Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hermès - The Classics Collection - Bel Ami Vetiver

This December, Hermès are launching The Classics Collection - a selection of eight classic scents from the iconic French perfume stable that have been repackaged in the iconic 'carriage lantern' flacon.

The lineup will include one Jean Claude Ellena newcomer - a flanker to the 1986 masculine Bel Ami, aptly titled Bel Ami Vetiver. A vetiver / patchouli twist on the much-loved original, Bel Ami Vetiver will be available in Hermès boutiques and at Hermè from Decemberand will roll out to selected retailers in 2014. A special feature includes a discrete artwork seen through the bottle printed on the back of the label.

Other repackaged scents in the series will include: Eau d'Hermès (1951), Calèche (1961) in both Soie de Parfum and Eau de Toilette, Equipage (1970), Amazone (1974), Bel Ami (1996), Rocabar (1998), Hiris (1999) and Rouge (2000). 

I personally look forward to exploring the newcomer to the Classic family.
And it's time to rework my Christmas wishlist!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

City Shopping Feature: Perth, Australia: ETERNAL SCENTS

These days, Perth seemingly appears to be in a perpetual state of construction and renovation - cranes, scaffolding and maddening road closures plague the city. In a turbulent West Australian economic climate, as one retailer closes its doors, another soon arrives to take its place. So imagine my delight when, earlier this week, I came upon a brand spanking new artisanal perfume boutique in the Carillon Arcade called Eternal Scents. After suffering a disappointing string of many much-loved and oft-frequented perfumery closures in recent months, Eternal Scents was like a shining beacon, and I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

The beauty about this particular shopping destination for us perfumisti, is that Eternal Scents takes a very traditional approach to what they do. I say 'traditional' in the sense that owners/managers Rafael and Sharon Rodriguez have looked past the common mainstream inclination towards Haute French perfumery, and instead, have reached way back across the millennia to the style of perfumes that were being produced in ancient Mesopotamia, and during the rule of powerful Egyptian Dynasties. Eternal Scents are importers of exquisite perfume materials... raw natural ingredients in highly concentrated pure oil form, all of which have been hand-selected from reliable time-honoured distilleries and closely-guarded sources the world over. Their travels have taken them to Morocco, Egypt, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Dubai India and Saudi Arabia to name just a few, and they have done so, so that residents and visitors to Perth can experience a uniquely different style of perfumery than the masses are generally accustomed to.

The sparkling clean windows that face the arcade proudly affirm "No alcohol, No chemicals". What Rafael and Sharon are offering, is a selection of stunning oils that run the gamut from single raw ingredients (such as Arabian Jasmine, Narcissus, Frangipani, Vetiver Bourbon and Somali Frankincense), right the way through to beautifully custom-blended oil creations that are composed from a selection of these soliflore / raw material components, and mixed with artisanal mastery. The oils are not suspended in alcohol, (as is the case with most fragrances that are found on the open market), and I assure you that just one tiny drop will last the better part of an entire day. These custom blends are both exquisite and compelling... whilst I was there, I sampled a minuscule dab of Indian Oud and Taif Rose which blossomed on the air the very moment Rafael unstoppered the bottle. Its presence could still be distinguished on skin after several showers, the following day.

The oils are presented in beautiful 5ml faceted crystal flacons which catch the light like bewitching gemstones. In addition, a variety of pretty hand made gem-studded filigree / metal flacons are also available for perfumistas who like to carry their portable perfumes in their purse. Rafael and Sharon have also just launched a line of luxurious, non greasy body moisturisers to complement their range.

When asked whether they felt Perth has a demand for such a store, Rafael replied "Of course! We are the only commercial custom-blending perfumery in the region". Undaunted by the idea that they must effectively re-educate the masses on how to appreciate natural perfumery, it appears Eternal Scents' success has expanded exponentially ever since their humble beginnings selling their oils just a few days a week at Fremantle markets. Now, with a beautifully-fitted store in the Carillon Arcade, it feels like their star is on the rise. The pair have already enjoyed a celebrity clientele, including some well-known figures from the Harry Potter film franchise, a popular protagonist from one of Austarlia's longest running TV serials, and renowned figures from the West Australian Ballet.
From where I sit, it would appear that for Eternal Scents, the sky is the limit.

Whilst in Perth, drop in and say hello to Sharon and Rafael, and allow them to escort you through a startling and exciting (ancient) olfactory world of luxury and sensuality.

Eternal Scents is located on Level 2 of the Carillon City Arcade, between Hay and Murray Streets, Perth, Western Australia.

They are open:
Mon-Thurs from 10am - 5:30pm,
Fri 10am - 6:30pm,
Sat 10am - 5pm and
Sunday 12 noon - 5pm.

Tel: (08) 9481 4545

Monday, 11 November 2013

Puredistance Winners

CONGRATULATIONS go out to our 10 winners of a 2ml  "Puredistance Black" sample giveaway!
In the interests of fairness we've randomly selected 5 respondent's names from the comments field on the Sorcery of Scent blog, and 5 from the Sorcery of Scent facebook page.


Carla Snip-Koenders
Michael Wejchert


Morton Wilson
Martin Friberg
Amp Palacios
Henrique Brito
Barbara Greenwood

If your name appears above, please send your full name and preferred mailing address to:
sorceryofscent {at} yahoo {dot} com {dot} au 
and your info will be passed on to Puredistance who will dispatch your prize directly.
Facebook winners can respond either by email, or facebook private message.

Thanks to all who entered, and congrats again to those who triumphed this time!

Warm regards,

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hermès: Hermessence - Épice Marine

In October 2011, Hermès nose Jean-Claude Ellena visited Cancale, a seaside commune situated in Brittany in northwestern France. In a region close to Saint-Malo (known historically for its sea-faring trade and piracy), Cancale is a scenic fishing village that is perhaps best known for its farming of oysters... an astonishing 7.3 square kilometres of oyster beds dominate the landscape, clearly visible on the tidal mudflats along its shores. Ellena was en route to meet with "Cuisinier Corsaire" (Pirate Chef) Olivier Roellinger - a three-Michelyn star chef, and Concale resident since birth.
The reason for this meeting between a man who lives by his taste, and a man who lives by his nose... to engage in a discussion that in 2013, has culminated in the first 'Pirate Hermessence': Épice Marine.

Roellinger's distinctions and career accomplishments read like those of culinary royalty. Through his cuisine, he recounts maritime history from the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay, using local fare combined with exotic spices he has collected from around the world. His inventive "spice powder" creations have seen him open his successful Épices-Roellinger outlets in Cancale, Saint-Malo and Paris. So, who better for Jean-Claude to liaise with, whilst contemplating a new Hermessence? Their shared passion for delighting the senses came into sharper focus whilst strolling the Bay, and it was here - overlooking the bleak channel awash with monochrome hues - that Ellena found his inspiration.

