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Histoire d'Eau


Unless you’re a student of French, you might think that Histoire d’Eau means the "history of water”. The correct translation is the "story of water”. But there’s also a play on words which make the name of this 2002 fragrance by the French jewellery house, Mauboussin, and perfumer Christine Nagel, quite a bit more interesting than just the "story of water”.
In 1955, an erotic novel was published in France called “Histoire d’O - Story of O”, which was about BDSM and female submission, the subjugation of a woman named “O” through male-dominated violent sex. The name of the fragrance and the novel sound exactly the same when spoken in French. Histoire d’Eau most definitely does not smell like water or have any noticeable marine notes, so is the name just a little “ inside” Gallic joke, or is it really intended to convey the erotic nature of this fragrance through association with the infamous novel?
And what about the bottle, a clear acrylic cylinder with one perfect large round drop of orange liquid – the EdT fragrance -  suspended in its centre, like a setting sun.  The fact is that this entire creative concept is extremely odd, and in the end has little to do with Histoire d’Eau the fragrance, a wonderfully rich Oriental aroma, redolent of fruit, spice, florals, leather, amber and musk.
The opening is amazing, a bizarre accord of mandarin peel, nutmeg and peppery cardamom, on a blanket of soft suede under a myrtle bush. Sweet, sour, and herbal all at once, the opening is so unusual and mouthwateringly delicious that I can’t wait for the rest of the dry-down. The leather note becomes stronger mixed with ylang-ylang and sweet myrtle, and I immediately think of Serge Lutens Daim Blond, but this is less apricot and more orange blossom, and Histoire d’Eau has much more depth and roundness as it develops.
Amber tinged with honey sweetens Histoire d’Eau in the heart, the faintly sweaty note of the honey mixing with leather adding an  animalic edge to the drydown, and a somewhat Shalimar-ish effect. Soft musk, woody and smoky incense notes waft up through the base creating a great sillage, and Histoire d’Eau emerges as a golden sueded-leather fragrance with wonderful longevity, totally unisex. In the end, it is mostly about leather, but Christine Nagel give us a soft refined leather with no birch tar or smoky resins, far removed from the pungent leather scent of saddles, boots, and whips.
Histoire d’Eau is a hidden gem of a fragance.
Notes: mandarin orange and ylang-ylang, nutmeg, pepper and cardamom, leather, myrtle, amber and musk.
Type: EdT
Parfumeur: Christine Nagel

Price: $4.00