Perfume Review: Histoires de Parfums 1725 (Casanova)

Lavender fields in Provence.

Lavender fields in Provence.

Famous characters and mythical years, captured in a bottle. The lyrical, olfactory tribute to history is at the heart of Histoires de Parfums, a French niche perfume house founded in 2000 by Gérald Ghislain. As the Histoires de Parfums website explains, each of the early fragrances was entitled just with a date in history, the year in which a legendary figure was born. In the case of “1725,” it was Giacomo Girolamo Casanova who is best known for being a libertine, lover and seducer of women, though he was also much, much more. For example, did you know that some scholars believe Casanova helped write some of the lyrics to Mozart’s Don Giovanni opera, that he translated the mighty Iliad, got into a heated debate over religion with the brilliant Voltaire, or that he was a highly respected political advisor?

Giovanni Casanova via Wikimedia.

Giovanni Casanova via Wikimedia.

I bring up these other attributes because some may think that a perfume dedicated to Casanova would be a mighty oriental, intended to seduce with opulent, sensuous notes — and they would be mistaken. Histoires de Parfums has taken a very different tack with 1725, creating an aromatic fougère with gourmand qualities. The company’s full description for 1725, along with its notes, is as follows:

Venice, the riparian city of love. In that year of 1725 was born the man whose name would symbolize seduction: Giacomo Girolamo Casanova.

1725 Casanova HdP« What is love then? An illness to which man is prone to any age », claimed the one who was one after the other abbot, officer, scholar, writer, banker, con artist, magician, infantryman, spy, diplomat, but always claiming his Venetian origins. For every Casanova, here is an eau de parfum inviting intense pleasure, an amber fern mixing fine wooded tunes and touches of lemony freshness, sublimed by the elegance of lavender. Warmed with heady spices and colored by sweet fruits.

Originality: vanilla lavender combination.

Top Note: Bergamot, Citrus, Grapefruit, Licorice

Heart Note: Lavender, Star Anise

Base Note: Vanilla, Almond, Sandalwood, Cedar, Amber

1725 Casanova doesn’t evoke either the man or sybaritic Venice to me. Instead, I’m taken to modern Provence, perhaps the Luberon before Peter Mayle’s wonderful Year in Provence books made it less of a magical secret. I see vast fields of lavender infused by the aroma of a thousand patisserie shops at its base. They are filled with vanillic almond croissants, pate d’amande, aniseed galettes, and frothy vanilla drinks. Surrounding the lavender fields is a long avenue of cedar trees that create a bridge to the orchards of yellow lemons and zesty yellow grapefruits. The corridor of woody trees is occasionally tinged by smoke but, more frequently, by that wafting scent of vanilla from the patisseries at the bottom of the hill. To me, that is the perfume in a nutshell.

Source: Worldfortravel.com

Source: Worldfortravel.com

1725 Casanova opens on my skin with aromatic herbs and citruses with underlying spices and a quietly muted leather note. The lemon is zesty, fresh, very crisp and similar to the juice in unsweetened lemonade. The grapefruit is similarly yellow and tart. Intermingled with both notes is lavender that feels smooth, not bitter or pungent. A little bit of spicy anise flickers at the edges and, within seconds, is joined by some very exuberant almond atop a light vanilla base.

The almond and vanilla notes are in sharp contrast to the lavender and citrus. The former evokes a French breakfast pastry; the latter, the herbaceous hills of Provence where fields of lavender meet orchards of citrus fruits. The sweetness of the almond-vanilla accord prevents Casanova’s opening from feeling like a primarily masculine fragrance with its typical fougère combination of herbaceous, aromatic citruses and lavender.

Fennel fronds.

Fennel fronds.

Still, the perfume seems almost split into two until, about five minutes in, a bridge is formed between the two camps, thanks to the advent of the cedar note. It’s just barely peppered but, instead, creamy and backed by lightly spiced anise. The latter doesn’t feel like black licorice candy or even dried star anise; instead, it feels more like the fresh green fronds of an anise vegetable or, as Americans call it, fennel. It’s a beautifully delicate, subtle note, especially when mixed with the creamy wood accord, and the two together help to bridge the divide between the other competing groups. But I still found 1725 to be a bit jangly and discordant at the beginning.