Épice Marine unifies the warmth of spices with the cold of the barren ocean. It opens with a brisk sparkle of bergamot, which feels both energising and lively. Its flight incorporates a feeling of green... something sharp, incisive and slightly salty... one can almost sense the taste of brine drying on your lips. A beautiful toasted cumin note sails up from beneath - it smells woody and also a little nutty, and resides in a register of astonishing sensuality. As the perfume washes over skin, one can recognise algenone - an accord Ellena has used to furnish the fragrance with an oceanic quality... not a synthetic blue "marine" accord common to many mainstream releases, but rather, one that exemplifies the majesty and vastness of the ocean. It hums with a seaweed-like intensity; it feels blue-green and fathomless.

When consulting with Roellinger on taste and smell, it was suggested that Ellena try a particular scottish whiskey - Bruichladdich - which Roellinger felt in some way was pregnant with odours and flavours that typified the region... that of mist and pebbles and smoke. Ellena agreed, and, after procuring a bottle, wore it for a time on skin. He then composed an olfactory 'sketch' of the beverage which was later worked into the heart notes of Épice Marine. One can distinguish this facet clearly as the scent dries down... it brings a hazy, smouldering warmth to the composition... one that doesn't feel at all out of place on this 'pirate perfume' canvas. Épice Marine is quite simply astonishing in its soberness and intensity... for anyone who has lived near the sea (particularly through cold winters), or has fond memories of hours spent fossicking along the low tide line first thing in the morning, they will find much to love in this bottle. This, the eleventh  Hermessence in the Hermès portfolio manages to capture all the odours of the bay on a cold evening, and the coziness of returning home to sit near an open fire at night. Épice Marine really does showcase the talents of Jean-Claude Ellena as a master of his craft.

Épice Marine is available from October 2013 in Hermès boutiques, and is rolling out internationally in Hermès online stores.

It is available as a 100ml eau de toilette with saddle-stitched marine-blue leather cap, and a special presentation with an exquisite matching leather sheath.

One to be cherished.

Monday, 4 November 2013

GIVEAWAY! Win one of 10 samples of PUREDISTANCE BLACK

Sorcery of Scent and the good folk at Puredistance have joined forces in the lead up to the launch of Puredistance BLACK and are offering you the chance to WIN one of 10 Black samples.
To be in the running, please leave a comment under this post, explaining why (in 25 words or less) you would like to try the latest Puredistance fragrance.

The winners will be drawn at random, and names will be published here on Monday November 11th.

This competition is also being run on the Sorcery of Scent facebook page, so for an additional chance to win, don't forget to 'Like' the page and leave your comment there also.

Good luck!

Friday, 18 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day V: Bel Ami

A simple pencil sketch by Gustav Klimt was used to accompany the press launch and advertising of the 1986 Hermès masculine Bel Ami... an erotic depiction of one of Klimt's wives, mistresses or whores seen lying spent, with legs splayed. Promoted with the evocative headline "Bel Ami est un grand seducteur" (Bel Ami is a great seducer), one could predict - long before a scented mouillette was lifted to your nose - that Bel Ami was going to be bold, commanding and unapologetic.

Likely inspired by the 1885 Guy de Maupassant novel Bel Ami; the story tells of Georges Duroy, a young man who rose to power by manipulating and bedding a string of powerful and influential mistresses. This fictitious scoundrel perhaps served as the muse behind the Bel Ami man... a self-assured, daring lover who leaves a string of women swooning in his wake. Originally presented in a faceted amber glass flacon in the form of a cocktail shaker, Bel Ami is resolutely suave, masculine and unrepentant.

Classified as a Woody Chypre, Bel Ami was composed by perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac in an era of gratuitous excess... it embodies all the brawn and overt masculine energy common to many men's perfumes released in the 80's, but with the expected Hermès DNA of luxury and finesse.

Straight out of the bottle Bel Ami bowls you over with an infusion of woods and citrus. A fresh lemon / petitgrain / mandarin flight is rendered ombré with toasty, warm nuances of fragrant cedar. Notes of herbaceous sage and dusty, peppery carnation emerge that blanket the scent laterally like a fragrant mantle of  husky grey-green. As the fabric of this fragrance unfolds, a rich, earthy patchouli reaches up from below, partnered with a sensuous ribbon of comforting vanilla bourbon...  the entire composition feels thick and leather-like, like a man's body, slick with sweat. Dry mosses and resinous styrax lend an enduring fieriness and a generous dose of castoreum, an overtly sexual, animalic undertone. Not surprisingly, Bel Ami feels unafraid, extroverted, and openly sexual. A scent that epitomises gruff masculine vigor, and still observes the traditional conventions of the house of Hermès.

Bel Ami in recent years has been relaunched in a tidy rectangular flacon (above). Whilst I have not smelled the more modern release, I suspect it might have had the Jean Claude Ellena treatment, which is to say, I imagine it may be slightly more transparent. It is important to acknowledge that many perfume producers have a legal obligation to discontinue the use of restricted ingredients such as castoreum (a product once harvested from beavers) which is now re-created synthetically for ethical reasons. Whatever the case may be, Bel Ami remains to this day, one of the house's most loved and most venerated masculines.

Bel Ami is available in 100ml size at Hermès boutiques and online at .

Thursday, 17 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day IV: Eau de Mandarine Ambrée

If there is one thing Hermès nose/perfumer Jean Claude Ellena does with exceptional flair, it's a good eau de cologne. His clever studies in the Cologne Hermès series are proof positive of his proficiency. In a 2009 interview with L', when asked to give three adjectives to describe a good cologne, Ellena commented:
 " and especially generous. We do not count with cologne, we can put a good shot in the palm of your hand to rub on. I love the gesture of splash that accompanies it - like no other perfume".

Indeed, Ellena has an incredible ability to exploit transparency and a certain 'olfactory temperature' in his creations. A cool, refreshing tonic applied in the summertime does much to lift the spirits and rouse the senses. In 2013, Hermès added 2 new Eau de Colognes to their treasury, Eau de Narcisse Bleu and Eau de Mandarine Ambrée; the former a study of daffodil and soft woods, and the latter, an examination of summer fruits and amber.

Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is a lip-smacking scent that excites from the outset. Zesty mandarin instantly meets the nose, and one can easily recognise the aroma of both the fragrant oil-carrying peel, and the fluffy white pith. I suspect a bittersweet measure of grapefruit has been introduced here also. Whilst it does feel instantaneously citrusy, the saliva-inducing sharpness is somehow diminished by a sweeter, pulpier facet pressing up from below... a syrupy, sun-yellow note of passionfruit brings with it a sense of tropical warmth. Here is where Eau de Mandarine Ambrée makes a departure away from traditional citrus scents, and introduces a balmier, more temperate feel. A honey-like seam of amber snakes its way up from the base and gives the cologne an almost caramel-like quality. There is a slight vanilla texture there that feels silken and luxurious, like an ice-cream dessert or sorbet composed of fruits from the tropics.

