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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfumerie Generale Collection of Fragrances

Pierre Guillaume, creator of Parfumerie Generale describes his philosophy this way: “Luxury is not a question of being excessive and the quest for a modern note must not result in overly intellectual perfumes that are impossible to wear.” I could not agree more and I believe that the seven scents in Parfumerie Generale collection follow that principle to perfection. These are contemporary and complex fragarnces, most of them with a little twist, with a little unexpected note making them stand out, but, just as their creator claims, they are very wearable, intimate scents, meant to rouse emotions.

Cologne Grand Siecle
With notes of lemon, tangerine, wheat, vetiver, cardamom, and bitter orange, this is fresh, sparkling cologne, which would be wonderful worn in summer, but which is not too light and transparent and thus is quite attractive in cold weather as well. The piercing lemon note is sweetened by fruitiness of tangerine; the drydown is quite “substantial” and earthy thanks to vetiver and ever so slightly sweet and spicy, because of the cardamom note.

Parfumerie Generale intended this scent for men but I would urge the ladies to pay no attention to that; there is nothing overly masculine about this fragrance. It is my favorite of the line; with notes of Canapa Sativa seed oil, pepper, pimento, coffee, ebony, chocolate, and bourbon vanilla, this is a rich, sumptuous composition, with luxurious accords smoothly blended into a dark, spicy harmony. This is a “pitch black” perfume with woody and (very black) coffee notes being most prominent on my skin. Those, who, like me, are wary of chocolate in perfume, should not worry, the accord is very subtle and elegant here. This was without a doubt "full bottle worthy" for me.

Cuir Venenum
My second favorite of the seven scents, and also very much "full bottle worthy", this “reinterpreted, modernized, feminized” leather perfume has notes of orange blossom absolute, citrus, myrrh, and “polyalcohols of coconut and musk”. This leather fragrance is both fresh due to the citrus notes and softly animalic due to the musk accord. I really like the musk Pierre Guillaume uses in his scents (and it is present in many if not most of Parfumerie Generale perfumes), it is sensual bordering on “dirty” but is not overwhelming. Cuir Venenum starts just a little too harshly green to my taste, but as it dries down, the scent sweetens and develops into an unusual gourmand leather fragrance with animalic base.

Intrigant Patchouli
This is one of very few pacthouli scents that I would not mind wearing. With notes of ginger, patchouli, Mysore sandalwood, benzoin, amber, and musk, it is a little spicy and a little animalic (yet again); patchouli is of course evident but not overwhelming. I especially love the ginger note in Intrigant Patchouli, it adds a lovely kick to the composition.

L’Eau de Circe
Damask rose, jasmine, osmanthus, orchid, ylang ylang, white peach leaves, tangerine, patchouli, wood, amber and honey balm combine in this sweet yet quite green floral blend with fruity undertone. This is my least favorite of the line; it is neither too heady, nor too sweet…it is just rather uninteresting. I doubt that Circe the Enchantress would have worn this light, inoffensive scent. I think she would have opted for Cuir Venenum or Coze instead.

L’Eau Rare Matale
With notes of Matale black tea, woods and spices, this is a spicy, earthy and dark tea scent that somehow manages to be rather unremarkable. How can a “spicy, earthy and dark” fragrance be unremarkable you might ask. I don’t know the answer. I can only tell you that, despite being very well blended and very wearable, L’Eau Rare Matale lacks certain “oomph”. Please click here to read Robin’s much more favorable review.

Musc Maori
Musc Maori is an unusual gourmand scent that manages to be both almost-foody and animalic. It has notes of Cumaru wood, coffee tree blossom, white musk, cocoa bean, amber, and Tonka bean; according to Robin (Now Smell This), it smells like New York Egg Cream. Uunfortunately I have never tasted that delicious sounding concoction and I can only describe Musc Maori as a creamy, dessert-like scent with chocolate and coffee undertones, with generous helpings of that very appealing Parfumerie Generale musk. It is just a tad too sweet for me but it is still one of my favorite scents in the line and I predict that fans of gourmand perfumes would love Musc Maori.

The seven scents are right now only available on Parfumerie Generale website. Miniature 7ml bottles cost EUR 8.00. Full size bottles retail for EUR 65.00- 135.00. I would recommend everyone to fill in their Malle-esque questionnaire; Parfumerie Generale does not offer to send free samples, but they will get back to you straightaway and will analyze your perfume tastes in great detail, at least that was my experience; I thought that part of their customer service was quite remarkable. The line is also availabe at The Perfume Shoppe in Canada, they do ship to the US.

*Images are from



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue about overly intellectual but unwearable notes is the burning question in today's perfumery. Thanks for this great post with so many details.

5:16 AM EST  
Blogger Heather said...

Columbina - I think I could learn to hate you!!! Only yesterday I did a post about this house - I am salivating over the whole kaboosh - the service, the tantalising nibbles they offer, and agonising about whether I should buy a sample - and here you are sampling them all!! You greedy greedy girl!

Green with envy is what I am!

6:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Did you fill in their questionnaire? If not, see what the lovely gentleman recommends to you and proceed from there :-D

9:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree, that is why when I read that quote on their site I found I was energetically nodding my head. I am all for complex, unusual scents, but they have to be wearable.

