Sunday, August 19, 2012
Histoires de Parfums' 1740 Marquis de Sade: Dulling the Whip
As excited as I was to smell one of the latest Histoires fragrances, Editions Rare Petroleum, recent sniffs from the rest of the line's testers were a serious disappointment. I like most of the fragrances, but I liked none more than 1740. Discovering that many of them seemed to have been ever so slightly tweaked was shock enough, given such a relatively young brand. Changes in 1740 have left it, for me, a ghost of its former self, and I feel that absence the most acutely and personally.
As with most subtle tweaking, the smallest alteration can wrought a most profound transformation, and while 1740 is there in basic structure it feels gutted somehow. I doubt anyone associated with the line will confirm this, no more than anyone at Lauder would fess up to the renovation of Private Collection, but I detected the difference instantly and was heartsick about it.
I have an older bottle, and sprayed some on this morning. I went out for a walk through the state forest, up hills, down around creeks, past a massive hornet's nest dangling by a thin vine from a tree branch. I perspired from the heat and exertion but the scent stayed with me, and even now I can smell it wafting up from my skin, creating some future narrative of memory around the experience of the woods. I don't know of any other scent that endures with the potency of 1740.
For me, aside from Tauer's Lonestar Memories and Vero Kern's Onda, no other fragrance I own has built up a wider series of stories over time, intertwining with my own day to day life. As with Lonestar Memories, which conjures back trips to LA and Massachusetts and the momentous things I went through while at those places, 1740 reads like a roadmap of my recent past, detailing all the emotional peaks and valleys. The latest version of the fragrance barely made it out of the store and down the street on my skin with anything resembling its previous tenacity. It's hard to imagine it surviving past the first serious incline in the forest.
The notes list davana sensualis, patchouli, coriander, cardamom, cedar, elemi, labdanum, and leather. What I've always smelled is something sitting between the honeyed savory of immortelle, tobacco, and tawny port, a fantastically sensual arrangement of notes which on their own would be too much to stomach but in this particular combination take me right to the point of excess and hover there. This latest version airs everything out to something approaching sheer. The basic qualities are still present but they feel shrill and excessive without the heart of the fragrance there to cohere them. Once rather rich, the perfume now feels merely loud, and only for a short time.
1740 is - was - one of my favorite fragrances. It's a day long event and I've reserved it for times I know I'll be able to stick with it and remain in a reflective frame of mind. I'll be hoarding it even more selectively now, and it frustrates me that I'll never be sure which version people are talking about.