Alexander McQueen’s perfume line was both infamous and short lived. Perhaps better known for the erotically charged skank-bomb Kingdom than its other offerings, McQueen’s perfumes were nowhere near as successful as they were artistic or ultimately as they deserved to be.
Following in the same vein as his fashion output McQueen’s first perfume Kingdom was a renegade scent created to shock, however the second and final perfume from the brand – MyQueen – was something entirely different, opting to reference the subtle intricacies of the designer’s sculptural tailoring rather than courting the realms of controversy.
Created in 2005 by perfumers Anne Flipo (Ananas Fizz, La Chasse aux Papillons & Donna Karan Woman) and Dominique Ropion (Carnal Flower, Alien & Portrait of a Lady) MyQueen was created to represent the McQueen woman – “a vision of the woman of his (McQueen’s) dreams” – with the kaleidoscopic bottle representing not only the many facets of this woman but also McQueen’s love for antique glass.
The Gone, But Not Forgotten series focuses the spotlight on those fragrances that, despite being absolutely wonderful, have suffered at the hands of the unfortunate inevitability, and my biggest bug-bear of the industry that is discontinuation. They may be gone, but this series aims to ensure that these gems certainly aren’t forgotten.
When I first had the idea for the series there was one perfume in the back of my mind that would be the ultimate addition, the holy grail of rare, discontinued perfumes that would be nigh on impossible to obtain. That perfume was Shocking by Schiaparelli. Luckily for me I have been able to get my greedy little hands on a 7.5ml bottle of pre-1970s Shocking Parfum, and I am pleased to say that I am as wowed by it as I thought I would be.
Shocking was created by Jean Carles in 1937 and was named after the shade of hot pink that Elsa Schiaparelli created for her collections. Schiaparelli was known for actively embracing the surrealist movement (her famous shoe hat is all the proof you need) and a lot of her creations took inspiration from Dadaism so it stands to reason that her most famous fragrance is bold, beautiful and unconventional.
“Perfume is the first garment we wear on our skin.”
Jean Paul Gaultier
Fragile, the Eau de Parfum, was Jean Paul Gaultier’s second feminine fragrance, it was released in 1999 and followed the phenomenally successful Classique. Created by Francis Kurkdjian, Fragile couldn’t be more of a stark contrast to the warm, powdery oriental tones of Classique.
Where Classique is evocative of Gaultier’s loud, abrasive style of couture, Fragile plays on classic French perfumery. There is nothing ‘boudoir’ about it, it is incredibly enigmatic and feels almost unsuitable for everyday wear. Fragile is a perfume of the night.
Like a lot of the other fragrances in the Gone, But Not Forgotten Series, Fragile was a big love for me early on in my perfume journey. It was also my first tuberose, and whilst it may not be the best example of nature’s rawest and most carnal of flowers, it is lovely and it did kick-start my love for the flower.
“Here we are today, lamenting a long lost comic book hero who was my favourite fragrant superhero – B*Men.”
In the Thierry Mugler universe there used to be two superheroes who defended us perfume-loving civilians against the banality and lack of quality & creativity within the perfume industry. These superheroes were; A*men, whose superpower was the ability to shock and stun any villain with his audacious blend of lavender, mint, cocoa, coffee, patchouli & tar and B*Men, whose superpower was the ability to leave villains in awe of his intriguing, addictive odour.
Unfortunately one of these superheroes was defeated by his arch enemy ‘General Perfume-Consumer’, who knew that the hero’s kryptonite was to ignore him, and with that knowledge the evil villain made it their mission to destroy our beloved hero. So, here we are today, lamenting a long lost comic book hero who was my favourite fragrant superman – B*Men.
B*Men was released in 2004 and followed A*Men (or Angel Men as it sometimes known) as the second superhero themed masculine fragrance from the world-renowned couturier, and un-confirmed extra terrestrial – Thierry Mugler. Whilst it wasn’t presented as a flanker to A*Men, B*Men does showcase Mugler’s gourmand signature and can be seen as a lighter, less extreme version which would appeal to those who like their fragrances slightly less ‘over the top’.
“Anglomania is quite a blowsy scent, a fact that is only emphasised by the quite, erm, ‘breasty’ advertising image.”
Vivienne Westwood is the epitome of British eccentricity. A self-taught designer, mother of punk and general, all round odd ball, Westwood put British fashion on the map and her mixture of shabby chic and unusual tailoring has proved to be timeless.
Dame Viv has released five fragrances (not including flankers); Boudoir, Libertine *, Anglomania *, Let it Rock * and Naughty Alice, three of which have since been discontinued. If I’m being perfectly honest the fragrances from the line have been a mixed bag, Boudoir is a great, slightly filthy chypre, Libertine is a pretty decent floral citrus (it used to be a favourite of mine until my tastes developed), Let it Rock was a dreadful oriental and don’t get me started on Naughty Alice…..Anglomania is the best and most interesting of the bunch.
Anglomania is named after Westwood’s recurring collection of the same name and the scent is intended to evoke “Asian intensity with British heritage” . It was released in 2004 and was created by the great Domique Ropion (Carnal Flower, Alien, Geranium Pour Monsieur to name but a few), it does exactly what it says on the tin.
“My general impression of Le Feu d’Issey is that it’s an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ scent, in the sense that there is just so much going on, in fact, I would go as far as saying that the kitchen sink has probably been thrown in as well.”
When I first thought about the Gone, But Not Forgotten Series there were a few perfumes which I knew absolutely had to be added and some that I thought I would explore after receiving suggestions from my readers. Le Feu d’Issey is one of those fragrances that I knew had to be part of this series, but there was one little snag – I had never smelled it and it’s nigh on impossible to get hold of.
Luckily for me Perfumeland is full of lovely, wonderful and generous people and none are lovelier than the ultra-lovely Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels who came to my rescue and very kindly donated a sample of Le Feu d’Issey so that I could review it for this series. Thanks B!
Despite being discontinued, Le Feu d’Issey was given a five star rating by Luca Turin in Perfumes The Guide and is also included in Sanchez and Turin’s latest book ‘The Little Book of Perfumes’ as one of the top 100 perfumes of all time. It also has quite the cult following and a reputation for being wonderfully weird. All of these facts have ensured that Le Feu d’Issey has stayed at the top of my ‘Must Test’ list (a list that gets longer and longer by the day) for a good few years, and when I did eventually get to try it I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Fleur du Mâle had some big boots to fill, released in 2007 it came a whole 12 years after the tour de force that was Le Mâle. Le Mâle is one of the greatest ‘Marmite’ fragrances, it has its lovers and its detractors, but very rarely does it provoke a feeling of indifference and despite whichever camp you find yourself falling into you cannot deny that it is a well made and interesting fragrance.
Gaultier isn’t one to shy away from controversy and Fleur du Mâle, with it’s name that is a play on Baudelaire’s collection of poems ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ (The Flowers of Evil) and overdose of orange blossom doesn’t either. Sure, a masculine floral is nothing new, us boys have been wearing florals for yonks, but the idea is rarer in the mainstream and one so overtly floral (and advertised as such) as Fleur du Mâle was a breath of fresh air.
As you can see from the above advertising image (which I have included for informative purposes only, not because it’s a picture of a VERY attractive man in a bath, honest *cough*) Fleur du Mâle aims to strike a softer chord than the ultra-sexed, ultra-metrosexual image of Le Mâle.