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Boxeuses – I’m a lover, not a fighter… - February 9, 2015

“Now's the time to fight. To get the idea, think of Russian leather tanned on birch bark. Now add animalic notes, strong enough to suggest a black eye. In other words, it's time to see stars!”

Serge Lutens

Sometimes when I read the descriptions perfumers put on their websites, like the one on the Serge Lutens site for Boxeuses above, my heart sinks. Really, Mr. Lutens, that’s all you’re gonna give me? Some cryptic, playful wordplay? So, I put Boxeuses out of mind and moved on to something a little more….accessible.

Image - wikipedia.com - Laila Ali at Celbrity Fight Night XXlll, Phoenix, Arizona, March 18, 2017 by Gage Skidmore

But descriptions like that niggle at me and so every once in a while I would imagine myself in a face to face conversation with Mr. Lutens asking him “What does this fragrance description mean?” and the answer I get would be “Oh, I’m so sorry Gwen, I didn’t realise I wasn’t being helpful and that you need me to list every single note so that you may consider trying my fragrance.” I must admit, he makes a good point.

I like a list of notes so that I can cross them off my checklist of favourites to see if I should try a fragrance but if I am honest with myself, that's just lazy. You don’t expand your perfume boundaries by buying variations on the same note over and over again. That’s just 50 shades of boring. Fragrance notes are meant to be a starting point for discovery. There are so many variables in creating a perfume – quality of the raw materials, proportion, how ingredients work with each other - that a list of notes is almost irrelevant. The fact is, if you want to know about a fragrance, you have to wear it and right now I’m wearing Boxeuses and here’s what I know about it: it has seeped into my heart and has become one of my favourite leather fragrances.

On me, it opens with sweet, woody and anisic licorice – the gateway to a deep, dark, rich leather. Charred and bitter at first, it mellows over time, tempered by Lutens’ signature candied fruit note, so dense and jammy that I want to run my tongue over my teeth, and lovely, lovely violets. As the leather settles on my skin it gets sweaty and animalic, and, well, better. For hours, I smell leather rising from my wrist – sometimes spicy or a little sweet, sometimes camphourous, tarry or woody – but always rich, dark, potent and sexy.

To get the idea, think of Russian leather tanned on birch bark. Indeed.

Boxeuses translates as ‘women boxers’ and plays off the scented leather gloves of Catherine de Medici who had her gloves perfumed to mask the harsh smell of the leather.  Boxeuses is a modern perfume in a world where baseball gloves, hockey gloves and boxing gloves are more likely to be worn than opera gloves. Boxeuses isn’t about perfuming leather, it’s all about a leather perfume.

I’ve decided that the fragrance description on Mr. Lutens website for Boxeuses isn’t worth fighting over. Now, when I imagine myself meeting him I just say “Thank you”.

Boxeuses is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.