I'm not entirely sure that a fruity floriental perfume with a distinct delicious tropical aroma is the way I would have chosen to commemorate George Sand in fragrance, but really, I'm not complaining. Histoire de Parfums- 1804 George Sand is attractive, succulent and quite original. George Sand, the 19 century (female) French novelist, scandalized her generation by wearing men's clothes, smoking in public and having extra marital affairs with famous men (and possibly women), including composer Frédéric Chopin. There's an interesting disparity between photographs and painting of Sand (real name Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin). Photos show a woman with strong features but far from a beauty. Portraits by her contemporaries reveal a sensuality and femininity that eluded the camera, making Merle Oberon's George Sand 1945 character from the movie A Song To Remember more believable.
Still, I don't quite see George Sand as a pineapple, which is what Histoire de Parfums 1804 is mostly about. The opening notes are exotic, strong and quite ripe. It becomes both spicy and floral as the fragrance warms up and develops on my skin, most of the time smelling one flower away from being a true gourmand. I smell more rose than muguet, which can be attributed to the way the patchouli-vanilla-benzoin base holds and supports the perfume.
The pineapple is surprisingly prominent throughout the scent's lifespan. It's definitely not fleeting or shy about its presence, and combined with gardenia garlands creates that tropical aura. It doesn't cross the line into Sephora-style fruity florals. I imagine the fruity body spray crowd would find 1804 to be too much, too perfumy, too womanly. Which it is. Histoire de Parfums brings us something a very real and full-bodied perfume with a solid sillage (yes, I know it's kind of an oxymoron, but you know what I mean) and a character and presence you cannot ignore. Maybe that's the George Sand part, and it's a very good thing.
Notes: Tahitian gardenia, Corsican peach, Hawaiian pineapple,clove, Indian jasmine, lily of the valley, Moroccan rose, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, white musk.
Histoire de Parfums 1804 George Sand ($125, 1.8 oz) is available from Henri Bendel in NYC, Aedes and some Anthroplogie stores. If you can find the travel spray bottles (they seem to have been phased out) they're an excellent value for those of us who don't need large amounts of anything.
Portrait of George Sand by Delacroix, 1838.
Merle Oberon as George Sand, A Song To Remember, 1945, from Stirred Straight Up With A Twist.