Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Histoire Charnelle by Hubert Maes Créations : Perfume Review

Hubert Maes is the creator of three perfumes so far: Histoire d'un Rêve, Histoire Charnelle and Délicieuse Histoire. He is also the owner of Le Soleil d’Or boutique in Lille, France. I have not tested Histoire d'un Rêve and Délicieuse Histoire extensively enough to have formed a solid opinion on them, but at first sniff the former appeared too girly, young and frivolous for my tastes, while the latter appeared to be altogether too foody. Histoire Charnelle on the other hand was just right – it instantly moved me in a way the other two didn’t, moved me in fact enough to consider buying it on the spot, something I almost never do. What is more surprising though, is that I also felt instantly apologetic upon smelling Histoire Charnelle. Apologetic towards coconut, a note I up until recently deemed rather, I guess.

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.

Official Notes:
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, (artistic interpretation of Forzieri leather jacket w/ fox collar, Author's own) and


Jenavira13 said...

What an intriguing fragrance you found Divina. Coconut is a hard note to wear, I have three fragrances that have it in there, but only one is fairly blatant Azuree Soleil and luckly the vetiver in that one really comes out on me so it tones down the coconut (actually it really reminds me of green curry), the others are Datura Noir and Un Bois Vanille which and coconut is just a supporting player.

Divina said...

Hi Jen! I love Azuree Soleil, (it was my staple this summer!) but I just can't wear it in winter..I actually still find it hard to believe that I found a coconut scent that is winter appropriate, one that seems to me in fact more suited to winter! (It is perhaps too heavy for warm weather) Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? The drydown also has a strange, slight leathery quality to it, something I neglected mention in the review. I realize I am possibly painting a slightly disgusting picture (leather & coconut & ambery-vanillic finish?) but really, it does work. However, one does need to at least like coconut to appreciate this..It features very prominently - I don't see anyone suddenly loving coconut because of it.

I was not aware coconut was part of Datura Noir's composition. I'll try it again and see if I detect it now that I know about it :) Thank you!

Flora said...

Now this sounds like a perfume for a real grown-up "woman of a certain age" - lucky for me I am one! :)

I am intrigued that none of the listed major notes are florals. I have come to appreciate this type of fragrance a lot more recently. (This coming from a true White Flower Queen.)

And jenavira13 is right about the Datura Noir - the coconut is subtle, but it adds a lot to the whole. It is one of my favorite scents.

italian girl said...

Where do you all find your fragrances at??
I searched Macy's and Sephora for Jicky to see if I could get a spray test.. nowhere to be any of you buy online?

chayaruchama said...

Fascinating !

Abigail said...

I can almost picture it, but somehow I end up picturing dry coconut moisturizing oil, and I'm sure that's not it AT ALL.

I have a soft spot for coconut, as I'd slather myself in The Body Shop coconut oil when I was a kiddo. It smelled so ripe and good to me, I was a little crushed that I not once was complimented on how good I smelled.

I don't know how you find all these fascinating perfumes, but I'm glad you do!

Divina said...

Flora, I agree with you, this fragrance is definitely a good match for someone looking for a more grown-up perfume. It is very deep and mysterious, sexy and confident.

Divina said...

Hi Italian Girl! Finding Jicky (or other Guerlains) is not a problem where I live (in the Netherlands) since it is quite widely available. The department stores and large, popular beauty-product boutiques though do not carry most of the niche products I'd like to find though so those require some research. (Niche boutiques in one city will carry some lines, but then I have to visit another city to find other brands etc...) Luckily I live in a central part, so travelling to other cities is not a big issue for me at all. What you can do is visit forums and try to find where the lines you are interested in are sold in your country. Another way to do it, is to visit the website of the line you are interested in and see where they sell in your country. (a lot of the websites have that feature) For example, in the case of Guerlain, if you visit, you can then click on 'our shops' and then click on the map on your country and see where they sell. I tested this with the assumption that you live in Italy (?) and it does give a good number of possibilities. I hope this is of some help. And yes, I personally do order over the internet a lot, but I never, ever order full bottles unsniffed. I usually order samples of the perfume and then after testing them I know if I want to have the full bottle. If you need more information on such matters (such as for example, where to order samples online), please do not hesitate to mail me. I will do my best to help.

Divina said...

Hello, Chaya dearest! Thank you, I indeed thought this was a fascinating find, along with Maria Amalia :) I'm very glad to have discovered them both.

Divina said...

Hello Abigail dear! I looooved the Body Shop coconut oil when I was in highschool too! Do you also think they might have tweaked it a bit? It just doesn't seem to smell the same to me anymore. I do love the newer Coconut dry oil mist though for the summer. It is soooo good! It smells a little murky in a way (not sure if this makes sense) but once on the skin it leaves this beautiful, light coconut scent. I layer it with some of the lighter Body Shop EdTs with a lot of success.