Source: Usafilm.info

Source: Usafilm.info

Twenty minutes in, 1725 Casanova turns into a smoky cedar and lavender perfume, with the tiniest dash of citrus and anise notes– all over a vanilla-almond base. The cedar note is beautiful, especially with the lavender — a note that some of you know that I absolutely despise in large quantities. Here, however, it is well done, adding just a subtle aromatic herbaceous quality to the peppered woods while also feeling airily creamy and sweetened. It helps that it’s subtle, creating an overall gauzy haze over the notes, but never smelling like those revoltingly concentrated sachets of dried lavender that were as ubiquitous in the South of France (especially Cannes) as the air you breathed. (If you lived in Cannes, which is right next to Grasse, you were so inundated by lavender sachets, oils, perfumes, creams, bath products, and lavender of every possible formulation, you ended up almost being traumatized. Few places in the South of France are so deluged and bombarded with the note as Cannes which is only about 18 minutes away from the world’s center of perfumery and lavender. So, by the time we escaped to Monte-Carlo, it was too late; I was scarred for life with a searing, deeply rooted, life-long lavender phobia.)

To my surprise, it is actually the vanilla note in 1725 Casanova with which I have greater difficulty. Infused by almond like that in pate d’amande, there is something extremely sickly about it. And, despite its generally light airiness, it feels both cloying and somewhat synthetic. Thankfully, however, about an hour into Casanova’s development, it softens and becomes significantly better. No longer cloying and quite so jangly (for lack of a better term), it mellows out into a much more harmonious note, blending in well with both the marzipan-like almond and the lavender.

Source: Epicurus.com

Source: Epicurus.com

Starting at the 90 minute mark and for the rest of Casanova’s development, the perfume becomes a well-modulated, balanced, almondy-vanilla fragrance that has almost a heliotrope-like quality and which is infused with light, sweetened lavender — all atop a base of smoky wood notes touched fleetingly with softly spiced, herbal anise. It’s not dessert-like or gourmand; 1725 has too much lavender, light smoke and dry woods for that, but it’s also not a truly masculine fougère, either.

1725 remains that way until its very end, never changing in any dramatic way but merely softening until, finally, it is nothing more than a soft vanilla with a touch of lavender over an abstract, woody base tinged with the smallest whisper of smoke. Its sillage was generally moderate at the start, never projecting loudly; this is far too refined a fragrance for volume. Instead, it creates a very small, soft cloud within which the perfume is quite detectable. 1725 Casanova became a skin scent around the fourth hour, remaining there for a number more hours until it finally faded away shortly after the 8 hour mark.

It is surprisingly pretty — even to one who despises lavender. I wore 1725 Casanova to dinner with my parents and, to my surprise, it was a huge hit with the two biggest perfume snobs I know. I don’t know who is more difficult to please: my mother or my father. Almost everything I make them smell is greeted with disdainful silence and a faintly curled lip. Occasionally, there is a single raised eyebrow, a faint shudder, and a horrified comment on the state of modern perfumery. (“Why would anyone want to smell like food??!!) Out of perhaps 50 recent fragrances, I can only remember four or five perfumes receiving enthusiastic approval. Yet, both of them really liked 1725. Frankly, I couldn’t quite believe it. They did disagree somewhat on how powerful a perfume it was: my father thought it was strong; my mother scoffed. And, to my amusement, my mother refused to believe that 1725 Casanova was technically classified as a masculine fragrance. Simply refused. (“That’s a woman’s perfume,” to which my father responded, “Who cares? It smells really good.”)

I agree with both of them. 1725 Casanova is about as unisex as it comes. It’s also an extremely wearable, easy fragrance that would fit a variety of casual situations. I myself wouldn’t go near lavender on any frequent basis (let alone spend actual money on it), but if I think 1725 Casanova is pretty, then those with less violent lavender antipathies may love it.

