I *heart* Menardo

My title says it all, and it’s no secret cos I mentioned it a month ago. But I have love affairs with many perfumers, and most don’t last four weeks, or sustain that love over more than two perfumes. As a preamble, I’ll list one or two of them who have. First, Bertrand Duchaufour. He is a master at juxtaposing unusual notes or developing a sense of sourness that strangely works in a scent. And, even though I’m no longer incense’s best buddy, he is a crowned prince of that type of fragrance. Take the almost acrid wonder of Timbuktu, the softer Dzongkha, or the so-strong-my-bottle-will-last-several-millenia Bois d’Ombrie. I’ve posted before how he seems to capture moments in space and time with his scents, and every time I sniff something by him, I still get that sense of awe and wonder that borders on the religious. I’m desperate to try his new men’s scent for Amouage. Let me know if you have.

Yann Vasnier is up there too. Although I only know him for three fragrances really (I’ve tested others but not spent any time with them), they’re all wondrous. March sent me her bottle of Comme Des Garcons Palisander, and I’ve been overwearing it. Woody and spicy with an overdose of saffron, it’s become my biggest compliment getter. And I advise anyone who hasn’t tried them to seek out his two men’s fragrances for Divine, L’Homme Sage and L’Homme de Coeur. The first strikes me as a sweeter and smokier reworking of Palisander, darker in quality but perhaps more refined, with an immortelle twist. L’Homme de Coeur is quite simply breathtaking – a rendition of iris (2007’s note of ubiquity) that kicks so many others into the shade. It’s quiet, refined and fresh – possibly the best fresh scent ever made. I’m no stranger to hyperbole.

But Annick Menardo, at the moment, is my queen. She’s long been sending me anonymous love letters, without me knowing her identity. In fact, she likes to keep her identity hidden – look at those photos. There is a video of her available online, but I daren’t embed it here – I nearly blew up the site last week by including that film trailer. She has very slender arms.

When those Christian Dior limited editions for men came out in 04 or 05, I braved the fifth circle of hell (aka Selfridge’s perfume floor) to buy a bottle, and came away with Bois d’Argent. I had no idea this was by the same genius who’d come up with Bvlgari Black, but that combination of honey, incense, iris (again it appears) with a touch of leather had to be mine. If the two perfumes have a commonality, it is a comforting softness in the drydown – both scents quieten into pillows of warmth; discreet layers to keep out the cold. And this is a familiar in much of her work, even when it veers into the urbane and kinky (rubber play of the aforementioned Black) or rustic and dirty (the grubby pick up truck of Patchouli 24).

Even her designer scents often have a clear Menardo quality, in spite whatever limiting brief she is given. At their best they combine exceptional gourmand notes with oriental richness. Take Lolita Lempicka au Masculin – I don’t think I know another fragrance (other than its distaff namesake) where the juice matches the bottle to perfection. It starts with a cold green sparkle of anise that seems almost crystalline, before warming up into a woody bloom just the right side of mainstream. Or Body Kouros, which I love, though I’m probably alone in that. Here, Menardo plays around with a cotton candy synthetic sweetness that’s streamlined by eucalyptus into a very comforting blend. I just wish the 20something crowd would go for this style of fakery in winter, rather than their usual citrus + musk accord x touch of spice = meh. And finally, I have to mention the heliotrope overdose of Jaipur Homme, an elegant comfort scent if ever there was one. I’ll leave March to mention Hypnotic Poison

Out of all her scents though, the one at the top of the tree, cream of the crop, best of the bunch, loveliest of all lovelies, has to be Bois d’Armenie for Guerlain’s l’Art et la Matiere series. It’s perfection. Immediately warm, it’s more a wispy smoke than incense, tempered by a coriander note that to my mind gives it an almost cumin-like fleshiness, albeit temporarily. The notes are seamlessly blended, or at least my untrained nose can’t pick them out distinctly, though the outline of elements like patchouli occasionally shimmer into view, as though veiled in the softest cashmere. The almond-like quality present in many of her scents plays out here to give the scent its richness. Though it has extreme lightness too – like one of those pastries that flakes into nothing yet is loaded with butter. Smooth, skin-caressing, all-enveloping, sepia-tinged hazy beauty: what’s not to love? Weeeeell, it is something of a skin scent and prohibitively priced, so that might put you off. I took advantage of lovely Louise and the $ to £ exchange rate… Needless to say, decants are available you-know-where. I can’t live without it this winter. I’ve sniffed it alongside the more recent Spiritueuse Double Vanille. I think you know which one I think is the winner, I think.

