Bespoke perfumery, your own urine, bears and honey, and tobacco sweetness. Those are some of the elements at the heart of Peety, a fragrance that I’d argue is actually much less edgy, revolutionary, or weird than you’d think. I think it is a very rich, rather classical fragrance that plays with French animalic traditions in a swirl of honeyed tobacco that can be quite addictive.
Peety is a fragrance released in 2013 by O’Driù (henceforth spelled simply as “O’Driu” without the accent). It is a small Italian niche company founded in 2010 as part of a project by the Pleasure Factory, a specialty communications company. All of O’Driu creations are made by Angelo Orazio Pregoni, and several involve a “su misura” approach, or a “sur mesure,” bespoke touch. In the case of Peety (which was originally called “Secration“), the result is extremely clever and creative marketing which has certainly increased the company’s profile.
You see, you’re supposed to “personalize” Peety with your own urine. The 50 ml bottle comes with 49 ml of fragrance, and you’re supposed to fill the rest with your own … er… liquid. No, I am not joking, and, no, I myself have not tried it. (Nor am I planning to, by the way. This is one area where my normally limitless curiosity comes to an abrupt, withering halt. So, obviously, this review of Peety is for the unadorned, more universal version.) However, others have “personalized” their Peety, and a few claim that, yes, their urine actually does make a difference in making the fragrance bloom. A small difference, but a difference nonetheless. I’ll take their word for it, because I like Peety a lot just as it is.
On their website, O’Driu describes Peety as follows:
Peety™, the very first su misura for everyone. An exclusive pop perfume. A marvellous perfume triggered by ten drops of one’s own pee, to become unique. Peety™ is a veritable cultural and technical revolution in the perfumery world. Deranging by itself, once and for all, Peety™ draws the line between art and perfume, far outstripping each and every moral or ethical code, carrying towards a primitive olfactory communication. Sensuous as few other fragrances, Peety™ lives on the skin and in the mind of its user. Rose and jasmine tingle the nose, muffled by vague suspicions of tobacco and lichens. Then, mandarin and bitter orange hurl us in a liberty world, made of fine ambers, cinnamon and pink pepper. Rounded as the brown patchouli, elegant as sandalwood and Tonka bean are. A masterpiece of technique and suggestions, Peety™ gains its strength from sub-cultural taboos, to come out of the mass-market perfumery stereotypes and to become a pure emotional footprint of the one who has it on, unique!
I know some of that seems rather ridiculous, or like manipulative PR hyperbole. I had one perfume blogger tell me on Twitter that she thinks O’Driu pulled the biggest “punk” imaginable with Peety. Well, the urinization approach to Peety does seem to be a gimmick, but I also think there is more going on than just provocativeness. In my opinion, O’Driu seems genuinely interested in a more avant-garde, artistic, or freestyle approach.
What I have read on Basenotes about Angelo Orazio Pregoni‘s previous O’Driu perfumes seems to support the idea that he is a little bit of a mad scientist who enjoys experimentation. He even mixed his “perfume as art” theories with haute cuisine one night in Amsterdam. A Fragrantica article called “Slow Dinner and Fast Perfumes” explains that Mr. Pregoni made and macerated perfumes over the course of a few hours which used some of the same ingredients that a celebrated chef used in simultaneously preparing an accompanying 7 course meal. So, you see, I don’t think it all a clever ruse. Mr. Pregoni seems to be genuinely interested in trying new things, and in breaking the rules.
In fact, I have to say that I find him rather fascinating, and the very tongue-in-cheek biography description of him on the O’Driu website made me grin enormously. From “syphilis, gonorrhea, revolution,” to drinking quite enough, dancing the Argentinian tango, refusing to work in a bank, and being a described as a “filthy, fetid,” shaman, drunk bastard (amongst other things), well…. he seems like a character. And I like characters. At the very least, one can say that the photos reflect an eccentric free spirit, and I rather like that as well.
In any event, getting back to Peety, from O’Driu’s description of the perfume, as well as a discussion in a Basenotes thread, it appears that the notes in Peety include:
Rose, jasmine, patchouli, tobacco, pink pepper, litchen or tree moss, tonka vanilla, bitter orange, mandarin, cinnamon, castoreum, amber, and sandalwood.
