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

Review: Nasomatto Black Afgano

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

So today I finally got around to sampling the enigmatic and mythical Basenotes legend Black Afgano. With all the excessive hype and propaganda from the Nasomatto marketing machine, coupled with mixed reviews meant my expectations weren’t especially high (no pun intended). Then again smuggled ingredients, supposed extreme scarcity and the “evocation of temporary bliss” what’s not to be curious about.

First impressions? Mixed. I wasn’t overly impressed and it didn’t draw any “wow factor”, but my nose didn’t curl up and proclaim “bong water!” either. Worthy of the hype? No. Do I like it? Yes. Does it smell like Play-Doh? Kind of!

I’d describe the overall scent as dark, dry, resinous and austere with a very feint hint of sweetness attributed to a dry amber/vanilla/incense lurking underneath the beast notes. Straight out of the bong you’re greeted with a dense aroma chemical sucker punch made up of synthetic Givaudan oud, coupled with an underpinned cedar effect in the form of Kephalis (which is an Iso-E-Super substitute, only with a more woodier/smokier feel).

Finally I can make out some quite prominent vetiver/tobacco notes, adding to the “greenness” which the general nose picks up. I may be off, but I definitely feel like I’m picking up one of the main players here and that’s Norlimbanol™, which is described as an “extremely powerful woody/animal amber note. That has a dry woody note in the patchouli direction”.

As described by Chandler Burr, “Norlimbanol is one of the most amazing scents around, a genius molecule that should be worth its weight in gold; Norlimbanol gives you, quite simply, the smell of extreme dryness, absolute desiccation, and if when you smell it, you’ll understand that instantly—the molecule is, by itself, a multi-sensory Disney ride.”

It’s this same compound which I believe gives the scent its subtle leathery undertones along with the amber. Don’t be too impressed with my ability to pick out aroma chemicals though! I recently purchased a slew of them in a vain attempt to try my hand blending, so I’ve gotten to know them quiet well individually, but anyways, I digress.

Coming back to the scent and the million dollar question, does it warrant the name? In short no. If you inhale deeply and concentrate you can pick up some very feint superficial passing resemblances to hashish, but overall I personally don’t believe the name is warranted.

As for the final scent, it’s just as you’d expect it to be, it’s dense and the oud note is by far the dominant player making it very linear and overshadowing of everything else, but if you’re a fan of Dior Leather Oud, Bond No.9 Harrods Oud or Montale Aoud Cuir D’Arabie, then this one could be right up your street. (although BA is nowhere near the level of quality, originality and complexity of the latter listed scents, in my humble opinion of course.)*

Overall I’ll agree that it’s a well rounded aromatic fragrance, but I’ll also agree that it’s potentially “missing something” too. The longevity it boasts is extremely impressive and to be expected from an extrait de parfum, but the  sillage is minimal unfortunately. With all that said, will I be buying a bottle? Probably!

Rating: 6/10
Longevity: 10/10
Projection: 6/10
Occasion: Casual-Semi formal