Parfum d’Habit: the decadent aristocrat

Every time I think of Parfum d’Habit an image pops to my mind: the Venetian aristocrat dressed in black, wearing a gilded mask, walking the streets of Venice to fulfill the purpose this mask was created for: decadent behaviour outside the bounds of his class. This is the one fragrance in my collection that demands me to dress for the perfume. It smells and feels like an expensive dress coat made of a fabric with weight, texture and nap. It even has its own color, the deep amber red color of the Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier bottles.

This beautiful potion opens with a plush leather note. I have never smelled the most extravagant of all Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier scented accessories, their gloves, but Parfum d’Habit smells like leather gloves. Have you noticed how an old pair of woman’s gloves smells differently on the outside and on the inside? Outside there is the leather with all the animalic and chemical harshness. Inside there is the warmth of the skin infusing the leather with layers of perfume seeping into the material, wearing after wearing. Sleek on the outside, soft and coarse on the inside. The moment the perfume hits the skin you get a very vivid image of opening the box that carries a very expensive pair of gloves. Usually leather in this form doesn’t smell very strongly. It has to be tanned to perfection so the smell is that of a delicate polish. Hand in hand, if one can allow this mixed metaphor, with leather I can feel a deep orris butter note, thick and bitter, as if orris butter was used to cure the leather. Although Iris Bleu Gris is a very different scent analogies start to appear from the opening.

Now that the glove box has opened, the smell of leather starts diluting in the air, allowing other notes to shine through. A woody note that brings to mind a fragrant wooden box, made of cedar, or maybe of the same sandalwood that was used for Santal Noble, dry and splintery. Bergamot, sweet and uplifting. Geranium, green and aromatic. Petitgrain, bitter and elegant.

Admittedly this doesn’t sound like like a traditional leather. Not enough flowers, not enough spices. The drydown has a sweet, fruity vibe that I recall from another unique leather, Nostalgia.  As I right this I try to find the common denominator of these two fragrances. Much to my surprise they share several “official notes”: bergamot, wood (cedar for Nostalgia, sandalwood for Parfum d’Habit) but also notes that I do not immediately isolate like patchouli, amber, vanilla and needless to say, leather. In a way both scents tell the story of a disturbingly charming young man, chasing his prey into the night, being chased by his past. The man wearing Nostalgia is Marcello Mastroianni and he is driving a Ferrari. The man wearing Parfum d’Habit is Giacomo Casanova and he is riding his carriage. Having said that, ladies don’t be afraid to try this. After all the inside of this glove is all about you.

Notes from Fragrantica: petitgrain, black currant, bergamot, geranium, patchouli, incense, leather, sandalwood, amber, vanilla

Notes from my nose: leather, orris, wooden box, petitgrain, bergamot, geranium

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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

15 comments

  1. Ari

    What a fantastic description! You make Parfum d’Habit sound just gorgeous! I have never had the chance to try any of the MPG line, but it sounds like they are worth hunting down.

    • It is a great house. Especially if you appreciate an old world vibe in perfumes. Having said this most of their feminine scents are not heavy. They just play around with very traditional notes.

  2. Once again, lovely review. It made me want to done a cape and mask, causing havoc in the streets of Venice! I’m looking forward to sampling Cuir Fetiche that you have mentioned before on my next trip abroad. Unfortunately we do not have a stockist here in Australia for MPG.

  3. Exquisite, exquisite review, Christos. I love how you ended it.

    (The artwork is amazing, too!! Please pass that kudos along.)

    I’m very much enjoying both the MPG fragrances you sent (one an older fragrance, as you said, and the other one of the house’s newer creations). There is definitely a distinguishable MPG base, because when I smelled both of them, I was reminded of Eau des Iles, the only MPG fragrance I have ever tried. In fact, it’s funny how instantly that connection snapped into place, as my Eau des Iles sample is long gone, but apparently left an indelible impression on my mind. :)

    • Thank you Suzanne. This vague common thread in these scents is fascinating. A lot of the masculines use a combination of geranium and bergamot or geranium, bergamot and corriander which I find give a candied note to the perfumes. They never feel sweet however. Eau des Iles is one of their strangest compositions. People say it smells like coffee. I pick up a fecal note although I don’t think there is anything in the note lists to support my view.

  4. I love your review! :)
    And I believe I’m leaning more towards Casanova…

    • Isn’t he a lot more dangerous than Mastroianni? LOL
      After the “pedal to the metal” opening of Nostalgia the development is a somewhat fruity patchouli. Most people find this anticlimactic. I find it very interesting.

  5. First of all thanks for introducing me to this masterpiece of perfumery, almost 2 years ago. It has become one of my 5 all time favourites, although I rarely dare to wear it. Most of the times I fall into this “dressed to perfection” trap, this liquid leads you too. However I enjoy it quite often, sprayed on my wrist. More than the cleanest and more powdery facet of patchouli ever, I discovered what the term “skillfully blended” means. One Objection! This scent is a men’s privillege. Ladies have one thousand and more other male fragrances to try, and experiment with. Please don’t give up our weapons so easily. lol

  6. I loved your review Christos and I loved it so much that I had to post a comment, even now that I am exhausted by this terrible flu thing!
    But I will agree with the objection of Nikos, please gentlemen make use of your privileges more often! Even without capes and masks! lol

  7. I am sure there are many gems for all to share :)

    Get well soon Aegle.

  8. Columbine

    glad that you reviewed this parfume, it’s one of my favourites for my boyfriend, leather is so perfect for his skin

  9. Pingback: Jean Laporte: the Master Perfumer is no longer with us. « Memory Of Scent

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