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