It is testament to Ellena's efforts that the whole composition feels both diaphanous and 'cool'. I wonder if the formula includes a cooling agent, like the cheeky crinkle of mint found in Eau d'Orange Verte - a little something hidden that keeps it brisk and energising. Whatever the case, Eau de Mandarine Ambrée plays a spectacular game of chase across boundaries that are both sweet and acidic, tropical and arctic.
One to be applied with mad abandon, just as Ellena intended.

Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is available in larger department stores and at Hermès boutiques in both 100ml and 200ml sizes.

Tomorrow's post: Bel Ami

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day III: Hiris

Irises have something of a sentimental significance to my family. They were my maternal grandmother's favourite flower, and in turn, one of my mother's. As a child I grew up around bushels of indigo blossoms arranged in vases and growing in our garden, but up until just a few years ago, had you asked me what they smelled like, I sincerely doubt I could have told you. The perfume of a single iris is not the same as that of a single rose, nor of a single gardenia blossom... one cannot get a true sense of iris from one or two stems alone. You must smell them in profusion.

Last September, my wife and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, and to memorialise the day I presented her with 40 irises all on stems of almost a meter long. In the days following, their tight paintbrush-like buds unraveled into spectacular triangular florets of abundant blue. Visitors to our house gasped at the cornucopia of colour as they entered our living room, and many commented on the perfume... one which - as far as they were concerned - they had never truly experienced before.
Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti's spectacular study Hiris for Hermès (launched in 1999) is perhaps the most faithful rendering of irises I've come across to this day.

In 1999, I distinctly recall the Hiris launch at a local department store. A multitude of purple flowers arranged against bright orange Hermès packaging made for a memorable spectacle, but at the time, I found the scent itself a little too mature for my liking. I was perhaps looking at things in a very literal sense: "...this doesn't smell like any iris that I know of!" whereas now - upon reflection - I perhaps should have admired the artistry. You see, Giacobetti's creation is more of an impressionistic oil painting of irises - full of vivid hues and broad strokes... a 'sketch' of sorts. One of those renderings where one must put some distance between themselves and the canvas (as I have, over time), to make the overall picture become clearer or sharper.

Hiris now in 2013 somehow feels more relevant than it did in 1999. Today, in a world full of countless perfume launches, complicated press releases and serpentine explanations, Hiris is now something of a standout. Once the frequently-overlooked orphan amongst its older and younger siblings, it actually represents the first and most enduring soliflore in the history of Hermès, proving that often, simplicity is key, particularly when handled in a luxurious and carefully-considered manner. If Hermès and Giacobetti deemed the iris worthy of their examination and reflection, then so should we!

Hiris is classified as a floral green fragrance, and to my nose, it's bang on the money. Many scents using iris as a starring note tend to focus on or exaggerate the dry, powdery qualities of the root... bringing out a lipstick / face powder facet that does not always sit well with everyone (Dior Homme, I'm looking at you)! With this Hermès creation, Giacobetti has recognised the husky nature of iris, but has given it a real sense of the environment from which it has grown. Iris, carnation, coriander and cedar give a sense of both an earthy springtime dampness: whilst amber, neroli, honey, rose and vanilla; a sunny springtime warmth. The feeling of coldness and austerity common to numerous iris scents is completely absent here... Giacobetti's interpretation incorporates green leafy fronds, speckled sunlight, and morning dew evaporating in the air. As a soliflore, there is nominal evolution from top to bottom, but this, I feel, is to its merit. Hiris is worn close to the skin, just as one might, an exquisite indigo-coloured Hermès carré. I sometimes wonder what other treasures might have emerged if Hermès and Giacobetti had continued to follow this intelligent and enchanting soliflore trajectory.

Few scents have the wherewithal to feel both earthy and grounded and yet infinitely luxurious in equal measures. Hiris dances delightfully between artistry and convention... it feels somehow both introverted and energized.
Re-discover her and you will more than likely succumb to her cultivated charms and whimsy.

Hiris is still available in Hermès boutiques and online at

Tomorrow's post: Eau de Mandarine Ambrée

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day II: Eau de Cologne Hermès (includes Eau d'Orange Verte disambiguation)

I've had a satisfying relationship with Hermès' Eau d'Orange Verte for the past 22 years. Since I was introduced to it in my second year at university, I've simply never been without a bottle.
Because many people have since come to associate this scent with me, I am often questioned when a bottle emerges that bears a different label, or if someone is trying to date it. I'll be the first to admit that the Eau d'Orange Verte timeline is somewhat confusing, so today I hope to untangle it's labyrinthine history to the best of my ability.

The biggest hurdle in exploring this timeline, is the glut of conflicting information available on the internet. Many online resources cite 1979 as the year the very first iteration of Eau d'Orange Verte was brought to market - namely, a scent then referred to as "Eau de Cologne Hermès". But for those faithful to the brand, we have recognised that earlier examples bearing the same name existed right at the dawn of Hermès' foray into fine fragrance. So let me start by going back to the beginning... right back to when Émile-Maurice and Edmond Roudnitska launched Eau d'Hermès - the subject of yesterday's blog.

A thorough search of the world wide web uncovers some interesting artefacts... ones that place the earliest version of Eau de Cologne Hermès back to the same period in which Eau d'Hermès was sold. A charming duo offered at auction in May 2013, dated from the 1960's: a set of flacons with Ex-Libris paper labels; one reads Eau d'Hermès, and the other Eau de Cologne Hermès. This example pre-dates the supposed "invention" of Hermès' mystifying eau de cologne by a whopping 15-20 years. Whilst this attractive perfume presentation puts a distinct bookmark in the 1960's, it does little to uncover the precise origins of Eau de Cologne Hermès.

Perhaps the most startling example, and one which provides a definitive date, is a rare Baccarat flacon offered at auction in 2008, that was given exclusively to guests attending the very first "April in Paris Ball", held in 1951 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. This inaugural high-society event was attended by none other than Grace Kelly (whom had already lent her name to the iconic Hermès 'Kelly' Bag) and whom was asked to model that night. Could one make the assumption that this very special Eau de Cologne Hermès presentation might have made it's debut on the world stage at the Waldorf-Astoria that evening? Whatever the case, we can now categorically trace Eau de Cologne Hermès back to 1951 - the very same year Eau d'Hermès was created by Edmond Roudnitska. Therefore a few questions remain unanswered. First, "who was the author of this scent"? Might it be an unattributed 'lost' Roudnitska creation?
And second, "did it smell anything like the 1979 Eau de Cologne Hermès, which later became Eau d'Orange Verte"?

Well, I may not have the answers to the first question, but the second, I do.
Now I've successfully managed to work my way backwards along this timeline, in order to exmine the scents and flacons in this family with reasonable accuracy, it is time to move forward again.

