Fougère Bengal should probably come with a warning label for people who hate immortelle. The opening is very thick and sweet. It packs some heat and spice that can take away all the air in the room if not applied judiciously, and the entire first encounter is dense, exotic and very very lush. This 2007 Parfum d'Empire creation can feel like two big perfumes mixed together: a herbal fougere and a spicy oriental battling each other for attention. And, boy, do they give a good fight!
Fougères are traditionally masculine compositions. Green leaves and lavender that can be quite astringent and cool and give that vibe many women would describe as "men's cologne". Fougère Bengal is far from being the first to pair these notes with a sweet tonka bean-vanilla base- Jicky is the most classic example, of course. Parfum d'empire took this a lot farther, though, and created something that might not always be the easiest thing to wear, but is absolutely worth trying.
Once the scary sillage dies down I can relax and enjoy the ride. I always say that a good perfume is one that takes you places, and this is one great journey. Parfum d'Empire is good at this- they took the fictional romantic version of Colonial India- think A Passage to India or Far Pavillions- and forge them into a perfume. Greenery, tobacco, hey and the endless sweetness that promises all the temptations of the East. It's a beautiful fantasy that lingers on the skin for long hours, no matter how political incorrect the story behind this empire might be.
Parfum d'Empire Fougère Bengal ($75, 50ml EDP) is available from luckyscent.com. Aedes and MiN NewYork have the 100ml bottles.
Photo of a British officer in Colonial India from miscellaneouspics.blogspot.com