Testing at high altitude 3

Back to Athens tomorrow… I will love to be back home but I will miss the cool breeze of the mountains, the humming of ancestral scenery speaking words I have never heard before but always make sense.

Red Aoud, Montae (Pierre Montale): very warm oud fragrance, with dusty cocoa and hints of chili pepper. Not very sweet

Querelle, Parfumerie Generale (Pierre Guillaume): what I have said as a generlisation for the PG fragrances does not stand here. This is a very masculine, dry and herbal fragrance. Eucalyptus and vetiver mostly with rosemary and any other herbal note is possible here. Very untypical of the line. Strong!

Cedre, Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake): this is one of the most polarising Serge Lutens fragrances. The name translates as “cedar” but what is going on after the first spritz is a lot more complicated. Mostly tuberose but completely de-floralised. Lots of spices, pungent spices, cumin, pepper and an undercurrent of cedar. Definitely not a feminine fragrance so trying this could be a good idea if you are looking for a masculine tuberose but be prepared to get a good dose of the Serge Lutens spice rack and jammy sweetness. If Feminté du Bois is a feminine translation of wood, Cédre could also be named “Masculinité de la Tubereuse”. As it dries down tuberose becomes more dominant but overall this doesn’t smell like a flower. All over the flower a cloud of dust creates an eerie atmosphere, almost threatening. Why they chose “Cédre” as the name for this still evades us all.Addendum: this is really unexpected but I as it dries down this reminds me of L’Air de Rien. I cannot put my finger on what the common element is but both fragrances share mysterious, bleak atmosphere.

Bois d’Argent, Christian Dior (Annick Menardo): the name translates as “Silver Wood” and if silver had a smell this would probably be it. Cedar, iris, butter, pepper and a leathery suede vibe create a cold, aloof but extremely comfortable cloak on the skin. This was one of the first three Christian Dior Eaux de Cologne releases, under the creative direction of Hedy Slimane, and although the magnificent Eau Noire attracted all the attention this remains to my nose one of the most textured fragrances I have ever tried: it feels exactly like a wet piece of chamois leather, creamy, soft and cold.

Blue Amber, Montale (Pierre Montale): this is definitely an amber bomb. I sprayed it on me with caution as amber is one of my least favourite notes. I can’t say I am in love but I will not have to scrub this off. I get a herbal quality in this one, much like in Ambre Sultan, with eucalyptus and bay leaf. It is strong but it maintains a transparency that makes it quite appealing.

Domenico Caraceni 1913, (Uncredited): a classic masculine rose cologne. Pale, dusty, bitter rose. The answer to anyone who thinks that roses are for girls. Old fashioned as a masculine fragrance but rather unconventional as a rose scent. I smell violet leaf which explains the austere masculine facet of the rose. Elegant and serious with a definite shaving lather vibe. As it dries down it becomes more smokey.

Drama Nuui No23, Parfumerie Generale (Pierre Guillaume): this is a beautiful floral, it goes through a brief cascade of flowers to anchor on what to me smells mostly like gardenia. Very beautifully balanced with a slight green hue and no edible notes. I guess Pierre Guillaume makes beautiful perfumes when he gets over his oral fixation.

Cuir Pleine Fleur, Parfums Heeley (James Heeley): this is the first time I right about a Heeley perfume and this is definitely my favourite. What can I say about the talents of James Heeley. A designer turned perfumer as the legend has it, if he truly creates his own perfumes then he makes it look so effortless to create the airiest but full of presence, most complicated fragrances. Cuir Pleine Fleur is a masterpiece. In a way it makes me think of Cuir Ottoman because it is composed of oppositions. There it is the big petrol note in the opening, only more delicate. There it is the leather, only here it is a buttery suede. There you have the powder but it is just a “supçon” , a suspicion of it. And the flowers have nothing of the classicism of Cuir Ottoman. They have strange colors and a waxy texture. All in all I would call Cuir Pleine Fleur, “Cuir Vegetale” because it smells of pith, kernels, roots, seedlings. An amazing feeling of new life that transforms into a leathery quality. During all its progression it remains light but at the same time you never wonder if it is still there or it has vanished into thin air. I often think that some lines have one perfume that is redeeming. Black Aoud for instance justifies on its own the existence of the entire Montale lineup. Cuir Pleine Fleur is so stunning that it would be enough to justify the existence of Parfums Heeley. What makes things even more interesting is that I have never tried a Heeley perfume that isn’t extremely good and extremely intelligent. How good can a mint fragrance be? I was wondering this until I tried Menthe Freche: exquisite! All the zing of mint and layers of herbal complexity that keep toothpaste as far as humanly possible. This is mint in the garden, not mint in the medicine cabinet. How good can a fragrance duplicating the smell of Tiger Balm be? As good as the most intelligent perfumer can make it be. You have to try Esprit du Tigre to understand how the mind of James Heeley works. Chapeau!

