Its name -as evocative as Hubert Maes’ prior three releases- is Mille et Une Histoire (A Thousand and One Stories) and is inspired by the collection of Oriental (in the original meaning of the word - that is, Arabian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Middle Eastern) folk stories and tales known as A Thousand and One Nights. With it, Maes this time alludes to the multifaceted nature of woman, referencing the thousand characteristics of the female being in appreciation. Compassionate, dynamic, charitable, ambitious, powerful and tender… The list goes on and on, a never-ending story which celebrates all that it is to be a woman.
Like Histoire Charnelle before it, Mille et Une Histoire projects an air of refinement and continental affluence. The perfumed veil rising from the skin instantly denotes smart femininity and unfailingly bespeaks its sophistication - undoubtedly due to the associations that accompany its rather vintage character: There is an unmistakable feel of old-world charm in Mille et Une Histoire, one that says “This is perfume as perfume used to be”. In a world where most new perfume releases cater monotonously to a very specific target group, I salute this for daring to be different in the bravest manner.
After a bright citrusy twist, a beautiful ionone backdrop of violet unfolds, buttery and smooth, with green accents and a surprisingly intense salty feel. Top notes of peach add a delightfully light fruitiness that is most ephemeral: they fizzle out within the first five minutes of application. What is long-lasting however is the beautifully aromatic, subtly smoky scent of black cardamom and the lovely, spicy, reminiscent of ground pepper quality that was a signature in Histoire Charnelle as well. In the heart of the fragrance we find the carnal sensuality of ylang-ylang, lapping lustfully at the rest of the notes. The powerful floral is used with utmost consideration and diplomacy, perfectly allowing its exotic character to shine and reach its full potential, but never allowing it to overtake the composition. It is complemented beautifully by high quality cedar essential oil, which adds continuity to the fragrance, taking up the smoky trail where pepper and cardamom left off. The drydown is a nuzzle-my-own-skin worthy (the inside of my elbow where I test fragrance is getting a lot of love as I wear this!) mélange of smoky cedar, creamy, subtly sweet sandalwood and non-sweet, beautiful vanilla absolute all traced with the oily, fragrantly balsamic fingertips of the everlasting ylang-ylang and kissed by the irreverent saltiness that has been surrounding the skin from the opening.
The end result is a gorgeous dichotomy between sensuality and restraint, that moment of hesitation before unbuttoning one more button of a chiffon blouse, and finally giving in… For lovers of classic perfumery, this is an absolute must-try. A gem.
Images: www.sxc.hu, Hubert Maes logo – property of Hubert Maes Creations, and image of ylang-ylang via www.rareflora.com