"And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be— and whenever I look up, there will be you.”
-Gabriel Oak, Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd
Have you ever smelled a perfume that whispers “Home” to you?
Wim Wenders’ iconic 1980s film “Wings of Desire/Angels Over Berlin” was the original inspiration and title for this new perfume collaboration of Frapin (the cognac people) and Bertrand Duchaufour. “Les Ailes du Desir” sounds rather steamy, but in fact, the movie, starring the incomparable Bruno Ganz, revolved around themes of basic human connection, and depicted an angel’s search for meaning, love, and family. These themes of comfort, warmth, and homecoming match “1697”, named for the year the Frapin family received its coat-of-arms. It’s the most compelling and cozy winter perfume I’ve worn, most especially so as night falls, which is early here in the snowy Alps.
“1697” opens with a strong accord of dried fruit stewed in spiced rum. There’s quite a bit of rum absolute, which gives an ambered liqueur effect. Cognac absolute does indeed exist, but M. Duchaufour found it clashed with the other accords and switched to rum. Next, there’s a heart of jasmine and rose, then antique leather, roasted nuts, dark woods, myrrh (of course, it’s a Duchaufour!), with a creamy background of tonka bean, vanilla, and labdanum; far in the distance, there’s a bite of ambergris and castoreum for a subtle edge. In the movie, there’s some great footage of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that has a similar animalic effect.
“1697” is curling up in front of a roaring fire with your favorite sweetie and a couple of cats, some cognac and caramel-roasted nuts to sip and nibble, while you page through a pile of antique, leather-bound books. Yum. It is scheduled to launch this month.
Full disclosure: I received a decant of “1697” from the perfumer, at my request.