Where to Start? Part 8 (10 of the weird & wonderful)

Would could have so very easily become the Comme des Garcons show, I give you 10 fragrances of the weird and wonderful:

Le Labo- Patchouli 24

Notes: patchouli, birch tar, styrax, vanilla

Arguably Annick Mendardo’s earlier work Bvlgari Black on a bigger budget. It takes the weird and wonderful smokey, burning rubber accord and ramps it up to 10. The initial blast is a warm, extremely smokey birch tar accord, bringing to light the smell of a camp fire, leather and a fine peaty Whiskey. The overall effect is tamed and rounded off with a dry vanilla. Nice!

Rating: 8.5/10

Comme des Garçons-Skai

Notes: ozone, methy, grapefruit, pvc notes, coal tar, cardamon, white leather, sandalwood, labdanum

Part of Comme des Garcons quirky Series 6 Synthetic: Skai by Comme des Garcons is a floral aldehyde fragrance for women and men. Launched in 2004, this is one is a trip! As you can gather from the name, this one is synthetic with a capital S! It has a wonderful 3D complexity imparted by a whacky combo of different aldehydes, giving this luminously fruity effervescent transparency, which smells just like a lilo and rubber ring from the swimming pool!
Rating: 7.5/10

Bvlgari-Black

Notes: Lapsang Souchong tea, rubber, amber, woody notes, vanilla

Before Patchouli 24, there was Bvlgari Black. Annick Menardo’s primary masterpiece before being given the chance to rework her original composition without budget constraints. Less potent than it’s successor, this one is more focused on the rubber notes, than the birch tar/camp fire concept, either way it’s still a masterpiece.

Rating: 8/10

Nasomatto- Black Afgano

Notes: cannabis, herbal notes, resins, woods, coffee, tobacco, frankincense, oud

See full review here

Rating: 6/10

Olivier Durbano-Black Tourmaline

Notes: cardamom, coriander, cumin, frankincense, pepper, smoked wood, oud, leather, precious woods, musk, amber, moss, patchouli

Stone of protection in the former legends, the Black Tourmaline would protect against pernicious influence and turn self negativity into positive attitude. Creating a fence to defend against fire projections and electrostatic phenomena. Hoodoo aside, this one is extremely dark and austere, with spicy, earthy and smokey overtones, yet manages to cleverly remove the BBQ undertones which is normally associated with birch tar. Mysterious and unusual this is the smell of total isolation and mysticism at its best.

Rating: 8.5.10

Serge Lutens- Muscs Koublai Khan

Notes: vegetal musk, roots of costus, labdanum rockrose, grey amber, vanilla, patchouli, ambrette seeds, pure Moroccan rose.

Muscs Koublaï Khän is named after Koublaï Khän, the Great Mongol ruler and Emperor of China. Another target for unwarranted gross hyperbole and conjecture, in that there is some exaggerated myth that this one smells either like “camel butt” or my favourite “the crotch of a homeless person”. A destined classic which is made up of a rich honeyed rose overlaid on a bed of smoldering amber, with a hefty dose of musk and every animalesque note you can think of. Polarizing to say the least in that it’s devilishly sexy to some, repulsive to others, though beautiful, unique and immaculate in its own right.

With that said, does it smell like the crotch of a homeless person standing next to the rear end of a camel? You be the judge!

Rating: 9/10

Lush-Breath of God

Notes: neroli, sandalwood, virginia cedar, incense, amalfi lemon, melon, rose, ylang-ylang, vetiver, grapefruit, black pepper, juniper

A freak of nature and a complete accident, when two different fragrances from the same house were mixed together as a joke. The result? Something surprisingly weird and wonderful. Fruit, bubblegum, incense, woods, vetiver, there is a lot going on here. Extremely alien, extremely complex, surprisingly wearable. One which can’t be put into words, simply try it for yourself.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comme des Garçons-2MAN

Notes: incense, white smoke, saffron flowers, nutmeg, vetiver roots, mahogany, leather

One of my all time favourite openings in a fragrance. I’m generally quite indifferent to aldehydes in fragrance, but here they’re simply addictive. Snuffed out candle smoke, with the effect enhanced by a lemony-incense in Mark Buxton’s light ethereal minimalistic style. The support is headed up by a well balanced manly cast of woody notes and leather. Quite versatile and seriously recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Histoires de Parfums- Ambarem

Notes: pink peppercorn, elemi, iris absolute, oud, saffron, castoreum absolute, bourbon vanilla, sandalwood, amber

The definition of a modern “niche” release if there ever was one. The opening reminds me of a combination of Skai (see above) and Tom Fords Tuscan Leather. A strong leathery castoreum note, enriched with a synthetic PVC esque aldehydic aqua marine cucumber note; supported by a diabetic coma inducingly sweet  amber. A subtle hint of oud, rounded off by a light and waxy saffron-iris accord, adds nuances and complexity to the top notes. Quite weird and one I can’t make my mind up on!

