Sex Positive Parure

Anouk Aimee the quintessential Parisienne

Anouk Aimee the quintessential Parisienne

Most people when they write about the chypres of Guerlain do tend to go on (and on) about Mitsouko.  If you knew Mitsouko, like they knew Mitsouko, your whole outlook on life would change. There is a kind of mystic union between the wearer and the perfume, and if you love peaches and bergamots and lilacs, vetiver, amber and oakmoss , not forgetting a bit of cinnamon, you will indeed love Mitsouko.

Still Mitsouko is not the whole story in terms of chypres chez Guerlain.  There is always Chant d’Aromes (a sort of back crossing of Mitsouko with Ma Griffe) and Sous le Vent which is a skinny chypre with herbs and lavender in the beginning and less going on its dry down than in Mitsouko,rather like a girl with no behind, and then…there’s Parure. Parure is the naughty one. I’m not saying that the other Guerlain chypres aren’t sexy.  They are, but Parure is something else again, Parure is the Parisienne among the Guerlain chypres, the one who flounces in at three a.m. and when asked by her boyfriend where she’s been says,”Out.”  Who smokes when she’s in public, wears a Macintosh and nothing else, no bra with t shirts, and has very few girlfriends and those she has are  all gay and named Alice. Well you take my  point here.

In Sex and the City as I recall it, Samantha wears Parure and buys up every bottle in the known world when the perfume is discontinued.  For once the writers have it down cold, or very hot in this case.  Parure is indeed the kind of scent Samantha would wear.

Anouk Aimee

Anouk Aimee

You could argue that Samantha would wear Femme, but Parure is more elegant than Femme, and more complicated- just like Samantha.  Parure which means finery in French, is a true Guerlain with more twists and turns than a mystery plot by Agatha Christie. The beginning which is full of a rich plum note is very enveloping and very luxurious. That first encounter is also sensual, like shrugging on a mink coat over bare skin. Then perversely, Parure decides to camouflage its animalic motives for an evening, and drop you into a cartload of flowers, mostly lilacs, but also roses and iris, and hello there-narcissus.

The narcissus, always with something like pollination on its mind, is the link to a dry off that is decidely well, um…yes  indeedy.  I don’t see civet listed in the notes but I sure do smell it.  Mals of the Muse in Wooden Shoes has been know to describe this note as “ho panties” when she comes across it in such respectable company as Jean Patou’s Joy. I have absolutely no idea what you can call it here, except that in Parure’s case, as in the Parisienne’s as in Samantha’s there may have been no panties from the get go.

Parure in one of the last released bee bottles

Parure in one of the last released bee bottles

Parure though is not a slut. She has political motives for watching porn, she is a feminist-in her own way.  Also although she may sleep around  just a bit, she is never ever vulgar , and would rather die than wear clothing that expresses an opinion.  Parure carries a handbag, something outrageous, which she throws about but she never drops, and that sums it up for this most overt of all Jean Paul Guerlain’s perfumes, sexuality and luxury living together in harmony and in perfect taste.

Parure ends on amber, patchouli, oakmoss, spice and leather, but that leather is butter soft and so is Parure.  Refined, somewhat dated ten years ago, Parure reads well again these days  but good luck trying to find a bottle-Samantha bought them all up remember?


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6 thoughts on “Sex Positive Parure

  1. I have only tried Parure once, and found it so musty that I was quite pleased when it wore off. I suspect that my sample may have come from a bottle in less-than-perfect condition, but I didn’t enjoy it and haven’t bothered to try to find a different sample. I generally do badly with fruity chypres in any case.

    Just to clarify, it isn’t civet alone that makes Joy “ho panties” for me. I tolerate civet quite well in other scents (Ubar, Climat, and Parfum Sacre come to mind here). I suspect it’s either jasmine grandiflorum, or the combination of j. grand plus civet, or possibly the proportion of such, that makes Joy so spectacularly seedy-smelling on me. I have sometimes had issues with French jasmine in other fragrances. (The more tropical jasmine sambac, though usually described as more indolic, seems less smutty on my skin. I don’t know why.) I mean, it’s total post-coital sweaty flounce.

      1. Too bad you had such a nasty encounter with Parure. I own a bottle and don’t find mustiness in there, BUT Parure is a great deal less floral than Chant d’Aromes or even Sous le Vent I’d say.

        As to jasmine+civet= ho panties, bet you ‘re right. I’m testing something called La Reine Margot (she got around according to Dumas Pere) and smell a lot of jasmine. It remains to be seen if there is any civet in there. If so perhaps it will add up to seriously naughty. BUT for real naughty smell Aftelier!!!

  2. Great review! Does she work for a living, this Parure girl, or just drift from one lover to another, like a character from a Francoise Sagan novel?

    I’ve never quite figured out why I generally don’t get on with Guerlain, but it’s got something to do with how its perfumes seem to idolise and romanticise women . JP Guerlain may have been especially prone to this. Even now, does Guerlain know or care how women actually live their lives? Of course I’m generalising and of course I have not smelled them all. And perfume is about fantasies and aspirations as well as, or more than, reality. But I don’t want to be put on a pedastal, I want to be recognized for who I am.

    Perhaps it’s a Guerlain thing, to position themselves firmly towards the haute bourgeoisie. It’s just what they do.

  3. Guerlains romantics towards women… are any Frenchmen romantics? Maybe, their PR is certainly lushly romantic.French art is full to capacity of madonnas and floozies too which is arguably romantic rather than realistic. I’m surprised Guerlain never marketed a perfume called La Bouteille aux Camellias 😀

    Patricia de Nicolai who is related, has said that the Guerlains “don’t like women” which is an interesting comment in light of the fact that they never hired Mathilde Laurent as in house perfumer despite the fact that she knew Shalimar production like the back of her hand and had worked a lot with jean Paul Guerlain. I always wondered what happened? She created Guet Apens, Shalimar Light, Pamplelune, Herba Fresca, quite some record, and notably very workable into a modern woman’s life.

    Parure probably has some job in PR I’d guess-that or event planning, a great way to meet guys.

  4. Parure? Initially I hesitated reading as I am still mourning its loss. Your post drew me irresistibly into your Parure story. I first discovered this beauty when I was way to young to wear it: only eighteen. Each decade since it reappeared in my life, as a change from Chamade, more emphatic than Mitsouko and more intriguing than Jicky.
    Thanks you for helping me remembers, and yes, shed a little tear. Maybe Guerlain will wake up and reissue this jewell in all her unreconstructed glory.

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