Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Esperys by E. Coudray : Perfume Review

What is the connection between E. Coudray and L.T. Piver? Why do they share the same address? Are they co-owned? Does Piver own Coudray? All questions I cannot answer unfortunately, but logic guides me to the conclusion that L.T. Piver probably does own Coudray, since every Coudray product is stamped with “L.T. Piver S.A.” while Piver products themselves bear no mention of Coudray on the packaging. So if Piver indeed owns Coudray, what is the connection between Coudray’s new Esperys and L.T. Piver’s original? (launched in 1903, re-introduced in 1911, now discontinued) Another question I cannot answer, but wish I could. I admire most everything I have smelled from Piver and the same goes for Coudray’s products, from the perfumes to the luxurious, deeply hydrating body creams. There is a difference though – Piver’s fragrances suit me and I find them very wearable, while so far I have not found a Coudray I felt excited enough about to buy. They just don’t go with my personality it seems, seeming either too flowery, too heavy or too sweet most of the time. Yet Esperys won a little place in my heart before I even had the chance to sniff it, and couldn’t wait to do so. Undoubtedly the name played a huge role in this, reminding me of the greek word Esperinos, the early evening hour. The time when the sun sets, the church bells ring and the birds go to roost. The time when I always had to stop playing and rush home as a child, forming a deep, sad association with the hour and the sadness I invariably always ended up feeling when I heard the call of birds overhead signaling their return as well as mine. To this day, the cries of a flock of birds going to roost at nighttime make my heart feel a little heavier, lamenting another day lost in time. A great name does not make a great perfume though. How many times do I need to experience this simple fact before it becomes internalized as a belief? Many, apparently.

Esperys opens with not so much a note, but a setting. The fist days of fall, after a summer drought that seemed eternal. Storm clouds gather ominously – there’s static in the air. The deserted road has accumulated inches of dirt that is about to be washed away. As the first large raindrops lazily start to fall, the air fills with the scent of dust rising from the road. Soon, if the rain was allowed to becomes more and more urgent, this parched smell would give way to freshness, but Esperys remains focused on that first moment instead, the moment of the first raindrops on a hot dirt road. That first moment, with the dust rising like a cloud and threatening to choke the hapless pedestrians running to find cover in order to avoid the approaching storm is forever captured in Esperys, unchanging, with no relief of cleansing in sight. I am not complaining – merely describing, for uniqueness excites me in perfumery and I have never smelled this before. I’ve smelled rain, I’ve smelled storms, I’ve smelled wet earth. I've smelled dustiness before too. But never so much intense, wet dust: this is new. I am not exaggerating either when I speak of that choking feeling of rainy dust cloud rising to the nostrils. It feels like an implosion of dryness. I am seduced by the novelty and my excitement mounts as I smell the fizzy bitterness of beer that follows. Green, wild vegetation is growing on the sides of my imaginary road. They too are dusty of course and I can almost smell their relief at the promise of rain. They are perfect and I can’t wait for them to grow in intensity and shine through. But they never do. Instead, very suddenly, I find myself woefully wondering if the ‘red berry’ note in the press release alludes to pomegranate, because that is indeed exactly what I am smelling and I do not like it. Not one bit. It is all there, the fruity seeds, the unsugared juice and most of all, the skin. Admittedly, the bitter dryness of the skin matches the dry composition, but I hate it regardless. Esperys didn’t need fruit. It didn’t need the caramel either, which peculiarly floats to the top far sooner than I expected it to. It makes the composition just a tad sweeter, unable to outmaneuver the glorious, dry bitterness. Its presence is nevertheless distracting and slightly nauseating. I keep hoping both it and the pomegranate will at some point relent, but (as I later find out), it takes them more than two hours to dissipate. These two conspire to ruin the fragrance for me. Even the beautiful, (yes, once again ‘dusty’) dry nutmeg can’t seem to cheer me up. The rest of the composition is so intriguing – the dustiness, the dryness, the sheer unique strangeness of it make me want to wear it, take it out for a spin, raise a few eyebrows, bother a few noses. I know though I never will. I can’t possibly stomach neither the pomegranate, nor the caramel. There is a delay, during which my shocked nose does not detect any changes, then suddenly, the rose becomes apparent. It is heavy, rather masculine. It smells exactly like Greek rose resin regularly used to burn on charcoal. If I was disappointed before, I am even more so now. From the first moment I experienced that exceptional dustiness I wanted it to be intermingled with greens and white flowers. The freesias that never came through. Maybe some honeysuckle and a little jasmine, if I had a say in it. I wanted it to be ethereal as well as strange. I willed Esperys to break my heart with its beauty just like Esperinos, the hour of sunset always has. And now, now it is cloying on top of everything else. Disappointed I wait for the drydown. It is not completely unremarkable, due to the dryness which still persists. Behind it lurks the rather unexciting smell of an expensive body cream. My disappointment is acute and apparent due to the fact that this was something I really wanted to like. I hate to admit it, but I can’t wait to wash it off. Four hours has been torture enough.

