Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Une Nuit à Doha

An innocent candied confection, a warm gourmand inspired by thoughts of night falling on caramelized sticky oranges, lying next to a turquoise pool. That was the inspiration behind Une Nuit à Doha, a gourmand fragrance centered on immortelle and created by Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via SHL FB, used with permission.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via SHL FB, used with permission.

Une Nuit à Doha is a brand new, 2014 parfum extrait from Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 (hereinafter just referred to as “SHL 777” or “777“). All the perfumes are created by Monsieur Lucas himself, who also owns and is the nose for SoOud and Nez à Nez. Up to now, the 777 line was exclusive to Europe, Russia, and Middle Eastern, but there is excellent news. The complete SHL 777 line should be coming to America in a few weeks, including the stunning amber, O Hira, that was previously contractually limited to Harrods and to Printemps, along with such new releases as Qom Chilom and the Cambodian oud, smoke and leather, Oud 777. They will be carried at Luckyscent and Osswald NYC. I have samples of the complete line, thanks to the generosity and kindness of Monsieur Lucas, and I will be going through them, one by one (though perhaps with some breaks and perhaps not all in a row) so that you will be well prepared when 777 hits the stores.

Une Nuit à Doha. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Une Nuit à Doha. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Une Nuit à Doha is a pure parfum that Monsieur Lucas initially described to me as follows:

“A Mandarin against the light”

Fennel – crystallized Mandarin – Ginger

Immortelle flower from Corsica – Vetiver from Haïti

Brown Tobacco – Absolute of Vanilla.

After wearing the fragrance a few times, I knew that there was much more to Une Nuit à Doha (which I’ll just write from henceforth without the accent as “Une Nuit a Doha” for reasons of speed and typing convenience). I could detect copious amounts of neroli, as well as petitgrain, and perhaps a small dash of geranium in the sense of their fuzzy, piquant leaves. I also suspected some sort of benzoin enhancement underlying the immortelle, so I wrote back to Monsieur Lucas. He confirmed that, yes, Une Nuit a Doha contained more, particularly bitter orange petitgrain.

Candied orange. Source: trialx.com

Candied orange. Source: trialx.com

The complete note list therefore looks a little closer to this:

Fennel, Crystallized Mandarin, Petitgrain Bigarade, Neroli, Ginger, Immortelle from Corsica, Haitian Vetiver, Brown Tobacco, Coumarin, Opoponax [Sweet Myrrh], and Vanilla Absolute.

In talking to me about the scent, Monsieur Lucas wrote that he had been inspired by a specific mood and image:

Source: Pinterest, apparently via ugallery.com

Source: Pinterest, apparently via ugallery.com

j’avais envie d’un parfum chaud mais innocent, comme une bouffée d’oranges confites sur un banquet déserté au bord d’une piscine, vous savez ces odeurs crépusculaires le soir, la nuit tombant.

[I wanted a scent that was warm but innocent, like a big spread of caramelized oranges on a deserted banquet table by the side of a pool. You know, the aromas and sense of twilight, of night that falls.]

I think Monsieur Lucas has fully succeeded in his goal of creating a gourmand fragrance centered around “Hespéridé” fruits that have been turned into “confiture” or jam. Une Nuit à Doha certainly opens that way on my skin. It is a concentrated explosion of gingered, sticky, caramelized, and bitter citruses, ranging from juicy, sun-sweetened, bright oranges, to bitter, pungent neroli and the equally bitter petitgrain wood from the tree. The jammy, gingered fruits are thoroughly immersed in immortelle syrup, then dusted by immortelle the flower and by the most minuscule, microscopic hint of a woody-tobacco element. The whole thing is very dense in feel, but surprisingly airy and light in weight.

Source: superbwallpapers.com

Source: superbwallpapers.com

It all reminds me enormously of an immortelle cousin of Majda Bekkali‘s Fusion Sacrée, only less sweet, less thick, and less painfully cloying. As some regular readers may remember, the Bertrand Duchaufour creation sent me into a foetal position of misery from its sheer excess, its sweetness taken to such sacharine extremes and in such concentrated levels that it felt like orange goo designed to send one into a diabetic coma. Fusion Sacrée also had about 18,000 things going on simultaneously, bombarding you with a barrage of notes that I found utterly unbearable at the end of the day.

Fusion Sacrée via Luckyscent.

Fusion Sacrée via Luckyscent.

