Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hold that Tiger

Der süße Duft der Blümen ist verflogen. So begins the German translation of the second strophe of the Tang Dynasty Zhang-Ji poem, “The Lonely Man in Autumn,” which Mahler set as one of the orchestral songs in Das Lied von der Erde. (Rough translation: “The flowers’ sweet perfume has gone.”) It was a propos, then, that on the day I took farewell-till-spring sniffs in a local rose garden, I received a package of samples from Paris-based English designer cum perfumer James Heeley – among them the brilliantly anti-floral Esprit du Tigre (2006).

Much has been made of this fragrance being inspired by the camphorous Eastern cure-all known as Tiger Balm, and I can’t say I rushed to test it on that account. But among the many pleasant things in the sample box, this stood out. Could it just have been the juxtaposition of crisp autumn air and the yellow glow of the gingko trees outside my window? Well, I’d wager this wouldn’t have been high on my list a few weeks ago. Spice, camphor and menthol tend to turn off my nose in warm weather. The eugenol (clove) singing at the heart of Esprit du Tigre is beautiful now, whereas in September it would have dominated the other notes and anesthetized the better part of my olfactory receptors. Wintergreen is used judiciously in Esprit’s upper registers, sweetening and soothing, if ever so slightly, the medicine-man character of the whole.

All in all, I find Esprit du Tigre to be a unique, deep, cool weather masculine. It conjures up for me a funky downtown loft hung with Buddhist thangkas, animal skins and the spoils of long trips abroad. It reminds me of a time when men’s colognes were made for men - and the women who wanted daily mementos of their scent.

This is one tiger I’d like to have by the tail.


Blogger Lucy said...

It seems like this scent would be very bracing and keep the wearer healthy going forward through the coming winter. Interesting use of camphor as a perfume. I know the Egyptians liked it combined with woods. A strong ambient presence.

I am still seeing some late blooming roses in people's front gardens in Brooklyn, even now in November. Yay for Brooklyn's pockets of mild micro-climates.

November 11, 2008 4:58 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Lucy, We must do a Williamsburg day, despite the relative lack of flora/fauna here.

Yes, the use of camphor here is interesting and makes me want to assemble a list of perfumes showcasing the note (and cardamom, which is inherently camphorous). The styles of Duchaufour and Buxton come to mind.

November 11, 2008 1:37 PM  
Anonymous +Q Perfume said...

I love perfumes for men that smell like men.
really, I hate men smelling like me...

November 11, 2008 7:16 PM  
Blogger Parfum said...

Ive been waiting for a mens perfume that really screams "manly" for a while now. I actually just bought a bottle of "Arrogance" by Pikenz to quench that thirst in the meantime. This new tiger scent seems to be just what I was waiting for, cant wait to try it out, might even write a review :)

November 17, 2008 2:38 PM  
Blogger Parfum said...

hey, id like to come back and just thank your for writing this review, it actually gave me some evidence to use as an arguement in an article I had to write for perfume school

I posted it on my blog it mentions you! :)

November 17, 2008 10:53 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Acc. to the Heeley people in Paris, the line is coming to Barneys.

Parfum, I'm intrigued with your 80s cologne reference. Last year I did an entry on 80s men's scents:

November 18, 2008 9:36 AM  

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