Thursday 5 March 2020

MA BÊTE by Eris Parfums

The archives of perfumery are strewn with the well-meaning, yet misguided scents that promised to rock the world. They launch in a blaze of glory but, after the novelty fades, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re nothing more than novelties. However, every so often a brand comes along that sets pulses, and temperatures racing. It’s not that it taps into a trend, it’s more that it reignites a passion that has become dormant. Well crafted, exquisitely packaged, with a style that is unequalled in modern perfumery. I’m talking about Ma Bête from Eris Parfums, and it definitely feels as though it was made just for me.

Barbara Herman started writing a blog about vintage perfumes back in 2008 and quickly became an authority on those distant classics. Entitled Yesterday’s Perfume, the variety and insight that she brought to a community that was champing at the bit for a sniff of a bygone era was electric. In a similar way that Monsieur Guerlain was the go-to destination for all things Guerlain, Barbara became the font of knowledge for those evocative scents of past decades. It soon became apparent that there was a definite leaning towards the animalic style and this sowed the seeds for what was to follow.

In 2013 she published Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume and three years later saw her launch Eris Parfums. Barbara Herman described the original trio of fragrances as bringing “the beast back to contemporary perfume, exploring the collision between flora and fauna, femininity and masculinity, comfort and danger, elegance and eroticism.” The brand would see a further four fragrances join the collection but that original trio - Belle de Jour, Night Flower, and Ma Bête - was the strongest launch of any brand in recent memory. It is, quite simply, the perfect fusion of style and substance.

To create these vintage inspired fragrances Barbara turned to Antoine Lie. He had been responsible for perfumes from both mainstream and niche houses such as Givenchy, État libre d’Orange, and Nina Ricci. It was decided that they wanted to bring back an animalistic sensuality that was missing in modern creations and they have absolutely triumphed. Greta Garbo is said to have shouted “Give me back my Beast” as he transformed into a handsome prince in Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film “La Belle et la Bête.” Well, Ma Bête is my favourite of the original trio and there is no way I’m giving back my beast either.

The fragrance opens with a hit of animal sensuality, and that’s not surprising as it contains 50% animalic accord. These notes of civet and castoreum anchor the fragrance from the outset and make it intoxicating. A bright aldehyde backed neroli pierces the richness before another accord of soft animal fur comes through. I’m reminded of Guerlain’s discontinued Bouquet de Faune, and from this point I am completely under its spell. Notes of jasmine and violet add a femininity to the scent but it is darkened by a clove-edged whisper of patchouli and vetiver. There is a touch of tonka bean towards the end but think hot skin rather than vanilla sweetness. Perfection is hard to attain, but you’ll find it in Ma Bête.

Ma Bête is available from the Eris Parfums website at, or in the UK from Sainte Cellier at, priced at £115 for 50ml or as part of the full Discovery Set priced at £40 for 7x 2ml samples. [Bottle provided by Barbara Herman]

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