Tag Archives: Labdanum

Bengale Rouge by Papillon Perfumes

Notes: Turkish Rose, Orris, Sandalwood, Tonka, Oakmoss, Honey, Vanilla, Labdanum, Benzoin and Sweet Myrrh

All of the Papillon perfumes handmade by Liz Moores are a product of her loves, life and home. Take her last fragrance Dryad released in 2017, which was a homage to the ancient forest she lives in.

It seems fitting therefore that her next launch is inspired by her beloved Bengal cat, Mimi. These leopard-coated felines are incredibly striking and have a quirky nature all their own. Have you noticed how many perfume people are also cat people? A lot.

The first thing I thought of when encountering the opening of Bengale Rouge was Guerlain’s classic Shalimar with a strong orange citrus edge. I picked up that same grown-up vanilla only with more of a whipped texture and a rosy bloom, permeated by resins.

It stops short of being an edible gourmand. Sweet perfumes are something I struggle with these days but here the honeyed tones are undercut with plenty of doughy iris, tree resins and rambling roses.

bengale rouge bottle

Bengale Rouge isn’t just about a cat but a combination of the cat and its perfume-wearing human. Have no doubt, this is a fully fleshed out fragrance and a million miles away from a novelty ‘Cat Fur’ scent. The presence of orris butter adds a fantastic skin-like property and a cosmetic/boudoir facet. I don’t find it overtly sexy but it has a ‘back of the neck’ warmth: a kind of intimate vulnerability. I think this is the key to Bengale Rouge. It manages to calm the nerves while feeling subtly sensual.
The base is chiefly labdanum which has an amber aroma and a cosy, furry feel.

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The fine balance achieved here can’t have been easy but the vanilla has been leavened enough for it to work effortlessly within this multi-faceted structure that is refined while exuding a pleasing amount of langour.

Bengale Rouge doesn’t have an animalic growl but purrs ever so softly. Liz tells me that this Eau de Parfum actually verges on Extrait strength so that it clings to the skin like a caress and doesn’t let go. Unreserved spraying is a must to enjoy the full effect.

I tend to wear Dryad in the spring and Tobacco Rose in the autumn (or the evening). Bengale Rouge is Papillon’s most versatile and accessible fragrance to date. It would wear comfortably at any time without feeling in the least bit sloppy. Unlike most vanilla-forward fragrances, it is beautifully constructed with plenty of interest.

Liz felt that Bengale Rouge was the kind of perfume we needed to counteract the bleakness that exists in the world right now. It gives us something soothing to hold close while we hope for better times further down the road.

bengale rouge feature

Do you feel the need for a comforting scent like this to wrap yourself up in?

First two photo credits: Liz Moores

Last photo: Gemma Ward/Vogue Paris

N.B. Liz was kind enough to send me an advance sample of Bengale Rouge. Fingers crossed they will be available to order by July.

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Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir  

Peach skin suede…

Naomi Goodsir is an Australian designer whose hats look as cool and striking and as her fragrances smell.

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Cuir Velours (Velvet Leather) was released in 2012 and includes notes of leather, tobacco, rum, cistus labdanum, incense and immortelle.

Despite the “Cuir” in the name, I get a refined suede rather than tough leather. There is nothing that reminds me of tanning fumes or birch tar and I don’t get any smoke. For the most part, both the aroma and texture is akin to velvety peach skin.

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On opening, the muted suede is drenched in fruity, boozy, syrup. At this stage it lies somewhere between Boxeuses and Bottega Venetta. I presume it’s the immortelle and rum that’s creating this effect, but it isn’t too spicy or harshly alcoholic.

It’s all a bit too sweet and boozy for my taste, but the whole feel is very smooth and luxe. It doesn’t shout and there are no rough edges.

If you love gourmand-inflected suede scents then I can imagine it verging on the addictive. It’s easier to wear than other fragrances in this category because while it is sweet, it’s not domineering.

It may also appeal if you have a fondness for cosmetic perfumes. As it settles, Cuir Velours throws off a beauty balm like quality which now reminds me of Ramon Monegal’s Cuirelle but without the honey. It’s that face-powder-mixed-with-cold-cream-on-suede effect which adds softness and an increased level of comfort.

I start to enjoy it a few hours in, when the booze has completely evaporated and the sweet syrup has dialled down a few notches. Now it really feels velvety soft and creamy with that “Your Skin But Better” vibe. I get some labdanum in the far drydown which only adds to that feeling.

For a fragrance layered with so many traditionally bold accords, Cuir Velours winds up being surprisingly low on projection.  I have to get  close to detect it, but when I do it’s inviting and rather sensual.

 

Woman in cape and leather boots

In style alone, it’s reminiscent perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s other creation for Naomi Goodsir, Bois d’Ascese and his Russian Tea for Masque Milano. They all have a striking yet subdued profile and seem to cling to the skin.  However, I would say that Cuir Velours leans more feminine than either of those two. Longevity is very good as it quietly lingers for hours.

It’s a low-key, sweetened suede with a cosmetic twist which would be equally appropriate at the office as on a date. Perfect to wrap yourself in on cold days when the chill wind threatens to get into your bones.

Cuir Velours is a fragrance to live in and make your own, like a second skin.

 

Have you tired Cuir Velours? Would you recommend I try Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail?

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