Alexander McQueen Kingdom, 2003

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Perfumer Jaques Cavallier.

When cumin is used to indicate animalic notes, it typically doesn’t work. My complaint with Kingdom isn’t that the cumin is strong, but that because it doesn’t actually replicate animalic materials it is imbalanced and out of place. It simply smells fake and makes the perfume seem cheap. I’ll leave it to you to judge whether cumin is a viable replacement for true animalics, but the spurious note that really sinks the perfume isn’t cumin. The real culprit is the mushy-musky drydown that seems like a thwarted attempt to emulate sandalwood.

Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumière Noire pour Homme made me rethink the use of cumin. It paired a roasted cumin scent with rose and recreates the feel if not the exact scent of the rose chypres of the 1970s-1980s. Kingdom reads more as an oriental than a nouvelle chypre, but both show that cumin is more effective as an adjunct to  patchouli than as a replacement for castoreum, civet and other animalics.

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