Histoires de Parfums, 1740 (2000)

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(image, Jane Goodall.  source National Geographic)

Perfumer Gérald Ghislain

Perfume genres are based on materials and notes: chypre (oakmoss), floral, gourmand, fougère (coumarin), oriental (labdanum), fruitchouli. Sometimes these categories are functionally helpful for perfume wearers. For instance, I can say pretty much across the board that I’m fascinated by chypres and uninterested in sweet gourmands. But there are instances where the compositional-genre approach is less effective. That is, I tend to like fougères but generally don’t go in for oud-centred fragrances, but these are more predispositions than hard-and-fast rules.

While I accept the value of construction-based genres for precision, there are times that they they favor those who make perfumes over those who wear perfume. Discussions based on materials and notes are imprecise for some discussions and I wonder if there are other functional categories to use. I search for qualitative categories that could be more practical, but I have to admit that I don’t have much to contribute to the vocabulary of an alternate classification. This is a reflection of my specific lack of proficiency, but also of our culture’s hobbled language for scent. It lacks both precision and imagination.

1740 is rumbling and sumptuous. It’s church-organ-harmonious, full-bodied. Typical of the conundrum of talking about perfume, although I have an image of what this sort of fragrance is, I don’t have a good word to name or describe it. My fall-back is Huge Fucking Perfumes. The fragrances in this pseudo-genre aren’t necessarily alike compositionally but they wear similarly for me. I think perfumery would look different if the terminology used to communicate focussed more on the wearer’s experience.

1740 is a dry, leathery perfume with a sweet tobacco smile. It is dense but expansive, rich but not bubbly. This sort of fragrance tends to get pigeon-holed with aspirational gender goals. ‘It’s the sort of fragrance Cary Grant, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney…would wear.‘ Since gender is beside the point in perfume, let’s just flip it. 1740 is the sort of fragrance that Michelle Yeoh, Gwen Eiffel or Jane Goodall … would wear. Worn for yourself, it’s the center point between cozy and stimulating. Worn for others, it projects confidence and approachability. For me, more than most fragrances, huge fucking perfumes deserve to be worn primarily for yourself. Others liking them or not is beside the point.

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