So, we've demonstrated that Eau de Cologne Hermès was around the very same year the house's signature scent Eau d'Hermès first graced the shelves at 24 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. Therefore, somewhere, between the "April in Paris" Ball of 1951 and the early 1960s, Eau de Cologne Hermès was put into general production. The green glass flacons with Ex-Libris paper labels pictured at the top of this article are also from the 1960's... perhaps amongst the earliest examples of the iconic blue-green glass being introduced to house the eau de cologne. The scent itself bears little resemblance to later iterations of Eau de Cologne Hermès or Eau d'Orange Verte. It is decidedly more traditional, and very much an olfactory snapshot of its time. It opens with a sparkle of citrus (lemon / bergamot?), with a deeply aromatic undercurrent. It's herbaceous heart lies over a rich, warm, oakmossy base which give the sensation of wide open spaces, dry hay, and the sun hanging low in the sky. It feels resolutely Hermès - like riding through a sweeping grassy expanse on horseback. A prickle of dirt in the composition brings to mind the sweat on your brow and the warmth of the beast beneath you.
If I were pushed to reference other scents of the same ilk, Chanel's "Pour Monsieur", Nina Ricci's "Signoricci" and Dior's "Eau Sauvage" come to mind. All of these scents share a commonality - a red thread that ties them together. Perhaps even Roudnitska's creation for Rochas "Moustache" might possibly hint at him as the author of Eau de Cologne Hermès.
I strongly suspect that the Ex-Libris paper labels of the 50's and 60's were later replaced with a white printed logo (below) around 1979, to coincide with the scent's first major reformulation.

Eau de Cologne Hermès advertising in the early 80's through to the early 90s illustrated a distinct shift back towards the traditional Hermès philosophy of sport and the outdoors. The 1979 reformulation of the eau de cologne was performed by perfumer Francoise Caron, and the scent itself took on a brighter, fresher quality as a result. The topnotes had been altered to incorporate a sweeter, fruitier blend of lime, mandarin and blackcurrant buds. This brought with it a certain clean, crispness that was lacking from the original. The heart notes were augmented to focus on waxy orange leaf, neroli and a crinkle of leafy mint, but the basenotes were almost as warm as it's older sibling. It marked a step in the direction of a modern bracing, refreshing tonic for men and women who enjoyed an active lifestyle.

In 1997 the marketing department at rue du 24 Faubourg rechristened Eau de Cologne Hermès as Eau d'Orange Verte - a name more literal and perhaps rather fitting. The change of name, I suspect, came at a time where certain materials were becoming restricted for use in cosmetics and perfumery. The flacon (with hard green plastic topper) was rebranded with the new name applied under the iconic horse-and-carriage logo, and the scent - largely unchanged - managed to retain the basic backbone of Francoise's original composition. The top-notes felt slightly sweeter and more citric, and perhaps subsequent curtailment of the use of oakmoss in the years following saw the base lose some of its mossy warmth.

There has been some incremental evolution of the Eau d'Orange Verte flacon and the formula since the late 90's. First, the hard green plastic cover to the bottle was removed in favour of the original curved green glass design, and in the early 2000's, the horse and carriage logo was dropped to make way for a minimal typographical branding solution. The formula has begun to feel slightly more transparent since then, more fleeting and a little colder (an attribute necessary when creating a good cologne, according to both Ellena and Caron). The most recent flacon in the timeline remains a green glass design with the words COLOGNE HERMES moulded in relief into the side of the bottle. The same flacon now houses their growing series of 5 eaux to date; each presented in a glass flacon of a different colour.

Jean-Claude Ellena now stands as chief custodian for Eau d'Orange Verte since taking on the role of house perfumer in 2004. From it's mysterious origins right up until today, it has a vast and proud history as one of the house's most successful perfume mainstays. Not only has it inspired several Hermès flankers, it has an exceptional pedigree, having been worked by the hand (and nose) of some of the world's finest perfumers, and in spite of it's cursory persistence on skin, still remains one of the world's most-loved citrus scents of our time.

Tomorrow's post: Hermès Hiris

Monday, 14 October 2013

5 Hermès' in 5 Days - Day I: Eau d'Hermès

In the same vein as my earlier popular posts on Guerlain, and to coincide with the launch of the new Hermès Hermessence Epice Marine (which will be reviewed here soon), each day this working week Sorcery of Scent will be casting light one Hermès fragrance a day. Today I begin with the house's signature scent, and personal favourite of mine, Eau d'Hermès.

Eau d'Hermès, was the first commercial perfume that the house launched in 1951 - a collaboration between master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska and Émile-Maurice Hermès. In a time during his management of the brand, Émile-Maurice summarized the fundamental Hermès philosophy as "Leather, sport, and a tradition of refined elegance".
In the 1920's, Émile had been responsible for first introducing accessories and handbags to the Hermès universe, and when presented with the challenge of creating the perfume that would soon carry the house's name, Roudnitska turned to them as his inspiration. In creating this scent, he recalled
"...the fragrance wafting from the interior of a Hermès bag... a note of delicate leather coated with the fresh scent of citrus fruits and flavoured with spices".
This became the palette from which Roudnitska began authoring a perfumed page in the history of this house. At the time, this exceptional 'eau' was offered exclusively in Hermès boutiques in crystal flacons - a service still available today, more than 60 years later.

Perhaps because of its exclusivity, for many decades Eau d'Hermès seemed to have slipped beneath the radar. I find this astonishing, as I feel it represents some of Roudnitska's best work. Born just a few short years after the exceptional Femme de Rochas, one can recognise Roudnitska's DNA in this Hermès creation... his use of leather and spices run parallel in both and give rise to a heart that is both earthy and animalic. It opens with a brisk shot of bergamot and lavender, followed by a huff of cinnamon and a sweaty, wanton infusion of cardamom and peppery spices which are slightly bitter to the nose. These notes work in unison with the incredible leather accord and smell resolutely sexual. Positioned as an "eau" which traditionally is to be worn with abandon and applied generously, it feels decidedly thicker, richer, and feistier - more of an EDT or EDP, perhaps. Interestingly, for all of its erotic innuendo, Eau d'Hermès' sense of luminosity and transparency are not compromised in the least. Roudnitska masterfully married the overtly carnal characteristics to those that feel bright and diaphanous. Light blooms of jasmine and geranium furnish the fragrance with a shimmering summer warmth... it is this very sense of transparency that I recognise as a tradition still being observed in the creations of Hermès in-house nose, Jean Claude Ellena today.

To my mind, Eau d'Hermès is the Jicky of the Hermès universe.... it is a pivotal scent upon which a house's name and its reputation (as far as perfumery is concerned) has been built. It rivals the best "house scents" of many other esteemed and time-honoured brands, and unreservedly embodies the Hermès spirit.

