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February 08, 2007

Alexander McQueen Kingdom : Perfume Review


Whenever I hear that there are no creative fragrances in the mainstream market, I want to point to Kingdom (2003), a fascinating fragrance created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier for the enfant terrible of fashion, Alexander McQueen. The blatant sensuality of Kingdom mirrored the controversial and innovative approach to fashion developed by McQueen. Developed as a classical woody oriental composition—its luxurious dark woods cradled in the velvety foil of smoky resins a la Chanel Bois des Îles, Caron Nuit de Noël and Guerlain Samsara, Kingdom hides a raw and aggressive streak. The effect of this juxtaposition is exactly what makes grand French classics compelling—that reminder of human traces, of decay, of things that we try to hide. It is subtle enough to tease the senses without becoming repulsive, and yet, its presence is obvious. …

Although Kingdom does not play the subtle games of courtship, it opens up on an angelically sunny note. Its citrusy freshness and delicate radiance of orange blossom are an ingenious way to lead one into its burning heart. The classical duo of rose and jasmine takes center stage after the brightness of the top notes vanishes. The roses are dark and opulent, while the jasmine permeates the heart with its intense jammy sweetness that lies between a white flower and a tropical fruit. The most unexpected element of Kingdom is that this classical duo is infused with the animalic potency of cumin. It is the salty scent of warm skin, shocking and yet strangely alluring. As the composition dries down, the raw sensuality gives way to more subtle temptation. The warm milkiness of sandalwood is ornamented with melting resins, which blend vanillic and incensey undertones.

Of course, the animalic potency of Kingdom is the reason for its dismal failure in the United States, where the aesthetic in fragrance gravitates towards clean, soapy and floral. Alexander McQueen himself decided to tone down in terms of fragrance, and his subsequent big launch, MyQueen, turned out to be as innocent as a posy of sweet peas picked from an English garden. Nevertheless, Kingdom retains a special place in my affections, both for its technically interesting composition and its boldness. After all, what else but daring spirit paves new avenues?

Alexander McQueen Kingdom possesses a beautiful sillage, which suits both men and women (feel free to disregard its marketing designation as a feminine fragrance). Kingdom is available in the Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and parfum concentrations. The EDT includes notes of bergamot, lemon, orange blossom, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, cumin, ginger, pink pepper, copahu balsam, myrrh, sandalwood, vanilla. The EDP features bergamot, mandarin, neroli, jasmine, rose, cumin, ginger, copahu balsam, myrrh, sandalwood, vanilla. Kingdom is discontinued in the United States, however it is still widely available from various online discounters as well as the UK-based Escentual.



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