But like all vintage perfumes I've had the pleasure to discover, as soon as I take a whiff of Futur, it doesn't matter when the perfume was composed. It doesn't smell like the past with its unfulfilled promise. Unlike that melancholy and lonely Unisphere which represents an irretrievable past and its long-gone promises, Futur (and other vintage perfumes) contains a continual present in its notes. I discover what it wanted to say anew, like a message in a bottle.
Released under Robert Piguet's name 14 years after the couturier's death, Futur had a brief lifespan: it was discontinued just seven years later in 1974. The scent's sillage, like the perfume's brief life, has a shooting star (or racing rocket?) quality. As I put it on my skin, its piquant, joyous burst of citrus and flowers turns into something lush and animalic. This gorgeous thing reminds me of Piguet's Baghari, and the near-ripe fruit plus incense I smell reminds me of Jean-Claude Ellena's green-mango inspired Un Jardin Sur le Nil. (Baghari's notes I smell in Futur: bergamot, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, vetiver, and some kind of benzoin-y vanillic base.)
Of the original Futur (as opposed to the recently reissued Futur which I need to check out), Octavian at 1000Fragrances says, "As I know it, it had around 60 ingredients with very bitter thyme-basil like notes, a smoky vetiver, and a strong Isobutyl Quinoline/galbanum." (The ISBQ made famous in Piguet's Bandit.) In addition, he goes on, "Tamarix was said to be the central note of the perfume maybe to express the space conquest (the theme)."
As always, perfume blogger The Scented Salamander has historical and cultural information that deepens one's interest in perfume; in Futur's case, information that make the perfume's metaphorics with respect to time even more intriguing. Its primary notes (I believe she's referring to the vintage?) of galbanum, hyacinth, narcissus and daffodil "are very '60s, but the volume of the scent," she says, "its leathery animalic base are more from the '50s. It smells, to put it more synthetically, like the '60s-as-the-long-1950s or the conservative side of the decade." (Nevermind, as she points out, the au courant Mia Farrow hairdo on the model in the ad. Who is looking backward and downward, I might add.)
I agree it is a strangely patched-together perfume, in terms of mood and temperment, with the liftoff of bitter green and florals descending back to earth (and back in time to the '50s!) with the lushness reminiscent of Baghari. (I love Octavian's poetic description of the fragmented quality of the perfume, which he visualizes as a shiny Brancusi sculpture. Futur, he says, is "a mirror where the spring scents are reflected in abstract shape.")
Bitter, fresh, floral, smoky, incense-y and then buttery animalic — the new Futur has a lot to live up to.
(Vintage ad courtesy: The Scented Salamander.)