9:29 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear "i",
Please don't hate me, let's be friends :-) I was just like you, salivating, agonizing, and then a wonderful generous person sent me sample vials of all seven. I just got very luck.

9:34 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

yesterday on MUA perfumer posted a link to what seems like a new Rosine scent. ...As you said, there are just too many releases. I feel like I can't handle the growning list of lemmings anymore!!

I have no idea what No 9 is going to be like, but am of course hoping for a woody(oriental) scent :-D

9:36 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

I couldn't agree more about their fabulous customer service! Not only did they do an incredible job on the questionnaire, but, as I mentioned, when I ordered 2 minis they sent an extra one, an "Hors Serie" scent called "Rose Insense" (with my name on the little label)! Much to my surprise, since I am not really a Patch hag (and sometimes really dislike it), my favorite of the 3 I got was Intrigant Patchouli--lovely, powdery and sensual! I liked Cuir V., too, but it was a bit harsh on me. Now, of course, I'm dying to try Coze:)

10:00 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I wrote to Herr Wuchsa last night asking for please please please more info on the new Rosine LOL I hope he replies with a list of notes. If he does, I will post his reply. New Rosine scent is like a huge event. Though if they do get Ambre Russe, that will have to come first. :-)

10:09 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Now, if I order and they don't send me a mine with my name on it, I am going to erase what I've written about their fabulous service. Just kidding!

Please don't do anything rash about Coze. I slipped a little sample in your little package (which goes out today). :-D

10:11 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing these! I just ordered four of the samples and spoke to them on the phone. My French is abysmal, so they found someone who spoke English and he was astoundingly nice and helpful. They have absolutely over the top excellent CS. I'm determined to like these scents for that alone.

10:33 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Many thanks! Yours has left today, too:) I actually didn't think to put my "private scent" in it, b/c, frankly, I wasn't that crazy about it, but if you're curious, LMK, and I will send another package. . . I'm sure you will get one with your name on it (it looks like they print them up on a computer); the question is--will it be the SAME one? You need to order so that we can find out:)

10:33 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, we agree on Coze & Grand Siecle, both of which I like very much, but weeping for my poor L'Eau Rare Matale which only I adore (LOL!)

10:38 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

What a great post. I am thrilled to read that decent-sized samples are available for purchase, if more houses did this I could spend less time poaching on eBay. Thanks.

11:17 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Ivanovna (I *love* your username!),
I hope that CS stays at the same excellent level. I have a feeling it was probably the lovely and knowledgeable Lionel you talked to, his English is great (judging by his email):-)

12:07 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Lead me not into temptation, I can find the way myself LOL
I will definitely order if not this week then next, and then we can compare notes on the presonal scents (if they send it to me!!)

12:09 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't dislike Matale at all, it is lovely and wearable...just...I don't know what I am missing...I need Lutens to release a tea scent very soon!! :-D

Thank you again for making it possible to try all of these, I am very impresed with them!

12:12 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Exactly! If more of those kinds of minis were available, how great would it have been. I am a chronic scent-underapplier and I get bored quickly, so all I really need are those smallish bottles.

12:13 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice overview! I liked some of these more than others, but Cuir V. is my favourite so far. They all seem to lack a bit here and there (I tried all but 2). If one of my friends was not kind enough to send me samples, I doubt I would spend money on them.

12:48 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am very grateful to R, who shared her samples with me, otherwise I would have never been able to try all 7 at once. Now that I have tried them, I would love to have those miniature spray bottles of practically all of them

1:01 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

According to Lionel, the new scent coming out next Fall is to combine "oriental warmth" and "olfactory bitterness". Advance samples might be sent to their client list by June, he writes. Sounds quite tempting. A touch of bitterness is very appealing to me just now. I am about to order samples of CV and Coze, which were his recommendations... So many scents, so little time (and money. And skin surface).

3:28 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

That sounds very appealing.
And your recommended scents were my favorites in the line!

4:44 PM EST  
Blogger carmencanada said...

Hi M. Just got my PG samples: I asked for Cozé and Cuir Venenum, I got Intrigant Patchouli and the new Ab ozu irati thrown in... Kudos to the customer relations service...
Sampled Cozé today. A blast of searing pepper and pimento, laced with a sharp medicinal scent (is it the Indian hemp?) soon underlaid by a powdery amber base. I don't get as much coffee as you did, more of a very smooth patchouli brushed with chocolate, and more of that amber base. Very soft and well-blended. Long-lasting too. I'll sample the rest as days go by...

4:28 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

How wonderful! It does sound like their Customer Service is consistently good.
I am very curious about that Ab ozu irati scent!

4:39 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe someone said this already (for some reason I can't find all the comments) -- but you can get this line in the US at (the Scent Bar). If you're anywhere near LA, be sure to visit--they're very knowledgeable and the nicest people--they truly want you to find something you enjoy and there's zero sale pressure(and, no, I don't know anyone there). I'm wondering if anyone find this similar to Serge Lutens Vanille? I haven't done side by side comparison, but this reminds me of SL, though maybe a bit sweeter.

7:36 PM EST  

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