Yet, it is primarily the extreme sweetness — which begins as boozy orange caramel — that sticks in my mind when I think back upon the fragrance. I generally struggle with (and don’t particularly like) gourmands, but Fusion Sacrée blows the scale apart in that regard. On a sweetness scale of 1 to 10, I would place many gourmands at around a 6 or 7, and the Profumum Roma versions at about an 8 or 9. But I would assess Fusion Sacrée on my skin at about an 11. (Or a 12. Yes, I was and still am that traumatized by it.)

Source: Epicurious.com

Source: Epicurious.com

Une Nuit à Doha is not Fusion Sacrée in that sense — a fact for which I am eternally grateful — but it is still very sweet. Too sweet for my personal tastes, I must admit. Part of the problem is that I remain rather dubious about immortelle in its maple syrup form which is a definite part of Une Nuit a Doha’s opening and end phases. Fusion Sacrée may be all about the caramel, but Une Nuit a Doha on my skin is all about the immortelle syrup.

In fact, on me, Une Nuit a Doha is far more about immortelle than any orange fruits if you take it as a whole. The perfume is rather uncomplicated in its development, so this won’t be one of my traditional reviews that dissects the notes from hour to hour. One reason why is that Une Nuit a Doha is superbly well-blended, so some of the smaller nuances change from one day to the next, and it is hard to establish any one, set, definitive progression of notes. Yet, the perfume’s core essence is always the same and generally follows the same path:

Source: showziji.com

Source: showziji.com

I – Opening Phase: Extremely sunny, almost happy brightness with initially crisp, zesty, juicy, and bitter citruses, that very quickly turn into candied, gingered, bitter marmalade jam with immortelle flower in a tidal wave of rich, very sweet, immortelle maple syrup. It is all very airy and rather sheer, though also concentrated.

II – Middle Phase: the orange visuals all turn to brown, the ginger sticky neroli orange fades away, and Une Nuit a Doha is now primarily butterscotch with a touch of immortelle floralacy and an occasionally hefty streak of black licorice. To my surprise, the maple syrup aspect seems subsumed under actual butterscotch, perhaps because of the tobacco which is always an indirect presence during this phase. In fact, I have to say that the tobacco never appears as a powerfully distinct, individual note at any point on my skin. As a whole, Une Nuit a Doha feels like the middle or end parts of Dior‘s Eau Noire which is another immortelle licorice scent, along with a lingering dash of Fusion Sacrée. Yet, Une Nuit a Doha is also a drier scent than those comparisons may lead you think, at least in comparison to its opening burst of Seville bigarade marmalade. It’s a bit of a relative matter in this regard.

Source: wallpapervortex.com

Source: wallpapervortex.com

III – Final Phase: pure immortelle maple syrup, with the tiniest undertone of something vaguely and amorphously woody, dry, tobacco’d, and lightly spiced. The latter nuances are all extremely muted, minor and muffled. As a whole, and with one very noticeable exception, Une Nuit à Doha ends up as slightly dry maple syrup on my skin.

Immortelle. Source: The Perfume Shrine.

Immortelle. Source: The Perfume Shrine.

I found a few things about Monsieur Lucas’ handling of the immortelle to be interesting. I frequently find fragrances with the note to smell either of the flower or the maple syrup — but rarely both at the exact same time. For me, the floral part is the most appealing, as it has a strange, vaguely herbal, dusty, almost Marigold-like resemblance that feels very green and yellow at the same time. It often reminds me of the smell of a dried wild flowers, particularly the stem part, only much sweeter and almost spicy. As a side note, immortelle comes from the same family as marigolds, so there is some explanation for my mental association.

Immortelle, or Helichrysum in Corsica. Source: Wikicommons.

Immortelle, or Helichrysum in Corsica. Source: Wikicommons.

Most fragrances that I’ve tried reflect the immortelle’s floral side only briefly and/or in very muted form, but not Une Nuit à Doha. It is a powerful part of the fragrance’s opening, just as much as its caramelized, brown sugar, maple syrup aspects. In one test, the flower was present on my skin from start to finish.

Oddly enough, however, on another occasion, Une Nuit à Doha actually began with the maple syrup dominating the flower, before the fragrance eventually ended up in its drydown as the much drier flower with only a light touch of the syrup. It was as if the usual progression and pyramid had been up-ended, with the syrup that almost always appears at the very end somehow blooming heavily right at the start, while the flower appearing in a more prominent way at  the finish. The majority of the time, though, both aspects appeared side-by-side on my skin which I found to be a little uncommon, and a sign of some technical skill on the part of Monsieur Lucas.

