Let’s look at a unisex family favourite, Cartier‘s Le Baiser du Dragon, a chypre-ambery scent created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas and filled with amaretto and fresh almonds, lushly creamy gardenia, lovely vetiver, rose, ambery resins, and so much more.
Fragrant Indian rosewood is the focus of Palissandre d’Or, a spicy woody-amber fragrance from Aedes de Venustas. It is an eau de parfum that was created by Alberto Morillas and released in 2015. However, even though it was inspired by Indian rosewood, it is not literally and actually a rosewood fragrance, only metaphorically so. To put it bluntly, this is the scent of an “imaginary wood,” and I’m quoting Aedes de Venustas’ own words when I say that:
The idea for the house’s fifth offering was sparked off by the Indian rosewood tree also known as Dalbergia sissoo, which has historically been the primary rosewood species of northern India.
Rather than a specific essence, it was the word “palisander”, redolent of intricate Oriental carvings and serene Asian groves, which provided the inspiration. “I can’t make overly figurative fragrances”, Alberto Morillas explains. “To me, a perfume is a melody.” With Palissandre d’Or, he draws mesmerizing music from this imaginary wood.
“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” Do you want to sleep with me tonight? It’s a question that Labelle made famous in the 1970s, and I merely have to hear the words for the famous “Lady Marmalade” classic to start ringing in my head. As the Music Times article linked there explains, the song was inspired by the experiences of songwriter, Bob Crewe, in the red-light district of New Orleans “and the aggressive stance of prostitutes in the area.” His lyrics growled their demand through a mix of disco, R&B, and funk, and the latent sexuality at their heart was rendered overtly raunchy in subsequent musical covers.
Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi, the fragrance, is nothing like the world of Lady Marmalade, and the sheer enormity of the chasm between them made me laugh each time I wore it. Put aside all thoughts of lust, skanky raunch, and ripe, fleshy seduction. Envision instead bridal femininity, floral sweetness, and a fresh, dewy delicacy that practically verges on the innocent.
Yes, I think Kilian’s version of Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi is that much of an olfactory departure from everything implied by its name. But it’s a very lovely scent nonetheless. If it does seduce you, it’s through the refinement of a bridal bouquet where fresh white flowers are laced with greenness, then veiled with the silkiest vanilla cream. So rather than asking you to sleep with it in New Orleans’ red-light district or the Moulin Rouge, I think the real question that Voulez-Vous poses is whether you’ll marry it.