The D is something of a dandy, and recently we re-discovered that we even had a perfume of that name in the collection that we had totally forgotten about : “Arsene Lupin – Le Dandy” (a bit of a mouthful ), but which is also a dark leather glove of a violet patchouli fougere that he wears most suavely and insinuatingly – the perfume he was donning at the museum in Tokyo on Saturday (my own aroma being Roger Et Gallet’s The Vert combined with Brossas’ Jasmin Lilas); a scent that was not out of place in that self-consciously chic 1930’s environment, the period when the famous French detective novels were still being written by Maurice Leblanc.
I remember the first time I smelled this final creation by Jean Paul Guerlain (for his former house) at the boutique in Hibiya I was a bit nonplussed: as this, and especially the Voyou (or ‘hooligan’) part of the then newly released Arsene Lupin duo, just seemed too traditional and obviously of an overly familiar ‘certain ilk’ that traces back decades; immediately recognisable as just ‘one of those’: however, I must admit that meeting up after work the other day, all I could smell, from particular distances, was a luxuriantly held back incense, and dense slightly powdery patchouli with a provocative warmth to it (I wasn’t sure at first if it wasn’t just the regular incense sticks I burn all the time at home: often, the balsamic powder and aromatic elements, and particularly the patchouli, in that blend fuse with the clothes in his wardrobe and it is hard to sometimes tell where the incense or the perfume begins or ends). However, once my nose sharpened its focus and I honed into the realities I realized that what I was detecting was definitely a perfume. The warmth, the manly depth, in this effortlessly put together blend by a master perfumer comes from sandalwood, cardamom and leather – – smooth, unfetishistic – while the piercing green top accord, which is what makes Arsene Lupin so distinctive (within its genre) – a bracing violet leaf and artemisia coupled with coriander and pepper and bitter orange, gives the perfume its undeniable gravitas. Although a little on the potentially ‘gravely self serious and self important ‘ tip on the wrong person, on D, the aura of the perfume is rather elegant: all velvet breeches, brogues, a monocle, and a fine library to match – and very seductive.
Also founded on a study of striking contrasts is the recently released Aurora by Charles Wong, a fresh, green tea-like aromatic scent that would make a nice signature for a young, uncomplicated fop. It seems to me sometimes that men’s fragrances – although this is billed as unisex- rely on the olfactory prototype of gradually reconciling clashes more than feminines, which go more for harmony and ‘general attractiveness’ : a sharp grasp and assertive space staking at the top, followed by a sturdier, more cosy-uppable base that instils confidence and makes you move in closer and, one imagines, eventually ‘relent’. Like Le Dandy, this is a perfume with undeniable charisma: Charles Wong is an author, fragrance enthusiast, and France adoring bon viveur from Hong Kong who travelled to Grasse to create this, his first perfume – a fresh, modern clothes horse for the new age (Arsene is definitely a few decades his senior): a juxtaposition of oak moss, amber and sea moss in the base (quite potent), with greener, more limpid and sparkling top and heart notes of water lotus, bamboo, fig leaves, blackcurrant bud as well as aquatic notes of ‘rain’, ‘fresh water’, and ‘sea’ throughout the heart and top – all tenacious, if never entirely aggressive. As you can imagine from the note description, this fragrance is quite reminiscent of the nineties’ style of perfuming men in blueprints such as Giorgio Armani’s bestselling Aqua Di Gio ( which I almost miss, now in comparison to the newer Neanderthals) although Aurora is more subtle, and less ‘everything all at once’ than the aforementioned aquamarine juggernaut.
Like Guerlain’s Le Dandy, which is a tad smudged and too intense when bunched all together on the skin up close, the concentrate of fresh intensity in Aurora is, for me, too much to lean in and kiss. From a distance, however – used judiciously in beknownst-to-you-only locations on the body, in tandem with a crisp white shirt, nice grooming, and dandyish vestments, this is a scent that I know I would be drawn to if the right person was wearing it, as the central olfactory conceit – a constantly evolving play between the lower and higher octaves that hints at intimacy (from the space left in between), as well as the optimism of the clean, lotus-fresh top accords – is insistent, youthful – and, in its own way, curiously passionate.
8 responses to “THE DANDIES : : : ARSENE LUPIN LE DANDY by GUERLAIN (2010) + AURORA by CHARLES WONG (2018)”
You could make horseshit smell like a must-have addition to any fragrance wardrobe.
Sorry, sound not smell. But you knew what I meant.
Smell works: and no, you don’t need this, as there is a note in there that would grate – a part of the contemporary male style that makes it more mainstream, ultimately, than niche (I would describe it as ’boutique hotel’). At the same time, there is definitely some emotion trapped in this perfume – it emanates something; a feeling; and if you were sat next to a young man who was wearing it on a train, I don’t think you would move seat, but rather start to analyse and contemplate.
I was just a little confused because I had read the review on I Scent You A Day, and was thus imagining something much more feminine and crystalline, like dragonfly wings, when it is much more, in fact, Shanghai business suit (hence the pictures featured here). Again, though, I recently wrote about my appreciation of Versace Eros in the context of a beautiful bearded barber boy in London, so perhaps I am coming more round to a typically ‘masculine’ smell. Do you know Arsene Lupin Dandy? It’s a bit ‘trapped in a teak cupboard suffocating on velvet and daddy’s leather belt’, but still quite good. Might be quite interesting on a madame.
Whoo, I think I’d like Dandy, from what you say about it.
Context, as in your Eros story, matters a lot. I remember falling in love with the smell of something a man I was dancing with at a club was wearing. The music, the attractiveness of the man, my mood. It was Blue Stratos, which as you may or may not know is right up there with Williams Lectric Shave and Mennen Skin Bracer on the quality scale, i.e., right down there.
I might love Dandy on Ric, but he might hate it on himself. Happens a lot, frustratingly. Same with things I love on myself.
I find masculine fragrances confusing to read about. I feel that a lot of guys perceive both individual scent notes and complete compositions differently than I do. There can be a premium placed on “beast-mode” power and some of the synthetic notes I find objectionable are often well-liked. That, along with Ric’s unpredictable predilections, can make blind-buying (necessary when living out in the middle of nowhere) a confusing and expensive crapshoot.
Once again, I dream of being led through your room’s worth of fragrances. Ric in tow, ideally.
Very interesting indeed. And we truly are alike; I know Blue Stratos, and Mennen Skin Bracer very nearly made it into the book.
What are Ric’s conditions ?
It can’t have a certain note, or maybe it’s a group of notes, that makes his throat close up, and I can’t figure out what it is. Most Amouages do it; most high-end Chanels (but not all, and it seems totally random to me; my throat doesn’t react to those notes at all) don’t. When I think I might have it figured out — benzoin? Ambroxan? some kind of powdery molecule? — he proves me wrong again. And he adores a certain sweetness (as he describes it) that is not ethyl maltol, that I don’t always perceive as particularly sweet, or sweet in the way I think he means. He’s not necessarily hypersensitive, because something like a very ripe vintage Jicky doesn’t elicit the yowls of disgust you might expect. (He actually likes that one, would wear it happily while others conceivably would give him a wide berth.) Yes, it’s all very confusing. And it hasn’t gotten any better. And I love him dearly.
It all sounds perfect as is
Very true. Very wise.