Eau d'Hermès is available in Hermès boutiques the world over, and online here in Australia at

Tomorrow's post: Eau de Cologne Hermès

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

New from GOTI ESSENZE: Smoke

To date, Riccardo Goti is a name largely absent from the mind of many a perfumisto. After studying design at the State Institute of Art in Firenze, Goti first stepped into the limelight with his unique fashions and use of unorthodox materials; mixing fabric with cut leather and metal hardware. With a more recent shift in focus towards jewellery design, Goti found his fame in the accessories market... his universe still utilizing raw leathers, tarnished metals, semi-polished stones and pliable materials like tin. In 2008, motivated by a desire to create unique, multi-faceted, multi-layered perfumes to accompany his accessories Goti recruited one of the oldest cosmetics manufacturers / pharmacies in the world - Santa Maria Novella. Together, they produced three GOTI ESSENZE fragrances composed of wholly natural ingredients: Black, White and Earth. Their very select distribution rendered them virtually invisible on the radars of devout perfumisti, but they created a distinct 'blip' on the screen of the fashionisti that had followed Goti's journey from the very beginning.

In 2013, Riccardo Goti has recently added two new scents to his portfolio: Gray and Smoke. But before I go on, I feel it is worth noting that the previously-launched trio have been completely reformulated to coincide with the 2013 new product launch and re-packaging of the brand. (There is no indication given as to why the previous scents are now largely unrecognisable today, but I have discovered that Santa Maria Novella are no longer producing the Goti Essences. That assignment has now been turned over to Laboratorio Therapeutico M.R., a Florentine pharmaceutical / neutroceutical firm founded in 1930, which - since the early 80's - has diversified its business by creating cosmetics and food supplements). Whilst this might have had something of an impact on the first three fragrances, we can gladly approach Gray and Smoke as Goti Essenze newcomers and take them at face value. In this blog piece I will be turning my attention to Smoke, which in my eyes, is the more interesting of the pair.

Smoke – contrary to that which its name might suggest – is not a run-of-the-mill olfactory study of charred woods and ashen embers that we perfume lovers have seen time and again. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Smoke – at least by the hand of Goti - feels more fluid, colourful, and transparent. Absent are the dark plumes of oud, birch tar and black tea that one might expect of such a scent, and in their place, a fascinating arrangement of notes that lend a curious translucency. A jewel-coloured opening of pomegranate startles with its bittersweet piquancy. This purple-red fire dances on a soft bed of cedar... a scattering of fragrant woodchips that provide a sense of combustable warmth. Moments into it's flight, there is a slightly bewildering camphorous quality that hints at the presence of blue eucalyptus or green menthol, but no such elements exist. I grasp for answers, only to realise I've discovered a penetrating yellow note of zesty ginger pooling below the surface. This ginger imbues the scent from top to bottom with an almost petroleum-like quality... it is sharp, aqueous and feels somewhat volatile and incendiary.

The foundation upon which Smoke was built includes ebony, incense and resins. The citric-orange presence of frankincense is very clear in this composition and partners well with the ginger, only amplifying it's abundance. It adds colour and dimension and lingers long into the drydown.

Riccardo Goti's interpretation of Smoke makes for an imaginative change of tact as far as smoke-themed perfumes are concerned. It feels infinitely more modern and avant garde than the majority of those that have gone before it. This genderless scent will captivate and mystify many with it's vivid colour and unique composition.

The new Goti Essences now appear in stunning, lightweight 50ml and 100ml polished metal flacons. The smaller of the two is perfect for travel, and the luxurious 100ml comes with a detachable leather bulb atomiser. A small screw cap and metal cover for the flacon are included with the larger size. Both are packaged in exquisite sturdy black boxes with tooled leather buckles. Very 'Goti' indeed.

Limited global distribution renders Goti Essenze somewhat tricky to source. 
In Australia, the complete line is available through Dilettante in Perth city and in Claremont, Western Australia.

Visit: for details.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Olivier Durbano - Lapis Philiosophorum

In 2009, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Olivier Durbano at his home atelier in the Marais in Paris. In those few hours of my time there, I recognised Olivier to be a man driven by his dreams; a man to whom spiritualism and symbolism play an important role in all that he does and all that he is. On this occasion, I asked this accomplished jeweller / perfumer what it was that sparked his very first interest in stones. With a smile, he took from a shelf a baseball-sized rock that was the colour of ash, and placed it in my hands. It was heavy, and largely dull, save for a few scattered facets that reflected the light of the lamps in his room. "This stone" he said. "I saw it when I was five, and I had to have it. It is an uninteresting stone, but to me, it possessed some magic".
And there it was... a boy - now a man - who has treasured this childhood relic because it fired his imagination. Because in the wildest fantasies of that boy, it might have been anything: a dragon's egg, a stone age-tool, or maybe something that fell from the sky. Now, many years later, Monsieur Durbano has launched the ninth in his series of perfumed stone poems - one based on the fictitious Lapis Philosophorum (The Philosopher's Stone)... a rock of legend, said to possess the power to turn base metals into gold.

References to the "Philosopher's Stone" date back to biblical times, but was perhaps popularised most in the Middle Ages in alchemist folklore that asserted that substances like stone, could be transmuted into alloys like gold. As science has advanced, we now recognise that this concept is a myth, but old texts repeatedly cite the existence of such a stone. Naturally, to a man whose imagination is rife with a love of lore and fantasy, what better subject matter is there to transform into a scent?

As per Olivier's history of olfactory releases, he has approached the creation of this fragrance with a great measure of sensitivity. It possesses his now-recognisable DNA, in that it has a unique flinty, mineralic quality that other perfumers fail to grasp (or at least, fail to translate as effectively). Lapis Philosophorum strikes a balance between the base stone itself, and the alchemic processes that have resulted in its metamorphosis.

This scent opens with a sparkle of grapefruit, and a sappy/boozy shot of juniper... it feels sharp and elemental, right out of the bottle. A huff of menthol is apparent somewhere beneath, and it imbues the topnotes with a medicinal / camphorous quality. (The resulting sensation is not too dissimilar to the unique use of a 'turpentine' accord in Durbano's Turquoise). A whisper of white truffle brings with it a slightly earthy, almost buttery feel, which diminishes the camphorous aspects by half. The heartnotes of frankincense and mesquite (a woody tree native to the America's with a meaty, charred scent profile) hint at a raging furnace, fanned with a primitive foot pump... one can almost glean a sense of sulphurous steam swelling on the air - an olfactory snapshot of the whole alchemic process as it unfolds. Warm resins (opoponax and myrrh)  and musk support the idea of unrelenting warmth, sweat and toil; an oakmoss base brings with it a feeling of antiquity. Lapis Philosophorum is an olfactory rendering of the alchemist's workshop - the bubbling, the hissing and the crackling embers... but through the plumes there is even a hint of gold - a flash of precious metal; the final prize!

This scent - unlike any of Olivier Durbano's other creations, is the only fragrance fashioned on a non-existent stone. His previous perfumes each represent a literal and metaphysical translation of a semi precious gem, whilst Lapis Philosophorum is a striking scent born out of pure fantasy. It embraces mythical lore, poetry, fantasy, and perhaps a little of that magic that a young Durbano dreamed about when holding his unexciting grey rock.

