Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
I will not even try to connect the Marquis de Sade (1740 refers to the year of his birth) to the elegant immortelle-leather composition presented by Histoires de Parfums, a French niche line established by Gérald Ghislain in 2000. Somehow, it speaks not of an 18th century boudoir but is rather an expression of the Folies Bergères of 1920s Paris where Josephine Baker performed her Danse sauvage. While it is dark and sensual, the aura of 1740 is really quite glamorous.
While there are numerous great leather fragrances, from the classics like Chanel Cuir de Russie and Robert Piguet Bandit to the unconventional ideas like L’Artisan Dzing! and Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque, 1740 is interesting for its treatment of the leather accord as caramelized and sweet. Although 1740 reminds me of Lutens’ Ambre Sultan given its rich amber accord, it nevertheless possesses its own unique character. The perfumer Sylvie Jourdet sets the tangy richness of leather against the plush darkness of amber and accents it with oriental touches like vanilla and coumarin. The sandalwood notes, which have the richness of chocolate ganache, take 1740 further into unapologetically seductive territory.
Despite the darkness and heft of the core of the fragrance, 1740 maintains a certain unexpected radiance, and as such is very alluring. The interplay of bright and dark notes starts as soon as one applies 1740 on the skin. The boozy, rum-soaked raisin notes of davana are offset by the peppery shimmer of bergamot. The richness of amber is cut through by the cool spice of cardamom and coriander. Yet the late drydown, which lasts for hours on my skin, is what I find most appealing about 1740. The fragrance settles into a beautiful arrangement of leather, amber and immortelle, which wears like soft cashmere. It is simultaneously seductive and comforting.
It is equally suitable for both men and women, especially for those who love the oriental fantasy genre of fragrances similar to Serge Lutens. Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade includes notes of bergamot, davana, patchouli, coriander, cardamom, cedar, elemi, leather, labdanum, and coumarin. Eau de Parfum costs $185 for 120 ml. Available from Beautycafe and First in Fragrance.
Sample: my own acquisition