Blog post by Gwen

1740 – earthy and leathery and animalic

Have you ever heard of Donatien-Alphonse François? Me neither until I smelled 1740 from French indie house Histoire de Parfums. Fragrances in the Histoire de Parfums line are named for a year associated with a famous person or event, and 1740 was the year Donatien Alphonse François, also known as the Marquis de Sade, was born.

Think you know the Marquis de Sade? So did I until my curiosity about him was piqued by 1740. The Marquis de Sade was a French nobleman who was, among other things, a philosopher, a politician, a libertine, and a writer. He is best known for his hedonistic, debauched lifestyle and his erotic works, which feature acts of sexual perversion and cruelty, so heinous his books were banned. In fact, the words' sadism' and 'sadist' are derived from his name.

So reviled was he that after his death, his family refused to acknowledge him for five generations. But times change. Rediscovered in the 1900s, Sade is now celebrated for his demands for sexual and political freedom and his influence on popular culture is felt to this day – think 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Today, the current Count de Sade, a descendant of the Marquis, created the Maison de Sade luxury brand offering wine, gourmet food and candles in honour of the sybarite.

With such a fascination for Sade, it's not surprising that Histoire de Parfum created a perfume inspired by him.

On me, 1740 opens with a bite of tart, bitter bergamot that melds with a note of sharp, bitter herbal davana. It borders on medicinal until the davana begins to morph, and I smell dried fruits which give 1740 a mouthwatering boozy fruitiness. I'm lost in the smell until the davana links to a note of thick, dank, dirty patchouli. Sweet, spicy coriander and cardamom warm the patchouli as it sinks to the base and finds raunchy, coarse musky leather, courtesy of leathery, ambery labdanum and birch tar. Notes of smoke and sticky resins swirl through the pungent animalic blend. 1704 smells sexy, up-against-the-wall sexy until vanilla and immortelle pull on the amber aspect of labdanum and sweeten the mix just enough to give it a sensual sweetness. The tobacco aspect of immortelle helps with this transformation. As the base develops, elemi adds a balsamy, piney freshness that's barely there but works in the background to counter the ambered sweetness, while cedarwood completes the composition.

1740 dries down rich, spicy and dark. 1740 doesn't evolve much. Its genius lies in how the notes are combined and work together to create a masterwork. Every time I smell it on me, I feel like it's an olfactory invitation from the Marquis himself to come and play.

There have been rumours that 1740 was reformulated in 2012. My bottle is from April 2010.

Check out 1740 in our Shop.