Keiko Mecheri and I have had a rocky relationship. I dabbled a bit with Osmanthus in the very beginning, that sweet morning wedding of a fragrance, then fell hard and early for Loukhoum, a heady, woodsy rose-vanilla incense that made me feel like the earth mother I most certainly am not. I had a mere whiff of Gourmandises before I handed my sample off to a friend, only later to wonder whether I made a mistake. And then there was White Petals, a sickening liquid candy scent that still makes my teeth ache when I think of it, and Sanguine, a bi-polar tribute to an unusual and delicious (when it's in the right mood) citrus note.
I relate this complicated history because my experience with A Fleur de Peau has done nothing to simplify it. Last Friday, as is my custom, I applied the perfume just before leaving for work. By the time I actually arrived at the office, I was so completely overwhelmed by harsh cinnamon-y spice that I went straight to the restroom without stopping by my desk first so I could wash it off. Lucky for me, this scent was stubborn. After I'd soaped up and scrubbed for a good couple of minutes, I dried my arms and made my way to my desk. As I logged on to the computer and then began answering email messages, I caught a whiff of a warm, leathery sweetness drifting up from my wrist. I pressed my nose against the delicate skin inside my arm and sniffed. Mmmmmmm.
A Fleur de Peau contains notes of Russian leather, civet, mandarin, night blooming jasmine, rare spices, and basalmic notes. The phrase itself, "a fleur de peau," translates into something like "close to the skin" (rather than the literal-seeming "skin flower," although I suppose that works too). This scent is not exactly one of those "your skin but better" scents that might evoke this expression, but it does have a certain sensuality and warmth. When I wore this again on Saturday, I was more careful with my application, applying it only to my wrists. Leather dominates the scent, supple and clean. This scent to me is more reminiscent of the smell of a loved one, warmed by the sun or a fire. The jasmine is also evident, though less as a floral note than as...well, for lack of a better word (or phrase), almost a sort of body odor. Not the kind that makes you want to hand someone a stick of Right Guard, mind you, but simply a personal odor. The spices and the basalmic notes add a bit of pungency, giving the scent a "lived in" feel. It's a day on vacation, maybe, somewhere hot and dusty, walking through a bazaar of spices and treats, then retiring to a balcony at nightfall.
This is not the sort of scent I want to wear (although it is nice to wear), but more a scent I want to smell on someone else. Call me crazy, but I think this would smell as great on a man as on a woman. And so I guess I'll file this one in the "KM--good" category, along with Loukhoum and the elusive Gourmandises. Just be careful with the application, or you'll go from smelling like skin to wanting to jump out of your skin.
*photo from LusciousCargo