Source: hdw.eweb4.com

Source: hdw.eweb4.com

The part of Une Nuit à Doha that I liked the most was the middle phase. It is drier, though still sweet, and the perfume smells like butterscotch instead of the more usual, semi-burnt, brown sugar, maple syrup. The neroli disappears, though an occasional bitter woodiness from the petitgrain lingers noticeably at the edges. I tried desperately hard to detect tobacco in the mix, but I couldn’t. At no point does my skin emanate a distinct, separate tobacco tonality, whether pipe, dried, or anything else. However, I think the note is definitely responsible for Une Nuit à Doha consistently turning so brown in visuals.

Butterscotch cheesecake with licorice or chocolate sauce. Source: thecurvycarrot.com

Butterscotch cheesecake with licorice or chocolate sauce. Source: thecurvycarrot.com

The other reason is the licorice. On occasion, it is a muted and muffled note, but generally, its black chewiness always appears strongly in the middle phase, right next to the butterscotch immortelle. I know the notes mention fennel, but I think of that as having quite a different aroma that is fresher, brighter, more herbal, and definitely green. Une Nuit à Doha, however, reflects the candied version, much as it does for the other notes. As for the vetiver, I never once detected it, but then my skin amplifies sweetness to a huge degree and probably blocked it out.

In a nutshell, therefore, Nuit à Doha starts on my skin as an immortelle version of Fusion Sacrée — only lighter, fractionally less sweet, and much less ridiculously excessive or complicated — with notes centered on neroli and orange maple syrup. Then, it turns primarily into butterscotch syrup with licorice, abstract woodiness, some dryness, and an indirect layer of tobacco. In its final moments, it ends up as a sheer layer of maple syrup.

A lot of people adore immortelle’s sweetness, and those people should definitely look into Une Nuit à Doha. I’m simply the wrong person to rave about any gourmand fragrance, particularly one with maple syrup. I’m one of those odd loons who isn’t particularly moved by Etat Libre d’Orange‘s huge cult hit and immortelle-centric fragrance, Tilda Swinton Like This. I think I may like Dior’s Eau Noire, but the operative and key word is “think” — the uncertainty all stems from my ambivalence towards the maple syrup. And, I don’t think I need to discuss further my utterly horrified reaction at Bertrand Duchaufour’s Fusion Sacrée.

In short, you need to place my feelings here into context. If you like any of the fragrances that I’ve mentioned, you should try Une Nuit à Doha. If you adore gourmands above all else, especially orange gourmands offset by some bitter petitgrain and neroli, you should probably do a mad dash to try Une Nuit à Doha. It will be completely up your alley.

Source: hdwalls.info

Source: hdwalls.info

Plus, this gourmand entry into the SHL 777 line-up has some other positive attributes. First, it has moderately good sillage and excellent longevity. 3 small sprays from my decant, amounting to one spray from a bottle, generally gave me 2-3 inches in projection at first, which dropped down to an inch above the skin at the end of the 90 minutes. Une Nuit à Doha hovered there for hours, and never became a skin scent on me until the end of the 7th hour, though it was still easy to detect up close for a while longer. With a larger quantity, amounting to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, the initial sillage was 3-4 inches, then dropped down again in the same manner, but only at the start of the 3rd hour. As a whole, Une Nuit à Doha consistently lasts over 12 hours on my perfume-consuming skin, with a larger quantity giving me just over 14.75 hours.

Une Nuit à Doha. Source: fragrancerussia.ru distributors.

Une Nuit à Doha. Source: fragrancerussia.ru distributors.

The other good thing to Une Nuit à Doha is that it is one of the “cheap” fragrances from the line, relatively speaking. On the absurd, highly skewed pricing spectrum for niche fragrances, Une Nuit à Doha comes in at around $200 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum extrait. Well, to be clear, I don’t have the official American pricing rate, but, in Europe, Une Nuit a Doha’s retail price is €148 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum. At today’s rate of exchange, that comes to about $204. However, I know from prior experiences with European exclusives that the eventual U.S. price is always much less than the currency conversion amount.

So, I estimate the perfume will probably be around $195, though that is purely a personal guess. Roughly $200 for pure parfum isn’t too terrible in this highly skewed, crazy niche world, particularly given that the same sized bottle of Tom Ford’s Private Blend costs $210 — and that is only an eau de parfum, not an extrait.

