After various false starts with later formulations of Paloma Picasso's signature floral/animalic chypre Mon Parfum, formulas that attempt to magnify its animal energy by raising the volume on the notes rather than letting them whisper their power, I finally got the earliest version in the white glass bottle, and let me tell you — it was a revelation.
Subtler yet more animalic than the versions in plastic black bottles, Mon Parfum roars with a savage blast of civet and aldehydes in its opening, combined with innocent and transparent rose and lily of the valley. Leafy coriander and geranium then encircle the florals, both narcotic (tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang) and delicate (rose, lily of the valley), transposing them into another, more haunting key.
Green, floral, woody, spicy, mossy and animalic, Paloma PIcasso is feminine in a deep-throated, non-pink wearing, tough lady way. I would argue it's one of the best chypres ever composed — it's that complex and beautiful.Top notes: Coriander, rosewood, bergamot, green note, aldehyde
Heart notes: Rose, geranium, tuberose, jasmin, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Patchouli, vetiver, amber, musk, civet, benzoin, oakmoss
If you can only find Paloma Picasso in the black plastic bottles (and they are everywhere to be found), you're still going to have a gorgeous fragrance on your hands, but what will be missing is what I got to finally experience with this Mon Parfum in the white bottle: real development and movement.
Every time I put it on I would notice another nuance, like the way that the lily of the valley and rose seemed to waltz in with civet in the opening, and other times the civet hid from me and all I could smell was aldehydes. With the later formulas, there's an everything-all-at-once quality, like a meal that was blended together, taking away your pleasure in sampling each part at your leisure. You get all the notes, but they're roughly corralled and herded into your nose; you miss the delicate entrances, exits and interplay of notes.
Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum has the sillage of an '80s perfume but the gravitas and depth of a '40s chypre. (People will notice you when you have this on, in other words.) When I was a teenager, a beautiful woman used to come into this French cafe where I worked. She'd order a coffee, sit down and smoke her long, brown More cigarette at a corner table (you could do that indoors back then), usually alone. This was in the '80s in Texas, so most of the other big-haired ladies smelled like Giorgio. This mysterious woman always had on Mon Parfum, and I never forgot her.