Two and a half years ago, perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour created ten fragrances. “Sure,” you might say, “And he’s created another couple of dozen since then. Big deal.” The thing is, he only made one bottle of each of these fragrances. L’Artisan Parfumeur put them on the market for $20,000 each. Now L’Artisan is producing eight of those fragrances for the masses for the relative bargain of $200 for 100 ml. Of them, Mon Numéro 10 piqued my interest right away.
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s PR machine says of Mon Numéro 10, “This last act will be explosive. After our travels, secret tributes and other sensual pleasures, this perfume is an explosion of warm, enveloping notes. Quite simply addictive. A heady, memorable ode to a highly sought-after note of oriental perfumes. Mon Numéro 10, with its eccentric, piercing mood, is like an evening gown that turns heads all on its own.”
Well. Does anyone else get an image of trains and bombs and evening dresses walking around without anyone in them? Let me simplify the description of Mon Numéro 10: it’s a spicy leather oriental. My thumbnail review? Leather cola.
The leather in Mon Numéro 10 is oily and assertive. It pierces the nose the second the perfume meets skin, and no saddle soap or reference to fine Italian handbags tames it. Accompanying the leather is a panoply of spices, including cardamom and, I'm guessing, nutmeg. What smells to me like a fine mist of neroli suffuses the fragrance initially. At this point, Mon Numéro 10 has the forceful, stylized demeanor of Joan Crawford in the 1940s.
As Mon Numéro 10 fragrances ages on skin, amber and vanilla sweeten it. Cedary incense joins forces with the leather. The fragrance begins to smell awfully familiar. That’s when it hit me: Mon Numéro 10's dry down smells like Coca Cola. Cola spilled on the backseat of a brand new Bentley, that is. After that, I couldn’t smell Mon Numéro 10 without thinking of soft drinks. The spell was broken.
Mon Numéro 10 has definite presence. The morning the sample came in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it and put a modest spritz inside my wrist. I drove to a winery a few hours later, and sipping a soft, mossy pinot noir in the vineyard I asked a friend what she thought of the wine. “Let me stand over there and try it. Your perfume is getting in the way.” Horrified, I put my hand in the pocket of my jacket until I could get to the restroom to scrub it off.
Despite the reference to “an evening gown that turns heads all on its own,” I’d say Mon Numéro 10 skews more masculine than feminine. However, any woman who wears Robert Piguet Bandit or Bulgari Black would be plenty comfortable slicked with Mon Numéro 10.
In the end, I don’t need a bottle of Mon Numéro 10. I have leather fragrances that suit me better, including Christian Dior Diorling, Caron Tabac Blond, and even Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls. Besides, Mon Numéro 10 never really joined forces with my body, but sat on my skin like Cola-leather frosting. Maybe some of you other leather lovers will have better luck.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Mon Numéro Eau de Parfum is sold exclusively at Barney’s (don't let the bio of Jean Claude Ellena curiously placed with the description of Mon Numéro 10 on Barney's website confuse you) and on L’Artisan Parfumeur’s website for $200 for 100 ml.