Say Suede and what do you think? The Britpop band from the 1990s (Yes, if you are our founder)? Clothing, perhaps, if someone you loved wore a leather jacket when you were a child? Maybe even furniture, if your Gran had a leather sofa that she polished every week until the surface was so slippy that you were apt to slide off it at times?
Leather is one of life’s most delicious scents. Rich, deep, comforting, it’s around us and in our environment from an early age. Suede Osmanthe by Parfumerie Generale, plays on that timeless quality but gives this old faithful note an interesting, and very wearable modern slant.
Parfumerie Generale are a French perfume house conceived by Pierre Guillaume. Their line up is split into the Parfumerie Generale, Huitieme Art and Cruise collections. Their range is impressive both in terms of number and scope of different scents that they sell and they’re an excellent company to start out with exploring if you are just getting into niche scents; they tend to be accessible, reasonably readily available and not so wildly priced that you need a second mortgage to afford a bottle. At the same time, their scents are classy, elegant and definitely worth adding to your Christmas list.
Suede Osmanthe is a new release from the Parfumerie Generale line, having only just hit the shops in the last few weeks.
Aldehydes, black tea, suede (from the PG website). Bloom also list apricot, cashmerian and musk.
Imagine for a moment that you are four or five years old. Your mother has dropped her faithful suede handbag on the kitchen table and she tells you that there are some sweets inside that she brought home for you. You go over to investigate. As you pull the sides of the bag open a wave of scent escapes. There’s the scent of the leather so warm and comforting, but as you put your face closer to try and spy the sweets you can also make out the powdery smell of the cosmetics she uses, a hint of the fruit that she might have had in there earlier, a waft of the smoke that she picked up from the bar where she stopped to meet her friend for a drink two nights ago, and the packet of sweets that you can smell but which you still can’t quite see. All these things intermingle to produce something very familiar but new. Something that reveals and hides in equal measure. This is what wearing Suede Osmanthe is like.
Particularly in the top of this scent, the leathery warm suede is predominant and there is a distinct vein of sweetness brought by the aldehydes. Aldehydes are an interesting bunch of chemical compounds which smell differently depending on their chemical composition hence there can be a wide range of variation in what aldehyde scents smell of.
At the start of Suede Osmanthe, the aldehydes are very sweet, and have a thin quality to them, verging on smelling a bit like pear drops. In this perfume it isn’t unpleasant, but does stick to the back of the throat a little and might be something to be aware of if you find you struggle with that sort of scent.
When testing this scent out, we really felt that it properly hit it’s stride when you get to the heart. The leather calms down and becomes a gentle hum that stays throughout, the pear drops also reduce a little and the aldehydes become a little less abrasive and a little more supportive to the rest of the fragrance. They become less pear drop and more like a dried apricot, although we couldn’t find enough green in the scent to describe the apricot as fresh.
The tea is another interesting facet. The scent doesn’t smell very strongly tea like at all, but there are hints of a rich, smokiness that peep through now and again in the heart and that would appear to be coming from the black tea notes. If we were to be critical of the scent it would be to say that we would have liked more of that mysterious smokiness to counterbalance the sweet aldehydes, because the hint of it you do get is really delicious.
The scent mellows as it wears and if it was a person we’d be describing them as becoming comfortable in their own skin. That’s really what it feels like. Its character has properly emerged by the heart, and it’s settled on its direction in life. That direction is warm, leathery and bright.
There’s something interestingly clean smelling about the base of the scent. The leathery notes become even purer, perhaps. It’s not quite a contradiction to say that something can smell leathery and clean, but they aren’t necessarily obvious bedfellows, yet there is something about this that works rather nicely. It’s like we have taken that old leather bag out into the fresh air and what that has done is amplify the things we could smell before when it was in the kitchen.
The other stuff
The sillage, or projection, of this scent is one of those really interesting ones. Yes, it does project, but the impression we got of the projected scent was predominantly aldehyde. When you sniff your skin, what you get from close up is very much the leather. It’s really interesting when you get a scent that does this because it gives a fascinating duality to the experience of wearing it.
The longevity of the scent seemed really rather good. The weight of the leather just sat on the skin for ages and ages and it didn’t hugely decrease in volume as the day went on.
In terms of the gender bias of this scent it’s has to go down as one of those that sits squarely in the middle of the spectrum. There are facets of the scent that we can see as predominantly more towards the feminine edge of the spectrum, and other scents that speak to a more masculine audience. Definitely one you are going to have to try to decide if you like it or not.
It’s not always easy to decide which particular season a scent will work best with, but we strongly felt that this would be a great scent for autumn and winter, when you really feel like you just want to cosy up somewhere warm.
PG5.1 Suede Osmanthe is available from the always fabulous Bloom Perfumer London. It is priced at £132 for the largest 100ml bottle in EDP. Interestingly, Bloom are also stocking this in the smallest bottle which is 30ml, but you’ll have to visit their store in Covent Garden to pick up one of those perfectly formed little wonders. Bloom very kindly provided us with a sample of this scent.
You can also get Suede Osmanthe direct from the Parfumerie Generale website in all three sizes (100, 50 and 30ml EDP). The large bottle is priced at €146.