: The pure innocence of fresh milk, white rice, yellow plums, and the most crucial note: “There’s a technology in perfume called headspace, whereby they can recreate any smell possible,” expains John. “IFF actually took the smell from around a virgin’s navel — her parents were there — and recreated it in conjunction with the smell of her hair. So this actually does have the smell of true virginity in it.”
My impression: Pure beauty, just as the book describes. The plums are overripe, almost on the cusp of rotting. Blended with a very creamy milk note, it becomes overwhelming on the skin, almost nauseatingly sweet mixed with the virgin's musk. But any man who inhales this fragrance is instantly enslaved. If Mugler bottled this it would make history (not to mention a fortune).
5) BOUTIQUE BALDINI
The inspiration: The perfumer Baldini, who takes Grenouille in as an apprentice, stocks hundreds of ingredients for perfumes and pomades in his shop that clash in a mishmash of odors.
The interpretation: Sweet liquor notes are blended with balsamic and beeswax, traces of coffee, anise, violet water, vinegar, yellow daffodils, and angelica seeds. “What they wanted to capture was the whole idea of a room that was so suffused with different types of smells, dense with things that we wouldn’t necessarily wear today. By today’s standards, those scents would have been quite crude, using a lot of natural animal notes that today we don’t use.”
My impression: An olfactory overload that would make ladies swoon. There are nice florals to be found, but buried under an acrid, chemical, apothecary smell. Some women actually find it wearable, though.
6) AMOR & PSYCHE
The inspiration: Baldini tries to recreate a trendy scent from a rival perfumer that everyone was wearing at the time, composed of orange blossom, lime, clove, musk, jasmine, alcohol, and storax.
The interpretation: Lime, which was popular back then, reminds too many people of liquid detergent now, so only modern citruses like bergamot were used, which provides freshness minus the tartness of lime.
My impression: Luminous citrus top notes usher in a well-rounded fresh scent with body and character, thanks to the florals and musk. I expected something crude and bludgeoning, but this is so soft and wearable it could actually be a summer hit.
7) NUIT NAPOLITAINE
The inspiration: Grenouille replicates Amor & Psyche for his master, but considers it a badly made perfume and creates a new blend on top of it to make it better.
The interpretation: The previous blend with the addition of gentian, ginger essence, Italian clementine, garden mint, and the floral Michaela Alba Asian plant.
My impression: I only got a glimpse because John's bottle had spilled in transit. From what I can smell, this is Amor & Psyche made sexier, more modern and lasting. It must be incredible and I'm very sorry I only get a ghost of it now.
(Continued in a separate review)
Age: Unknown Skin: Normal Hair: Brown Eyes: Blue
I got Virgin No.1 today from an awesome Basenotes seller. I am definitely a perfume beginner, so excuse the review... anyway, I ordered Virgin No.1 after reading gorgeous descriptions of it in Suskind's awesome book (a must-read for anyone serious about fragrance!)
It's a very warm fragrance with good staying power, good sillage, and yet it's still subtle. It smells quite sweet, like brandy or another fermented liquor (I believe the note used was plum schnapps.) The scent is very deep and intoxicating--and intoxicating can go both ways, either nauseating or magical.
There is some kind of heavy, creamy, almost butterscotchy note. At first the scent is quite volatile, even overpowering to me (but I like light scents). But the drydown is simply beautiful, really a warmer "clean skin" scent, which was the premise. Everything tones down and sobers up, and the result is a deep, rich, subtle whisper.
All in all, it's a very complex perfume. Maybe not to be worn, but just enjoyed in its bottle as a masterpiece. I think, however, I'm going to wear it a few more days, just to luxuriate in it and see if it grows on me.
It's really better appreciated after reading the description of it in the book (which can be found in Marian Bendeth's review of the scent), or at least understanding how it was created: they used headspace technology to actually analyze the scent in a virgin's navel. Very interesting. I'm still not totally sure, however, that I would like it as much if I didn't know how special and expensive it is. If someone gave it to me and said it was from the drugstore, maybe I wouldn't be so impressed. But then again, I have an untrained nose, and I'm still learning to appreciate the subtleties of great perfume.
If you can afford the coffret or find a way to get the scents on their own, get this one. It's complex, finely crafted, and really intoxicating, whether worn on the skin or cherished in the bottle.
Age: 25-29 Skin: Acne-prone Hair: Brown Eyes: Brown
I went into a local store today to pick up some essential oils and lo and behold, behind the counter was Thierry Mugler's Le Parfum coffret. Since the price is steep ($700) and it's a limited edition, I was sure I would never get my hands on any of these, much less have the opportunity to sniff them. I asked the lady behind the counter if I could sample them - she turned out to be the owner of the store and the coffret (Christmas present to herself), a perfumer/perfume fanatic and was more than happy to share the bottles with me.
I first experienced Paris 1738, the one I was most intrigued by. You have to understand, Paris in 1738 is something I can only read about in books and I must develop a sense of what the streets must have smelled like according to how it is described to me. One sniff from the bottle and I am instantly transported to a time I will never experience firsthand and I am so close to this period in my head that when I open my eyes, it's hard to believe I'm in a small shop in 2007.
Next up was Human Existence. This one is hard to describe other than it made me a bit sad - the troubles and suffering from long ago mixed with blood, sweat and tears combined with the existence each one of us live each day. It was just raw human - good, bad and ugly.
Next in line was Nobelesse, a captivating, almost wearable scent. It was the beauty of nobility bottled with the decay of life, a sweet interpretation of a woman with rich blood and the hatred or jealousy of others.
The last bottle I sniffed was Orgie. I was relieved my fellow perfumaphile offered it up to me as I never would have asked to sniff it myself but the name and premise had all my curiosity. She mentioned that most people blushed when they sample it - I was one of them. It is truly the scent of raw, anonymous, animalistic sex. When I closed my eyes, the scent conjured up scenes almost embarrassing and fantasies never acted on.
After 4 bottles, I could sample no more. They were an overwhelming experience, a journey to faraway places I could have never taken otherwise. Some were a dream come true (I've always wondered what Paris smelled like long ago), some were intriguing, some wearable - they all took me out of myself and transferred me to another place and time or another person altogether.
It should be noted that I have not read the book or seen the movie. I could not match the scents up scene for scene. I can only expand on what I know and experienced them to be. Basenotes has a wonderful full review at http://www.basenotes.net/articles/muglercoffret.html and goes into more detail than I ever could.
The price is $700 and as a limited edition, I would certainly pay for at least two boxes, one to wear and one to save untouched. If only I had the extra $1400 to spend. :-) If you can afford it, $700 is worth the scentual journey. The only negative I had was the box - it looked like a cheaply made box in cheap red velvet. For $700, I'd expect a better presentation. But overall, a small hiccup in a genius work of art.