Parfumerie Generale

You've gotta hand it to Parfumerie Generale: there is no halfway, and there is no such thing as boring for them. Many PG scents wind up not working on me, but they are always so much fun to test. Today I sampled the latest Private Collection release, L'Oiseau de Nuit, whose official notes consist of cistus labdanum, liqueur of davana, benzoin, leather. At first sniff, it seems like the fragrance has a lot more going on than that, it's so complex-but then, when you stop to think about it, those notes all have a whole lot goin' on individually. First of all, the minute this scent hits my skin, I get a burst of honeyed fruit. It's sweet and jammy. This is the cistus labdanum, apparently, which is a honey-like resin. I can't emphasize enough how much I prefer this to the traditional honey note used in other fragrances, which inevitably comes off as a cloying powdery mess and not at all honey-like. The cistus labdanum is sweet and syrupy and even smells golden-it's the perfect scented embodiment of honey. The leather is not apparent at all, and I can't really detect it at any point in the scent's evolution. As it dries down, the davana and benzoin grow stronger and spicier. The davana is slightly balsamic, and the benzoin is quite incensey (or should I say incensed? har har). It's a fascinating brew, but not really something I'd want to sniff all day-and I will, if I apply it again, because the lasting power is quite good. You can purchase L'oiseau de nuit from or for $135 for 50 ml. However, as with all PGs, I highly recommend sampling first.

Of PG's two latest releases, Felanilla seemed to generate more excitement than Drama Nuui. But not for me. Vanilla has been done and done and done again lately, and adding hay does not make it any more appealing to me. Drama Nuui on the other hand, features jasmine and absinthe-two notes that any regular reader of this blog will know are close to my heart…err, nostrils. At first sniff, Drama Nuui does not seem at all like a Parfumerie Generale. I smell jasmine-beautiful, not too heady, perfectly done jasmine in a very pure form. It's soft and it's lovely, but lacks the quirky daring of most PG scents. As the scent dries down-very close to the skin, might I add-the jasmine slowly fades and the absinthe emerges. Oddly, they never seem to mingle. One moment there is a bare whiff of jasmine and the next all I can smell is absinthe. It's a wonderful absinthe. Slightly sweet, herbal rather than licorice-y, grounded in dry wood. I really like it. But there is something off-putting about a fragrance that morphs so completely from one note to the next and displays each note in complete isolation. Where is the glorious blending? The many stages to enjoy? It reminds me of an outfit that doesn't match. The top and bottom might be beautiful pieces on their own, but they just don't go together.
You can buy a bottle for $105 at

PG never fails to intrigue when you read their list of notes. I applaud them for pushing the boundaries of what is considered to smell beautiful. Consider their newest release, Papyrus de Ciane. Its list of notes is just a bit wackadoo: Bergamot, galbanum, neroli, broom, solar notes, lavender, mugwort, clove, incense, cistus labadanum, hedione, vetiver, Mousse de Saxe, Silvanone, white musk. Mugwort? Broom? Is this a fragrance or the contents of a witch's cauldron? But of course I had to try it. How could I not? And the name reeled me in. Papyrus makes me think of a dry, papery fragrance, which is not something I've smelled before.
Well, this is neither dry nor papery. Papyrus de Ciane is exuberantly green and unfailingly soapy. And it's a strong, herbal soap - the kind that makes you a little afraid it's going to melt your skin clear off. I dislike it. I dislike it a lot. And I expected it to be wonderful. The drydown calms it down a bit, but not enough. It takes on a headshoppy tinge toward the end that really turns me off as well.

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