Before Felanilla there was L'Ombre Fauve.
Perfumer Pierre Gillaume of Parfumerie Generale is an expert in taking innocent, often sweet elements, and infusing them with naughtiness. The word "fauve" is loaded with meaning: untamed and animalic, from the fur color of a wild animal, to the expressive avant-garde art movement from the turn of the 20th century (okay, also a much-beloved shade for eye shadows and the name of a Judith Krantz heroine). All of them are connected by a feral aspect, and somehow have found their way into this Parfumerie Generale fragrance (sans Ms. Kranz, though).
I remember my very first impression of L'Ombre Fauve back in 2007. At first dabbing I thought it was a simple powdery amber, just something soft for an autumn day. But slowly the shadows got longer, the perfume darker, and I could feel the eyes for the beast lurking in the darkness. To this day something in L'Ombre Fauve makes me self-conscious of the way I walk and carry myself. I'm swathed in amber and musk (a kind of civety musk, somewhere between the warm fur of MKK and the layered cashmere of Musc Ravageur), and it's so opulent and distinct that I need to live up to its promise.
The animalic facet of L'Ombre Fauve includes a hint of leather and a certain unwashed element just under the warmth of amber. There's a connection here to a very vintage civety Shalimar, less sweet and only remotely vanillic, which is where this Parfumerie Generale creation differs from Felanilla that came out the year after. For men who are not afraid of powdery perfumes L'Ombre Fauve is probably easier to wear, and to me it's a somewhat less distracting bedtime scent, or the perfume I'd pick for the first real fall day when I reach for a favorite soft scarf, a darker lipstick, and a luxuriously soft handbag.
L'Ombre Fauve is pure pleasure. It's tactile, emotional, shamelessly perfumy, and sensual. There's an intimacy there, but the imaginary space where you and the beast are locked is not really closed off. There's a window open to the sounds and smells of a city. It may be happening in the distance, but the sound and smell of tires, a smoke coming from a faraway burning pile of twigs and dried leaves. Wherever you are, you are not alone. And the tiger retreats further into the shadows.
Parfumerie Generale- L'Ombre Fauve ($125, 50 ml eau de parfum) is available from Osswald NYC and Luckyscent.
Art: Le Tigre -Gaston Priou, 1933