This is arguably Monsieur Durbano's most mature and consummate creation yet.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

WENDY & JIM: Drop No. 01 Eau de Parfum

Austria has produced a number of artisanal houses that have brought exquisite perfumes to market in recent years... and it is safe to say that Viennese fashion legend Helmut Lang might have paved the way.
Lang's "universe" is comprised of fashion that is relaxed and formal in equal measures - it is not so much the idea of high fashion, but rather, a sensitivity towards correctness and detailing in garments that appeal as basic items. Few designers can take casual clothes to the precipice of being avant garde, without being "fussy", in the manner way Helmut Lang can. Lang's portfolio of perfumes followed suit... they were explorations in simplicity and refinement; understated, minimalist, and keenly edited.

One can feel Lang's DNA present in the Austrian fashion label Wendy&Jim - a new-fangled fashion house with creative minds Hermann Fankhauser and Helga Ruthner at the helm. This design duo met during their tutelage under Helmut Lang at the Viennese University of Applied Arts in 1999, and have been showing their Men's and Women's collections in Paris since. Their non-conventional designs remain high atop fashionista shopping lists in Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, Berlin, New York, Vienna and Stockholm.
In April 2013, the pair launched Drop No. 01 Eau de Parfum to accompany their fashions.

An overture to wanton sensuality, Drop No. 01 Eau de Parfum is described as:

 "...the result of an orgiastic night, a warm, dark and sparkling fragrance for sophisticated, modern and cosmopolitan women (and men)."

When first applied to skin, one is immediately awash with a zesty, bitter citrus accord, and a rush of Indian jasmine... star-shaped blooms heavy with indoles create a sultry, devoutly feminine aura around the wearer. There is nothing apologetic about this floral opening - it is every bit as 'present' as Robert Piguet's famed Fracas. Amongst the narcotising white florals I sense a ribbon of green - lily of the valley perhaps? - and a soft pink band of rose. Deeper below, a fragrant woody-resinous foundation of amyris / elemi amplifies the sexually-loaded context of the perfume, and brings with it a more masculine facet. There is a certain sexual alchemy at work as the womanly floral facets and vigorous masculine aspects unify. A warmer, ambery characteristic is furnished by fragrant myrrh in the trail.
This fragrance - in its style and approach, at least - shares a similarity with those of Fankhauser and Ruthner's mentor, Lang. It is straight-forward, linear, and uncompromising.

Drop No. 01 boasts 99% natural ingredients, 95% of which are of certified organic origin, making it one of the first (if not the first) natural designer perfumes in the world.

If the description of the scent itself doesn't completely enchant you, then perhaps the flacon will! With a tip of the hat to Austrian craftsmanship, Wendy&Jim have collaborated with the second-oldest porcelain manufacturers in Europe, Augarten of Vienna to produce the magnificent Vulpini "Fox's Head" flacon. The stunning skull receptacle is sold independently of the perfume, and can be refilled at will. It is available in "White" and "Wiener Rose". The fox's skull was chosen as a totem of strength and cleverness and serves as the perfect vessel for a perfume of such a bewitching nature.

Drop No. 01 is available in 30ml and 50ml sizes at a cost of €110 and €180 respectively.
The Vulpini fox skull flacons start from €370.

For further information, visit the Wendy& Jim website and facebook page.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Olivier Durbano - Parfums d'Ambience & Extraits de Parfum

I'm thrilled to discover master of olfactory perfection Olivier Durbano has recently added several new product lines to his perfume portfolio. Since his first release Rock Crystal in 2005, Monsieur Durbano has launched eight eaux de parfums to date that serve as fragrant interpretations of semi-precious stones: Amethyst, Black Tourmaline, Jade, Turquoise, Rose Quartz, Citrine and Heliotrope (Bloodstone). This year, the EDPs have been supplemented by delightful scented candles and fragrant room sprays. Also appearing, are the exhilarating parfum extraits that we perfumisti have been howling for for years!

For purposes of reviewing his products, I chose to purchase Black Tourmaline - a much-loved scent from his line, which focuses on smokey woods and resins.

Parfums de Flamme 165g / 45 hrs

As one would expect from a candle created to scent one's domicile, Olivier has used exceptional ingredients and top-quality wax. These candles are fragrant from the moment the protective dust cover is removed, and once lit provide an even, smokeless burn. Black Tourmaline is the perfect scent to use to perfume your home as the autumn/winter chill sets in (ideal for us Aussies at this time of year)! The scent evokes feelings of warmth and comfort, but is also mysterious and striking enough to transport one to a distant oriental landscape. It's throw is average / above average. I'm please to see the candle burns evenly, ensuring there are no craters down the middle and wasteful wax stuck to the sides.

Parfum d'Intérieur 100ml Spray

Finally a Durbano product that can be spritzed with mad abandon! The Black Tourmaline room spray is every bit as effective as the EDP in producing a radiant aura around you and your environment. Sprayed in the air, or lightly over soft furnishings, this ambient perfume brings an enigmatic tone to your home, filling it with the scent of smouldering woods, fragrant spices and incense. I find it works incredibly well when used to perfume one's curtains when doors and windows are left open on opposite sides of your home. The through-draft carries the scent from room to room for a thoroughly even, blanketed result.
Whilst some might consider wearing this as an alternative to the eau de parfum, it is recommended for use as a interior fragrance only, and direct contact with skin should be avoided.

Extrait de Parfum 30ml Spray

For those (like me) whom have rhapsodised for years over Black Tourmaline EDP - well you're in for a treat... the extrait de parfum is every bit as good, and so much more! The pure parfum offers a whopping 40% concentration (the EDP's a generous 20%), which means there's much to love in this handy 30ml bottle. Straight off the bat, I find the extrait follows the same trajectory as the EDP but for one thing... the eau de parfum's opening is somewhat sharp and astringent, whilst the opening of the extrait is smoother and more refined. The extrait focuses more on the glorious black pepper / cardamom / coriander / cumin facets up front, and the charred, burnt woods and oud emerge in the heart. The overall texture - by comparison to the EDP - feels buttery and polished. Glorious florets of frankincense and precious resins blossom at the heart, and lend their dry, mineralic appeal. There has never been any question amongst fans as to Black Tourmaline's longevity and projection, so I'm sure it comes as no surprise to learn the extrait perfumes my skin for close to 8 hours.

I am greatly pleased that these products escalate an already exquisite line, and remain true to Monsieur Durbano's oeuvre. These products, and products from Durbano's other Parfums de Pierres Poèmes can be purchased directly from Olivier's atelier in Paris.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Parfums d'Ambience - CIRE TRUDON: Odalisque

Maison de Cire Trudon is heralded as the oldest wax-producing company in the world. With its roots firmly planted in the mid 1600's (1643, to be precise), Cire Trudon produced high-quality candles which lit Royal Courts, churches and cathedrals all over France. An infrangible family bloodline spanning several centuries preserved, protected and improved upon original recipes and tools; a great deal of which are still in use today. Cire Trudon products are every bit as desirable and exceptional int the present day, as they were in the 17th century.