Une Nuit a Doha is too new for me to provide you with comparative reviews, and it has no entry on Fragrantica at this time. In fact, at the time of this post, it’s not widely available outside of Harrods and Paris’ Printemps. That should change in a few days time when, I’ve been told, Germany’s First in Fragrance is expected to receive several of the new SHL 777 fragrances, including the older 2013 release, O Hira. I suspect it will be closer to next week in actuality. As for the U.S., as noted at the start of this post, I’ve been told that the complete SHL 777 line will be released here in roughly 2 weeks time. So, you may want to look for it at Luckyscent and Osswald NY at the end of April.

If you love gourmands, give Une Nuit à Doha a try. It’s a very smooth, soft, refined and supremely well-blended take on immortelle with caramelized orange marmalade that lovers of very sweet fragrances will probably find to be quite delicious.

Disclosure: Perfume sample courtesy of Stéphane Humbert Lucas. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Une Nuit à Doha is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €148. The 777 line should be in American stores — Luckyscent and Osswald NYC — by the end of April 2014. I don’t have U.S. pricing details. Outside the U.S.: Currently, the Stéphane Humbert Lucas’ website is under construction, and doesn’t have an e-store. The best online resource is First in Fragrance which currently has about half of the SHL 777 line, and will soon be receiving the newer releases as well. Some of the fragrances like Une Nuit à Doha are not yet in stock, but should be in a few days. In London, you can find the entire collection at Harrod’s Black Room, while in Paris, they are exclusive to Printemps under the name 777. Zurich’s Osswald also carries the line, but I don’t think they have an e-store any more. The Swiss perfumery, Theodora, also has SHL 777, but no e-store. In Cannes, France, the store Taizo is said to carry the 777 line, but I didn’t see the perfumes on their website the last time I checked. In the Middle East, Souq.com has about 6 of the earlier fragrances which it sells for AED 1,500. In the UAE, the SHL 777 line is available at Harvey Nichols and at Bloomingdales in the Dubai Mall. In Russia, SHL 777 is sold at Lenoma. Ukraine’s Sana Hunt Luxury store also carries the line, but they don’t have an e-store. Samples: None of the U.S. sample sites currently carry this fragrance, but Luckyscent and Osswald NYC will be your best option once the SHL 777 perfumes are released in America. Osswald used to have a great sample program where you could try any 10 fragrances in relatively large vials for a mere $20, with free shipping. However, that program is only available to U.S. customers, and, more importantly, it may have recently changed. Looking at the Sample section on the website now, there is no set deal, and pricing depends on the cost of the particular perfume in question. They range from $3 a vial up to $9 a vial for fragrances that cost over $300. You can call Osswald at (212) 625-3111 to enquire further as to the situation.

Perfume Giveaway: Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleuri

I’m really happy to announce that Oriza L. Legrand (“Oriza“) has generously offered a huge giveaway of fifteen (15!) travel sprays of its latest fragrance, Muguet Fleuri. This is an International and U.S. giveaway with no geographic restrictions, either, so you can be anywhere in the world.

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

I’ve just posted my review for Muguet Fleuri which I think is a Spring symphony, with a radiant beginning centered around lilies of the valley, wild violets, peppered violet leaves, and mossy greenness. You can read the review for the full details but, for me, Muguet Fleuri feels like Chypre Mousse‘s more floral, Spring sister. It’s still an enchanted forest, but autumn has been washed away in a spirit of rebirth and new beginnings, and the fairies have come out to play in a sea of green, white, and purple. 

THE PRIZES:

Fifteen (15) readers will each get ONE (1) purse spray of 10 ml/0.33 oz of Muguet Fleuri. Just to be crystal clear, the prize is not a full bottle, but a travel spray of 10 ml.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS & TECHNICAL DETAILS:

Please leave a comment letting me know either your favorite muguet (lily of the valley) fragrance, your favorite scent from Oriza L. Legrand, or the scent that best captures Spring for you.

The entry period lasts until the end of Friday, April 18th at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) in the U.S. which is -6:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). There is only one entry per person.

The 15 winners will be chosen by Random.org, and will be announced in a separate post sometime the next day on Saturday, April 19th.

As a side note, I usually respond to each comment individually, but I won’t this time due to a rather busy schedule. I’ll merely leave occasional replies, indicating where someone is on the list.

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

WINNERS & EMAILS:

Once I post the winners, you have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information. Deadline is end of the day, my time, on Monday, April 21st. Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with your shipping details. I will then forward the information onto Oriza L. Legrand.

