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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Perfume Review: Comptoir Sud Pacifique Piroguier

There was a time when Comptoir Sud Pacifique was not all about the smell of pastries and candies, and when their Eaux de Voyage took a wearer to places more diverse than just same old "tropical paradise" (yes, there still are a couple of "spicy" and "woody" fragrances in the lineup, but they are rather tame and more or less lost in the sea of vanillas and fruits). There were Eau Grise and Eau de Cypres, Opoponax and Cotonnade, Eau des Arts, and Chensylang...Granted, there still was Vanilla This and Vanilla That and quite a lot of things tropique, and dull blends were undoubtedly still being hyped up by the use of intriguing/exotic names, but overall the line offered much greater variety and originality. Knowing Comptoir Sud Pacifique as it is now, it is hard to believe it once had in its collection a leathery, tarry, mossy brew like Piroguier...

I was once told that in one of my previous lives I was a conquistador ...and not that I really believe in previous lives, but there is a brooding, dangerous, ruthless, essentially masculine spot deep, deep down inside me that would invariably react in a visceral manner to a smoky, barbarous, brutishly sensual leather scent like Piroguier. Wearing Piroguier makes me want to brandish a sword, to sail the seven seas, to discover a new land, and to generally act in an appallingly politically incorrect and socially unacceptable manner. Poetry aside, Piroguier is quite a simple scent, all notes seem to be apparent at once, and there are not many of them; the composition does not go through any sort of development on me ...but such simplicity is conceptually justified- after all, there is no time for subtleties and complexities, when one has new worlds to conquer, and the spareness of the notes is more than made up for by their sumptuousness. The leather here has the rich, tarry undertone that I adore and that adds wonderful, fleshy robustness to the blend. The meaty smokiness of leather is, however, not heavy or overwhelming, since it is balanced by a green, dry and earthy accord, which I take to be vetiver and oakmoss. And that is basically all there is to Piroguier: the heartiness of luxurious leather and the dry austerity of the green/earthy/mossy/herbal accord. Sensual, brutal, irresistibly primal, paradoxically, thanks to that dry-green note and the purposefully unembellished feel of the blend, rather elegant - this is Piroguier.

I will leave you with one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite Russian authors, Nicolai Gumilev:

The Conquistador

Conquistador, set in the iron armor,
I gaily follow the outgoing star,
I go over precipices, harbors
And rest in joyful groves, so far.

Oh, how wild and starless heaven's shelter!
The haze is growing, but, silent, I must wait.
Conquistador, in iron armor set,
I'll find my love, find it sooner or later.

And if the stars are void of midday words,
I shall myself create them for the worlds,
And warmly charm them by the songs of battles.

I am a brother to the gulfs and storms,
But I will plait into my uniforms
A lily -- the blue star of flourishing valleys.

Piroguier has been discontinued. Hopefully a bottle will eventually pop up on eBay, but I must warn you, I am lying in wait and I will fight for it, fiercely.

The winner of the yesterday's prize draw is Amarie. Dear Amarie, please send me your address using the contact me link on the right. Thank you, everyone, for playing!


Blogger tmp00 said...

Birchy, smoky leather? Normally I would fight you for this, but I know for both our sakes there must be detante. I will hope for a decant, should you
find some.

Besides, you'd kick my a$$.

11:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Very wise attitude you have. :-D And I would absolutely share. If I ever find it. It seems harder to come upon than Iris Gris. Well, ok, as hard as Iris Gris :-)

11:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

It's sad to think of all those discontinued CSP scents. I have absolutely no luck with their current lineup, with even Aqua Motu, which has been recommended to me several times, smelling hideously of synthetic watermelon, like a scratch and sniff sticker. *sigh* I just looked up the long lost Eau de Cypres: pine, cypress (a fave note), rosemary, bergamot, cedar and patchouli. Man, can you imagine them carrying that today?

11:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I can't. And Piroguier is even *more* out of place there right now. Nothing against vanillas, it is simply that, when one reads the list of the fragrances they used to have, one becomes rather said that the diversity is gone from the line.

11:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I barely recognize CSP. They turned the EDP The (acute accent on final e)--a rich, smoky very dark tea fragrance--into Ecume de The, a light version with orange pekoe perhaps, not lapsang souchong. I've sometimes wondered what has brought about this weird change. Not that they didn't have sickeningly sweet fragrances before. Lait Sucre sent me running to the sink.

1:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sighhh... Piroguier is GORGEOUS. And Eau Grise sublimely strange. Rizières I loved..... Nowadays the only CSP I can live with is Bois de Filao, and that seems to be slipping away rapidly. Maybe we should run a hospice for ailing and dying fragrances, cosseting and spoiling them rotten so they'll stay with us a bit longer?

3:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Such a shame! I had no idea they ever made that kind of scent before they devolved into the vanilla sugar wonderland they are today.

You go, Pirate Girl! :)

7:30 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Hmm. In an ideal universe several bottles of this will pop up at once on ebay so that we don't all have to do fierce battle. This sounds divine. A kind person sent me some Eau Gris to try not long ago and I was shocked to find it was a CSP. Gorgeous, very interesting stuff. And, like Maria B, I deeply miss the original The.

7:34 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Colombina ... this isn't another April Fools joke? CSP only makes fragrances that smell like artificial cake batter and sunscreen. It's a law or something.

Not thinking about those old fragrances. (Stomps off.)

7:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

And I bet that even Lait Sucre, which made you feel unwell, was still better than today's Matin Calin.

7:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I haven't even tried Eau Grise and Rizières and The, etc., and I don't want to. It will be more heartbreak for me, like with Piroguier.

7:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

To be fair, they were always very much into vanilla, that's how they started, but there were more things they offered. :-(

7:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What was Eau Gris(e?) like?...wait, do I want to know? :-(

7:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes, when Someone Special sent it to me, a tarry leather labeled CSP, I thought she was having a laugh :-)

7:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

Ooh, it sounds lovely! Too bad it's discontinued... I can't afford competing with you all on Ebay so I'm not even going to look for it...

8:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

There is no need to go and look, it's not there anyway :-(

8:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe CSP had such interesting scents. Normally just the mention of CSP bores me to tears, but this scent actually kind of sounds exciting, even though I'm not a big leather gal.(BTW, I fell hard for Dzing! at the sniffa and am now a proud owner of a bottle) Here's hoping you do score it on ebay!

9:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Congratulations!! I am so glad you love Dzing too now. *feels tearful* :-)

9:35 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

This IS excellent, isn't it? I had doubts, too, when someone sent it to me, but. . .

Now I want to try the other discontinued scents that people mentioned. . .

9:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I was going to blame you for making me love this one, but now that you said that you were a "victim" of someone else too, I'll blame him/her instead. I bet it was a he. I think I can even guess who it was :-)

9:48 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Nah, it was a she. I don't think you know her; she's Israeli/Russian (hi, if you are reading:). But she herself was sort of a victim of someone else (another she) who also victimized the man you are thinking of--I think (if that makes sense). I believe my "she" actually got a bottle of this, though, and was kind enough to share some, knowing my love for leather.

11:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Believe it or not I understood the complicated chain of events you described :-)

11:51 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

PS -- don't be shy -- I read over on PP that you hate the Niki -- I still hope you do a post! (you can call it This Stuff Stinks or something equally succinct) ;-) . Seriously, you don't have to do it, but no hard feelings. Guess I should have sent it to Patty! :-P

12:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh I will totally post about it!...the only thing that is holding me back is that I haven't found a scent that I think another blogger I have in mind would like and should wear. I want to combine the two posts in one.

12:26 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I do like Bois de Filao, but I suppose it is rather tame. Well, CSP has found their market and I suppose they are making zillions. Had never even heard of Piroguier -- do you know what year it was?

12:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It is like 1990 or something like that, not old at all.

12:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

CSP really did used to have a nice array of non-gourmand scents. What happened? I've never tried Piroguier but you make it sound so... appealing in a barbaric kind of way. ;D

3:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah, something happened to them along the way :-( Very sad.

3:06 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I tried not to fall in love with it, but it was difficult. You beautifully captured everything I enjoyed about this perfume. *Sigh*

6:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*sigh* They discontinue this and keep churning out those candies. Of course, there is a big market for candies, but many people would buy Piroguier too. Grr.

6:59 PM EDT  

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