Rating: 7.5-8/10

Histoires de Parfums- Petroleum

Notes: oud, bergamot, aldehyde, oud, amber, civet absolute, leather, patchouli, white musk

A symbol of wealth and prosperity, Petroleum is an unexpected essence. Once referred to as ‘Black Gold’, it is rich, dark and mysterious…a miraculous gift from the depths of our Earth. In all of its precious form, Oud is effortlessly felt throughout the fragrance. Woven with Bergamot and Orange, its fresh top notes unfold, assertively layered with woody and resinous power. Ozonic floralcy lives at the heart as a mystical rose unveils warmed ambered stones. An eccentric chypre character exhales narcotic fumes with an intense signature of leather wrapped in lucid white musk.

Rating: 7.5-8/10

BONUS

Etat Libre d’Orange- Secretions Magnifiques

Notes: iode accord, adrenaline accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood and opoponax

From Lucky Scent:

“Etat Libre d’Orange is a newly liberated olfactory territory, a land free of any taboos and preconceptions. A land where perfume is art and perfumers have free reign. It is only in free-thinking lands like this that truly original fragrances can be born, the ones that make us gasp not only because of the provocativeness of their concepts but because of the staggering innovation of their composition.

And no scent is more original than Etat Libre d’Orange’s bête noire, Secretions Magnifiques. An ode to sensual pleasure, to the rush of adrenalin, to tension and relief, this subversive perfume tricks you into smelling things you had never expected to smell in a perfume. The insinuating, saline sensuality of its iode-blood-milk accord is extraordinary. It is a perfume-chameleon: on some it will smell astoundingly animalic and on others it will be almost childlike in its softness. A love-it or hate-it fragrance if ever there was one, some consider this a masterpiece of modern perfumery.”

Rating: 5/10

Comme des Garçons- Odeur 71

Notes: incense, wood, moss, willow, elm, bay leaves, bamboo, hyacinth

From Lucky Scent:

“The ultimate anti-perfume. The notes are inspired by dust on a hot light bulb, bamboo, metal, electricity and lettuce juice…no lie! But what does it smell like? Surprisingly, it’s a completely wearable scent; metal and electricity manifest as the invigorating smell of ozone just before a storm, and the combination of we-don’t-know-what makes for a familiar soapy freshness.

Hot laundry right out of the dryer served up on your clean, sexy Xerox machine. Released in 2000, Odeur 71 continues to make huge stir-not just for its revolutionary scent structure, but because it’s a testament that a combination of the truly weird can make a truly fantastic fragrance.”

Rating: 7.5/10

Where to start? Part 5 (10 Modern niche classics)

Now we come to “modern niche classics” and it must be noted that there are an astounding number of fragrances which could be considered “classics”.

The following suggestions are merely a direct reflection of my personal tastes, which also happen to be some of the most talked about and respected scents in the community.

 

 

Andy Tauer- L’air du desert Marocain

Notes: coriander, petitgrain (bitter orange), lemon, bergamot, jasmin, cistus, bourbon, geranium, cedarwood, vetiver, vanille, patchouli, ambergris.

Independent Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer’s best release to date, a mysterious and hauntingly meditative exotic masterpiece, made up of bone dry cedar and spices, sweet warm resinous amber and a deft dusty incense. Potent, challenging and as my friend once aptly described it “Burt Reynolds in a bottle” (meaning very manly, not cheesy!). Simply put, this one just works and is one of my Top 10 all time favorites.

‘Imagine finding peace in a room, lying on the bed, exhausted from the heat of the day, with the window open, letting the cool air in which still is very dry and filled with the scents from the near desert and overlayed with the spicy scents of the streets below.’ Andy Tauer

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Histoires de Parfum- 1740 Marquis de Sade

Notes: bergamot, davana sensualis, patchouli, coriander, cardamom, cedar, elemi, leather, labdanum

1740 represents the birth year of a Parisian gentleman, named Donatien-Alphonse-François, famous as the Marquis de Sade. Imprisoned many times for his licentious morals. This is a truly polarizing fragrance, in that you either love it or hate it.

