Lovely. Ghastly. Intoxicating. Nauseating. I want a small bottle. I can’t wait to scrub the revolting mess off my body. Two completely antithetical reactions to two supposedly parallel companion fragrances, both created by Cecile Zarokian for David Jourquin. The first is Cuir Altesse. The second is Cuir de R’Eve. Both fragrances are eau de parfums that were released in 2014 and that David Jourquin describes as “women’s fragrances,” but I think Cuir Altesse is completely unisex, thanks to a strong similarity to vintage Lagerfeld Cologne, classic bay rum tobacco colognes, and vintage Shalimar parfum. Let’s start with the dreadful one first, so that I can block it out of my mind immediately thereafter, and then we can talk about Cuir Altesse at greater depth.
Fans of floriental powerhouses in the classical tradition, take note, Opus 1144 is one for you to try. It is a bold, complex fragrance with a divaesque character that harkens back to the great Guerlain legends, Shalimar and L’Heure Bleue, in their most concentrated vintage parfum form, as well as to modern creations by Mona di Orio and O’Drui. At its heart, it’s structured much like a millefeuille dessert where tart, lemon curd custard lies sandwiched between layers of dark, smoky styrax and balsamic-coated, musky leather, all dusted with vanillic powder in a haze of jasmine and iris floralcy.
Opus 1144 is many things, sometimes all at once. It is a lilting choral extravaganza where grand, bold opulence and monumental density dip into airiness and delicacy without ever losing strength. It’s a chiaroscuro of light and dark, masculinity and feminine, gourmand and oriental, hard and soft, acrid and sweet, cloying and beautiful — and I’m not completely sure what to make of all that, no matter how many times I wear it. In all honesty, there are many times in the first four hours when Opus 1144 leaves me simultaneously repelled and riveted, drawn in compulsively and with great admiration, but also put off and hesitant. One thing is undeniable: it’s something that any fan of the classics and of powerhouses in the floriental genre should try for themselves.