It’s raining outside as I type – that fine misty rain that causes aches in all the wrong places. It’s replaced the snow. Roll on spring, baby.
I don’t buy many perfumes any more. In fact, I don’t even test that many. Of our shared list of the best of 2009 here at the Posse (I didn’t exactly pull my finger out to contribute, knowing little of the territory…), I’ve tried precisely one out of the twenty four or so mentioned. Ouch. Isn’t it time someone disbarred me from contributing?
It’s not that I like, admire, or love smells any less. It’s just somehow my puppy energy is now being sent out on errands to other obsessive ports of call, still wagging its tail, nose moist, eyes eager. Instead of trying and buying new things, I’ve been ploughing through my three boxes of decants, and methodically considering if there’s anything there that might become fbw.
Front runners – long term, have been l’Artisan’s Timbuktu and Parfumerie Generale’s Cozé. They have some connections – both strike me as strong on patchouli and vetiver, and are exotic enough to say, ‘hey, I’m different’, without being wacky enough to say ‘bring on the gimp outfit’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s your bag, my beloved kinky reader.
Long story short – I received a 100ml bottle of Cozé from Les Senteurs last week. Let me make this clear – I paid for it; it was no gift. And yes, you got that right – 100mls.
See, there’s something about Cozé that has haunted me ever since I first smelled it, back in 2005 or something. It’s clearly the sum of its parts. You get all the ingredients exactly defined – the vetiver and patchouli already mentioned, the triumvirate gourmand thrum of chocolate (dry, dust, dark – think 85-90% cocoa solids), coffee ( a hint on the breath of a secret lover, if you’ll pardon my silly whimsy) and vanilla (but not in overkill or plastic doll head sense – it never dominates), peppery wood and spice facets, and that ever-present allusion to hemp/cannabis/ganja/weed/draw – at times a touch of ashtray, other moments a hint of the great green outdoors – all leading to a strangely surprising earthy, rather than oriental, effect.
But it isn’t the ingredients that haunt me. Like all brilliant scents, it’s their interplay. This is Pierre Guillaume’s best work (imho, naturellement) and I’ll tell you why. You can intellectualise this scent into the sum of its parts if you want to, and the whole smell of the thing isn’t diminished by it. Wearing it, however, you realise that each element weaves impressively in and out of the others, shifting the shape of the smell each time you catch a waft of it, and never settling on a fixed form. I love mutability in scent, and though the earthiness dominates throughout its wearing, though the heart of this perfume is a hippie (even if he’s more dedicated to cleanliness and hiking than covering up stank with headshop oils), this wonder tells you that you can be whoever you want, godammit, and that whoever smells bloody wonderful. Isn’t that what great perfume is all about?
As for Timbuktu – I need to decide whether I need another green earthy oriental in my life.
If you’ve never smelled Cozé, I can help you out. Three samples to people chosen at random from the comments below. And oh, if you have a shapeshifter you want to nominate as top notch, spiffing, da bes’, please do so!