On Fragrantica, opinions seem split. Half the posters think 1725 Casanova is a charming, lovely, wearable, and even elegantly sophisticated scent; the other half think it’s not hugely interesting, especially as compared to some other Histoires de Parfums perfumes. (The aggressively masculine leather scent, 1740 known as Marquis de Sade, is often mentioned.) Men seem to be more critical, while the few women who have reviewed 1725 seem to like it for themselves. And I think both facts really sum up the perfume: it’s not a very masculine scent, let alone a complicated one. As such, it will fall short with men who prefer the more unusual, and much more obviously masculine, fragrances from the same brand. Yet, there are enough admirers who find it utterly “charming” and timeless to show that it really depends on whether you want something classically elegant or something a little more rakishly adventurous.

One such admirer is the famous perfume critic, Luca Turin, who categorizes 1725 Casanova as an “Anisic Lavender” and gave it a Four Star review in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide:

Anisic notes are hard to handle in perfumery: they are sweetly happy on their own (few things smell better than star anise in a bag) but usually stand out in ensemble playing as a pan flute would in a string quartet. This clever fragrance associates two such notes, licorice and star anise, to a lavender-citrus structure and somehow clips the whole thing together with a touch of heliotropin and cedarwood. Top and heart are wonderfully melodious, and the drydown comes close enough to L’Heure Bleue to feel its gravitational pull, but then escapes again. Very good.

My experience wasn’t identical to his, especially as I never detected a strongly black licorice note and the anise one was much more like soft fennel than truly spicy, almost bitterish, woody, very pungent, dried star anise. That said, I can see why he would compare 1725’s drydown to L’Heure Bleue, and I do think it’s a good fragrance — even with the lavender.

As a final note, a huge number of people on Fragrantica seem to think 1725 Casanova resembles MDCI‘s Invasion Barbare. I haven’t tried or reviewed the latter, so I can’t comment, but 33 people voted on the similarity on each perfume’s page. A few noted subtle differences, such as one commentator who said that Casanova was similar but “with the violet removed and the notes toned down and refined.” All I can tell you is that 1725 is significantly cheaper than the MDCI fragrance: a 2 oz/60 ml bottle of Casanova costs $125, while the exact same size for Invasion Barbare costs $250.

In short, if you like anise and lavender, then I’d definitely recommend giving 1725 a sniff.

DETAILS:
Cost, Availability, Decant Sets & Samples: 1725 Casanova is an Eau de Parfum that comes in two sizes: 2.0 oz/60 ml for $125 or €145; or 4 oz/120 ml for $205. (Further decant or mini-sized options are below). Both full bottle sizes are available on the Histoires de Parfums website, which also has a fantastic sample program (6 samples of your choice) whose $20 price goes towards the purchase of a large 4 oz. bottle. Further details are available here as to how the process works. Shipping is free for all orders anywhere in the world for purchases over $130; below that, there is a $10 shipping fee. In the U.S., 1725 Casanova is available from Luckyscent in both sizes, along with samples. BeautyHabit has not only the 2 bottles but also a 14 ml decant for $36. The perfume is also found on Amazon in the smaller $125 size. The Perfume Shoppe (which has a Canadian division) sells 14 ml decants of 1725 for $36. Another option may be from Beauty Cafe which sells a 3 Bottle Nomad Kit of any 3 HdP fragrances in 14 ml bottles for $96. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, you can find it at Roullier White for GBP £125 for the smaller 2 oz/60 ml bottle. For the rest of Europe, you can find it at First in Fragrance for €145 for the 2 oz bottle. In Australia, you can find it on sale at City Perfume for AUD$179 for 2.0/60 ml oz or at the full AUD$190 price at Peony Melbourne. For all other countries, Histoires de Parfums vast Store Locator lists retailers from South Africa to the Netherlands, Sweden and Kuwait. Samples: You can find samples at a number of the retailers linked to above. Surrender to Chance has a variety of different options and sizes for 1725 Casanova, from samples to decants. Samples begin at $4.99 for a 1 ml vial.

19 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Histoires de Parfums 1725 (Casanova)

  1. Yay! Finally, a lavender for dear Kafka. I’m pretty sure I have either a sample and/or one of those half bottles. I first smelled this at Aedes de Venustas in NYC about a year ago and remember liking it.