For a sample of Bois d’Armenie (if you haven’t yet tried it, you crazy fool!) and a few other Menardo marvels, put your name in the draw by leaving a message.

And why this picture of Wentworth Miller? Well, it came up, for some unclear reason (my computer must know me better than I thought), in a search for Annick Menardo – Patchouli 24? Body Kouros? Eau de Hotness? – and to be honest I couldn’t help but share it, even though it’s clearly meant for me and me alone, you hear me! After all, Patty’s allowed her Christian Bale fetish… I only wish the image (clearly for me and no-one else – have I made that point already?) didn’t make me quite so feverish. Hubba hubba. Who says I should be feeling the winter cold by now?

  • elve says:

    Menardo isn’t my favourite, but I still didn’t sniff her best, therefore – enter me in the drawing, pls 🙂

  • Teri says:

    Lee, my apologies for hijacking your thread, but I received my prize today – the samples of Fath’s Iris Gris and Guerlain’s Candide Effleuve – and I had to share.

    Both are lovely. The CE is a monied matron, patroness of the arts and hostess of impeccable afternoon teas, always sophisticated, always perfectly groomed, the very picture of civilization. But the Iris…..oh my sweet lord, the iris. I’m not given to hyperbole (well not much) as a rule, but this is without doubt the most beautiful thing I’ve ever smelled. I don’t know whether to scream with joy or frustration. I want more!! And it’s so doubtful I’ll ever get it. I only know that if there is perfume in heaven (and there must be, or none of us would go), it is this scent that the angels are wearing. It’s absolutely sublime.

    Patty, ‘thank you’ seems so inadequate here, but it’s all I have to offer. My first born child is all grown up and he costs an awful lot to feed. 😉

  • Olga says:

    Oooooh, I’m now loaded with all this sensous information, rushing away to spritz some Bvlgari Black… Please please please enter me in the draw…

  • Cheryl says:

    Thanks for this — I loved reading about the diverse work of one perfumer…info that I certainly never be able to trace on my own. I just ordered a sample of BVLGARI BLACK. It’s complex and nicely balanced, but all round edges with no sharp bites. I’d love to be in your draw.

    • Lee says:

      Actually, it’s quite easy to find out the collected works of one perfumer – basenotes is my oracle! Cheryl – you’re in the draw – enjoy BB!:)

  • annie says:

    :dOMG….Lee…..SEND ME THAT MAN!!!!(drool)….well,if you can’t,then please put me in the drawing….LOVE your posts.

  • Stella says:

    Ooh, me for the drawing please. I am longing to smell both Bois d’Argent and Bois de l’Armenie.

  • Theresa says:

    Hmm…bois d’armenie. please sign me up for the draw. thanks!

  • JenniferR says:

    Sigh. More lusts to fill my fantasies …
    At least I can work on satisfying SOME of them outside the realm of fantasy. And since I have yet to add BdA to an order from That Place, may I please be entered in the draw?

  • Lee says:

    You’re in grizzler!

  • grizzlesnort says:

    My life was complete until I read your post. Darn. Now I have to get into your drawing for another chance at fulfillment.

  • Robin says:

    Annick Menardo is wonderful, but my anonymous love letters are all from Betrand Duchaufour, LOL…

    Wearing the Jubilation XXV right now and LOVE it. He can do 85 more incense fragrances, and I’ll take them ALL.

  • Patty says:

    AM is the master. Now, I still maintain my hottie, Bale, is hotter than yours, but I do like looking at him quite a lot. :-”

    don’t tell Christian, shhh.

  • Kelly says:

    …but he’s got his yucky white athletic socks on!!!

  • Kelley says:

    Lee, please enter me in your contest. Sorry, it’s hard to type when hypnotized by that beautiful male specimen! Delicious…

    • Lee says:

      You’re entered. I know – he’s perfection, isn’t he? Actually, his few quirks that make him perfect – for me at least. He’s not a classic model type really.

  • Susan says:

    Lee, please feel free to post any additional photographs for our viewing enjoyment!

    A great post and actually learned something about Bulgari Black-a fave. It’s one of my few bottles. Bought it unsniffed after reading about its strange rubber qualities. Now want to try Patch 24 and, of course, Bois d’Armenie.

    • Lee says:

      I’ll put you in the draw and I’m glad you learned something!

      I’ll track down more hotties as and when…:-“

  • donanicola says:

    Having a horrid time at work right now so can’t do justice to an interesting post, I’m sorry, Lee! But generally I agree – All Hail La Menardo! Though I need to properly road test her work so please put my name in the hat – thanks!

