Gone, But Not Forgotten Series Part 1: Pierce My Heart Again – Alexander McQueen Kingdom Perfume Review

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.

The Notes

Top: Calabrian Bergamot, Sicilian Mandarin, Orange and Tunisian Neroli
Middle: Rose, Indian Jasmine, Cumin and Ginger
Base: French Vanilla and Indonesian Myrrh [1]

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’.

The Bottles

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 :D!


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.

[1] Fragrantica.com

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.


38 thoughts on “Gone, But Not Forgotten Series Part 1: Pierce My Heart Again – Alexander McQueen Kingdom Perfume Review

  1. Love your commentary about Kingdom and it reminds me of the most recent exhibition McQueen exhibition – SAVAGE BEAUTY – which closed last week at the Metropolitan Museum. There were people lined around the block to see it! A true genius!!

  2. Another fantastic blog post Thomas. I remember this was the first perfume we purchased together and to this day every time I see the bottle it still amazes me. Why McQueen never released more perfumes other than My Queen and this I do not know, he certainly had a weird and unique talent.

    • Thank you Noosh! I agree that the bottle is truly stunning.

      Alexander McQueen parfums was owned by Gucci and I believe that neither perfumes sold well at all, hence their discontinuation. I did read years ago that Gucci wouldn’t allow the release of new McQueen fragrances until the brand broke even but I don’t know how true that is.

  3. Stunning bottle. I love it a lot. Looks like a meteorite or something, cracked open… Maybe it came from that Alien mining planet, where the different jewel bottles are found in the earth…

    I’d love to smell this one a lot. McQueen was a great designer. I love going into Urban Outfitters just to flick through that book that’s there about him!

    • The best bottles come from the Alien mining planet! The Parfum bottle is annoyingly impractical though.

      I would send you a little sample of Kingdom if I weren’t down to the dregs of my last bottle *cries*.

      Was it the Savage Beauty book you were looking through? The one with the holographic skull on the cover?

      • We should find that planet… make a fortune!

        Well I’d say it’d be pretty stingey of make to take away the last few drops of your most loved fragrance from you, some day I might see a bottle or two of it, I’ll buy two 😉

        Yeah I think that book is Savage Beauty. Gosh, it’s just amazing. His work. The execution, the way they pieces are displayed and exhibited on the catwalk.

      • That settles it, we shall go on a space mission to find Planet Mugler…

        Buy 10 bottles if you can 😛

        Re McQueen – I don’t think there was anyone better, he was an exceptional tailor and every single piece was constructed beautifully. I loved that his designs were beautiful yet completely disturbing.

  4. I’m a total diehard, hardcore fan of the McQueen fanclub – he was the one thing I looked most forward to during Paris Fashion Week, and his work was…IS…staggering. Right up there with the greatest…Christian Dior, Grès, Saint Laurent…If they’re not taking Savage Beauty around, they should at least publish it as a book!

    As for that bottle…what can I say. Could there be anything more beautiful – and simultaneously so heartbreaking? And being so impractical – I can’t help but wonder whether that was McQueen’s intention – to squeeze a heart and extract the juice should be hard…;)

    • I’m glad to see that you’re also a member of the McQueen fan club and staggering is the best word to describe his work.

      Luckily for us they have published a Savage Beauty Book 😀

      I am looking at that bottle in a new light; ‘to squeeze a heart and extract the juice should be hard’ is just perfect!

      • I was just sitting here, chin in hand, and admiring those stupendous bottles in all their eerie beauty and looking at the bottle of parfum – with its protective cover for a tender heart, and it just…hit me. It HAD to be planned that way…McQueen was never the kind of artist to leave the slightest thing to chance…;)

        Oh, but I miss his genius. Yves Saint Laurent’s. And now, Galliano is gone in ignominy, too. Soon, only the mercenaries will be left.

        Well, we still have the wonderful Jean Paul Gaultier…;)

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  8. Ahhh, this fragrance brings back memories for me too.
    I wore it alot in my teenage years after picking up some bottles cheaply. I didn’t know about cumin = B.O and such, I just recognised it as a deep, spicy, rosy fragrance, it made me feel awesome. And the bottle was just a bonus, loved it.
    It’s great to see someone with similar memories of it 🙂
    Lovely write up proving this fragrance is not forgotten.

    • You sir, have very good taste!

      Kingdom is one of my all time favourite perfumes, my bottle of EDP is running dangerously low (I have two bottles of the Parfum too but the sprays are so awful it’s impossible to get anything out of them) and I’ll be sad when I can no longer get hold of it.

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  10. My friend always wore this years ago and I always admired it, forgot about it until this week, hence the frantic search online! Shelling out a small fortune on eBay is not really an option but I was wondering if any of you knowledgeable folk could suggest a scent that may be similar?

  11. Have to say, I love your writing style, despite not professing to be any more than a layman when it comes to perfumes – you just make me visualize scents in my head in ways no other reviewer has managed so far, and I thank you for it. I came upon this after spending two hours in a shop yesterday selecting a new perfume, eventually settling on Tubereuse Animale by Histoires de Parfums, and wanted to see what a tuberose flower actually looked like. 😛

    Reading on, I came to your review of Kingdom, and it made me dig out the bottle i bought back in 2003, desperately trying to see if it really was that sweaty. It was my favourite scent back then, and coming from such designer famed for designing clothing as visceral as it was measured and elegant, I was surprised to see it discontinued, so in tune with the McQueen experience would perspiration and bodily fluids be, I would’ve thought his fans would expect no less. Anyhow, I got back to my bottle circa 2003, found the dregs of it still pooling at the tip of the heart, and proceeded to pump the button for all it was worth, and it was the most nostalgic scent I’ve ever smelt. The sourness of the cumin is definitely there, but it smells like the best possible bodily scent ever, like the crotch of a really hot guy who’s downed a whole bottle of pineapple juice and ejaculated on himself and fallen asleep in hot weather. Pardon my French, but that is how I feel. How this could not sell is a wonder!

    • Why thank you Sean, that is very kind of you to say so!

      It sounds like you had a real moment with rediscovering Kingdom. It’s a fantastic feeling when you go back to a scent you love after a long hiatus.

      I get what you mean about it being very McQueen but I think that it just didn’t speak to the mainstream consumer, and with so many scents on the market it just failed to grab enough people. They probably went for something by Hugo Boss instead….

  12. I love Kingdom so much! I’ve just drained the very last drop from a bottle scavenged on eBay for an extortionate price. Does anyone know of anything that has a similar scent? I wish they would put it back on the market 😦

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  17. Hello, Just wondering about the image at the top of the page. It’s a human figure covered in feathers. Where did you find it? or Who designed it?

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