One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Changeling: Parfumerie Generale Indochine

The odd thing about amber-heavy fragrances is that more than any others they seem to change character from wearing to wearing. It's unpredictable: I don't know if it's my mood, or whatever I've been eating recently (which is said to affect one's odour), or even the weather. But yesterday I sloshed on some of the newest Parfumerie Generale scent, Indochine, and was startled to notice a distinct cardamom note that hadn't been paramount the first few times I'd worn it. Then later I put on another dab, just a small amount, and was annoyed by a certain sourness that occasionally seems to surface in ambers. The day before that, I was inundated with Indochine's powdery vanilla character. Like some other ambers I own, it seems to be any number of things, and you can't tell which one you're going to end up wearing.

Despite the fact that perfumer Pierre Guillaume is said to be a master at gourmand scents (two of his recent concoctions are Praline de Santal and Tonkamande, which are probably self-explanatory), somehow I have managed to never smell a single Parfumerie Generale scent before now, but Indochine makes a pretty good starting point.

The list of notes ("Siam benzoin resinoid, Kampot pepper, Ceylonese cardamom, Burmese tanakha, Laotian honey") sounds exotic, but the truth is that Indochine doesn't smell profoundly amazing: because of its reliance on sweet vanillic benzoin, it calls to mind any number of other sugar-bakery gourmands, most particularly Serge Lutens' Jeux de Peau but also Guerlain's Gourmand Coquin and CSP's Vanille Amande.

What makes it appealing, though,  is that it isn't the monolith it easily could have been. Guillaume takes that small cluster of elements (with presumably other things we're not being informed of) and makes something suggestive of them. It rarely smells precisely like one particular thing at any given time: there are little wisps and tendrils coming off of it. Is that anise? Do I smell a pinch of bitter chocolate? A wisp of lavender — can it be?

I have so many ambers and so many gourmands that I'm not pining for a bottle of Indochine, but I can see how it could become an addiction for someone relatively new to the genre. It's really something.



  • I, too, have found Indochine to morph each time I wear it. I also noticed the cardamom note a few days into wearing it. It is wonderful, I think, but it needs to settle down and stop changing so much. I need a bit more stability! I love the PG line overall so I'm quite willing to continue giving Indochine due time... :)

    By Blogger Abigail, at 1:36 AM  

  • I find it as one of the most interesting of PG line...good olfactive experience! ;)

    I opened my new blog, you can follow me here if you wish :)

    By Blogger Juraj, at 5:06 PM  

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