L’Ombre Fauve by Parfumerie Generale is one of my favorite perfumes in the world. It’s a relatively simple composition of amber, musk, patchouli, and incense, all of these notes present in more or less equal quantities, and blended seamlessly. In fact, it’s as if the musk, amber, and patchouli manifest themselves as gauzy, transparent shawls laid down one on top of another by such quick and able hands that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
It never fails to amaze me, however, that such a seemingly simple composition can conjure up such a complex result. L’Ombre Fauve manages to transcend the sum of its rather mundane parts to become a manifestation of all of the ordinary little intimacies that make up a day in the life of a loving family.
The opening, which is pleasantly musty, recalls the sourish tang of damp laundry left to molder overnight in the laundry basket. There is a salty edge to the powdery amber that is strongly reminiscent of the nape of a beloved husband’s neck at night – not properly sweated-through skin, but skin that has just taken on the necessary staleness of a long day and is somehow all the sweeter (to me) for it. There is also something of the sugary-sour tang of breast milk that has escaped a baby’s satisfied mouth and coagulated in the folds of her darling little neck. And of course, rather famously, L’Ombre Fauve smells like the belly fur of a well-loved of the family cat or dog.
Whether you like L’Ombre Fauve or not will likely depend on your tolerance for the sweet, musty staleness that real intimacy – and especially that of a couple or of a family – has to offer. It has a lived-in skin feel to it that some may interpret as feline and sensual, and others simply as too much of the bestial. For me, personally, it is a comfort scent that simply mimics the best of the most ordinary but most intimate smells around me. I hope never to be without it.