As a side note, in an early discussion in that Basenotes threads and prior to Peety’s release, the “amber” seems to have been defined as ambergris. However, a discussion on Peety’s Fragrantica page seems to indicate that it may be a synthetic aromachemical. What was interesting to me is that Peety seems to be a largely natural fragrance. The breakdown is reported to be: 96% natural, 3% synthetic, with the remaining 1% meant to be your…er… bespoke, animalic touch. Even without the latter, I find the final result to be a very rich, potent fragrance that feels like an extrait. Nothing on O’Driu’s website indicates Peety’s concentration, but O’Driu kindly answered an email query and said it was an eau de parfum. Well, this is one very intense, powerful eau de parfum, I must say.
Peety opens on my skin with tobacco nestled under a thick, heavy layer of sweet honey. The latter is animalic, musky, urinous, and vaguely redolent of ammonia, but I think it’s utterly beautiful here. That’s rather unusual for me. I like honey in perfumery, but the animalic version isn’t something that automatically and consistently drives me wild. In fact, I’ve really struggled with Serge Lutens‘ feline, urinous Miel de Bois, primarily because of its ammonia sharpness. And, yet, I find the version in Peety to be wholly addictive because every part of it is infused with tobacco. The latter is simultaneously like the sweet, unsmoked pipe tobacco, the smoked kind, and the aromatic, fragrant leaves left to dry in the sun.
Swirling in the background are other elements. There is sweet cinnamon; an endless amount of golden, ambered warmth; small streaks of dry vanilla; and a touch of Seville bitter oranges. If you focus hard, you can detect the wisps of green mossiness, syrupy jasmine, and a fruited rose as well. Yet, the main bouquet on my skin, especially from afar, is of honeyed tobacco with a dash of tonka vanilla and strong musky animalics.
It’s a different sort of animalics that what I have usually encounter in perfumery. Peety doesn’t have Musc Tonkin‘s heavy note of fur, but something about it evokes animals. The urinous note doesn’t smell like civet, and it also differs from the hyrax pee note in Masque Milano‘s Montecristo as well. The best way I can describe it here is as extremely sharp, almost lemony honey with an ammonia edge. At the same time, Peety also has a streak of velvety, musky leatheriness from the castoreum in the base that eventually grows much stronger in the drydown.
A Fragrantica poster called “Alfarom” compared Peety’s opening scent to that of a bear, and, I must say, I think the comparison is completely inspired and utterly brilliant. The minute I read that, I could see it perfectly because it really fits. Peety conjures up images of a huge, musky, brown bear taking a stroll in the heat of the afternoon sun as he smokes a pipe and nibbles on dripping honeycombs. He stops briefly to leave an ammoniac pee sample before ambling on to sniff the roses in the distance. Finally, he plants his musky body under a cinnamon tree where he falls asleep in a thick haze of tobacco coated with the leftover trickles of honey, then heavily dusted with cinnamon and vanilla. The surrounding woods have turned the fragrance drier, resulting in an almost gingerbread-like aroma that is flecked with streaks of castoreum leatheriness.
Peety is generally quite a linear, almost monolithic, fragrance on my skin, but it does shift by subtle degrees. At first, the vanilla is just a wisp, more of a suggestion almost, but it works indirectly to help diffuse the honey a little. The cinnamon and patchouli are equally subtle at first, but they work beautifully in amplifying the tobacco. And what tobacco it is! It is so beautifully fragrant, like the very best pipe variety, but without so much of their artificial fruitiness. Here, it is actually more flavoured with a subtle streak of rose than the usual ghastly notes of fake cherry, rum-raisin, or apple. Over time, it slowly takes on a delicate wisp of smokiness as well, evocative of water pipes or narguilés.
Other small nuances emerge as well, though you have to pay close attention. Roughly 90 minutes in, Peety turns earthier and muskier, though it’s hard to pinpoint the source in this very well-blended perfume where all the notes largely overlap. It might stem from the growing presence of the brown, lightly spiced patchouli, but it could also be from the ambergris which is stirring in the base. There is a subtle suggestion of saltiness flickering at Peety’s edges, perhaps from the ambergris or from the lichen mosses which can occasionally have a salty, tree-bark facet.
The more important change is that the honey now feels lighter and softer, while the cinnamon is much more prominent. The honey is a key part of Peety on my skin, from start to finish, but it no longer feels like the dense, thick layer of the first hour. In fact, I’d say that the cinnamon is now almost as much a part of the tobacco as the animalic honey. In the background, there is a small suggestion of something vaguely floral, as well as a darting flicker of something possibly fruity, but they’re both too abstract and muted on my skin to really decipher.
