He is an angular officer of the Tsar’s cavalry mounted on the back of a black thoroughbred horse.
Worldy, sensual, rough and exotic.
Yet at once, so you like to imagine, he has his vulnerabilities.
Imperceptible to others, he offers you, you fancy, glimpses of tenderness, hints at a struggle within vast and unending as the Russian Steppes themselves.
He is hide: black, burnished, animal and unclean.
He is not the polite, precise, bridled up leather of French equipage: a decorative saddle or bag fit only for fops on manicured ponies.
He is military leather, hardened by battle and burned birch.
A boot of a man, impervious to the elements and sentiment, unyielding and unconscious of compromise.
But wait, something does indeed reside beneath that apparently impenetrable surface.
With St Petersburg and the unconquerable splendour of Empire so too must come the soft underbelly. The Caucuses, the conquered kingdoms of Mohammedans, Cossacks and Stans.
A stolen kiss deposited at the back of his neck finds it redolent of the souk: cardamom, the charcoal burner of the water pipe and its sweet and flavoured tobacco, a slow cooking stew of meats and fruits and spices.
Retrace his steps. In your mind retrace his steps.
Travel through the bazaar of boots and belts and bags, cured to disguise from whence they came. Beyond the army supplier’s oleaginous smiles and eternal deals, without the Medina’s walls: here resides the truth.
It’s filth, it’s excretia, it’s putrefaction. Its peerless beauty.
The inevitable and unbearable pain that brings forth such beauty.
And it is all too much amongst the stink of the skins.
He raises a pomade of flowers and bergamot to his nose, hoping hopelessly to ward off the evil.
Spinning on sculpted heal, turning his back on what actually is, he lights an old pipe with Spanish tobacco and departs in search of solace, anonymous sex and narcotic amnesia.
He will be yours for a moment, an hour, a day perhaps.
Then the next he will be another woman’s, another man’s and then another’s.
And so it goes on, inevitably, the decline into dust.
He is the angular officer of the Tsar’s cavalry mounted on the back of a black thoroughbred horse that every man and every woman wants to be or be with.
Cuir de Russie, even in its current, tamed, “dressage” form is an epic among the cuir class of scents.
Smoky, spicy, dirty, animal, burnt, hurt, floral, haunting.
This is perhaps the most anthropomorphic fragrance ever created.
A portrait in perfume of a leather-clad lover from the last days of imperial Russia.
A hopeless, joyous, pyrrhic but not-at-all pointless passion.
As with every aristocrat of a declining Empire, this officer is open to offers from anyone… at the right price.
The Perfumed Dandy.