    On a side note, one of my nieces is in Paris! Now I am scheming to get my bell jar (probably Boxeuses).

    Really wonderful review!

    • Let’s not get carried away now, my dear Hajusuuri. I wouldn’t actually wear it, let alone buy it! My lavender phobia is deep-seated, and it’s going to take a LOT more than Casanova for me to wear a lavender perfume on a repeated basis or with gushing love. But I survived this test with a smile on my face — and without wanting to gouge out my eyeballs with a spoon. That was a surprise in and of itself! *grin*

      BTW, a review of Boxeuses will be coming up in a few days. I always associate that smell with you. 🙂 So, make your niece your perfume mule and bring home that Serge Lutens Bell Jar!!

      • What?????? I got the impression that you would wear this perfume…not everyday, of course, but some of the time…maybe? To make your parents happy…or buy it for one of them??? I really loved your account of your parents’ interplay with you and with each other over 1725.

        By the way, when I first opened up the post and saw the lavender fields picture, my first reaction was…NOOOOOOooooooo, will Kafka ever get a break from a string of horrible perfumes (for Kafka)? I found my 1725 dabber sample and will have to revisit. I opened the vial and got a whiff of powder. Did you get any?

        • LOL! I don’t think I would ever wear a lavender perfume, even occasionally. As I wrote in the review, “I myself wouldn’t go near lavender on any frequent basis (let alone spend actual money on it)”… If I would, this may be one of them. Maybe. But really, it’s hard for me to imagine interacting even on a small basis with lavender. (You really had to live near Grasse to get it, I think. LOL.) That said, I’m contemplating getting 1725/Casanova for my father for Father’s Day as he truly adored it, and the last perfume I made him smell that he loved that much (for himself) was Puredistance M. (My mother loves Puredistance’s Opardu and NVC’s Mohur in both Extrait and original EDP forms, so I got my expensive tastes from *both* of them.) The only “cheap” perfume that they both like was Serge Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque — and that’s cheap only as compared to Puredistance prices!

          As for powder, no, I didn’t get any from Casanova but it may be how the heliotropin base to the almonds manifests itself on your skin. Heliotrope in flower form can be quite powdery sometimes, and I think almonds have something in their base that evokes heliotrope (or some molecule in that scent), so that’s probably why. Normally though, my skin can really bring out powder, so I’m surprised it appeared to you and not to me. That said, I generally think smelling perfumes solely in a vial can end up being quite misleading, so let me know what happens when you put in on your skin.

  2. That sounds like an amazing perfume, also the fact it has historic references makes me like it more, since I love history and feel nostalgia for past centuries sometimes wishing I had been born on a different era, and the 18 century is one of the eras I would have loved to have lived in. Now, I love Sandalwood, vanilla, lavender and Almond so this sounds like something I would like. To me fragrance evokes what I would call feelings of elegance, luxury and class, and I also love the few select perfumes that bring back old memories, mostly from my childhood since I´m not really that old 😛 . I love perfumes even though they don´t like to stay on my skin so I often have to reapply, but the perfumes I have or , I really love. I would like to smell and buy a high quality perfume like the ones you describe Kafka, a perfume that morphs as time passes and shows different notes. In my city the perfumes that I have access to, are modern versions of high end brands, like Chanel, Guerlain, Ysl, Dior, Estee lauder, Dolce and Gabbana, Nina Ricci etc. It is now between my plans that the next time I visit Paris I should go to a real Parisian perfumery and buy a nice, elegant fragrance that touches my heart, hopefully that will happen soon 🙂 .

    • I replied to you in the Idole/Lubin thread but I have to say it again, it’s lovely to see you again, dear Vicky! And I agree, perfume should evoke class, elegance, and luxury. From the little I know of your perfume tastes and what we’ve talked about in the past, I think you’d like this one — IF you like anise notes. I don’t know where you’re located but, if you’re in Europe, there are a TON of services that let you buy about 10 samples or so for about €20. If you’re not in Europe, Histoires de Parfums will ship 6 samples of any of their perfumes anywhere in the world to you for about US$20. Each sample is about 1.5 or 2 ml, I think, so it’s a pretty good deal. If not them, there is always something like Surrender to Chance which will send any sample you want anywhere in the world for $12.95 shipping and they often have sales or discounts. (They just had a special 2-day one for 15% off the whole site.) If you sign up for an email, you’ll get the monthly discount codes which are about 5% or 8% off.

