I’m a sex specialist. Sex in perfume I mean. I sniff it from a mile away. That erotic undercurrent that quickens my pulse and widens my eyes’pupils ever so slightly. I can tell you there’s not much of it in Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade, which for the sake of my sanity (I don’t like typing) I’ll just call 1740 from now on.
Incredible comfort is what you find inside this unassuming perfume bottle, its design reassuringly suggesting the spine of a book. Sometimes I’m tempted to add more Histoires de Parfums bottles to my collection just for the pleasure of seeing them all lovingly aligned, with their promises of scented stories.
The idea behind the Histoires de Parfums line-up appeals greatly to the book lover and forever nerd living inside me. The core range of the brand has instead of proper, easy to remember names, numbers: 1740, 1826, 1725, 1899 and so on. There is a logic to this though: each number represents the year of birth of certain literary luminaries, hence the book lookalike design of the perfume bottles and the packaging.
1740 is the year in which the infamous Marquis de Sade came into the world. I must confess I’m sort of clueless when it comes to his writings, I’ve never read them, but they’re supposed to depict in great detail all sorts of sexual fantasies and happenings, many of which involve violence, BDSM, incest, orgies, etc., etc. As a result libertine Sade was and remains a controversial figure to this day. He was brave enough to explore the darkest corners of the human nature looking at it with wide open eyes. A world without barriers, without reason, without morality,na world of absolute freedom, however scary that might be, that was the world of Donatien Alphonse François.
I was expecting a lot more shocking perfume when I first tried 1740. A slinky, powerful black beast rising threateningly from the bottle like a demon with a leather mask and shiny white fangs, cracking its leather whip and laughing its blood curdling laugh. Something so dangerously sexual that it teeters on the edge of a horror nightmare. This thing hasn’t been created yet, thanks be to Heavens, although Rien by État Libre d’Orange has tried its best to come close.
Instead, 1740 is a very gentlemanly creation, it always reminds me of an amber stone set in burnished gold or the fallen leaves collages I used to make as a child in the art class. These autumnal shades match the fragrance perfectly.
1740 is an intoxicating, yet mellow blend of spices, woods, leather, tobacco and immortelle. It seems very complex but it’s flawlessly blended, so there aren’t any harsh edges, only buffed, warm perfection. Apart from the very boozy opening, the whole thing seems dissolved in a delicate, silky oil instead of perfumer’s alcohol. All the notes are clearly detectable and at the same time merging into one another in a gradient of rich shades of chocolate and caramel brown, gold, copper, dark greens, reddish black like the colors found in an opulent and refined gentlemen’s club. It is not an intimidating fragrance though, and I love the way perfumer Gérald Ghislain made leather, tobacco and booze smell so warm and almost gourmand with the fantastic addition of immortelle (which to me smells like maple syrup with a small dash of curry powder) and vanilla. The spicy facet gives the impression of dry, hot skin and it reminds me of cumin, but that’s not listed in the notes. So yes 1740 makes you think of expensive lit cigars, very smooth whiskeys, luxurious leather sofas, centuries old massive mahogany furniture, wooden floors polished to a soft, golden shine, warm fires, worn books, male skin, dried fruits sprinkled with honey syrup and Indian spices and a hint of powdery dark cocoa vibe from the patchouli. A little bit excessive but also sort of intellectual, 1740 embodies an aristocratic and bohemian atmosphere: sensual, friendly, comforting, baroque, lush, a touch decadent in its richness.
An elixir of tender, intelligent manliness, I like to wrap myself into its warm embrace, to pull it around my shoulders like I would a cashmere blanket, stretch my legs in front of whatever heat source handy and reminisce all the men I’ve ever loved, still in my life or long gone: my dear father with a cigarette dangling from the corner of its mouth, its slender arm the color of milk chocolate encircling my blonde little 2 year old being, my bearded grandfather bringing us flowers from his garden, my once teenage handsome friends so alive, crazy and boyish, my refined uncle, versed in the elegant rituals of the world that would fervently admire my mother’s gastronomic talent, my sweet lover with his wacky sense of humor, my old maths teacher with a young soul, my boss with its infinite kindness, the epithome of the old school gentleman, and the list is growing and so is the love. They’ve shared their knowledge, taught me about the world and its ways, protected me, loved me, inspired me.
A true man wearing 1740 is irresistible. It’s how it should be. And nothing to do with Le Marquis, who in spite of his intellect and courage in assuming his views notwithstanding serious repercussions, was most decidedly lacking in the gentle department of the gentleman.
Top Note: Bergamot, Davana Sensualis
Heart Note: Patchouli, Coriander, Cardamom
Base Note: Cedar, Birch, Labdanum, Leather, Vanilla, Elemi, Immortelle
*Image lifted from www.animalstalkinginallcaps.tumblr.com