Dances the King
by Sylvie Jourdet
for Histoires de Parfums
The hour is coming and it is nigh when shall set the last sun over the Palace of Versailles. For now at last shine the gold and waxen floors of the Sun-King’s mansion, its velvet walls, its glorious paintings and mythical allegories.
For now do marble and silver and orange blossom gardens meet. Under the King’s gaze dance the ladies of the court whilst in the shadow of the groves boys flirt and kiss.
Far from evoking the Marquis of Sade and his macabre fantasies where one can taste all that turned sour in the heart of man hiding under the guise of poetry, 1740 speaks of fiery sunsets setting the Hall of Mirrors ablaze. It speaks of wooden waxen floors, of silken ribbons and starch-white ruffs. It speaks of a time forsaken, of the Sun-King ere the dawn of his end, of the silent glory of the Fronde victor as draws nigh the hour of his fate.
1740 is the smell both sensual and mystical of a contrasting Versailles. A palace of appearances, a court of mirrors ; a people of favourites and courtiers and perfumed corridors with flowers and incense – which reeked all-day of the smell of effort.
1740 is the supreme faste of a King at the pinnacle of his glory. It’s his colourful reign of velvet and silks. It’s the King’s hour. It’s the time of Charpentier and Lulli, the golden gilded trumpets and the interlacing patterns of multicoloured marble in the Royal Chapel. It’s the Siamese king’s embassy, the hour of Ottoman sultans, the orange garden blooming under the Sun. It’s the Grandes Eaux singing with all might in the middle of winter morns. It’s the baroque era shining with all lights, with no blights nor shame, smothering jansenites and reformists in its pump – at all time.
It’s the fire of the dragonnades and the marquis as they laugh. It’s the heavy lusty air in the gardens of tuberoses where barons frolic and flirt with their male servants.
1740 is the fragrance of an era Sade knew not. It’s the perfume of ambiguity, of men powdered and perfumed like Eastern princesses. The perfume of gender fluidity, of courtwise cross-dressing. It’s the perfume Molière and Ruy Blas would have easily worn.
Eminently sexual on its heart of immortal flower and hypnotic davana, 1740 is also terribly spiritual. The bare heart of religious hypocrites, the perfume one smells as one enters the state cardinals’ private chambers. The explosive and colourful encounter of two opposite worlds united by all their members. Hues of honey and beeswax join the coldness of cistus and its trembling halo of papal incense.
The hyacinth cassocks and the red velvet stitches of cardinals’ mantles fighting vice and virtue both as Molière mocks them and Lulli loathes them – such is 1740. Two opposing threads : one is rich and golden and manifold, it smells of immortal flower and exotic lands ; th’other is dark, of amber and patchouli made ere it goes into the depths of birch tar as it burns in the forest during the hunt.
1740 is warm. It’s an intimate bubble stuck out of time. The most adequate rendition of Versailles as it birthed in its architect’s mind. The writing of new rules, the drawing of new perspectives which do not go by nature’s laws but aim to sublime it and exalt it in most ways.
For 1740 is sensual. The vivid and febrile exaltation of our senses as they awaken to an abundance of jasmine and roses and tuberoses which bloom come nightshade and give to lovers lost a taste of their poisonous scent as they wither.
For behind this explosion of lust, 1740 bears the faint smell of decadence. Smiles turn stiff, powders dry and the golds are tarnished in the Palace of Versailles.
The regal pump and circumstance is empty and consumed and there lies in the air the stale stench of decline. The austere turn of a King followed by his mother’s ghost. The shadow of fate and the rememberance of death takes hold of the Sun. 1740 grows stern and cold and firm. The voluble warmth, and lively, stiffens.
The organ now sing the Tenebrae and the Miserere. The weight of a reign too long, a King too grand is heavy on the shoulders. The bubble shall shatter and the dream shall turn to powder. Long forgotten are the orgies, faraway taken from the alcoves – they have moved to other castles. Where in the mirk lust lurked, there is now light and walls and where the fluids of servants joined is now met incense to purify the mores.
The cold sword of the Sun King falls. Laughter turns to shudder. And Sade finally enters.
Behind him, 1740 leaves a sillage inspiring awe and fear. The perfume of power, of a machiavellian charisma which lets one believe it can love as much as it can kill. Headturning so as to be better beheading – kissing your neck so as to strangle it best.
1740 is the last sunset over Versailles. The last glimpse of pleasure and faste and candid love affairs. Hypnotising, ravishing, castigating. Comfortably languorous, its evocation of mystical incense surely will confront one’s soul to its needs and uplift it to the Highest, where marble-white altars await the Day of Judgement.
The perfume of a dream,
1740 - Histoires de Parfums
EdP 60ml/120ml - 95€/155€
Available worldwide. For more informations see their website : www.histoiresdeparfums.com