    • Lee says:

      You’re in the draw and hugs to you on your work – I’ve just ;eft a VERY heated meeting… Home time now I think (i.e. I’ve stopped working by coming here…)

  • Divalano says:

    Bois d’Argent is one of my top favorites ever. It’s always perfect year round & always makes me happy (sort of like putting on a Suzanne Vega cd, only completely different). For that reason I want to smell Black even if I’m a little frightened of the bergamot. Not that I think I’ll love everything Menardo – Patchouli 24 was sort of like the smoky tarry bits of B d’A on steroids when I tried it, just didn’t work. That aside, you have made me achingly curious about Bois d’Armenie & I will endeavor to sniff that someday.

    You have also made me wonder why on earth I don’t photograph more men. *woof woof* re that photo …… he’s gorgeous, the light is perfect, the undone belt is hawt & I love the set with the bare mattress. Who’s the photog, do we know?

  • Hi Lee!

    That Bois d’Armenie is magical, isn’t it? I tried it, determined *not* to like it because of the price, then fell madly in love.

    And thanks for the photos–of Annick Menardo! Wentworth is cute although far too young for me. (And really, who takes off his shirt and leaves his hat on? I find that a little disconcerting.)

    • Lee says:

      It is magical…

      For me, the hat on thing is a BIG part of the sex appeal. Call me weird – I know…

      And he’s 34!

  • March says:

    I’m sorry, I’m too overwhelmed looking at that photo to concentrate properly on the topic at hand … Louise, can we share him? I’d like to help him with that belt… okay, moving on now … Annick who?;)

    Seriously, I had no idea about Hypnotic Poison. Now I know where your affections are. Patty’s boyfriend JCE and of course my BFF Olivia Giacobetti…

    I am so happy the Palisander worked for you; it wasn’t getting any love over here, although I think it’s beautiful. I think my fave on your list is Jaipur Homme, what a gorgeous, gorgeous thing.

    • Lee says:

      How can you two share him given the fact he’s all mine?

      I’ve fallen a little out of love with Giacobetti, though every time I resniff Philosykos it’s full-on again.

      If you ever need more Jaipur Homme, I have plenty…;)

  • Elle says:

    Share your crush on Annick Menardo, so how is it that I’ve never tried Jaipur Homme? Must go remedy that ASAP. Also must go search out that video of her. Intriguing.
    Tried Jubilation for Men (Duchafour’s latest). Have been saving my pennies for it from the moment I sampled it. Brilliant. Destined to be an absolute classic. Adore the women’s scent as well. They both actually smell like they’re worth the money they cost, which is something I think is rare these days. But am praying I find them on ebay before I have to fork over the full price for them.

  • Judith says:

    I love all of AM’s scents too–except for Bois d’Argent, which for some reason smells like nothing on my skin (this is not just my nose; others have agreed). So sad about that. But cheered up aagain by LL Patch and BdA, two of my all-time favorites.

    Quite a picture!:d

    • Lee says:

      Poor you on the Argent, but the other two make up for it.

      Yes, it is quite a picture. I think it’s the perfect fit for my libido in way too many ways.

  • ReneeM says:

    Oh I love Bvlgari Black and have been lemming Patchouli 24. I love patchouli. I would love to try Bois d’Armenie so yes please, enter me in the drawing. I’m off now to research Annick Menardo!

  • Louise says:

    Ah, those crushes will get you. And then flee. But, sadly, several of my true enduring loves-Daltroff, Beaux, Cellier are now long lost. I do admire Ellena fille, and certainly Duchaufour. And I must smell Bois D’Armenie on you…I can only imagine the gentle smoky aura surrounding you.

    As for dear Wentworth, I am intrigued by his multi-racial background, his Princeton credentials, and his “I’m not gay” vows. Hey, I get my fantasies to keep me warm, too 🙂

  • marina says:

    I heart AM and WM too. In different ways, of course. The heart-ing of WM is, how to put it… less intellectual. :d

    • Lee says:

      I think you can intellectualise your WM if you want to… I do, as self-justification for my teenagey nature.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Oh, Angel-
    I’d MUCH rather roll in the hat with you than him. Any day.
    No contest.

    Needless to say, I share your enthusiasm, perfume-wise.

  • Anne says:

    Lee, I tend to put scents in categories. Notes first of course and then maybe House. If I see that I like more than one in a House I rush to try the rest. So, so often I truly forget the creator. I am not guilty all the time though, Andy’s scents, Ormonde Jayne and many others are easy but when the artist works for different Houses and is more behind the scenes I lose track.

