For many Americans, their impression of the Moulin Rouge comes from the 2001 movie by Baz Luhrmann. In that movie a group of bohemians lived and died around the iconic windmill that stands for the fin de siècle establishment that created the Can-Can.
For the 120th anniversary of the Moulin Rouge, Gerald Ghislain was approached to make a scent that represents the Moulin Rouge and the latest addition to the Histoires de Parfums bibliography is 1889 Moulin Rouge. When you go to the website you see this description of Moulin Rouge, “1889" celebrates MOULIN ROUGE, the Parisian legendary cabaret, a smell of feathers and sequins, sensual and vibrant, a trace elegant and powdered as a boisterous ode to feminity.” This description makes me wonder if M. Ghislain is also a fan of the movie; as every time I sniff 1889 Moulin Rouge I think of Satine, the courtesan played by Nicole Kidman, lounging in her dressing room just before she would go onstage and unleash her femininity on the patrons of the theatre.
The top of 1889 Moulin Rouge begins with a mix of spicy cinnamon and lush plum. This is the beginning of the give and take each phase of 1889 Moulin Rouge will present. The cinnamon is light and zesty and the plum is sweet and juicy. This evokes the moment Satine strolls into the dressing room perhaps eating a plum the juice dripping off her chin. She sits down at the dressing table and pours herself an absinthe and as she pours it over the sugar cube in the slotted spoon the alcoholic anise flavor fills the room. She then takes out the makeup and the smell of Coty lipstick and exotic rose mix with the alcoholic herbal aspect of the absinthe.
The heart of 1889 Moulin Rouge is the familiar smells of powder and lipstick over the less familiar smell of absinthe. It is an odd thing as in the past, in particular with Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, that Coty lipstick accord has not appealed. In the case of 1889 Moulin Rouge it feels right at home and it adds character to the middle of this scent. As Satine admires her face in the mirror she adds the finishing touches to her toilette, a spritz of patchouli to go over her natural muskiness. She knows this mix of the exotic and animalic is her secret to the desire she enflames in her patrons.
The base of 1889 Moulin Rouge is a beautiful softly sensual blend of patchouli and musk. At the end of 1889 Moulin Rouge you smell the preparation behind the seduction of Satine’s performance. Cue the red curtain, the show must go on. 1889 Moulin Rouge has excellent longevity and average sillage.
Gerald Ghislain, as Baz Luhrmann did before him, used the Moulin Rouge as inspiration to create a multi-sensorial piece of art. I will be wearing some 1889 Moulin Rouge on my wrist with a bottle of absinthe on the table the next time I fire up “Moulin Rouge” on the DVD player. It will add a true third dimension to my viewing experience.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample purchased from The Perfumed Court.
-Mark Behnke, Managing Editor