Dans Tes Bras is a profoundly puzzling fragrance. And one of the most original launches of the year – there isn’t really much like it. Patty from the Perfume Posse calls it a shape-shifter, which sums up its structure pretty well. It does evolve, but not quite in a linear fashion: you could say it pulses around its Cashmeran structure (for an enlightening discussion on the theme, read Michelle Krell Kydd’s post on Glass Petal Smoke), with notes floating in and out for hours like wisps of mist before resolving themselves into the dry drown.
Frédéric Malle and Maurice Roussel wanted to recreate the scent of warm skin. Whose skin? I’ve never smelled any like it. Maybe the skin of a sylph or a dryad?
If skin smelled of wet black earth (like the best patchouli). Of green violet leaves. Of tingling bergamot. Of the powdery veil of amyl salicylate – a molecule used to impart freshness to floral fragrances ever since L.T. Piver’s 1898 Le Trèfle Incarnat – combining with metallic violets. If skin exuded the green minty puff of methyl salicylate, like a ghostly echo of tuberose divested of its floral notes. If skin had the cool-burning flavor of cloves and tasted of carnations blended in almondy-anisic heliotrope… If skin were bathed in incense.
Though described by Osmoz as a"slightly retro" – and indeed, a hint of Worth’s original Je Reviens, of Coty’s L’Origan, of Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue or Après l’Ondée can be teased out if you concentrate – Maurice Roucel’s Dans Tes Bras is so out there that it barely registers as a personal fragrances. Bloggers like the French Ambre Gris, and several commenters on French for a, who have been able to smell it since its launch in early September, were repulsed by its “mushroom cellar” dankness ( what if this were how pod people smell?). Wet earth reeks with the intimation of death, the final embrace; its greenness is that of vegetation springing from decomposed matter.
But then the warm, salty woodiness of Cashmeran kicks in, and Dans Tes Bras pulls living human flesh out of its vegetal cradle: but this is flesh without gender (at the Malle boutique, S.A.s say women find it too masculine, probably because Cashmeran is usually incorporated to men’s fragrances, and men find too feminine, possibly because of the powdery heliotropin).
I’d promised myself I would write another review of Dans Tes Bras once I got a chance to properly wear it – the first post was merely a preview based on a cardboard sample. I’m still no nearer to feeling any familiarity with it, or rather: to taming its low-key otherness. It does smell familiar. But not like anything I’ve met in a bottle.
Image: Franz von Stuck, Spring, found on the Femme, Femme, Femme blog.