      So, you see, regardless of where you live or what is available in the actual stores there, there are ways for you to try out new things and to smell some of these perfumes. If you end up falling in love with one of them, it’s not completely impossible to get the bottles — whether you are in Mexico, in the Middle East, or in Japan. The problem then may be the price of whatever you fall in love with — in which case, join the rest of us in our pain. *grin* I hope that helps a little, sweetie. xoxox

  3. I really liked this one, and I even have it in the travel size (17ml, I think). It’s a great scent, and unexpected given the name. I think your assessment was spot on. I do think it’s surprising it’s listed as a masculine, given how unisex, if not traditionally feminine it is. It *does* smell good, though. Actually, I may need to revisit it tonight, inspired by the review. 😀

    • I tried everywhere to find the travel sizes on the website but, somehow, couldn’t! It was driving me quite batty because I know they used to have it and, yet, now, there is no mini set of 14 mls. Gah. As for Casanova, it’s definitely bewildering how it’s classified as a masculine scent. Absolutely NOT!

  4. Yes the vanilla base is quite pronounced on my skin. Almost reminds me of Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille in the late drydown. I do enjoy this scent. Easy to get along with, but not quite as fougère-like as I wished. It is similar but not totally like Invasion Barbare. IB is woodier.

    I really like that HdP sells those small 14ml bottles. I’ve thought about picking this one up.

    I recently wore this so It was nice reading another opinion on it!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, David. As for the 14 ml bottles, I no longer see them on the HdP website, so I wonder if they’ve stopped making them? It would be a shame if they did, since that’s a very convenient size. As for the vanilla base in Casanova, it’s as strong, heavy and rich as SDV on you????! Or only in terms of SDV’s drydown? Do you get powder from Casanova? BTW, thanks for the comparison to MDCI’s Invasion Barbare; I’m sure that will help some people. 🙂

  5. Oh la la! You’ve done this for me that you decided to try a lavender fragrance with your lavandophobia? I’m glad you enjoyed this perfume (you did, didn’t you?) even though you wouldn’t wear it or buy it for yourself.
    It’s my favourite Histoires de Parfums scent, I have it in my collection.

  6. I ADORE lavender and everything about this review (including the reference to Peter Mayle’s book as I read all three of the series)…I would love to try this one and will seek it out next time I am in NYC!

  7. A bit late to the game, but I just received my sample yesterday. I tried it this morning, before the dog walk, which turned out to be an epic dog swim, then reapplied to go to the gym. If I still love anything after all that, in 95 degree heat, then it is a keeper. I loved it!!!! I must have looked so silly on the StairMaster, sniffing the crook of my elbow, and grinning over and over. There is still a faint yummy trace, now home, pre shower. Normally, I don’t like me in a ‘fougere’, but I do like to smell them, and appreciate them. I am even going to wear a bit of my sample to work today, and I normally lay very low with fragrance, working, but I think this will be just great. I just ordered a decant in the flash sale at STC, and I look forward to spraying with abandon. Thank you for inspiring me to try this. P.S. I ordered a sample of Alahine, too!

    • I’m so glad you liked the Casanova, my dear. Hurrah! I will be sure to tell my parents who seemed to love it even more than I did. LOL. 😀 What’s so approachable and great about Casanova are the gourmand touches that make it very cozy, soft, and comforting. Even better news to me: that you ordered the Alahine! YEAH!!!!!!!!! That is fantastic! I cannot *wait* to see what you think of that one!

    • Not fully, no. As I told you in the TF Noir de Noir thread, I gave it a brief, introductory sniff and found it…. interesting. I need to do a full, proper testing when my Serge Lutens marathon is over. Did you like Marquis de Sade?

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