If you don’t contact me, and if I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give your prize to the next person on the list.

SHIPPING:

Oriza L. Legrand will send the prizes directly to the winners. Given that they are located in Paris, it may take some time (up to 2 weeks, depending on your location and Customs processing) for you to receive your gift. It may take even longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues or is at a greater distance from Paris.

Please be aware that neither Oriza L. Legrand nor I am responsible for items that are destroyed by customs or that are lost in transit for some reason.

Source:  raymichemin.canalblog.com

Source: raymichemin.canalblog.com

FINALLY:

I’d like to express my enormous gratitude to Mr. Hugo Lambert and Mr. Franck Belaiche of Oriza L. Legrand for their generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering so many wonderful gifts. Some companies may give away a small sample, but travel sprays of such a large size and to FIFTEEN readers all around the world, without any restriction at all?!

I’m thrilled, primarily because it means that more people will get the chance to experience a really unique perfume house whose high-quality creations are done with elegance in a respectful nod to the past. My secret hope is that more of you will end up sharing my admiration and respect for the house, as well as for its gentlemanly owners who have put their heart and soul into bringing Oriza not only back to life, but also into the 21st century.

So, good luck to you all! May the perfumed winds take you to the heart of an enchanted forest, covered with muguet and violets, where the fairies dance the Rite of Spring. 

Source: allpolus.com

Source: allpolus.com

GENERAL MUGUET FLEURI & ORIZA DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum with about 18% concentration that comes in a 100 ml bottle, and costs €90. Muguet Fleuri is available directly from Oriza’s e-store. A great sample set is also available from the e-Store (scroll down midway to the page and it is on the right.) The set includes 7 fragrances in the range, except for Foin Fraîchement Coupé, with each scent coming in 2 ml spray vials. The whole thing costs a low €9. Separate shipping is listed as €9, but a friend said he was charged only €7, so it may depend on your location. Oriza ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over.
In the U.S.: Luckyscent should begin carrying the entire Oriza L. Legrand line, including Muguet Fleuri (as well as the Oriza soaps and candles), starting next week. Currently, you can find Oriza at New York’s JuJu s’amuse. It has two locations, and I’ve provided the number for one, in case you want to check whether they do phone orders: 100 Thompson Street New York, NY 10012, with Ph: (212) 226.1201; but, also, 1220 Lexington Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10018. I do not think they will have Muguet Fleuri at this point, since the perfume was released just last week in Paris.
Other vendors in Europe: Oriza’s perfumes are also sold at Paris’ Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden. In the Netherlands, the Oriza line is carried at ParfuMaria. Germany’s First in Fragrance also carries the Oriza Legrand line, but Muguet Fleuri is not shown on their website at this time. Oriza L. Legrand is also sold at a few places in Japan. For details on those retailers and the Swedish store, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page.

Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleuri: Spring’s Fairy Forest

Source: Zedge.com

Source: Zedge.com

Spring has arrived, bringing with it Muguet Fleuri in an olfactory symbol of rebirth and freshness that seems like Nature at its best. Delicate lilies of the valley sway in the wind like floral bells, releasing crystal-clear chimes of floral sweetness. Its dewy liquidity parallels April showers that wash the dirt and grime away, leaving a clean, fresh greenness imbued with alpine white in the soft sunlight. Yet, the vista of green and white is also thoroughly infused with imperial purple, as wild violets dance the Rites of Spring alongside the muguet. It’s the enchanted fairy world of Muguet Fleuri, the latest fragrance from the ancient house of Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza”) is a house for which I have enormous affection and admiration. You can read all about its ancient history (and see the adorable sweetness of the Paris boutique) in a post I did last year on the subject, but to summarize in a nutshell, Oriza goes back to 1720 and the time of Louis XV. It made perfumes for the Tsar of Russia, and numerous European royal families, as well as winning prestigious prizes in World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The perfume house died in the 1930s, but it has been brought back to life by its current owners, Franck Belaiche and Hugo Lambert. I’ve met them both, and they are true gentlemen — in every sense of that word.

Photo: Roberto Greco  for Oriza L. Legrand.

Photo: Roberto Greco for Oriza L. Legrand.

