Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guerlain Parure

If I'm to disclose which perfumes had inspired my creating Persephone perfume, Parure (1975) would be one of them. Although Parure is a Chypre and Persephone an Oriental-Gourmand and they smell nothing alike, they share some aspects, at least compositionally. Guerlain described Parure in their 1977 ad as "a wildly original blend of lilac and amber, cyprus and plum blossoms", and that "You don't just dab on a perfume like Parure. You wear it body and soul". I, too, wanted to capture the jewel-toned glory of purple notes juxtaposed with deep, sweet ambery tones, to create a scent that smelled regal, introspective, radiant and "almost unattainable", another blurb from the same 1977 Parure ad.

Parure is a hard perfume to wear. It's categorized as a Chypre Floral-Animalic, and it's a strong scent with definite Chypre chacteristics. When I first discovered Guerlain's website, I noticed Parure was not sold on the Japanese Guerlain site but only on the European and US sites. I figured the leathery boldness was too much for the Asian market to take (although some people probably would have loved to wear this, too--there's no accounting for individual taste). Well, I'd gone out to smell this at the Saks counter some years ago. Since I generally don't wear Chypre perfumes (with the exception of some of the gentler ones such as Givenchy III), I didn't expect to like Parure, but I liked it from first sniff and bought an EDT on the spot. Nowadays, I believe Parure is only sold in Europe in EDT formulation and I'm not even sure if it's still being produced. If the newly reformulated Chamade parfum is an indication, the current Parure probably doesn't smell like it has much body and soul anymore. A piano sound on the synth is not a real piano--won't someone tell the perfume industry we can smell the difference?

On the whole, Parure is a rose-leather-amber with plum and lilac notes to give it the dazzling jewel-toned brilliant structure. It has a slightly acidic bite with a warm leather base mingled with wet moss and isn't too dry. It smells supremely confident but refined, and much softer than most others in the genre of rosy leather Chypres, thanks to the fey floralcy woven into the complex texture. The magic's in the guerlinade, and it is ineffable beauty you must wait for. I once wore Parure and found a woman not much older than I stopping dead in her tracks to smell my perfume, seemingly shocked to smell something so retro on a funky woman in a miniskirt and boots. She didn't get it and that's fine. She smelled of a simple Victoria's Secret spray which didn't keep me transfixed in quite the same way. To each her own. Not everyone understands the more intricate, sophisticated musical passages I love, either.

(Guerlain Parure ad, 1976)