Enigme Pierre Cardin: Design That Left Us
If you ask me to single out one thing, clear and obvious, that perfumery has lost since the late '90s with the beginning of the boom in niche fragrances, then I would choose bottle design. After a recent article about Versace l'Homme with its gorgeous classic bottle, I wanted to recall some vintage fragrances with recognizable iconic bottles.
It didn't take long to look. Designer Pierre Cardin made a name for himself not only in fashion and fragrances. His futuristic shapes and colors still seem to be from the future today, and the bottle for the men's fragrance, Enigme, was a perfect example of a recognizable, unique design.
The magnificent dark bottle of the Enigme Pierre Cardin design is based on the shape of the medieval Men protective mask, which is part of the protective gear used in Japanese kendo fencing. The horizontal lines of the bottle, repeating the lines of the metal rods of the mask, emphasize this similarity.
In addition to the bottle, Pierre Cardin created the Enigme bar cabinet of the same shape in the Sculptures Utilitaires collection out of black lacquered birch and cherry. Let's say that both look like a dark mysterious UFO, a strange spaceship on a stand?
Enigme Cabinet Bar, Pierre Cardin ForMe
The fragrance was born in 1992 and I had to go to the Osmotheque database to find the name of its creator. At first I was surprised to learn that he was Alberto Morillas, the creator of such fragrances as Flower Kenzo, Omnia, BLV, ck one, Acqua di Gio, Daisy Marc Jacobs, and Cologne Mugler — all of them are so modern and innovative, soft and fresh! The feeling of surprise quickly passed. Of course, such a master perfumer knows how to create absolutely any fragrance — expensive or cheap, innovative or traditional.
I was surprised because Enigme Pierre Cardin is one of the traditional dark men's fragrances of the 1980s (if not typical), in which the fougere DNA overcomes the chypre origin throughout its development.
From the beginning, lavender and coriander dominate over citrus notes with a spicy herbal charge. The warm, mossy base is dominated by oakmoss, woody notes and tonka beans, including the superiority of geranium and spicy pungent eugenol over a floral accord in the heart. I don't find the traditional perfumey leather note in Enigme's composition — neither tar nor quinoline — just a sweetish accord of patchouli, sandalwood and labdanum, which together depict a cozy and soft woody-leathery hue in the scent base, between the spices of the heart and the moss of the base.
The typicality of the scent was the key to its success, but later became its vice: Customers bought it more for the unusual design of the bottle (and low price) than because of its original smell. It lost in competition to the sharper fougeres, Azzaro Pour Homme and Tuscany Aramis, but the smell was not at all to blame. They were much more ubiquitous and persistent in their advertising and were able to survive under the aquatic and ozonic wave that swept the perfume world.
Now Enigme Pierre Cardin is purchased mainly for the unusual design of the bottle, and you can find rather inexpensive bottles.
You can recall the story of Pierre Cardin, an innovator and futurist, and his other fragrances and designs by reading a great retrospective article by Elena Vosnaki.
Top notes: Coriander, Lavender, Tarragon, Orange, Bergamot, and Lemon;
Middle notes: Carnation, Cinnamon, Rose, Jasmine, and Geranium;
Base notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Patchouli, Musk, Labdanum, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Amber, and Tonka Bean.
Photo: © Fragram petros1963
Sergey Borisov Editor, Columnist
Sergey Borisov studied Physics at Krasnoyarsk University. He's been known in the Internet perfume world under the nickname moon_fish for more than 15 years. His texts about perfumes have been published in Russian print and online publications such as GQ, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Rake, Glamour, and other magazines. He loves oud oils, as well as vintage perfumes, and notes of leather, vetiver, neroli, and orris. In 2013, Sergey joined the Fragrantica team.
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