For them, Oriza L. Legrand is a labour of love. They want to return the brand to its old glory, while staying true to its heritage and history by offering its original fragrances, only with lightly tweaks to appeal to modern tastes. They work extremely hard, running all aspects of the business almost like an artisanal venture, right down to bottling the perfumes themselves (just as Andy Tauer does for his house). Everything they have is thrown into Oriza, and dedicated to making the house a success in the modern era. As a side note, some sites have said that Elisabeth de Feydeau is the nose responsible for the new Oriza scents, but that is incorrect. Madame de Feydeau assisted in the initial research for the original, historical formulas, but  it is Hugo Lambert who has created the re-invented Oriza fragrances and he deserves the full credit.

Muguet Fleuri. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Muguet Fleuri. Source: Oriza L. Legrand website.

Muguet Fleuri is their latest release, but I have the impression that the original Muguet Fleuri debuted in 1925. This is obviously a tweaked interpretation suited for modern times. Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum centered around lily of the valley which the French call “muguet.” (That is how I am used to calling it, too, so I shall stick with the French name.)

Muguet is a big deal in France in spring time. The first of May is called May Day (La Fête du MuguetLa Fête du Travail) or Labor Day, and is a public holiday to celebrate workers’ rights. But it is also the day on which people give bunches of muguet to their loved ones. When I was growing up in France, especially on the occasions when I lived in Paris, every street corner had a little stand selling bunches of the flowers, often run by a little, wizened, old lady who had come from the country. It is a rite of Spring, and Oriza has marked that with an olfactory version that concentrates the feeling of muguet in a very classical fragrance.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Source: Oriza L. Legrand.

Oriza describes Muguet Fleuri and its notes as follows:

1925
Top Notes: Green Leaves, Wild Grass, Wild Muguet.
Heart Notes: Galbanum, Angelica, Violet Leaves & Muguet des Bois.
Base Notes: Lily of the Valley Bell Fresh, Oakmoss & Lys des Prés … Comme Il Faut.

In applying Muguet Fleuri, I was struck first by impressions and sensations, rather than actual notes. It was a powerful cloud that was peppery, very spicy, fresh, dewy, lightly grassy, a touch herbal, and infinitely green. At a lower dosage, Muguet Fleuri was lightly soapy and clean as well, but the overwhelming impression is of spicy greenness. Dewy flowers and green leaves, concentrated in the epitome of Spring. Water lies everywhere, but it is as much a floral nectar as it is April showers.

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

Photo: encreviolette.unblog.fr

For all that muguet is associated in my mind with Paris, Muguet Fleuri takes me back to England. It is like the smell of a spring morning in the British countryside after the spring rains have wiped everything clean. The wetness is fresh, sweetened, and incredibly crisp, but it’s also not as dainty as it sounds. The peppered spiciness is really remarkable, thanks to the violet leaves that feel positively crunchy and stiff, and they transform the delicate, fragile, little white bells into something with a solid backbone.

Wild wood violets. Photo: visoflora.com

Wild wood violets. Photo: visoflora.com

The violet flowers themselves arrive shortly thereafter, and they’re beautiful. This is a violet note unlike anything that I’ve encountered in  other scents. The degree of cool, radiant clarity is remarkable, and the incredibly concentrated nature of the purple flowers makes them stand head and shoulders above the faded, limp, flaccid violet in Serge Lutens‘ (reformulated) Bois de Violette, Tom Ford‘s Black Violet, and his Violet Blonde. It reminds me of the bunches of pansies (a close relation to violets) that my mother used to buy when we lived in London — only shot up with steroids. On my skin, Muguet Fleuri’s opening phase is almost as much about the violets — in both flower and crunchy leaf form — as it is about the lily of the valley, sometimes more so at the beginning.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

As the minutes pass, Muguet Fleuri loses some of its peppered intensity and turns more floral. The muguet grows sweeter, and the violet’s floralacy becomes stronger than the crunchy, slightly prickly aroma of its leaves. There is a sense of greenness all around, but the momentary burst of grassiness in Muguet Fleuri’s debut has faded away. The visuals are all alpine white with imperial purple in a sea of green, and, yet, what it translates to emotionally for me is sunlight. Clear, bright sunlight.

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Sometimes, it feels soft; often, it radiates a crystal-sharp whiteness, but primarily it feels comforting and like rebirth. Washing away the grime of Winter, darkness, reality, heartbreak, stress, or mundane trivialities in a flood of cool wetness that is somehow as soothing as being immersed in a liquid cocoon. I can talk to you about the notes, but, for me, Muguet Fleuri’s gorgeous opening bouquet is much more about a feeling, a mood, and symbolism.

