French fashion designer André Courrèges was known for his geometric, streamlined, space-age designs replete with goggles, boots, and dangerously high miniskirts. (He and Mary Quant vied for the title of miniskirt inventor.)
Empreinte ("imprint"), his sultry, chypre/floral-animalic, however, seems to invoke a '40s-era woman of mystery rather than a miniskirt-clad Mod scenester. But nevermind — it's a thing of beauty.
Once the nose-clearing aldehydes get out of the way, Empreinte becomes herby (artemisia, coriander), fruity (melon, peach) and woody-leathery (cedarwood, sandalwood, castoreum). It's one of the most delicate leather scents I've ever smelled — disarming my olfactory expectations with its rich peach/light melon/herbs combined with its chypre/amber-leather base. It reminds me of Femme, with its plummy-suede sexiness. (They share some notes, too: peach, plum, jasmine, rose, amber, patchouli, leather, sandalwood.)
Top notes: Peach, bergamot, artemisia*, aldehyde, coriander
Heart notes: Jasmine, rose, orris, melon
Base notes: Amber, patchouli, cedarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss, castoreum
As it dries down, this peachy leather affair continues to confuse and bewitch with its fresh yet worldy personality. It invites you in with its sweetness and warmth while telling you to keep your distance with its formal chypre/leather structure.
When I look at the fragrance map portion of my Haarman & Reimer fragrance guide and see the chypre/floral-animalic category (including dark and intimidating beauties such as Bandit, Azurée, Cabochard and Miss Balmain), I think of women in the smoking section (i.e. outside) at a grand and elegant gala. Let's just say, for example, the Metropolitan Museum's annual fashion gala. While the wholesome good girls are inside networking and hobnobbing, these sloe-eyed gals are joined by Empreinte, who wants to bum a cigarette and kick off her heels.
Warm, sensual, but a little intimidating, Empreinte is one gorgeous and unusual peachy leather perfume.
*I keep running into the perfume note artemisia, which is in Bandit, Azurée and Jolie Madame, just to name some classics. Some varieties of artemisia are the familiar sagebrush, tarragon, and wormwood (the ingredient infamous for making boho types hallucinate when drinking old school style Absinthe). I have never smelled it, but I imagine it's dry, bitter and herbal. Whatever it is — it's doing something right for my style of perfume! Update: here's an interesting link about artemisia that discusses wormwood, which I guess in perfumery is synonymous with artemisia.
Buying vintage minis is one way of experimenting with classics without emptying your bank account. I got my mini in the adorable bottle with metallic round cap from the Miniature Perfume Shoppe.