It was only four months ago, in the beginning of July, when I wrote about coconut scents. In that same post I at once admitted to craving coconut scents every summer, yet, at the same time, I adamantly advocated my views on how coconut is never advisable for city-wear, insisted that the note is certainly less than chic, named it inelegant without regret, and even went as far as to say that I am “loath to use the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ in the same sentence as coconut”. While I do not yet feel ready to completely revoke these statements for they certainly do apply to most, if not all, of the coconut based fragrances I’d ever smelled before Histoire Charnelle came into my life, I am now forced to admit there do apparently exist exceptions, and Histoire Charnelle is certainly one of them. I couldn’t help but mentally mock my former statements the moment I sniffed it. Even though it is only listed as a top note, coconut is definitely the core of this fragrance, with every other note dancing obediently around it. It never leaves my conscience, persistently remaining the star of the fragrance from the beginning to the end. And yes I do feel apologetic towards it, because it petulantly contradicts everything I’ve ever said about it. Yes, this is an elegant coconut; yes it is chic as can be. Yes, I’d gladly wear it in the city, rain or shine. Yes, yes, yes I’d even wear it in winter, yes, with a tweed jacket and knee length skirt. Yes, I’d wear my leather gloves....With coconut!!! With this coconut.
“She is shadow and figure… she is the woman of today’s world.
This lady, creates envy everywhere she goes.
She leads the dance, she’s ambitious and very conscious of her charm and sensuality.
People look at her when she passes by.”
Hubert Maes, on Histoire Charnelle
Histoire Charnelle means “Carnal Story” and the scent itself is as lusty and warm as the name indicates. The opening is delightfully spicy and, surprisingly perhaps, rather dry, with an intense vintage quality. It is rather thick and bold in character, just as the woman Hubert Maes evokes with the quote above. Uncompromising would be a good word to describe it: This is a fragrance for a woman who cares not what others think of her. In a way, this fragrance smells to me like pure curves... I guess what I am trying to say is that the scent does not evoke images of an ethereal being, but of a creature who is there to stay for as long as she pleases, a provocative presence you cannot possibly ignore. As the fragrance develops on the skin, the dryness slowly disappears (I wish it did last longer, because it is what initially made it so distinguishable) and the scent becomes all the more rounded and voluptuous. I keep getting whiffs of something that smells very spicy, something that vividly makes me think of ground black pepper, but pepper is not one of the listed notes. The cinnamon is deep and dark and adds beautifully to the warmth of this fragrance. Slowly the sweetness of the ambery, vanillic base comes through, making the drydown quite comforting, but I would still hesitate to call it gourmand. To me, this is an oriental fragrance that has enough warmth and voluptuousness to allow the wearer to appear inviting and sensual, but is at the same time elegant enough to allow a certain amount of detachment without appearing false. Beautiful.
Top Notes: (Fruity-Fresh) pear, coconut, bergamot, tangerine
Heart Notes: (Woody-Aromatic) sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, cinnamon, nutmeg
Base Notes: (Ambergris-Scented) tonka, vanilla
Images: Author's own, www.forzieri.com (artistic interpretation of Forzieri leather jacket w/ fox collar, Author's own) and commons.wikimedia.org