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

Source: it.forwallpaper.com

And part of that symbolism is about the passage of Time and Nature away from the autumnal forest so well represented by Oriza‘s Chypre Mousse. For me, Muguet Fleuri is Chypre Mousse’s olfactory counterpart, and they have a lot in common. They are both extremely evocative fragrances that take you to the heart of an enchanted forest, and create the sense of being in Nature after the rains, surrounded by an ethereal greenness. In Chypre Mousse, it was autumnal with darkened mosses, wet leaves, humus, mushrooms, and a rivulet of leathery resins.

With Muguet Fleuri, Oriza takes you to that same forest in Spring. The liquid sweetness of May’s white muguet bells banishes away the remnants of Fall. Instead of dead leaves rendered dark, they are green, bright, and crunchy. Instead of mushrooms growing out of the wet earth or on fallen tree limbs, there are violets peeping out from under the youthful, bright foliage. The bridge between the two seasons and the two fragrances is that same plush, vibrant oakmoss, but, here, it’s significantly more subdued, fresh, and almost sweetened.

Source:  raymichemin.canalblog.com

Source: raymichemin.canalblog.com

The more specific differences between the two scents grow stronger as time passes. 10 minutes in, Muguet Fleuri loses even more of its pepper and spice, and takes on the faintest undertone of something clean instead. At a higher dosage, it’s not really soapy, per se, though it does feel quite fresh. Rather, it’s more like a green sharpness. Galbanum stirs at the edges, though it’s thankfully not the so-green-it’s-black galbanum that is such a part of Robert Piguet‘s Bandit.

Source: Colourbox.com

Source: Colourbox.com

Still, there is a definite sharpness to Muguet Fleuri that Chypre Mousse lacked on my skin. In some ways, it almost feels textural: the coolness borders on iciness at times, like a metallic blade, as if the dewy liquidity has been turned to steel through one of the notes. There is an edge to Muguet Fleuri at a higher dosage, but it was much less apparent when I applied less of the perfume. At the lower dosage, there is still a lot of liquidness to Muguet Fleuri’s opening, but it is joined by freshness that has a soapy cleanness, as if a really expensive French or Victorian floral soap were dancing about the edges.

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

Source: abstract.desktopnexus.com

In both cases, regardless of quantity, Muguet Fleuri’s greenness feels extremely crisp. The perfume may be a more purely and predominantly floral counterpart to Chypre Mousse, but it shares its predecessor’s tendency towards a certain mintiness. Yet, on my skin, Muguet Fleuri never feels herbal in the way that Chypre Mousse sometimes may. There is merely a sense of rain-drenched Nature, rather than a walk through a herb garden dominated by mint and its relatives.

Another similarity between the two fragrances is their forcefulness, at least initially in the case of Muguet Fleuri. Chypre Mousse is the strongest and most powerful fragrance in the Oriza line, by a landslide, in terms of its massive sillage and its longevity. Muguet Fleuri really surprised me by having initially excellent sillage as well, though it later became softer. The perfume also shares Chypre Mousse’s excellent longevity. Three small sprays of Muguet Fleuri from my atomizer gave me an opening cloud of about 5 inches, though it dropped down to 4 after 30 minutes, then to 3 after another hour had passed. It is an extremely airy bouquet, but Muguet Fleuri is incredibly potent, especially up close. I suspect that the fragrance is like the rest of the Oriza eau de parfums in having 18% concentration. Muguet Fleuri only became a skin scent on me 5.25 hours into its development, but it lasted over 13.75 hours. I was quite taken aback, since floral soliflores rarely have a chance on my skin, particularly if they’re fresh and green in nature.

Muguet with wild violets. Photo: Brigitte Quelin. Source: periblog.fr

Muguet with wild violets. Photo: Brigitte Quelin. Source: periblog.fr

As a soliflore, the core essence of Muguet Fleuri never dramatically shifts, morphs, and twists. It is always some sort of blend of lily of the valley, trailed by violets and multi-faceted greenness, with sharpness, and fluctuating levels of both cool, dewy liquidity and floral powder. That core essence remains largely unchanged for hours.

All that happens is that different elements wax and wane in terms of their prominence. The initial spiciness fades away, but the crunchy, very peppery violet leaves do a sort of ghostly dance, retreating, seemingly almost vanishing, before suddenly reappearing again in the background. The galbanum departs after 30 minutes, and the initial flicker of soapiness solidifies into something much more prominent at the 40-minute mark. Around the same time, the first vestige of floral power arrives, though it feels more like a sort of sandiness than actual powder. It grows stronger over time, as does the expensive lily of the valley soapiness.

