Friday, October 22, 2010

Montana Suggestion trio: Eau d'Argent, Eau d'Or, Eau Cuivree ~fragrance reviews

Years before niche perfumery came up with "collection of scents" in identical bottles and "concept" themes evolving around different families or notes, Claude Montana (the designer best known for his scalpel-cut jackets, the partner who flew off her verandah and Parfum de Peau) had proposed his own trio of fragrances, code-named Suggestion (1994). The triad included Eau d'Argent, Eau d'Or and Eau Cuivrée and came just 2 short years after Serge Lutens inaugaurated Les Salons du Palais Royal by Shiseido with his own iconoclastic "takes" on Féminité du Bois (in 1992), thus giving rise to a whole seperate eponymous line which became legendary at the drawing of the millenium. (Technically the first one to propose a "trio collection" should be Patou). The fragrances by Montana were ill-fated though, like the unlucky stars under which the designer and his muse were apparently born, and were eventually discontinued. Still, the dedicated perfume lover might profit from making their acquaintance, as they're both worthwhile sniffing, as well as a valuable lesson in fragrance history; seeing the mainstream launch of a "niche" concept commercially fail where others now succeed, with the hindsight of almost 2 decades in the passing between the two (see for instance La Prairie trying the same things with their Life Threads).

The common thread in all Montana Suggestion scents? A vague metallic nuance, bright, scintillating, radiant. The metals entering both the name and the bottle decoration are ample indication of it being intentional.

Suggestion Eau d'Argent is, judging by the packaging alone, one might say Pavlovian-like, equated with a cool aquatic floral; and it is! Composed by Max Gavarry, it pre-empties the notion of the dew-adorned ocean drenched lilies which later appeared in F.Malle's line under Lys Mediterranée. Of course the compass isn't showing the North ~or rather the South, as the Malle scent is so at home in the warm Provencial and Grecian air~ as accurately. Eau d'Argent is very good but not as masterful or daring (it lacks the salty, savoury touch). The scent of lily (and the aldehyde used for cyclamen renditions) is brought out to the fore through the use of lily-of-the-valley aromachemicals (read about those on this article) and underlined with a dewy, "clean" musky ambience plus Ambroxan. It feels much more legible and "kind" than the feminine L'Eau d'Issey, both being contemporaries with a dewy feel. It also probably gives a frist glimpse of the idea for Marc Jacobs's first eponymous scent, supposedly inspired by gardenias floating on a bowl of water. Substitute cool lilies and you're there! Very nice on its own ~controversial, let's admit it~ genre and completely unsung.
Top notes are greens, mandarin orange, violet, peach, bergamot and Brazilian rosewood; middle notes are cyclamen, lily, orchid, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are sandalwood, amber and musk.

Suggestion Eau d'Or was composed by Nathalie Lorson (who has composed the glorious Poivre 23, the Le Labo London city exclusive, which we reviewed on this page, amongst other things). A floral built on the juxtaposition of lactonic peachy and green notes with a heart of classic and bright flowers, this is a floral that radiates off the blotter and off the skin with quality and balanced approach to its message. The blossoming of jasmine and rose are supported by a fruity embrace of peach underscored by ionones (giving an earthy sweet note, also a bit of powder) and a creamy vanillic drydown, not too sweet. A floral, veering to floriental, with a cool-warm contrast that plays like chiaroscuro. Those who like J'Adore or Nuit de Cellophane might find another compliment-getter sunny floral in this one.
Top notes are comprised of greens, violet, peach, hyacinth and bergamot; middle notes are orchid, orris root, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla and cedar.

Suggestion Eau Cuivrée in its copper-dressed, patina-reminiscent bottle looks and feels warm and is predictably the more orientalised in the trio. Still, not quite a dense, traditional oriental, it features green-citrusy opening notes and a rich floral heart with a metallic nuance, justifying its coding: more modern urban amazone than Shalimar-wearing movie goddess, thanks to the base encompassing Ambroxan and cedar notes. Cooler, sweet top notes with lusty plum are folded into a warmer heart of luscious flowers and what seems like a hint of spice (they say carnation, it's actually built on cloves). The warmth is amped via the synergy of resinous notes played at the key of the lamentably defunct Theorema: meaning lightly, pleasurably balanced, never overwheling. Very pleasurable work, composed by Gerard Anthony.
Top notes are orange, pineapple, plum, green notes, peach and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, tuberose, orange blossom, orchid, jasmine, ylang-ylang and rose; base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla and cedar.

The scents had bottles which interlocked nicely in a round "plate", their sides touching like lovers or spirits-evoking-spiritualists sitting across a rounde table touching hands... They were sold as is or independently in Eau de Toilette concentration. They make sporadic appearences on auction sites and discounters.


  1. E--I picked these up years ago in 1995 at a fragrance boutique on the Champs Elysees. And, as I look back on it, this trio was a bit ahead of the curve.

    The fragrances were all lovely, especially the silver one. They smelled divine on my mother-in-law, and I continued to replace them for her for several years, because I found the silver and copper one at a local perfume discounter.

    I sort of wish Montana would re-issue them, they had that much presence.


  2. So glad to hear of someone who does know them and like them! Yes, they're infairly unsung and seem much superior to today's ho-hum juice.

  3. And forgot to say: nice touch on your part! :-)

  4. Anonymous02:36

    Can I ask if you know on which year this was discontinued?

    1. I don't have an exact date but I believe shortly after. The trio wasn't available on the counters by 2000 if I recall correctly. I know because I wanted to purchase some Cuivree finally and couldn't find it. Just Me was also ill-fated (and deserves a review by me at some point, stay tuned)

  5. Rafaela18:06

    i nedd this perfum....I from Brazil....

  6. I remembered "Mum once used Montana parfum, long time ago. She even had the that perfum trio, I liked the copper one... let me google it!" 1994 sure is far! I love trying new perfums every season, but she keeps faithful to Knowing, Estee Lauder, and Paloma Picasso (hard to find selling in Portugal).
    Nice walk through the memory lane! Scents do take you places!

  7. I love this so so much but I can not fin it in usa, did someone knows where I can buy it

    1. Good news for you; these have been just re-released. I don't know how they compare to the older formulation (there will probably be differences in strength of certain ingredients due to newer allergens restrictions) but at least it's something. :)


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