What one finds oneself immediately drawn to when first introduced to the brand, are the exquisite hand-blown glass receptacles in deep, forest green. Cire Trudon travelled to Vinci, Italy to have accomplished craftsmen produce individual pieces which are unique unto themselves. A generous selection of candles and room-sprays are available in a variety of sizes and scents... there really is something that will appeal to everyone amongst their delightful perfumed products.

Odalisque is one of several scents that enchanted my nose... not because of its olfactory pyramid, but rather because of the journey it took me on. It regressed me to a time in my life when I was on a globe-trotting pilgrimage to rediscover my Southern European heritage. As I sniff from the candle, I suddenly recall the brilliant Mediterranean light of high summer the first time I stepped off a ferryboat in the Greek Isles... the azure blue of the Aegean straddling a pebbled beach; cicada songs ringing in my ears, and the scent of orange blossoms cartwheeling down to the harbour from the green mountains above. The perfume is etched into my memory forever.
Odalisque is a vivid snapshot of orange blossom and neroli, just like the mental photograph I carry around with me of that day in my mind. But it is so much more. A wisp of husky incense lies at the heart of the perfume... a beautiful tendril of cade unfurls and brings with it, thoughts and sensations of Asia Minor... a bonfire lit on the edge of an Anatolian desert... charred wood, folk music, whirling dervishes, and the twinkle of gold. A poetic narrative of the Near East is playing out under a night sky stippled with silver.

Whilst Odalisque - for me - conjures visions of exotic far-flung landscapes, I must admit that there is something resolutely French about the olfactory composition... a certain tenderness and sense of longing permeates the perfume. I attribute this aspect to a buttery yet somewhat chaste measure of vanilla used to embellish the formula. It has milky alabaster curves like that of a romantic marble sculpture.

The Odalisque scented candle offers up to 80 hours of burning time, and uses 100% parafin-free vegetal wax. The generous 375ml Room Spray with bulb atomiser lasts many, many months. Used either independently or in tandem, these exquisite Cire Trudon products scent my home for the best part of an entire day. I cannot think of a more enchanting nor indulgent way to perfume one's domicile.

Cire Turdon perfumed products can be purchased here in Western Australia at Mariposa Perfumery in Mount Lawley, and globally via the Store Locator on the Cire Trudon website

Thursday, 21 February 2013

An Italian Renaissance - GUCCI MUSEO Forever Now

Ever since creative kingpin Tom Ford stepped down from his role as Creative Director of Gucci in 2004, the international fragrance community felt they were witnessing the slow death of the brand's perfume portfolio. Ford's tireless efforts in creating new, unconventional perfumes for Gucci went begging once current Creative Director Frida Giannini stepped into the limelight and - over the ensuing years - retired every last one of them. With the rolling launch of a number of commercial Gucci scents in the years that followed, it was clear a new fragrant era for the brand was clearly afoot, but the hardline 'perfumisti' were having none of it. They were not warming to Giannini's olfactory oeuvre.

In a fickle market where companies are churning out perfumes at an alarming rate, major fashion brands are now looking to capitalise on the modern predilection for niche fragrances and olfactory exclusivity. Hermès with their Hermessence line, and Chanel and their Les Exclusifs are arguably the forerunners in this market, with unique perfumes and perfumed-products offered solely in their boutiques. In 2013, Gucci have followed suit with a comparable concept, launching the first of their Gucci Museo perfumes, offered exclusively at the Gucci Museo on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, and at Gucci boutiques worldwide. This week I had the opportunity to visit the Perth boutique and experience Forever Now, a collaboration between Giannini and acclaimed Florentine perfumer, Lorenzo Villoresi.

The name Forever Now is somewhat of a contradiction of terms, however, I suspect - given that Gucci celebrated 90 years of history in 2011 - that it is a reference to the timeless tradition that still lives on today. The perfume itself, is presented in a lovely, weighty smoked glass flacon embellished with a black-brown ribbon and monogrammed cap. The packaging is presented in tidy grey-brown with the Museum facade and logo gilded in gold.

As for the scent - it opens with a sparkle of citrus that dances over a piquant black pepper note. It feels quite breezy and transparent, and then a bouquet of hushed florals emerge: rose, ylang ylang, dusky green lavender and powdery iris. There is also a semi-sweet sprinkling of nutmeg which lends warmth and light spice to the composition. Further in, a beautiful slightly-bitter leather note shifts forward. The marriage of the powdery iris and this velvety suede suddenly transforms this eau de parfum... it's former, slightly diaphanous quality unexpectedly turns opaque. A delicate soapiness swells on the air and spreads laterally across skin... it feels dense and substantial. It is not a cloying soapiness... rather a beautifully fragrant creamy lather, with leather, vetiver and earthy patchouli at its core. The lingering trail is of light, ambery spices, and clean musks. This perfume lasted well over 10 hours on my skin.

Forever Now does feel decidedly Florentine, and with Villoresi's expertise and DNA present, I find it lives up to - and exceeds - my expectations. If it is Giannini's intention to bring on board an acclaimed nose to consult with on potential future releases from the Gucci Museo stable, then there is indeed a glimmer of hope for an olfactory renaissance for the brand.
Perfumisti, you can now breathe out. I haven't been this excited by a Gucci perfume launch, well... since the early noughties.

Forever Now is available in 100ml size only, at varied price points:

In Australian boutiques for $282 AUD
In the USA for $200 USD ($195 AUD equivalent)
In Italy for €170 ($220 AUD equivalent)
In the UK for £130 ($195 AUD equivalent)

Saturday, 19 January 2013

O'DRIÙ - Charlatans, Regressions and Perfume Prose.

My first acquaintance with Italian perfume alchemists O'Driu and the work of O'Driu protagonist Angelo Orazio Pregoni came via a friend - one whose perfumed predilections, more often than not, run parallel to mine. He had been the fortunate recipient of a sample of Pregoni's latest creation... a personalised and beautifully-packaged kit comprising an amber vial with dropper, an atomiser, and a funnel. The vial was labelled "avantgarde fetish perfume" which immediately intrigued me. I pondered for a moment, wondering whether the perfume stored in the amber bottle was to be considered avant garde, or if the pink nipple dropper and black plastic funnel somehow fulfilled a role in realizing the fetish claim. The supplementary printed material that he'd received with the perfume paraphernalia appealed to me as a packaging designer - it was printed on a flocked cloth-like material that was tactile to the touch.

"Dear friends", it read, "I'm going to reveal to you a secret."

Good, I thought. We all like secrets.
I swatted at the scuttling spider of consciousness that was telling me not to be drawn into the O'Driu marketing prose.

