Note to everyone I just sent a package to: I sent 9 on Friday, which is roughly 7 more than I can handle, so if you got the wrong things, sorry! Enjoy! You know where to find me! Also, my packages look like they were prepared by enthusiastic 3-year-olds. Also, my atomizers may leak (I promise never to buy from anyone but pilotvials or Patty again.) Also, to the people who got samples of Black Sea: the dang atomizer dribbles half the spray down the side of the bottle (argh!), no matter what I tried. So I ended up using small vials, because wasting all that juice is heartbreaking. It´s strong enough you should still be able to get a good bead on it; making samples was certainly gagging me.
Today we´re staring hard at Worth Courtesan, released in 2006 to accompany the estimable Je Reviens (which was re-launched in 2004) and available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, House of Fraser and a few other places in the UK.
I tried this on a whim the day I got to Edinburgh, because I´d not heard of it, and then bought it on five minutes´ thought and a heart full of lust, and with a couple of sidetracks I´ve been wearing it almost daily since I got home. Clipped from the Worth website: “The House of Worth worked with perfumer Pierre Bourdon to recreate the spirit and tradition of Parisian Courtesans of old. Glamorous and mysterious, the floriental fragrance is an intoxicating mix of exoticism and sensuality. Seductive and sophisticated, Courtesan encourages the sense of touch, the warm caress of skin.”
Courtesan, as I reported from Edinburgh, is something I didn´t think existed: a summer skank scent (subcategory: sweat.). I have plenty of sweaty loves, generally containing of a dollop of cumin and/or vetiver and/or musk (the new Femme, Yatagan and Le Labo Vetiver spring immediately to mind), but they all fall solidly into the fall/winter roundup, and I put them away once the temperature hits 70 or so.
Courtesan has essentially no development on me; it starts off with a delicate perspiring skin smell – what we call a ladies´ “glow” – and underneath that is some sort of vague, not-overpowering floral. It melds with me in a way I´m fascinated by – it´s as if I´m wearing not just perfume but the ghost of perfume warmed by someone else´s body. And if that sounds disturbing, it isn´t – it´s an alluring smell, the trace of fragrance on a lover´s skin. It is not sweet – if I had to pick a single word, it would be musky, although musky sounds too heavy (but does convey some of the carnality of the scent.) I would characterize it as unisex, although obviously it´s marketed for women.
So nobody was more shocked than I was to read the actual notes of the fragrance. Someone pasted them in comments on my Edinburgh post, from Basenotes, but I assumed they were wrong. Here are the notes directly from Worth (with heavy editing and massive deletion of modifiers like “enticing,” etc.): Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, Pineapple, Red Berries, Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Egyptian Jasmine and Turkish Rose, woody notes, Sandalwood, Peach, Caramel, Raspberry, Chocolate, Cocoa Beans, Amber, Vanilla and Musk.
Well, that sounds disgusting. Seriously, how horrible is that? Can we make it any worse? Maybe a marine note? How about … banana? Kill. Me. Now. I don´t know what to say about those notes. They´re … inexplicable. I´ve given them to you, because I feel honor-bound, but I´m of no further help. I might have guessed the spices, I wouldn´t have guessed any of the fruits at all, the dusting of cocoa I can smell now that I´m looking for it, the idea of caramel/chocolate horrifies me, and I´d have sworn an oath to cumin and/or vetiver in addition to the musk, because for the life of me I can´t think what´s generating that gentle sweaty smell. All I can do is: a) conjure the genius and track record of Bourdon; and b) state delicately that, at this point in my sniffage, I´ve decided that x percent of any listed notes are just random lies dreamed up by the marketing drones. Who knows what´s in there?
In terms of weight and feel, Courtesan reminds me a little of Eau de Merveilles. Let me be clear: it doesn´t smell like Merveilles at all (and Merveilles is genius, whereas Courtesan is merely very, very good). But Courtesan has that vague salty sexiness, along with the odd aura-like sensation Merveilles gives me; it´s elusive and omnipresent at the same time. I adore Merveilles, but I really bring out its funky side in hot weather, to the extent that people in line near me might wish I’d remembered my deodorant; so far, Courtesan seems to be calibrated perfectly for our heat and humidity.
Whether Courtesan would appeal to you would depend, I am guessing, on whether you get the dirty bits. On Louise (often my fragrance opposite) she got the dirty bits, on and off, for about 15 minutes, after which it became an inoffensive fruity-floral. Not execrable, mind you. Not great. Just sort of there. The fortunate would get what I get – an entire day of summer-friendly sensuality – the sun-lit bedroom, the romp in still-warm, rumpled sheets, and your lover´s scent lingering after.
Odalisque, 1874 Jules Joseph Lefebvre, Art Institute, Chicago courtesy of wikipedia
Worth bottle image, quotes and fragrance notes from www.worthparis.com