Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
~ William Blake
Pear tree leaves, Turkish tobacco absolute, mahogany, powdery notes.
One of the things which captivates me about the perfumery of Pierre Guillaume is the sheer versatility of his artistic creations. Animal Mondain, the newest release from his brand, represents a shift again. Recent releases have been cool, perhaps a little austere, a little more reserved, but Animal Mondain moves us back into much warmer, sensual perfumery and the territory of close-proximity, which is a landscape that Pierre seems to fare particularly well in.
Animal Mondain opens with a whisper of evening air, the pear leaves are definitely there and they add a clean, almost soapy sparkle. There is something else on the cool side lurking in the background, sometimes it smells almost like a remembrance of lavender, and it quickly follows the fleeting pear leaves as they fall and settle.
You may be wondering how pear leaves smell different to just a regular old pear. Here, the pear leaves do smell like the fruit, but like pear that has had all the rough edges smoothed away. This accord is woodier, muskier and smoother than just pear, but it still retains that sparkly, bright fruitiness that pear has. To my mind this is an easier accord to wear; I sometimes find that pear alone can be a bit scratchy and it isn’t here at all.
The first phase of the scent moves past us quickly. It feels like it is preparing the stage for the impressive main acts of the heart and base of the fragrance. I like to imagine the first part of the scent as like a butterfly, flitting its way lazily through the last days of autumn, before the star of the show – the sinuous cat – leaps to catch it under paw.
The fleeting start of the scent is cooler than what transpires in the heart and the base, but when examined, this is a really clever device. The start throws the glorious warmth of what follows into sharper relief. It is more full-bodied, more satisfying, because of those hints of coolness that it began with. It’s twists and turns like this which show just what a master of the perfumer’s art Pierre Guillaume is, and his ability to use light and shade to paint the most effective of pictures.
Once Animal Mondain has settled, an exquisite tobacco note stalks into centre stage and it really is the star of the show. Rich, full bodied, and bursting with nuance it purrs around the wearer very much like some sexy big cat rubbing against shins like a tamed pet. Tendrils and plumes of the tobacco twirl around, twisting and snaking with an effortless grace that oozes confident sensuality without being too in-your-face.
At times the tobacco has the unctuousness of dried fruits: sticky, sweet delicious. At other moments it feels as if it has been drizzled in honey. Then it is woody and aromatic, blonde, bright. The tobacco is really the main drive of personality in this fragrance and it is quite beautiful, addictive, a little flirtatious, and touched by a faint smoky hint that draws you ever closer. It is everything a good tobacco should be without being a cliche.
The base of Animal Mondain rises to meet the splendid tobacco with warm growls of animalic muskiness and a powdery countenance. The animalic notes are warm and enveloping rather than being even remotely skanky. They mix beautifully with the tobacco and together the two facets become even stronger in their mingling. The powdery notes sit underneath and add an inviting softness that calls us to sink into it. With the animalic-ness and the powdery-ness it’s difficult to not think of boudoirs but Animal Mondain isn’t overtly raunchy. Flirtatious for sure, but never tawdy or cheap.
There’s a really refined elegance about the base of the scent which strikes the balance nicely between interest and wearability. Operating in that optimum zone is what Pierre does exceptionally well, and in Animal Mondain he has created another scent which will have a wide appeal whilst retaining a level of artistry and elegance that many others can only aspire to.
The other stuff
This really feels like an evening fragrance. Animal Mondain is the sort of scent that you could wear to anything from a dinner party to a masquerade ball, and it wouldn’t be outclassed at either affair. It is also a scent which will fare well both in the heat of summer, when the tobacco will become more intoxicating, or in the cooler months when the warmth will help keep you toasty.
As with all fragrances, marketing to one particular gender or another is just that: marketing, but in Animal Mondain the brand seem to have hit an especially genderless composition that blends both stereotypically more masculine and feminine fragrance features into this perfect balance which leans towards neither end of the spectrum very much. This was one of the things that we really liked about the fragrance.
The longevity of the fragrance is great, lasting a good eight to ten hours following application. The sillage is present but polite, reaching handshake distance, or perhaps a little less.
The Pierre Guillaume brand are a high-quality, high-elegance, modern French perfume house. Pierre Guillaume the perfumer blends classical frameworks with really modern wearability. The house itself produces the sort of un-flashy yet incredibly elegant fragrances that would happily form the backbone of any collection, and they cover a wide variety of fragrance styles so there is bound to be something in their line to suit almost everyone.
We’ve previously reviewed Lune d’Eau, Sunsuality, PG 9.1 Komorebi, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, PG 04 Musc Maori, PG 5.1 Suede Osmanthe, PG 16 Jardins de Kerylos and the exceptional Bois Naufrage. Also by Pierre Guillaume we’ve looked at Superlady, Sucre d’Ebene, Shermine, Aqaysos, Jangala, Tonkamande, Anti-Blues and Hapyang.
Animal Mondain is available from the Pierre Guillaume web boutique, where it is priced at €102 for 50ml EdP and €152 for 100ml.
We received an example of this product from the brand, with no strings attached. We thank them for their kindness.