Calé is an Italian company with a fifty year history selecting and distributing niche perfume products, whom - through a dense network of personal relationships - have harnessed their increasingly intimate knowledge of the art of perfume composition and gone on to create something special. Calé Fragranze d'Autore (Calé Fragrances of the Author) is the brainchild of President Silvio Levi; a man whose passion and love for artistic perfumery has motivated him to create perfumes inspired by short excerpts from stories. His creations are "olfactory poetry", aimed at people who like to "listen" to perfumes and follow the narrative that unfolds from within. Italian nose Maurizio Cerizza is the perfumer chosen to interpret Levi's stories and transform them with mastery and elegance into stirring perfumed poems.
I have fallen for more than a few of the scents from this line - the first of which I'd like to highlight is Mistero.
Classified as a Woody Aromatic men's scent, Mistero offers a warm complexity which transcends many offerings available in the current niche market. From the outset, the opening is fabulously peppered with the smokey, balsamic woodiness of agarwood which melds with a comforting semi-sweet distilled rum accord. I encounter a sense of familiarity here - not a likeness to another perfume, but rather an impression of having come inside from a campfire that has been dampened by rain, with the smell of smoke and rainwater soaking through my wool jumper. I also glean a sense of enjoying a nice boozy nightcap whilst sitting by a woodstove waiting for my clothes to dry. This underlying narrative is the olfactory tale that I begin to build upon as the author of my own olfactory experience.
What I find interesting about Mistero, are the unique and unusual notes which, at a glance, might seem rather arbitrary.
Head notes Rum, Rhubarb, Mint
Middle notes Pimento, Elemi, Saffron, Basmati Rice
Bottom notes Oakwood, Agarwood, Labdanum, Musk
The bottom line is that, despite the somewhat unconventional inclusions of rhubarb, pimento and basmati rice, they all work profoundly well together. The rhubarb and mint accords in the top notes lend a well-rounded zippy crispness which all-too-often in perfumery, is usually attributed to essences from the citrus family. Here they furnish the opening spritz with a mouth-smacking tartness. The saffron is ever-present, but achieved with a very measured hand, and the basmati rice note is truly unique - it offers a starchy (almost lactic) accord which successfully rounds off some of the sharpness in the head notes. The pimento emits a certain ambient warmth, but the fundamental and (to my mind) most enjoyable aspect of this edt is the woody, musky base. The agarwood has a smokey, ever-so-slight medicinal quality which works well with the oakwood, resinous labdanum and a very visceral musk.
Mistero prickles and glows like campfire embers, whilst at the same time, offers olfactory sustenance through the clever incorporation of familiar, almost edible accords. It is important to note however, that the final mix is far removed from those scents classified as gourmand. I find this marriage of components extraordinary.
Silvio Levi and Maurizio Cerizza may be the very adept authors of this fragrance, but part of its appeal is the imagery it evokes in one's own mind's eye. It draws upon your inner reflections, memories, emotions, and associations. Mistero is stimulating and unexpected - much like the pages of a good book.