Once upon a time you could walk into an upscale specialty or fashion store and find one or two good perfumes carrying the designer or brand's name. Of course, you can still do it today- step into Michael Kors flagship store and sniff his Snookified Very Hollywood. But that's not what we're talking about here.
Fashion designer Pierre Cardin bought Maxim's an iconic Parisian restaurant dating from the late 19th century. Cardin created an Art Nouveau museum on three floors of the building and installed a turn of the century style cabaret. Maxim's store offers deli products, souvenirs and, of course, perfume. Maxim's Pour Homme, the masculine version of the brand's fragrance was launched in 1988.
Maxim's Pour Homme is a beautiful and elegant floral chypre with an assertive leather base. The strong lavender note in the opening is astringent and richer than what one might expect. It doesn't scream "men's cologne" though it hints on impeccable grooming. Maxim's feels somewhat formal- it's dry and tailored, gives a distinguished feeling before warming up on the skin into an almost honeyed ambery heart. But it's the base that wins me over- leather and oakmoss, a hint of green and smoke, somewhat animalic like a perfume from another era.
I have a splash bottle that I found at an antique warehouse. I've found dabbing not very satisfying in terms of longevity- a couple of hours at most. But decanting into a spray vial and spritzing with abandon makes things a lot more fun and actually intensifies the leather chypre base to a Bandit level, only with a softer floral heart. Needless to say, Por Homme or not, I wear my Maxim's with great joy.
The usual sources claim Maxim's Pour Homme has been discontinued, but some online digging shows it is still made and very much available for sale- 35 euros (50ml EDT) on Maxim's website (laboutiquemaxims.com). It's harder to come by here in the US, but the husband just spotted it on the shelves of Jacqueline Parfumerie in San Francisco (415-981-0858). Of course, I can't vouch for the formula's integrity in light of IFRA and its restrictions on the use of oakmoss and everything that's good and fun, so if any of you tested Maxim's lately, please comment and tell us how it fared.
Notes from Maxim's website-
Top Note: Bergamot, Lavender, Carnation
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Cedar, Sandalwood, Amber
Base Note: Oakmoss, Musk, Leather