This week my good friend Cara and I will be teaming up to create a special fragrant event as part of her Instability-in-Stability project. During the event we will both be discussing our scented memories as teenagers. Thinking about the subject matter I thought it would be apt to review the first fragrance that I fell in love with, the one that started the obsession; Kingdom by Alexander McQueen.
At the tender age of 16 (it feels so long ago now), I wasn’t really fussed about fragrance, I would wear generic ‘boy’ fragrances such as Hugo Boss and Paul Smith and the fragrances I wore were normally gifted to me by relatives. That was, until Kingdom came along…
I was attracted to Kingdom because I was, and still am for that matter, a massive fan of the work by late British designer Alexander McQueen. I loved his rebellious attitude and I always saw him as a renegade of the fashion world.
I have lowed and owned Kingdom in every incarnation (EDP, EDT, Summer and Pure Parfum) and although I may not wear it often anymore, I would feel lost without a bottle.
Top: Calabrian Bergamot, Sicilian Mandarin, Orange and Tunisian Neroli
Middle: Rose, Indian Jasmine, Cumin and Ginger
Base: French Vanilla and Indonesian Myrrh 
How Does it Smell?
Kingdom has become infamous, almost legendary for it’s overdose of cumin and for the first 20 minutes or so all you get is an explosion of dirty, sweaty cumin. The cumin never quite reaches B.O. level but it’s not far from it. There are citrus notes but they’re very much hidden by the cumin, and out of the citrus notes the neroli comes through as the strongest.
I was lucky enough to manage to get hold of two bottles of the Pure Parfum formulation of Kingdom (£15 a piece – my best fragrance bargain EVER) and in this formulation the cumin smells incredibly intense and almost curry-like.
I’ve heard a lot of people compare Kingdom to a certain part of the female anatomy and although I am no expert on the subject I really cannot see a similarity. Kingdom is dirty but in a more sensual, warm body way as opposed to an overtly sexual and disgusting way. I wouldn’t even call it animalic, it is distinctly human and carnal.
The cumin is ever present throughout the entire life of the fragrance but as it settles to a warm, spicy hue, almost like the dying embers of a fire, the floral notes come through and this is where Kingdom becomes truly beautiful.
The floral heart is a contrast between a dry, astringent jasmine and a warm, spicy rose. These flowers may seem fragile but they are strong enough to cut through the ‘wall of cumin’ and they create a warm, sensual and almost brooding green, dewy floral fragrance that lasts for hours.
Myrrh listed in the base notes but in reality I smell a beautiful blend of spicy rose and sandalwood. The sandalwood is unusually dry and Kingdom only really softens when the vanilla kicks in right at the very end.
Kingdom has excellent lasting power, the EDP easily lasts a full day and the Parfum, which follows the same development as the EDP, but at a slower pace, lasts well over 24 hours on my skin. Both the EDP and Parfum have excellent projection and when you are wearing Kingdom people will notice.
Both Kingdom and MyQueen (McQueen’s sophomore fragrance) are severely underrated perfumes, they were panned by The Guide, but to me they are beautiful extensions of the McQueen aesthetic. To me they are ‘McQueen’.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful fragrance bottles of all time (why I didn’t include this in my post on perfume bottles I’m not sure), the flacon for Kingdom is a perfect vessel for the juice inside. Cold, silver metal-look plastic is contrasted by a deep, burgundy coloured heart. McQueen was well known for using contrasting materials in his designs, and Kingdom, in scent and bottle perfectly compliments his designs.
The Pure Parfum bottle is really quite something to behold, it uses the same concept as the Eau de Parfum, however the precious glass heart is wrapped in silver metal rather than plastic. The fragile glass heart is hidden behind a moveable screen which protects it against the world, the sorrow and the heartache. It really has to be seen to be believed, the Pure Parfum bottle is a true object d’art – unfortunately it is the least practical bottle ever made and getting it to spray is nye on impossible.
Why Was it Discontinued? *
Kindgom failed critically and commercially. Whilst the brand and concept behind it was strong a lot of people just could not get over the smell. The huge amount of cumin was too much (especially in the Parfum) and led people to believe that it smelled of certain body parts. Poor sales meant that the scent was eventually discontinued.
Kingdom, in all versions (EDT, EDP and Parfum) has been discontinued. It may still be found at discounters and on eBay for ridiculous prices (which shot up as soon as McQueen died). If you do come across a stockpile do let me know !
This review is based on a bottle of Kingdom EDP purchased myself along with additional review material based on a bottle of Kingdom Pure Parfum also purchased by me.
Image 1 From the Savage Beauty Book
Image 2 thisisnext.com
Image 3 Fragrantica.com
* This paragraph was added when Kingdom became part of my ‘Gone, But Not Forgotten’ series on 18 October 2011.