DSH Parfums Le Smoking is, to my nose, a happy mix of the bitter, smoked-out leather of Cabochard (Grès) and the sweet hashish vibe of Coze (Parfumerie Generale), two perfumes so hard-wired into the scent memory portion of my brain that it’s difficult to judge Le Smoking on its own merits.
Do I love Le Smoking, or do I love the memories conjured up for me by the ghosts of perfumes past that linger in its fabric? It’s hard to tell. But I can’t see myself not owning Le Smoking at some point. The further I get in this hobby, the more I realize that you just don’t pass up on perfumes that trigger you. I’m bored of wearing perfume just because it smells nice. I want the rollercoaster ride, please, and this time I’m keeping my eyes open.
The ghost of Cabochard in Le Smoking makes me almost unbearably sad. But I want to keep smelling it, regardless. The bottle I owned was most likely a reformulation. Like the opening of Le Smoking, it smelled like the cracked, thin elbows on a grey-brown leather jacket. Covered in layers of grime and ash, it was awful, but also weirdly brilliant. I didn’t know anything about chypres or leather at the time: I just loved its brittleness, its determination to be grim. I bought it from a local pharmacy because I was pregnant, not telling anyone at work, and trying to negotiate my way through an extremely hostile work environment. Cabochard steeled my girders. It was the scrappy, mean older sister at my back, urging me on.
Like Cabochard, Le Smoking has a bit of a sneer on its face, at least at first. The galbanum here does not smell like fresh lime peel, freshly cut green peppers, or mown grass, as it often can. Instead, it smells murky, poisonous, and cold, like smoke drifting across a window pane. There is also lots of dusty tobacco, vetiver, and oakmoss, together creating a pleasantly stale, acrid accord like a column of ash waiting to drop off a cigarette.
The mossy bitterness has been cleverly amended, though, to prevent the fragrance from feeling too much like a punishment. It’s much richer and more complex than Cabochard. An errant red fruit note, similar to the one in DSH Parfums Piment et Chocolat and Coze, add a touch of hot, sweet plastic that spices up the ashy leather, and the tobacco seems like it might be driven by castoreum, which brings its own sweet-sour fermented raisin vibe to the table.
But best of all is the generous dose of sweet, sticky sativa bud, smelling fragrantly like a lump of greenish hash resin. Mingling with the earthy oakmoss and tobacco, it produces a fantastically tasty note that pitches a tent between freshly-roasted coffee beans and the warm, trampled grass of a music festival. I wore Coze almost exclusively in early summer one year, and now associate it with all the pleasant things one can do outdoors on a warm morning, such as loll around on parched, yellowing grass, and drink coffee in outdoor cafes. The coffee/dry grass vibe lends a warm, friendly finish to the perfume that’s surprising after its chippy start. But, interestingly, although Le Smoking starts out in bitch mode and ends up in the chill-out zone, it is never less than debonair.
Sillage and longevity are, unfortunately, not great. However, I see a 10ml mini of this in my future, because, longevity be damned, I can’t imagine not wanting to pull this one out to sniff at least once in a while. The perfume portals to our past must be kept open!