    Bois d’Argent, Bvlgari Black and Patchouli 24 are all favorites. That warmth! Thanks for tying them all together and giving the credit to the artist, where the kudos belong.

    You called it, crazy me. Would love a chance to try Bois d’Armenie. Thanks!
    :)>-

    • Lee says:

      I’m a geek Anne. That’s why I need to know about the noses. Please, feel free to steer clear of a similar journey! But you’re in the draw.

  • Rita says:

    There’s only two shows I keep up with, that’s Prison Break and Heroes. Which one do I watch for the story and which one do I watch for the eye candy? Bet that’s an easy one to figure out! What I wanna know is where we can find more photos similar to this one…Now I have two reasons to search for Annick Menardo.

    I’m with MattS on this post, haven’t smelled any of these, but I’d love to be included in the drawing.

    • Lee says:

      Well, I have a bit of a Peter Petrelli thing too, though he’s my young, dumb and (you can fill in the rest) totty. WM is my more intellectual love interest. Yeah, right!

      You’re in the draw.

  • Maria says:

    The sad state of my mind is this. I look at that young man and I think, “Boy, I bet he’s the type who thinks he can get away with plagiarism because of his looks.” Sorry, I’m up to my ears in the stuff.

    You can enjoy him much better than I can, Lee.

    • March says:

      You made me laugh so hard!!! I looked at him and thought, gah — he’s so hot — and I’m old enough to be his mommy…. [-(

    • Lee says:

      I don’t know how old that photo is, but not more than a couple of years I think. And he’s mid-30s now. So, like me (ok, I’ll stop showing off), looks younger than he is…

      But I feel for you with all that marking. Oy vey – I don’t miss THAT a jot!

  • hausvonstone says:

    Lee – totally agree with you about BdArm vs SDV. BdArm is far superior. As is Wentworth Miller. I’ve just started watching Prison Break. Ah, he is a beautiful landscape. But back to perfume. BdArg is also really nice. I’ve just tried a tiny sample and am afraid to use it up. Keep meaning to try LL men slyly in the stores. But Palisander I’ve got in decant – and I think I’ll wear that one today! Please enter me in the sample draw. I think we have very similar tastes in perfume and maybe men! Ages ago one of your posts got me watching the Brit show “Skins” which I loved (in a trashy way), so keep the TV and scent suggestions coming!

  • carmencanada says:

    Dear Lee, you and I both (fans of Menardo, that is), though I’ve yet to cave in to Bois d’Arménie which has very little lasting power on me — and puzzled me initially because I wasn’t sure I wanted to smell of a place rather than a woman and Bois d’Arménie is more atmospheric… But I do have a serious Bulgari Black fetish. That powder spilled in a rubber-glove, heated wet city street thing is an amazingly postmodern take on Shalimar.
    BTW, I don’t need to be included in the sample draw (I have a sample and can access the Guerlain boutique easily).

    • Lee says:

      And strangely D, it’s the reverse of that for me. BB – gona in a poof! Whereas BdA keeps me softly scented all day. Oh, the unfathomable myseries…
      I like your depiction of BB as Shalimar in kinkwear!

  • tmp00 says:

    that picture of Mr. Miller makes me want to join fitness bootcamp. That, and get a waxing. That was my 80’s waist. Oy. :((

  • Kim says:

    I just tried Bois d’Armenie for the first time today. Wowie zowie! I see why you keep talking about it!
    I also love the Double Vanille (who did Vanille – Menardo as well?) Would love to try more of Annick Menardo’s perfumes, especially the Bois d’Argent – please enter me in the draw.

    • Lee says:

      I think the SDV is something knocked out by Monsieur Guerlain in his spare time. He’s still at it, you know. You’re in!

  • Joan says:

    I have a full bottle of LL Au Masculin (bought unsniffed) when it first launched and I love it. It’s the only Annick Menardo that I have sniffed. I would be thrilled to sample Bois d’ Armenie. I love guaiac wood…..and coriander…and patchouli…I’ve been a “crazy fool” toooo long.

    • Lee says:

      I hope you’re cured soon, either by like or design! LLAM is one of my fave designer scents by a looooooooong way! You have great taste!

  • Carol says:

    I have a bottle of Bvlgari Black waiting to be opened in 9 days for my birthday and would love to try some of Menardo’s other creations, so would love to be in the draw!

  • MattS says:

    Well, you’ve mentioned about fifteen scents I’ve never sniffed and about fourteen that I suddenly feel I have to sniff. Please consider me in the drawing and help me possibly remedy this. I love the idea of perfume crushes and crushes on perfumers and, really, crushes in general. They can make an otherwise mundane week so much more interesting.