Iris de Nuit, Parfums Heeley (James Heeley): if Iris Silver Mist is the Dark Queen of the irises, Iris de Nuit is the Princess. This is the answer to all those who still classify iris as a floral note. It is not! It is earthy, leathery, doughy, distant. Iris de Nuit has a quality that is very close to Christian Dior’s Bois d’Argent but it also has elements that make it less perfume-y. There is a light plum note that binds everything together making this so full bodied and elegant. The Princess is not as sombre as the Queen. She is more sociable and she likes to wear leather.

Cédre Blanc, Parfums Heeley (James Heeley): if you like photorealism in fragrances you will love this. Imagine shopping for furniture and finding a delicate, minimalistic desk. A simple surface, four slender legs and a drawer hanging underneath the desk’s surface. You open the drawer and there you have Cédre Blanc. This cedar is not of the pencil shavings variety. It has a green creaminess that comes from fresh wood, wood that has not dried out yet. If James Heeley is to be admired for one ability this would have to be the ability to incorporate a milky, green, sappy quality to his creations in a way that makes the wearer feel alive, rejuvenated. His White Cedar has a quality that comes straight from the trunk of the freshly cut tree and it also incorporates the creaminess of sandalwood. Another minimalist stunner.

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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.


  1. I wish I could get a sample of Bois d’Argent! Dior has no boutiques in Poland so they’re impossible to find here. Thanks to my friends I tried Eau Noire and Leather Oud but I didn’t like both of them… This one sounds exactly for me, and it has iris I love…

  2. I almost wrote about Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur recently and especially loved your review of this one. It’s amazing how a leather perfume can be so ethereal and still recongizable as leather. You’re right — the beginning is strong, but then it’s like leather riding a tailwind.

    All in all, this sounds like a group of samples that made you feel “in your element,” so to speak. Just like being in your ancestral homeland … lovely!

    • Heeley perfumes are very much my element. They prove that minimalist does not mean anaemic. Actually I believe that James Heeley is the prince of minimalism, not Elena. Unfortunately I do not own a full bottle yet, mainly because I couldn’t choose between Cuir Pleine Fleur and Iris de Nuit. And because they are quite expensive and available only in 100ml bottles. I hope you do get to write about it. I would love to read your take on it.

  3. You open my eyes. Thanks,
    Portia xx

  4. ana

    Hello, Christos! Your Heeley mini reviews make me wait for my holidays even more impatiently than I do. Can’t wait to get to Bucharest, where a couple of boutiques carry so many lines, Heeley being one of them,that you can’t get in Dublin.I really don’t know which perfume I will bring back with me as there are so many fragrances that I wanted to try and now I will have the chance to do so without buying samples: Heeley, Mona di Orio, MDCI, Frederic Malle, By KIllian, Parfumerie Generale, SoOud. My head is spinning with excitement!

    • I know the feeling… Doing shopping research, perfume research before a trip to a city with a rich perfume market… I hope you have a great time and do let me know what you thought of the Heeleys.

  5. Pingback: Daim Blond: the perfect leather for autumn « Memory Of Scent

  6. Pingback: Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur EDP Perfume Review | EauMG

  7. Pingback: Cuir Pleine Fleur by James Healey 2006 | Perfume Posse

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