For today’s post in the Long Lost Favorite Perfume series, I’m combining three requests: Elaine’s for Guerlain Attrape-Coeur, Azrifah’s for Alexander McQueen Kingdom and Cybele’s for Gucci Envy. Since I have already reviewed these perfumes, I decided to skip the descriptions and focus on exploring alternatives for these discontinued gems.
And gems they are! While these are three very different perfumes, they have in common their distinctive and striking character. This also makes these fragrances hard to match. As with complex works of literature and music, we love perfumes for different reasons: for the memories they elicit, for a particularly elegant drydown or for the rich, enveloping sillage. I hope that my suggestions capture some of the most interesting dimensions of these exceptional perfumes, and of course, please share your suggestions as well.
Guerlain Attrape-Coeur / Guet-Apens—retro elegance of amber and peach
“I never thought I’d get upset about a fragrance being discontinued. There are so many good fragrances out there, after all. I have a long and ever growing wish list of perfumes that are readily available, and I already own enough perfume to keep me fragrant for the rest of my life. So why pine for a fragrance that I can’t have? Then along came Guerlain Attrape-Coeur and I understood,” wrote Elaine. Attrape-Coeur was created in 1999 by Mathilde Laurent and relaunched in 2005. It has a warm accord of sandalwood, amber and rose with a delicious peach sweetness. It’s languid and seductive, but not overly exotic or heady. Two fragrances I wear for a similar sensation are Serge Lutens Bois Oriental and Bois et Fruits, which have a woody drydown so luscious that it can almost be gourmand. If you like the juicy peach notes of Attrape-Coeur, Bois et Fruits with its compote of plums, nectarines and figs will satisfy the craving.
Among Laurent’s own fragrances, Cartier L’Heure Deféndue has a similar abstract gourmand mood as Attrape-Coeur. It wraps its woods and ambers in chocolate and patchouli, thus adding a sultry feeling, but it’s nevertheless very elegant and retro. Givenchy Organza Indécence goes much further into the gourmand territory with its sugared almonds and cinnamon dusted plums, but the earthy breath of patchouli keeps things memorable. Finally, the amber and milky woods of Costume National Scent Intense would be an interesting discovery for those who love the opulence of Attrape-Coeur. Scent Intense has a romantic jasmine tea top note, but its heart is smoldering and rich—a fascinating combination.
Alexander McQueen Kingdom—cumin dusted woods and flowers
Cumin smells dirty and sweaty, and while a small amount gives an intriguing twist, a big dollop as in Kingdom registers as raunchy and almost obscene. That isn’t a bad thing in itself, but for a big brand launch, a sexy, dirty number is challenging. So, Kingdom didn’t last long on the perfume counters. When I think of Kindgom and its bombshell personality, the fragrance that comes to mind is Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir. Absolue Pour le Soir is dark and woody, with a bold animalic note that smells of hot skin and warm furs. It lacks the transparent rose accents of Kingdom that made it feel luminous, but the impression it gives is likewise unapologetically sultry.
If I want even more unabashed seduction, I reach for Vero Profumo Rubj, which smells like strawberries and orange blossom, but also like salty kisses and sun warmed skin. It accents its plush petals with enough cumin to be lusty,while the musk and civet create its femme fatale in the tropics aura. Should I crave a more modest dose of cumin, I instead choose Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger, a heady perfume that makes me wonder how on earth orange blossom received its “prim and innocent” reputation.
However, Rubj and Fleurs d’Oranger play with the floral notes, whereas Kingdom is more about woods, amber and musk. If that’s what you love about it, I would recommend trying Dinner by Bobo, a fragrance by a niche French house. It’s more playful than seductive—it spices up its gingerbread, jasmine and patchouli heart with cumin and plays with the savory, salty notes. Another perfume that uses cumin to give woods an alluring warmth is Idole de Lubin, a composition of sandalwood, saffron and leather. Idole is elegant and introspective, a different creature from Kingdom, but it has enough personality to seduce its wearer.
Bonus reading: an interesting analysis of Kingdom’s stunning ad campaign on Tinsel Creation.
Gucci Envy—metallic lily of the valley
Lily of the valley can be playful and pretty as in Stella McCartney LILY or delicate and ethereal as in Christian Dior Diorissimo. In a surprising and unpredictable twist Gucci Envy makes it edgy and glamorous. The metallic note—think of sucking on a silver spoon—runs through the whole composition and it gives Envy a sparkling, fizzy quality. I discovered some of Envy’s vivid green notes in Ormonde Jayne Tiare, which is much more baroque in comparison, but it also has a dramatic brightness.
Issey Miyake A Scent takes its inspiration from Chanel Cristalle, but the metallic accent on its lily of the valley notes reminds me of Envy. Likewise, the metallic iris of Serge Lutens Bas de Soie is wrapped around enough green, watery notes to give a lucid, cool impression. It isn’t a favorite, I admit, but its polish and radiance are distinctive. However, there are days when all I want is a crunchy green top note of Envy, which smells like green ivy and jasmine tea. That’s when I pick up my bottle of Annick Goutal Eau de Camille and wrap myself in its sheer veil of honeysuckle and freshly cut grass. It may not be edgy as Envy, but Eau de Camille’s champagne-like sparkle never fails to delight me.