The tenets of the original Déclaration have been preserved, and in particular, the cardamom + cedarwood accord, with a cedar that's now amplified in its creamy-powderiness, its cake-likeness, its sing-song sweetness and let's face it - its frontal dirtiness...
Perfumer Mathilde Laurent is offering us her interpretation of what a "parfum" for men today can smell like. A concentration traditionally reserved for women, it's made inroads in men's fragrance wardrobes in the past decade thanks in particular to Hermès, Dior and Guerlain. In the distant past, dandies might have been caught applying extrait with delicate finger tips.
The new parfum is only partially giving the nod to the idea that an extrait is the highest form of luxury in perfumedom and so ought to smell plusher and richer than its lighter incarnations. Mathilde Laurent also decided that Déclaration Parfum would smell raunchier.
If, like me, you discovered inadvertently one day that cedarwood mulch misted by rain smells feral and on-the-prowl after a downpour when the sun is starting to dry it back to its less odoriferous profile, you will understand that the perfumer has worked on capturing those natural emanations. It smells of human musk, perspiration, skin spiciness - and in short, it smells quite impolite. That is, for a measured span of time. Past a frank interlude, the composition softens down retaining the main thrust of the fragrance, albeit in a subtler and arguably more wearable form. You will keep the creaminess and dustiness of cedar wood shavings.
The scent borrows from the genre of the parfum in the way that it becomes very sympathetic with skin. You could argue however that it smells closer to a "skin perfume" than an extrait as there is not so much of the expected vintage depth of the latter. It makes you think more of a tee-shirt - something clean - than of the different circles of inferno, as some parfums can suggest deep, interlocked progression. Chanel Sycomore is not a parfum, but its drydown is anything but linear.
Déclaration was initially composed by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena in 1998. Mathilde Laurent has played up a natural facet of cedarwood, but also indirectly paid homage to the original author in her insistence put on a musky note of perspiration which evokes the fooling quality of cumin in this regard. Ellena likes that note, which he finds particularly sensual - it would be hard to miss its animalistic character - and which he owes in part his appreciation of to perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, his mentor, who showcased it in Eau d'Hermès (1951), one of the raciest perfumes to walk the surface of the earth.
Déclaration Parfum is a composition at the crossroads of nature and personal perfumery history. It could be the scent of an afternoon walk on a bitumey street in Massachusetts after the rain, taking in the smells of well-tended gardens growling under their breath in the sun, letting loose their zooey sillages and generally, big cats, or it could be called a well-informed study on a note of barely civilized perspiration.