Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir (2010)

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir
Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir © Victor Wong

Who can rock Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir? But first, let’s take a look at some of the common comments you will find on fragrance forums about this fragrance:

  1. It smells like pee.
  2. It smells like a dirty old man
  3. It smells pungent/disgusting
  4. It smells like a farm
  5. Why?

Hmm… Let’s assume you are one of the lucky people who don’t have strong body odour, and if the above are all true, you choose to wear this perfume to… what? smell like you have just peed on your own pants? You know, accidents happen. Or do they? Or, maybe you want to smell like a farm hand after spending the morning feeding horses and stepping into soft things. Hey, you could become extra charismatic if you wear this perfume while wearing a suit, for you will become paradoxical, a city man with a country flair.

Absolue Pour le Soir is a one-of-a-kind perfume, and it completely destroys what common people perceive a perfume should smell like (i.e. people who are only exposed to Tresor, Daisy and Chanel Coco).The above comments are from people who obviously don’t like this perfume, but I wouldn’t say they are unfounded. They are, to a certain extent, true. In fact, it reminds me of unhealthy salted fish that Chinese people love to eat. (The innards of the fish are removed and packed with salt, and hung tailsup to sun-dry. The flesh eventually smells honey sweet and slightly rotten, and cut into small pieces and thrown into a rice cooker/hot pot. When the rice is ready, it’s smells savoury.)

I definitely love this perfume, but I doubt I would want a bottle at the beginning of my fragrance journey. In fact, when I told people a year ago that I had never smelled it they said they were completely surprised – you own hundreds bottles of perfume and write crazy reviews and you have never smelled it? Whoah.

If you look at the note breakdown of Absolue Pour le Soir, it’s rather simple and unsuspicious (rose, honey, incense, benzoin, ylang-ylang, cumin, Atlas cedar and sandalwood,) but the end result is absolutely animalic, warm and primordial. It unearths the emotion buried deep inside your brain by your caveman ancestors. It’s a shame that Mr. Kurkdjian decides to discontinue this gem.

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Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima’s Sogno Reale (2015)

Mendittorosa's Sogno Reale (100ml)
Mendittorosa’s Sogno Reale © Victor Wong

This year I had a “gift exchange” with a friend. We sent each other a bottle of perfume, and the one I received was Sogno Reale. I had acquired a sample of it a few months ago, and I must apologize, I didn’t pay much attention to it after dabbing some on my skin. (I also did not enjoy testing samples from little vials.) I had just received too many samples that month, and not many perfumes grabbed my attention for they didn’t have a distinct voice or a “catchy” top note.

Now that I have a full bottle with a sprayer, I have changed my view on this perfume completely. Smelling it develop on my skin was very interesting – the first few seconds (yes, the first few seconds, and it is quite enough for most people to lose interest if it isn’t attractive enough) gives me the impression that it’s a weak perfume. But as it develops, it has a slow fizzy effect, almost like you are watching an effervescent tablet dance and dissolve in a glass of water. Or like watching a “tea bomb” blossom in a glass teapot, but with a caveat – I have no idea what’s in the tea bomb and the flavour is like nothing I have smelled before.

That’s because I didn’t check Fragrantica. I didn’t do any research on this perfume because it’s a gift. I just sprayed some on with no pre-conceived idea what kind of story it was supposed to tell me, and also I didn’t understand the Italian title of the perfume. I had been guessing what notes were in the perfume the whole day and I was clueless. It smelled a little powdery, a little uplifting (aldehyde, maybe?), a little sweet, maybe a little floral, a little ancient, like there’s some mysterious mild-smelling herbs or resins stored in a jar an archaeologist had dug up from a tomb and decided it’s quite safe to consume. In other words, it’s very well blended, completely mysterious and alluring.

I gave up, it’s a puzzle I could’t solve, and I looked it up in Fragrantica. (Spoiler Alert) it has hyrax, styrax, olibanum, rum, tuberose and sea notes, if they are important to you.

Paloma Picasso’s Paloma Picasso (1984, Splash)

Paloma Picasso Splash Bottle © Victor Wong
Paloma Picasso Splash Bottle © Victor Wong

Paloma Picasso comes in a glass bottle housed inside an elliptical plastic donut-shaped black plastic casing, which reminds me of everything from the 80s – big, bold and chunky. Not surprisingly, this perfume was indeed created in the 80s. What bugs me most is that I can see it wherever perfumes are sold in Toronto – “You again? But I don’t like your face!” I had never bothered to pick it up to take a sniff – until the sales lady at my local perfume shop ran out of perfumes to recommend and shoved it in my face, saying with an unenthusiastic voice, “It’s nice. Smell it.”

Was it nice? Well… I thought it’s quite nice, but no dice (reformulated version). Then, one day, a question popped in my head – does this brand have any other perfumes? It’s obviously a hit, (it’s still here after more than 30 years) and I can see it being sold brand-new in department stores everywhere. Why stop there? I began doing some research and this is my discovery:

  1. The perfume was actually designed by the daughter of famous artist Picasso…
  2. who was a jewelry designer for Tiffany and this was her first perfume (!!!) …
  3. and the “proper” category which the perfume belongs to is “Animalic Chypre”… (from the book “The Perfume Guide” by Susan Irvine)
  4. because it has a big dosage of beaver and civet musk

and I stopped right there – wait, it doesn’t smell animalic to me at all. When I think animalic, I think furry musk, Serge Luten’s Muscs Kublai Khan, and poopy oud.

I began looking for a vintage version of it to study more and luckily I came across a vintage splash bottle version that’s actually very cute. It smelled like a lot of perfumes from the 80s – a strong floral chypre, OMG! stop! stop! stop! Too much patchouli, with a very strong patchouli and sandalwood base that almost makes it very soapy and green (like Robert Piguet’s Bandit). It also has a sweet ambery side fencing off the patchouli from raping the jasmines and roses.

As for the notorious civet and castoreum musks that are supposed to be very apparent, I am still looking for them…