If you were to define the late 1990’s, early 2000’s by a smell, you’d do worse than point to sultry floral vanillas such as Hypnotic Poison (milky almond), the original Dior Addict (boozy night flower vanilla), Organza Indecence (spiced eggnog), and Kenzo Amour (creamed rice). These perfumes all share a faintly sleazy, morning-after-the-night-before quality, like a woman who stumbles out of a bar at 6am, mascara smudged, and clothes reeking of cigarette smoke.
Their genius – or downfall, depending on personal taste – is that they smell like perfume that’s already been on the skin already for 10 hours or more, completely broken in by the day’s activity. These sort of perfumes don’t pretend to be fresh or innocent. They smell like that 6am walk of shame even if you’re putting it on to go teach pre-school.
Cierge de Lune has a tiny bit of this 2000’s sleazy floral vanilla thing going on. For a while, I thought it reminded me of another re-do of this genre, namely Tom Ford Noir Pour Femme, but then I realized that it takes a little from each of those stalwarts listed above and shakes it up in a jar. It has the milky, poisonous feel of Hypnotic Poison, the blurry vanilla rice of Kenzo Amour, the peppery dryness of Organza Indecence, and the cigarette-tainted night flower aura of the original 2002 Addict.
But the model has clearly been updated for a more modern gal, with lots of sharp pink pepper up front, an injection of cosmetic dusting powder to leaven the dough, and a generous dose of cashmeran and Ambroxan in the base. It is dry, translucent, and in a firm move away from the 2000’s floral vanilla mold, refreshingly non-sweet. It still has the morning-after-the-night-before feel of the floral vanillas of the earl 2000’s, but its peppery sheerness marks it out as a more modern, streamlined variation.
Unfortunately, I find something a little anonymous about the base, which seems to be a mix of salty, ambery Ambrox and cashmeran-driven suede. The base gives the scent enormous volume, but like another cashmeran-heavy perfume I recently wore, Ambre Cashmere by Parfums de Nicolai, something about it reads as being more for the benefit of the other people in the room than for its wearer. The scent trail smells amazing, but up close, the Ambrox-cashmeran has some unattractive features. It amplifies, for example, the cyanide almond facets of the ylang, with a medicinal edge that calls to mind germolene mixed with silly putty. Ambre Cashmere has a similar trajectory, in that 10% of the scent smells like champagne, 40% slightly chemical up close, and the remaining 50% clearly aimed at pleasing anyone downwind of you (but not you, specifically).
Weirdly, though, it’s the voluminous scent trail aspects of both scents that attract me the most. The parts of Cierge de Lune that I catch on the air are beautiful – gauzy ribbons of dry vanilla, pepper, musk, and yellow flowers fluttering in the breeze around me. At the same time, it makes me wistful that this is the part of the scent that’s for public show, not for my own private pleasure. If Aedes de Venustas would allow us to mix and match the scents in their travel spray sets, I might be very tempted to pursue this further. As it is, I think I’ll re-test Ambre Cashmere to see if a small bottle of that would scratch the vanillambercashmere itch that seems to come upon me every time the temperatures approach zero.
You can buy Cierge de Lune here.