"Some" (secrets) , it read, are "bound with modesty, ethics and morality".

This was starting to sound saucy.
What modesty, ethics and morals could be corrupted and revealed here? I asked myself. My eyes circumnavigated the page, following the black and yellow illustrations in a clockwise direction, hoping they might reveal a clue.
When I returned to the copy, the final line suddenly made it all very clear.

"To experience this brand new creation, simply add a drop (just one!) of pee-pee..."

Double-take. Excuse me?!




I punched the term "pee-pee" into Google's translation field, rather hoping the results would yield the name of some rustic Italian liqueur.

Unfortunately, no.

Are we *actually* supposed to pee in this?! I baulked. The image of the black plastic funnel and awkward moments in the lavatory made me clench my eyes shut in disdain. I couldn't have been more horrified.
We are supposed to spritz ourselves with urine and wallow like a pig in our own muck?! 
The loathing and contempt was growing.
What if I've eaten a lot of asparagus? Or drank a lot of caffeine? Or if Im seriously dehydrated? 
I became conscious of my moistureless mouth, and my stomach muscles contracted in disgust.
"This is not a perfume, it's a prank! A marketing stunt! Pregoni is nothing more than a media-starved provocatuer!

Despite my friend's diffusive words and keen fondness of the brand, I was having none of it.

That night in the bathroom, as I emptied my bladder before bed, I found myself still irate at a man I'd never met. Over a scent I'd never smelled. For suggesting I do something I would never contemplate doing. Not ever.
In all the years I'd worked with, studied and written about perfume, I had never felt so confronted. Offended even. What madman would ask a person to piddle in their own cologne?

"It's probably no worse than what you might find in some grey-market knock-offs", my subconscious offered.
I brushed away the thought with a wave of a mental hand.
"Madonna pees on her feet", it retorted, defiantly. "And in some cultures they drink it!"
I pressed the flush button firmly, sending the thought down the S-bend.

I switched off the bathroom light and slid into bed. I kissed my wife goodnight, and let out a long sigh in the dark. A part of me knew that one day soon I'd be wearing my own pee-pee.
"Inevitable", I thought.

*  *  *  *  *

Four weeks on, and a package has landed at my door comprising samples of the entire O'Driu line. Prior to opening it, I had been cautioned that Pregoni's creations were not to be approached in the same way one might anticipate more classical styles of perfumery. I'd already gathered that, thanks to a certain avantgarde fetish perfume, but I had promised to keep an open mind. Right off the bat, I make the observation that Angelo Orazio Pregoni has an unorthodox oeuvre. This is evident in the individual packaging of his samples - each presented in a sealed grey envelope which hold trinkets, feathers, torn photos and hand-written memos. There is an intrinsic feeling of voodoo and alchemy - magick through chemistry - and I begin to get a sense of his olfactory aesthetic long before I pop the lid on his vials.
As I release each sample from it's envelope and admire the accompanying memorabilia, I can't help but feel the resolutely personal nature of their arrangement. That the torn sepia photos bare some special meaning for Pregoni... or that the folded pieces of paper and their passages of text, are words he holds dear.

But then there was still the underlying vexation of the pee-pee. After arranging 16 tiny vials on the desk in front of me, it was the final - very conspicuous, very luminous - vitamin B12-coloured envelope that suddenly became the elephant in the room. The funnel was there, the atomiser, and the amber bottle with the pink-nipple. Somehow though, in the context of my home environment, they didn't look nearly as menacing as I'd imagined. They were just objects wrapped in clear cellophane. They looked clinical. Sterile, even... the absolute antithesis of my disturbing daydream that conjured scenes of rancid piss-spattered floors in rat-infested basements. I was home alone at the time, and might easily have slipped into the bathroom to decant a drop of urine if indeed I possessed the nerve. But the fiddly piss-syphoning ordeal could wait. I was adrenalized by the sixteen stoppered vials already laid out before me.

*  *  *  *  *

There is no question in my mind that Pregoni is somewhat of a genius. Here I was, prepared to despise the man... the man who asked me to reach into myself and challenge my very fundamental principals... but frankly, his perfumes are too beautiful... too accomplished to entertain - even for a millisecond - the thought that he must be some kind of charlatan. The very notion that he masterminded such a radical response in me, proves he is every bit as deft and calculated as a fairground magician.

Pregoni's body of work runs the gamut between creations that are demanding and baffling, and those that are remarkable and breathtaking. But none are mundane or pedestrian. As I immerse myself in his fragrant repository, testing samples over the period of a week, my respect for the man as a perfumer and indeed an artist, grows stronger with every day. His perfumes have taken me to a precipice, and flung me over... opening a new door in my olfactory journey that I never new was there...

Let me explain how.

The 2012 release Subcilium is one that moves me monumentally... a "Vetyver Experience", the accompanying material reads. And an experience it is... dank forest greens and fragrant conifer needles spread laterally across a rich brown base of earthy roots and resinous tree sap. But suddenly - in what seems to be a kind of olfactory epiphany - this fragrance ceases to be quantifiable through individual accords and ingredients, but rather, through lucid emotions and situations. Here, I've abruptly awoken in a shallow, moonlit grave in the forest, terrified and disoriented. A silhouette in the trees. A green canvas bag. Fear of dying...

There aren't many perfumes I've passed under my nose where groups of accords evoke such vivid recollections - almost past-life regressions - instances where one is forced to surrender completely to the invisible and the implied. 

Subcilium is not a singular case. It is one of many O'Driu creations that I find has this incredible graphic impact. 
The opening of JMT is an overheated engine. Torn vinyl car seats. Toxic fumes. Suffocation with a dry-cleaning bag. It is all these things and a sumptuous rendering of jasmine, florals and spices.
Pregoni's beautiful Lalfeogrigio, Lalfeorosa and Linfedele 1004 summon similar spectres... their olfactory pyramids recede into the background and their perfume narratives shift to the fore. What magick is at work here? I wonder.

In my eyes, this attribute is what best represents Pregoni's perfume DNA - the olfactory filament that connects his entire body of work. I don't know how he has achieved this, but in doing so he proves he is indeed a master of his craft.

O'Driu perfumes are released in strictly limited runs of between 4 individual units, and just a couple of hundred, and are thus rare and highly covetable objects of desire. I would be hard pressed to suggest a single scent in Pregoni's perfume portfolio that might pose some point of contention. Except, perhaps, for one you're asked to pee into.

*  *  *  *  *

It's 8:15am and I'm desperate for the bathroom. My wife is brewing coffee in the kitchen as I collect a handful of small cellophane parcels from my office desk. As I cross the kitchen I turn them in my hands anxiously and the plastic crackles. My wife looks up and sees what I'm carrying. She gives me The Look.
"Oh, you're not going to, are you?" she says with obvious disapproval.

I study the black funnel, atomiser and amber bottle in my hands.

"I haven't decided yet. But I really need to pee".