Thursday 5 November 2020

SECRET ABSOLU by Fragonard

When we see a new fragrance appear from our favourite company we often forget that there have been months, or even years of preparation to get to this stage. From deciding on the concept to choosing the perfumer, every brand tries their hardest to look into the future and create a new bestseller. Whether you’re large or small the same goal applies. When Fragonard was deciding on the new fragrance to join their masculine collection they decided it was time to push the boundaries of expectation and, with a nod to faraway travel, the timing of Secret Absolu couldn’t have been more perfect.

Fragonard is one of the three famous tourist perfumeries that are located in Grasse but, in recent years, their carefully considered fragrance releases have seen them move from a day-trippers novelty to a serious contender for perfume customers around the world. Founded in 1926 by Eugène Fuchs, the company is probably still best known for the classic Belle de Nuit perfume that was launched in 1946. This intense floral fragrance couldn’t be further from the modern direction of the company which, three generations later, is now in the hands of the three great granddaughters of the founder.

The recent releases from Fragonard have concentrated on scenting the person rather than the surroundings. By that I mean the fragrances stay close to the skin rather than radiate too far outwards. This has also translated into an almost Côte d'Azur freshness, and it’s a style that customers have grown very attached to. So it was with some trepidation that the company chose to focus on oud in their latest masculine scent. Would it be possible to maintain the DNA of the current collection within a fragrance that was obviously going to be richer, and who was up for the challenge?

To create Secret Absolu the company turned to Jordi Fernández of Givaudan. He was no stranger to the men’s collection, having created the highly rated L’Aventurier in 2016, so it was hoped that he could continue to build on that success. Jordi’s interest in fragrance began in his native Spain but very quickly he started a love affair with middle eastern perfumery. He's been called “the master of Oud” and so, with creations ranging from Ex Nihilo to Montblanc, he was the perfect choice. With the original inspiration being exotic spice markets, this fragrance couldn’t have come at a better time for those of us currently unable to travel.

Secret Absolu opens with a hit of zesty bergamot before a peppery aroma comes through to give some initial heat to the scent. This is joined by a hint of violet but, before you even realise it, you find yourself diving headlong into the heart of the fragrance. The leather accord is noticeable first but, in a very clever move, a resinous labdanum draws in the oud note. This stops it being disconnected from the other ingredients and, instead, creates an animalic partnership. An exquisite saffron adds a touch of mysticism to the dry cedarwood, but an elegant roughness comes in the form of the earthy vetiver and patchouli pairing. A final hit of tonka bean offers a touch of sweetness and completes this exciting departure for Fragonard.

Secret Absolu is available from the Fragonard website at priced at £29 for 100ml and £40 for 200ml. [Sample provided by Fragonard]

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