It all comes down to your threshold tolerance for the Immortelle note, which has an almost curried maple syrup essence. The opening is very bitter and boozy, evolving into a wonderfully buttery leather/pipe tobacco. 100% masculine and manly, although equally enjoyed by women alike.

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Serge Lutens- Ambre Sultan

Notes: coriander, amber, oregano, bay leaf, myrtle, angelica root, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla

To many The Sultan reigns supreme as the reference amber. Opening with a richly resinous amber, glowing and mingling with exotic spices, whilst casting a bewitching spell. It smells almost exactly how you’d imagine it to smell, as it unfolds peeling off its medicinal and herbal layers, losing the brininess of the opening spices to leave a flickering scent trail, reminiscent of the smell of burnt embers (making it a very visceral experience). One of the flagship scents in a very extensive Serge Lutens line and allegedly the top seller in France for the house.

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Serge Lutens- Muscs Koublaï Khän

Notes: vegetal musk, roots of costus, labdanum rockrose, grey amber, vanilla, patchouli, ambrette seeds, pure Moroccan rose.

Muscs Koublaï Khän is named after Koublaï Khän, the Great Mongol ruler and Emperor of China. Another target for unwarranted gross hyperbole and conjecture, in that there is some exaggerated myth that this one smells either like “camel butt” or my favourite “the crotch of a homeless person”. A destined classic which is made up of a rich honeyed rose overlaid on a bed of smoldering amber, with a hefty dose of musk and every animalesque note you can think of. Polarizing to say the least in that it’s devilishly sexy to some, repulsive to others, though beautiful, unique and immaculate in its own right.

With that said, does it smell like the crotch of a homeless person standing next to the rear end of a camel? You be the judge!

Rating: 9/10

 

 

MDCI- Invasion Barbare

Notes: grapefruit, bergamot, violet leaves, white thyme, cardamom, lavender, ginger, cedarwood, vanilla, musk.

See full review here

Rating: 9.5/10

 

 

Chanel- 31 Rue Cambon

Notes: bergamot, patchouli, cistus oil, iris, aldehydes 

31 Rue Cambon is a chypre fragrance and is named after the address of Chanel’s Parisian couture workshop. A rich, smooth, elegant floral with a couture character, created by Chanel Master Perfumer Jacques Polge in 2007. The warm Chypre accord is set free and made luminous and modern with inviting notes of Bergamot, Patchouli and Cistus oil. What’s quite interesting about this effervescent modern masterpiece, is that although classified as a chypre, it’s lacking an oakmoss accord. Clever!

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Chanel- Sycomore

Notes: vetiver, sandalwood, cypress, juniper, pink berries

A rich-wood fragrance with a noble character — like the Sycomore tree that inspired it — created by Chanel Master Perfumer Jacques Polge in 2008. Elegant and dignified almost to a fault, this is a whimsical sumptuous blend of smokey vetiver on a bed of rich sandalwood and incense, for an earthy, warm and enveloping, yet subtle presence. Much more than the simple sum of its parts, this one is simply remarkable and mandatory testing.

Rating: 9.5/10

 

 

Frédéric Malle- Musc Ravageur

Notes: bergamot, tangerine, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, amber

See full review here.

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Montale- Black Aoud

Notes: red rose, aoud, labdanum, sandalwood, mardarin, musk

Considered the most popular and flagship scent in Pierre Montale’s line-up. Black Aoud is an abject lesson in Middle-Eastern perfumery, with some classical French sensibilities. The opening is potent, with an almost overwhelmingly sharp and medicinal oud note, overlayed with a plush velvet rose in its simplicity. This is a seriously tenacious fragrance, which quite literally can last for days. You’ve been warned!

Rating: 8/10

 

 

Maison Francis Kurkdjian- Absolue pour le soir

Notes: Infusion of benzoin from Siam, cumin, ylang-ylang, Bulgarian and Iranian rose honey, incense absolute, Atlas cedarwood and sandalwood.

See full review here.

Rating: 9/10

 

 

See also

Puredistance- M (full review)

Amouage- Jubilation XXV (Mini-review)