What a difference an ingredient makes. Last week I disparaged a fragrance that showcased one note (Iso E Super) and this week I'm doing just the opposite. Attaquer Le Soleil* Marquis de Sade by Etat Libre d’Orange promotes one ingredient, cistus labdanum (from Cistus ladanifer), but I thoroughly enjoy this perfume.
I wrote about the Marquis de Sade and perfume almost 7 years ago (Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade). I'll quote myself:
Sade’s stories of torture, his endless diatribes against religion, his sexual fantasies involving pain, incest, degradation, humiliation and murder numbed me. Reading the Marquis de Sade’s dully written, repetitive tales made me sleepy and after awhile I began to laugh heartily at the absurdity of him and what he 'preached.' His philosophy didn’t appeal to (or interest) me. I was definitely not Sade’s audience.
I'm still not Sade's audience but sometimes I feel I could have been his compatriot. When I visit France and walk by or inside 18th century buildings, or when I'm surrounded in a home, palace or museum by French objects of that period (furniture, clothing, art — portraiture especially) I get an eerie feeling I'm "at home." Perhaps I have a French fetish because I'm drawn to Marie Antoinette, knee britches, Georges Danton, the guillotine, Christoph Willibald Gluck, powdered wigs and Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. When a chance arrives to glance into 18th century French mirrors, I do so, and imagine a life hundreds of years ago. Cistus labdanum fits perfectly with the gorgeous-nasty days of the 18th century. It possesses an antique and jolie-laide aroma and it plays strange games with my nose and feelings. I grow Cistus ladanifer in my garden so I can tousle its leaves and stems to enjoy its fragrance.
Attaquer Le Soleil goes on with the scents of evergreen leaves and citrus (ripe citron crossed with tangerine); it's sweet and bracing. Smelling Attaquer Le Soleil is like walking into a house on the day after a big Christmas party. You can still smell the oranges and pine boughs on the mantle and window sills, the kumquats strung on the tree, but you also smell the lingering aromas of last night's dinner (dulled scents of cooking). In mid-development a smell rises that conjures a wool coat of a man who wore a beautiful Eau de Cologne but who got overheated (some may interpret the "wool" as human hair that spent too many hours in a bar, a busy kitchen or too-warm bed, or all three in the same night). The last phase of the perfume is musky-syrupy, with added "pine smoke" and overripe citrus rinds. In other words: Attaquer Le Soleil smells, as advertised, like cistus.
In colognes, cistus often appears with a THUD-thump and a stolid nature; in Attaquer Le Soleil, perfumer Quentin Bisch makes cistus buoyant and frolicsome (it has a a holiday vibe). Even if you think cistus is not for you, give Attaquer Le Soleil Marquis de Sade a try; it has good longevity and sillage, and is gender-neutral.
Looking back, I don't think it's a coincidence that my stage debut at age eight was as the papa (I was tall for my age and...plump) in A Colonial Christmas where I threw shyness to the winds and danced the minuet (queue the Gluck!) for the first time.
Etat Libre d'Orange Attaquer Le Soleil Marquis de Sade Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml ($95) or 100 ml $150); for information on where to buy it, see Etat Libre d’Orange under perfume houses.
* "Attack the Sun"
Note: middle left image of Cistus ladanifer [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.