New Perfume Review Parfumerie Generale Bouquet Massai- Don’t Call it a Remake

When it comes to movies I am not a big fan of the remake. The concept of when they take an older movie and take a modern look at it. Sometimes they will flip the genders of the central roles. Sometimes they will slavishly copy the original word for word. Which often displays how important an acting ensemble can be. Very rarely the remake can become more of a rework as the creative team decides to use the outlines but shade them differently. 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers turned a classic B-movie into a taut thriller which also contained a pointed commentary on the 1970’s yuppies.

In perfumery remakes are most often represented by flankers as the same basic story is told over and over again. Then there is independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume who has been releasing a set of perfumes called the Rework Collection within his larger Parfumerie Generale line. The perfumes in the collection each carry a number which is currently up to number 26. For the Rework Collection M. Guillaume has decided to return to earlier releases and rework them numbering them as X.1. What has been nice about the first four releases were they did not feel like flankers. They felt like M. Guillaume returning to the drawing board with a sketch already in place but this time it would result in a different end product.

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Pierre Guillaume

When I spoke with M. Guillaume in Florence at Pitti Fragranze last September I asked him what was next and he told me the rework of Aomassai 10. I have to say while I smiled outwardly; inside I shriveled up a little. I think Aomassai is one of the best perfumes ever made in the independent space. M. Guillaume took a unique perspective on the gourmand fragrance genre. This was like hearing someone was re-making the movie Casablanca in my mind. I was worried where this would go. In January I received the press release for Bouquet Massai 10.1. Now it was reality.

One of the things M. Guillaume has been exploring in these reworks is the concept that if you take the core accord and surround it with different things can you make something as compelling. For Bouquet Massai the central accord of coffee and Cashmeran from Aomassai is brought over; then immersed in floral notes of peony, magnolia, and karo karounde. What results is a much more defined version of that central accord in which the bitter qualities are enhanced and the roasted nature attenuated.

Bouquet Massai opens with the coffee and Cashmeran nucleus in place. It is rapidly hung with lei of the three main florals. I noticed peony first. The heady jasmine-like nature of karo karounde next. Finally, the magnolia. Each new floral serves to sharpen the bitter nature of the coffee. They gave it more bite. Where Aomassai was a smoother softer gourmand; Bouquet Massai has taken the softness away leaving a different feeling. Bouquet Massai comes together with a snap. Within that crispness I realized how versatile the coffee-Cashmeran accord is to anchor two disparate versions. Bouquet Massai finishes with some soothing sandalwood to take some of the sting out of things.

Bouquet Massai has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

As was done with Invasion of the Body Snatchers M. Guillaume has presented a rework which allowed me to see Bouquet Massai as a creation all its own.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Parfumerie Generale.

Mark Behnke

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