The tobacco also begins to change. By the end of the 2nd hour, it feels drier, woodier, and there is a strong suggestion of gingerbread about it. It reminds me of something that Luca Turin once wrote in his description for La Via del Profumo‘s Tabac, about how the air in the tobacco town of Raleigh, North Carolina (home to many tobacco companies) became infused with a gingerbread aroma. That same note appears here, perhaps thanks to the cinnamon and vanilla. What’s equally beautiful is the hay-like facet that begins to emanate from the coumarin in the tonka beans. Accompanying it is a tiny streak of something powdery and sweet, but it’s not wholly vanillic in nature.
From afar, Petty seems like a simple bouquet centered mainly around tobacco with animalic honey and a touch of vanilla. Up close, however, it is a truly lovely mix of sweet hay, honeyed tobacco, cinnamon, vanilla, spiced gingerbread, dry woodiness, musky leather, a wisp of abstract floralcy, and rich, golden warmth. The overall effect reminds me a little of Serge Lutens‘ Chergui, only in a richer, more heavily honeyed, leathery, and animalic bouquet.
Speaking of richness, if Peety had been put out by any other house, I think they would probably have called it an “extrait.” A small amount of the fragrance goes a long, long way, as it has a massively concentrated feel with a truly amazing density at first. A tiny, minuscule amount — a few drops — created something significantly richer than several big sprays of my oriental eau de parfums from other houses. When I applied 3 small smears amounting to 2 tiny sprays from an actual bottle, Peety initially projected 5 inches, though that number began to drop by the end of the first hour. Roughly 90 minutes into its development, Peety lay 1-2 inches above the skin, where it stayed for the next 6 hours or so.
Peety has impressive body and strength. The scent from those 3 small smears feels heavier and richer than 8 proper sprays of one of my LM Parfums extraits. When taken as a whole, and considering its overall development, Peety may not have the heft of something like a Profumum Roma or Roja Dove extrait, but it’s certainly richer in body than the eau de parfums from many, many other brands. So, too, is its early intensity; Peety’s overall projection may be only moderate, but it is a truly forceful fragrance in its first two hours with absolutely massive potency. I can only wonder at what Peety would be like if sprayed from an actual bottle, since aerosolisation tends to increase strength, projection, and longevity.
One of the few problems with Peaty is that its monolithic nature and intensity became a little tiring after a while. As I noted earlier, the perfume doesn’t substantially change on my skin, either in its core or in its secondary nuances. It does on others, several of whom report a shape-shifting perfume with incredible nuance, but I’m afraid it doesn’t on me. At best, Peety becomes a bit drier or woodier, but its primary bouquet remains as honeyed tobacco with spiced gingerbread, sweet hay, and tonka vanilla until its very end. The suggestion of leatheriness deep down in the base briefly becomes more prominent around the 4th hour, before eventually fading away a few hours later, but that’s about it. All in all, Peety lasted 12.25 hours with 3 small smears, and 9.75 with a bit less.
I don’t mind linear fragrances if I enjoy the notes in question, and I adore heavy perfumes, but the two together can be a little much. On both occasions where I wore Peety, I was really a bit exhausted by the 8th hour, as if I’d eaten a surfeit of rich cake for too many hours in a row. I could see Peety being one of those scents which I’d take out once in a while, take a delighted sniff of its initial bouquet, wonder why on earth I didn’t wear it so often, and then suddenly remember the reason why about 7 hours later.
There is one thing about Peety that hits me hard on a personal level: it is the exact scent of my late uncle. Not so much in the early hours where Peaty is sharply animalic, but absolutely by the start of the third hour. It takes me back in time, because my uncle always smelled of sweet, honeyed pipe tobacco, mixed with musky leather, cleanness, a touch of vaguely powdered sweetness, and something that was indefinably aromatic, woody, herbal, and a bit green. My father smelled elegant, sleek, debonair, and sophisticated, but my uncle smelled cuddly, cozy, sweet, yet elegantly masculine at the same time. My father wore dark, double-breasted suits with Bel Ami, Monsieur Lanvin, Monsieur Givenchy, or Habit Rouge. My uncle wore a casual jacket over a soft sweater, and smelled of the pipe that he carried with him everywhere, mixed with leather, manly muskiness, spiced sweetness, and slightly vanillic powder. Peety is his exact scent brought back to life. (I became so emotional when I smelled it that I went to my parents, stuck out my arm, and demanded if they could see it, too. They both stared at me like I was a crazy person.)
