21 novembre 2017

Alexander McQueen Kingdom edp (J. Cavalier, 2003)

Kingdom Advertising
In December 2000, the Gucci Group bought the 51% of the Alexander McQueen brand and this came with a plan for opening stores in London, Milan and New York and the establishment of the Alexander McQueen Parfums. Being a huge fan of this disruptive genius, I remember I welcomed the opening of his store downtown in Milan as a breath of fresh air in the aftermath of 1990s jaded minimalism.
It was not long after this I smelled Kingdom for the first time back in December 2003 and I still remember it as it was totally different from most of the mainstream offerings. It was the time when most of the permed and-mullet ‘80s scents had been toned down by a decade of galaxolide soapiness. So it’s no wonder it smelled odd and sometimes disturbing. Unlike the more conservative new McQueen gaudy floral housed in the black’n gold feathered bottle, Kingdom was indeed the perfect match to the polarizing creations the enfant terrible of Brit fashion was releasing on his catwalks. So let me share here too this review I wrote for the ÇaFleureBon Modern Masterpieces Serie.

McQueen SS 2002
"The dance of the twisted bull"
While closely collaborating with master perfumer Jacques Cavalier-Belletrud (who was working for Firmenich at the time), Alexander McQueen was in the midst of a glorious period full of artistic collaborations, accolades and releasing the amazing collection "The dance of the twisted bull" all tinged in silver grey, red, black and white. Put in the midst of this creative team a young Kilian Hennessy who just joined the Gucci group back then and you’ll swear nothing less than dangerous could come out of this liaison.
The sincere friendship and artistic collaboration between musical artist Bjork and Alexander McQueen was a key ingredient of their mutual influence since the album Homogenic styled by a young McQueen himself was released. They both were interested in the relationship between technology, nature and the decay the British fel since the Victorian Empire crumbled. Back in 1997, Bjork told the Chicago Sun Times "I explained to Lee that the person who wrote these songs is someone in an impossible situation, so impossible that she had to become a warrior, but a warrior who had to fight with love, not weapons".

Bjork wearing the famous Alexander Mc Queen bell dress for the video of "Who is it" from the 2004 album Medulla

I can’t help but feeling this struggle between love, resilience and decay upom opening the rough white paper box of Kingdom, reading the headline inside "Pierce my heart again". The bottle itself looks like a high-tech steel heart armor sliced to expose the red throbbing muscle, and thus the fragrant liquid itself.
As you spray it on skin, the topnotes are fresh with citrus and an unusual, slightly astringent angelica-grapefruit bitter greenness. Just in case this androgynous overture isn’t polarizing enough, the warmth of a floral bouquet of jasmine and above all rose that to some is redolent of Christian Dior’s Dune (Jean-Louis Sieuzac, Dominique Ropion and Nejla Bsiri-Barbir) here is empowered by a load of cumin and burnt hints of clove.

This decay redolent of a dance with the twisted bull, of neroli-sprinkled Victorian posies and heated body groves takes the center stage on my skin joining the savory, spiced rose trend launched a while before by Jean-Claude Ellena’s Rose Poivrée. The best is yet to come though as the basenote grows more and more around sandalwood creaminess and romance: less powdery and tonka-laden in guerlainesque style, it’s nature winning over technology, blood and skin over steel. Leaving behind the surgical calone era, Kingdom was a gamechanger reconnecting the woody-oriental feminines family to the trail of Jean-Paul Guerlain’s Samsara and giving this marvelous failure, this "impossible situation" a second chance. The mainstream tastes of the time and the suits in big offices doomed it to fail not understanding its such savage beauty. Pierce my heart again, for where there’s taste there’s no damage.

Dark Angel, by Tim Walker for Vogue UK, March 2015 featuring a dress from the Mc Queen SS 2002 ©
Note: Kingdom was first released as an edp and sold in Alexander McQueen stores and few selected retailers. Various limited edition of the scent came in the next years and also a Kingdom parfum was released. The McQueen Parfums was later acquired by P&G that reproposed the perfume in a smoother edt version. This smelled brighter, less complex and yet its infamous cumin note set it still far from being a crowd pleaser.

Notes include: Calabrian Bergamot, Sicilian Mandarin, Orange , Tunisian Neroli, Rose, Indian Jasmine, Cumin, Ginger, French Vanilla, and Indonesian Myrrh

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