Monday, 30 June 2008

Olivier Durbano: Mineral Magic.

There is a long history in perfumery that has seen many high-end jewelers launch lavish perfumes for the well-heeled (and not-so well-heeled). Tiffany's, Cartier, Chopard and Van Cleef & Arpels are amongst the big names that have capitalized on their established brands to bring us opulent fragrances in breathtaking flacons that shimmer like faceted gems. With millions spent on advertising, these names are synonymous with style and elegance. One can quite easily draw parallels between the exquisite craftsmanship of a Bvlgari pendant, and an exceptionally crafted scent - something heavy with uncommon white florals and hypnotizing musks. So, in a global market driven by consumerism and excess, I find it refreshing to find a distinctive fragrance released by jeweler-turned-niche-perfumer Olivier Durbano - a scent that is not inspired by priceless gemstones; but rather one of the most common, unassuming minerals known to man. 
Rock Crystal is the first in a series of seven perfumes or "stone poems" that explore man's link to precious or primitive stones, and '... serve as contemporary talismans to offer in a world of pureness, harmony and serenity'. What I find truly remarkable about this unisex release, is that it is strikingly true to its name and creates an aura that is both natural and elemental. It opens with a contradictory "wet dryness", much like the moist trapped air one imagines fills cavernous halls deep beneath the earth's surface. It is both earthy and airy, and hot and cold. A sharp, transparent orange accord plays over fragrant woods, husky frankincense, spices and vetiver. The result communicates a sense of primordial familiarity... as though somewhere in the dark recesses of our DNA, we might once have smelled this before.

This scent seems to have a personality all of its own... deep, unpretentious, mysterious, and yet somewhat fragile - much like the long glassy shards that blossom beneath the earth in brittle stone florets over the millennia.
Durbano's interpretation of natural quartz crystal has impressive persistence, and, to my mind, is an absolute triumph. The understated bottle is simple and effective, and the small stone crystals floating at the bottom is a very nice touch. But the true treasure is in the juice itself.

Similar in nature to Tauer's L'air du Desert Marocain, Rock Crystal is a scent to be celebrated.

Olivier Durbano produces exceptional hand-crafted jewellery. Visit his website (access upon request) at:

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