Dead Letter Office: Montana Parfum D’Homme- The Montana Oriental

During the 1980’s there was another fashion designer who was as cutting edge as Thierry Mugler. His name was Claude Montana. You could even make the argument that from 1988 through 1992 he was the bigger fashion star. At that point he had just come off of designing the fashion collections for Lanvin and they were such artistic successes that he won the Golden Thimble award two straight years. Attendance at his runway shows were where you wanted to be in those days. Like M. Mugler, M. Montana excelled at twisting the power designs rampant in the 1980’s into things still powerful but also dangerous or sexual. As is common for a brand rising so fast it would spread out into fragrance.

claude montana

Claude Montana

The first release came in 1986 called Montana Parfum de Peau composed by Edouard Flechier. M. Flechier was on as much of a rise in perfume circles riding the wave created by his creation of Dior Poison a year earlier. Parfum de Peau will eventually receive its own Dead Letter Office entry because of it being M. Flechier’s follow-up to Poison. Three years later in 1989 M. Flechier would create Montana Parfum D’Homme.

edouard_flechier_1

Edouard Flechier

Montana Parfum D’Homme was one of my first internet discoveries as I was spending my early days lurking in the Basenotes forums too timid to write anything. There were multiple threads about this amazing men’s fragrance which was chockfull of spices, incense and animalic notes. I began scouring mall kiosks looking for the Devil’s Tower shaped bottle. When I finally found it I was not disappointed. This was a fragrance which mirrored M. Montana’s aesthetic of adding a twist to the power suits of the 1980’s. Montana Parfum D’Homme would add an herbal and animalic detail to the classic masculine Oriental or as I like to think of it; a Montana Oriental.

Montana Parfum D’Homme opens with a matador’s wave of his cape leaving behind a trail of tart citrus. The spices follow right away with nutmeg forming the center of a triad with cinnamon and black pepper. M. Flechier takes that chord and moves it into a floral heart of geranium and jasmine. The spices form a tight swirl around the florals. It is all transformed in a snap by a fantastic use of clary sage. For many years I thought this was pine. With experience I realized what it was and the clary sage transforms this into a woody animalic fragrance. Sandalwood is the foundation for a precisely constructed base of civet, patchouli, labdanum, incense, and ambergris. This is a purring animalic which never gets too out of control which is what sets all of Montana Parfum D’Homme apart; this veneer of control.

Montana Parfum D’Homme has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Claude Montana would be fired from Lanvin because while his designs were artistic successes they were financially disastrous. M. Montana would never really recover and his own line would declare bankruptcy in 1997. As part of that the fragrances were acquired and were not seen as potential money makers. It was an easy decision for the accountants to discontinue it. It is a sad thing because within the Montana line of perfumes it is one of many excellent fragrances. Bottles come up on auction sites regularly and still close at around $100USD. It isn’t too difficult to get. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are still a box or two in some mall kiosks. One caveat this review is for the Montana Parfum D’Homme in the red box. There is a Montana Homme in a blue box with a clear version of the Devil’s Tower bottle which was created by perfumer Olivier Cresp. It is good but it is a very classical citrus. Montana Parfum D’Homme in the red box is the one you want to resurrect first from the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

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