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L'Aigle De La Victoire – 2013 version – Smoky and leathery and commanding - September 2, 2017

French Imperial Eagle, Palace of Fontainebleau -by dynamosquito, April 30, 2011 - Wikimedia Commons

In all the reading and research I’ve done on niche fragrances over the years, there is one name that comes up with surprising regularity: Napoleon. He commissioned or inspired, in some way or another, fragrances from many niche houses.  There’s Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Impériale, which was created for him, Vive l'Empereur by Christian Louis which was inspired by a portrait of him, Je suis un Homme by Etat Libre d’Orange, which was inspired by his love of colognes, Aventus by Creed which was inspired by his dramatic life, and he was the inspiration for Eau de Gloire by Parfums d'Empire.

Why this fascination with Napoleon? Considered one of the greatest commanders in history, Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade and built an empire that ruled over continental Europe until its collapse in 1815 making him a symbol of military genius and power. Plus he loved cologne, reputedly going through eight quarts of the stuff a month and since he could hand out commissions he kept perfumers in business making the stuff.

You know what else I learned through my research? That L'Aigle De La Victoire by niche house Rancé 1795 is one amazing men’s leather fragrance.

‘L'Aigle De La Victoire’ translates as the ‘The Victory Eagle’ and is a reference to the staff carried into battle as a standard by Napoleon’s’ army during the Napoleonic Wars. The staff had a figure of an eagle perched on a plinth. The blurb on the box says that: “La Victoire, the victory of Wagram near Vienna in 1809, made Napoleon master over all Europe. Jean Rance paid tribute to the Emperor with this new perfume.” What a tribute it is - L'Aigle De La Victoire is aromatic, potent and proof of just how sexy power can be. And I’m talking about the 2013 version here.

It opens with citrusy, sour bergamot backed with a note of bay leaf. The bergamot has a gentle floral aspect while the bay leaf is herbal and spicy, making the opening bold and elegant. Then it opens up into the most incredible smoky/leather/woody scent thanks to patchouli, birch and labdanum. I fell love with it right at this point. It’s skanky, sweaty and animalic. L'Aigle De La Victoire comes to play and it plays dirty, while still retaining a certain elegance. About half an hour in, I smell thyme. Thyme! Its green and tarry, which boosts the smoky/leather/woody notes and keeps them balanced. L'Aigle De La Victoire doesn’t evolve much (thank goodness!) It keeps the same strategy but with different notes at the base: incense, vetiver, leather and agarwood.

The drydown is rich, dry, raunchy, and unapologetically seductive. There is not drop of vanilla or sweet amber to mollify its boldness. This is a man’s fragrance designed to conquer by getting you to submit to it. Clever strategy that.

L'Aigle De La Victoire is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.