Esperys bottle from
Painting of dusty road from the National Hungarian Gallery,
Greek rose resin, from Natural Flow Direct ebay webshop:


Linda said...

Dear Divina,
I loved reading this, particularly your tales and feelings of early evening: the most wistful time of day, especially in autumn when we have such beautiful sunsets. I don't know any modern Greek, but I looked up Hespera in my Classical Greek dictionary to find "evening, west" and it is indeed a lovely word! Like you, I deplore sweetness and berry notes in fragrances - why spoil something intriging with a cloying smell?
By the way, I too like the basil in the Clarins fragrance you mentioned!

Divina said...

Hello Linda dearest. You found the right word, Hespera. Esperinos derives from it - very clever of you to know when to add an 'h' in front. (in the same manner, Ellas, (what Greeks call Greece) is written as "Hellas" in english. The word "Kalispera", deriving from "Kalin Hespera" is used for "Good evening". I am glad you loved reading this.. it is lovely being able to write about perfume in relation to past experiences. Sometimes it makes me wonder whether anything at all can be experienced in *exactly* the same manner by any two people, since everything we experienced is colored by our past.

helg said...

This was quite interesting to read, as "wet dust" is a novel concept; so thanks for describing it in such detail.
I have to say the name does sound very fetching.

In the Coudray line I liked Musc et Freesia. But then I do like musky fragrances almost always. It got compliments too.
I didn't have the heart to put their Vanilla et Coco on my skin; I was very much afraid....The others? So and so.

Divina said...

Thank you for your kind words dear Helg! Vanilla et Coco is nice, I just prefer the CSP version better. (although Coudray's is possibly more sophisticated)

tmp00 said...

OH, lady, you are killing me!

You raised me so far up I was willing to jump hoops (the perfect smell of fall- I think I've been on that road!) to get some and then you dropped me like a stone. Caramel and pomegranate?

Oh well, I guess you saved me some dough..

Divina said...

I know, how big of a shame is it? I'll try to forget all about the horror of the caramel and pomegranate and perhaps daydream my own perfect composition matching that road...

sophie said...


edwardian said...

I got the same mixed feelings about Esperys: very interesting top notes, something wet, herbal, spicy going on wich tempted me to buy it on the spot...then the candy shop opened; why did they have to put candied fruits AND caramel in it? More and more new releases open up nicely just to grab your attention and then suddenly go nowhere or, as in this case, rot on your skin.
I've tried Jacinte et Rose and got more of the same drydown, should I give Givrine a try? And what about Nohiba?

Divina said...

Sophie, I do hope you like it more than I! It is worth a try :)

Divina said...

Hmm, I am gonna have difficulty answering this, because I don't remember any more what Givrine exactly smelled like. I just remember thinking that it wasn't for me. As for Nohiba, I have not tried that one. For my tastes (even though I did not deem them full bottle worthy so far) Musc & Freesia and Ambre & Vanille are good. I use the Ambre & Vanille body cream actually. It has a drydown I love to hate too, funny enough.

Rosa Negra said...

Hi dear,
Cris from blog perfume da rosa negra Brazil. I really love to read more about Coudray perfumes and your sensations and knowledge about it. I got a sample from a german seller , Vanille et coco and I intend to write about it. I am very curious about Amber et Vanille and Jacinthe and Rose perfumes. I hope I can try them in a closer future. Thanks and take care,
Your blog is every day more gorgeous. Cris