Weekly Fumes: Parfumerie Generale – L’Ombre Fauve

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Many perfumes contain some kind of musk note. Some, like Miller Harris’ L’air de Rien, announce their grubby intentions pretty early on. Others, including Guerlain’s untouchable Shalimar and 4160’s Tuesdays Centrepiece (a take on different floors on a department store, including an ice parlour and perfumery), take their time before revealing their animalic secrets.

L’Ombre Fauve (translated: ‘Fawn Shadow’ or ‘Fawn Shade’) by French house Parfumerie Generale makes no attempt to hide anything. If you don’t like your musk laid bare, then don’t come anywhere near.

I’ve been aware of Parfumerie Generale for over a decade now and have dipped in and out of its now sprawling collection over the years without ever finding anything that I truly love or that has stood out as particularly interesting or original. This year I made the decision to invest a little more time in the brand as the thought of missing out on some undiscovered masterpiece that could enhance my life even just a little bit was too much to bear. Histrionic? Okay then.

So I have probably now sampled some 20 different PG titles (there are over 40 but I’ve eliminated the categories that I know I probably won’t like) and my opinion remains the same: some nice fragrances that ultimately make me reach for their more successful counterparts made by someone else. L’Ombre Fauve is the one that I keep going back to, though, and if you could purchase it in 30ml size then I’d already own it (unlike the brand’s regular collection, this is part of the By Invitation Only collection, which doesn’t offer the 30 ml option).

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The official notes of L’Ombre Fauve are patchouli, incense, unspecified woods, amber and musk. Amber and a mucky musk are the two that you get from top to bottom in what is a pretty linear journey.

I could swear that there is some vanilla somewhere in this – there is a detectable sweet creaminess that is more present in the first hour or so – but the incense and patchouli are harder to pick out as individual notes. So it’s this trio, an amber musk on a sweeter comforter, that dominate L’Ombre Fauve.

When applied, immediate impressions are of a vintage civet-based Guerlain but with the complexity of this house’s classics removed and streamlined into something marginally more modern and, for the majority in 2016, wearable. But L’Ombre Fauve is still potent, very well made and, yes, beastly.

The musk, which becomes purer and gorgeously soft the longer it’s worn, is stinky in a way that is both human and feral and for many will be too outrageous to wear in public. It doesn’t sparkle like Shalimar or Jicky as there’s no fruit here but still has a lightness. I couldn’t call it dense or heavy, but it shares a sexy and dirty tug that is undeniable.

L’Ombre Fauve lasts a long time on my skin but like the majority from this house, projection after the first hour is minimal and it becomes a very close skin. There is nothing in it that makes it specific to any particular gender but as is usually the case, just wear what makes you happy.

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I think I may put a hold on my Parfumerie Generale research for now, you can’t like everything but it’s always fun to explore and L’Ombre Fauve will almost certainly be mine, one day.

L’Ombre Fauve by Parfumerie Generale Eau de Parfum 50ml £81.50 100ml £117.50