One point of this tale is that, initial “bear” animalics aside, Peety is an incredibly cozy, cuddly, teddy bear scent that has a rather classic profile. My uncle notwithstanding, I don’t think Peety smells masculine, at least not by today’s perfume standards, and I’m not saying it smells old-fashioned, either, but it does harken back to a traditional profile in many ways. Put aside the shock value about personalizing Peety with your own urine, and what you’re left with is a very rich oriental with an animalic bent similar to the things put out decades ago by the French who stuck civet, castoreum, animal musk, or some combination thereof in so many famous fragrances.
On Fragrantica, I was happy to see someone make that exact same point. Almost all the comments for Peety are far too long for me to share, but I’d like to briefly quote “Scentzilla” who writes, in part:
I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. After all ‘Peety’ & it’s added ‘pee’ note only follows on from fine French perfumery tradition (i.e. of adding ‘animalic’ notes to a perfume to increase it’s beauty.) – ‘Pee/urine’ is after all really not much different from say ‘civet’ or ‘castoreum’. (except much milder !) – & has the added advantage of here at least being your very own ‘animalic note’.
The reviews on Fragrantica are almost entirely positive, but are such veritable treatises that I leave it up to you to read them. Many of the posters describe how Peety smells with and without the inclusion of one’s “personalized” touch, to put it euphemistically. Almost all found that it made a small difference, but not much of a significant one.
There are also reviews for Peety under its early name “Secration” in a Basenotes thread. Some of these are shorter, so they will be a bit easier to quote in order to provide you with comparative assessments. For example, one female poster, “Foustie,” experienced a multi-faceted scent that was dominated in one stage by a lot of rose, before turning into a drydown phase that bore some similarities to Ambre 114. She writes, in part, as follows:
The immediate impression is difficult to describe actually. There are no sharp, clear top notes. Instead, the opening is more of an introduction to the fragrance. It is inviting, intriguing. There are some low key herbs, thyme perhaps, there is a fruit note, lovely actually, orange perhaps or more likely mandarin. There is a floaty, woody accord almost from the beginning, along with a peppery accord which suggests just a hint of peppery frankincense. This all rests on a cloudy, cushiony vanilla which is present from the start.
It is interesting to me that when I wear this fragrance the next phase is a lovely rose. An otherworldly rose, which seems just right somehow. Others comment on the jasmine, which I am not aware of. This rose is joined by subtle aromatics; geranium, and mint. The first time I noticed this on paper but not on skin. But since then, even on skin, I find a pleasing suggestion of minty geranuim coming forward a good while into the development. The fragrance is very cool on paper at this stage, but warmer on skin. Then a little warm spice, cinnamon and clove and for a moment there is a carnation floating around. […][¶]
The long development is a really gorgeous amber and vanilla, quite dry, very soft, suggesting notes of tobacco, benzoin, tonka, labdanum, vanilla, faintly reminiscent at times of the tone of Amber 114. It is very long lasting and very enjoyable. I am always aware of it when I am wearing it.
Other comments note that there is nothing particularly challenging about Peety, or that it “has a LOT of castoreum. Potent, animalic, intense, and yes, urinaceous juice (mostly from the castoreum but of course the sPecial addition too) with very good longevity.”
There is only one negative review for Peety which reads:
This is a very mediocre scent that still manages to suffer most of what I didn’t enjoy about the rest of the line. There seems to be some sour, musty O’Driade that’s endemic to the line and all natural scents all too frequently. The top notes have this sweet oriental note ( fruitcake was my initial thought ) with a bit of a tarry camphoraceous quality like Lonestar Memories. Then it dries down to a sort of sour labdanum floriental with musk, kind of a hint of carnation and jasmine floating through.
As a whole, I think Peety will appeal strongly to those who love heavy orientals with an animalic touch. Fans of Maison Francis Kurkdjian‘s beautiful, honeyed Absolue Pour Le Soir should particularly enjoy it, especially if they also like tobacco, hay, or spiced gingerbread notes in such fragrances as Chergui. If you’re used to the urinous note in Masque Milano‘s Montecristo, I doubt you’d find anything particularly potent about the version in Peety which is much milder, in my opinion. In fact, I think both Absolue Pour Le Soir and Lutens’ Miel de Bois may be more intense in that regard.
All in all, I think Peety is a lovely fragrance. Put aside the alarming thought of special “personalisation,” and give it a try for yourself.