Aleksandr is a story of Russia’s most revered poet and founder of modern Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin who died from a gunshot wound in 1837, near St Petersburg. The poet was notoriously sensitive about his honour and fought numerous duels in order to protect it. His success in these duels came to an end in 1837 when the poet was mortally wounded by a bullet from the firearm of a French royalist officer serving in St Petersburg. The duel was fought over Pushkin’s distain for the young Frenchman who had been pursuing his wife Natalya Pushkina, a woman of great beauty.
The fragrance, created by Yann Vasnier, takes its wearer on a journey through Pushkin’s last moments. Arquiste imagines the poet wearing a toilette water steeped in neroli and violet. He dons a heavy fur and polished leather boots, striding off through a forest of fir trees to a clearing bathed in amber light; his fate awaiting him.
Aleksandr is a dandified leather perfume with a gallant aura. The neroli and violet leaf notes have a vintage-like quality, making a big impression when the fragrance is first released from the botte. An ‘iced vodka’ accord gives Aleksandr a steely impression of cold snow and the dark metal of a handgun. Notes of cognac, birch leaf, tar and moss give the perfume its distinctively rich leathery quality, again, harking back to early 20th century leather perfumes, many of which were inspired by the scent of leather boots worn by Russian soldiers, who used birch tar for waterproofing. Aleksandr also contains an animalic musk note and a light reference to amber, which is more perceivable in the fragrance’s drydown. In all, it is a sombre yet poetic fragrance, like the mind of a man facing the reality of his own mortality.
Over 7 days I am writing about my exploration of each of the 7 fragrances that make up the Arquiste collection. Australian readers can enter a draw to win a set of Arquiste samples by clicking here. Tomorrow’s post reviews Boutonniere No 7.