(image Peter Hujar)
Perfumer Bernard Chant.
Chypres in general and leather chypres more specifically seem to be enormously popular perfume genres among perfume fans. Their complexities and balances of starkness and richness make them make them ripe for the continuing fascination of perfumistas. Azurée is a perfect fit for this group. I’ve smelled the current Gres Cabochard from which Azurée derives, and while reformulation has ruined it, I can see the strong family resemblance in Azurée. Estée Lauder continues these older fragrances in their largely unedited form, and deserve kudos for doing so. If you want to experience the good old, bad old swaggering fragrances of the mid 20th century, just visit a well stocked Lauder counter.
Azurée really matches the description of the classic chypres—filling a room, conjuring a presence, chewing up the scenery. It has the bitterness of a hard, green chypre and dryness of the stark leathers. The complexity of an era that had little legal restriction on use of materials. It’s ridiculous then to see Azurée described in Lauder press as “light” and a “woody citrus” as if we were talking about a specter-like 90s fragrance. It is stark to the point of harsh, scorchingly dry, and inedible in the way strong leathers are. It is perfect.
Azurée is remarkably similar to Aramis by Aramis (Bernard Chant, same era, same company.) The two fit spectacularly well in the EL feminine-masculine tradition of Aliage–Devin, Cinnabar-JHL, Aromatic Elixir-Aramis 900.
Two other small points. I don’t care much about perfume packaging and bottles, but this bottle has a wonderful and simple distinctiveness. Also, I’m happy to point out that this perfume, in its potent concentration (“pure fragrance spray”) is shockingly inexpensive, and possibly the best-spent money in perfumery.