Friday, 19 November 2010

Histoires de Parfums - 1828 (Jules Verne) and 1725 (Casanova)

I obtained the full sample set of Histoires de Parfumes perfumes about eighteen months ago. This was before the more recent Tuberose additions to their line. The samples are beautifully packaged and labelled and come with a lovely pamphlet explaining all the perfumes, with full lists of the notes. However, for some reason this line has never fully grabbed my attention. For the most part it languishes in the back of my sample drawer. And I don't quite know why, because in truth the line is varied, interesting and different. I think some of it may be my confusion with all the named years and trying to associate them with the famous people, like Jules Verne, Marquis de Sade, Casanova, etc. Two in the line are stunning - Patchouli Noir and Ambre 114. I don't think it is just me though; I seldom come across a review of this overlooked perfume house.

Anyway, I thought I would right matters by reviewing 1828 (Jules Verne) and 1725 (Casanova), two of the masculines in the line.

1828 contains notes of grapefruit, madarin, citrus, eucalyptus, nutmeg, pepper, cedar, vetiver, incense and pine. I must admit that the opening is quite shrill and piercing, but isn't as citrusy as I would have thought. If anything it is the ecualyptus note that dominates, with its slightly campherous and piney note. The top fades quite quickly to be joined by warm and sweet spices. The pepper is mellow, but the nutmeg is very distinctive. I woudl wager a bet that there is a hefty dose of cardamom in here too. There's something about this phase that reminds me very much of Caravelle Epicee by Frapin. It's got that same lovely spicy warmth, almost boozy in a way, that is delicious and compelling. Just cutting this melange of spice is a cedar note and an almost refreshing zing, which I take is the combination of vetiver, pine and incense. The base smells like walking through a cool forest close to the ocean, the canopy heated from above by a seering mediterranean sun. At least, that's how it feels to me! 

1725 is "named after the man whose name would symbolise seduction" and contains bergamot, grapefruit, licorice, lavender, star anise, vanilla, almond, sandalwood, cedar and amber. Right from the outset it is a sweeter, less spicy affair than 1828, but is by no means cloying. The licorice and star anise are clever connected accords through the top and heart, but again, are not cloying, as some people might fear they could be. The lavender is a nice addition here, and is the sort that to my nose highlights its more aromatic and smoky facets, rather than granny's underwear drawer, thankfully. It cuts through the vanilla and almond notes, which I feared would be yuck, quite frankly. However, again they do not overpower or become cloying, and are instead, balanced by the earthier base notes of cedar, amber and sandalwood. The amber and sandalwood are of the drier variety, which work very well with the sweeter gourmand notes of vanilla and almond, meaning that the fragrance never veers into pastry territory. Like 1828, the longer the fragrance wears, the drier it becomes and for some reason smells 'of the earth' to me, very much like nature.

What I really like about Histoires de Parfums is that they cleverly balance opposite notes, a bit like Serge Lutens does in my opinion. I'm not saying their styles are the same; far from it in fact, but they both take quite sweet or strong notes and balance them with herbs or resins.

I must say that I rather like 1828 and 1725. I frankly don't get the whole association with Jules Verne or Casanova, but then, I'm not particularly clever that way and don't care much for all that malarkey in perfume. Although I wouldn't necessarily say either of these is groundbreaking, they are both interesting, very well made perfumes with quality ingredients. Although I'm sure there are plenty of synthetics in here, the accords all smell realistic and organic in a way, which is how I like my perfumes. I don't expect them to be certifiably organic and all natural, blah blah blah, but I like them to smell like they came from nature to an extent, and these very definitely do. Although slightly over the unisex line into masculine, I still highly recommend anyone giving both of these, and indeed the entire line, a try.

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