At  the end of the third hour, Muguet Fleuri hovers half an inch above the skin in a potent blend of slightly sharp, lightly powdered muguet with only lingering traces of dewy, nectared sweetness. The crunchy, peppered leaves occasionally pop up in the distance, but the violet flower itself has largely faded away. The light veil of floral powder adds an old-fashioned touch, but it’s not powerful enough to turn Muguet Fleuri into something hardcore vintage and dated in feel. Rather, on my skin, it’s initially just a suggestion of something retro amidst the floral greenness.

Muguet Fleuri continues to soften with the passing hours. It lies right on the skin about 4.25 hours into its development, and turns into a skin scent an hour later. It also feels drier and more powdered, as the beautiful wave of floral liquidity recedes to the sidelines. By the start of the 6th hour, little droplets of dewiness lurk just behind the top notes, but they are increasingly tiny dots. Muguet Fleuri feels less green, though an occasional, subtle, minty freshness still pops up once in a while.

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

Source: underthemagnifier.wordpress.com

What surprised me was the subtle, abstract woodiness that appears around this time. The muguet feels flecked with a woody undertone that almost verges on cedar. Something about the overall scent reminds me of something Serge Lutens would do in one of his floral-woody combinations, only without the sweet syrupness that marked Bois de Violette, and with a more old-fashioned, clean, powdered touch. Muguet Fleuri’s drydown on my skin really feels like a bouquet of lily of the valley, cedar, violet leaves, and violets, even though the latter is now a mere impression more than a distinctive, powerful, individual note. The whole thing is dusted with floral powder that feels sandier than ever, and a light touch of very expensive floral soap.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Muguet Fleuri remains that way largely until its very end. In its final moments, it is a mere blur of something vaguely lily-of-the-valley-ish. As noted earlier, it lasted over 13.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin, closer to 14 actually, with 3 atomizer sprays amounting to 2 tiny sprays from an actual bottle. My skin usually has trouble holding onto floral soliflores, especially if they’re very green or white, so those numbers should tell you something. (One Serge Lutens floral, A La Nuit, lasted less than an hour on me!) I suspect Muguet Fleuri would last even longer on a person with normal skin.

For all that I love the most intense, dark, masculine, heavy orientals, I also love the polar extreme with very pure, crystal-clear, dewy florals. Serge LutensDe Profundis is one example, but so is Oriza’s ethereal Chypre Mousse. It’s not actually a floral, but it has the same spirit and atmospherics as De Profundis: Nature reduced to its purest essence. Muguet Fleuri, too, conveys that mood feel for much of its opening hours. The difference is that Muguet Fleuri is the embodiment of Spring and rebirth — a sunlit, dewy greenness to counter De Profundis’ purple twilight, or Chypre Mousse’s autumnal forest. This time around, Oriza’s enchanted landscape isn’t littered with mushrooms, the focus is not on the damp floor with its dead leaves, and the feeling isn’t of greenness flecked by darkness.

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

Art by Rachel Anderson. Source: zdjecia.nurka.pl

Now, instead, the sun has come out, and the fairies have woken up from their winter’s sleep. The crisp, icy air is now softened by a Spring glow; new, bright green shoots are pushing out of the wet earth; white muguet is everywhere, its little bells shaking off the morning dew; and violets nestle at the base of a large cedar tree, its purple delicacy nestled in a sea of fuzzy, peppered, spicy greenness. But, honestly, the absolute best part is that crystal-clear, liquid sweetness of the opening hours, that essence of lily of the valley concentrated down to a thick nectar. It’s truly beautiful. I felt invigorated, fresh, and a little bit free of heavy weight, as if I’d emerged purified from water.

The subsequent middle and final stages are very pretty, but they didn’t move me quite so lyrically and powerfully as Muguet Fleuri’s opening hours. The main reason why is that I’m not particularly enthused by soapy cleanness of any kind — even if it is as subtle as it is here — nor by floral powder. But I’m very finicky about those things — much more than others. Still, I would absolutely wear Muguet Fleuri. In a heartbeat, in fact. I would wear it for the places it transports me to in the first few hours, and for the soothing, almost Zen-like serenity it gave me at one point. I think it would be a lovely fragrance to wear in the summer heat, but I would wear it for the enchanted forest, first and foremost.

Source: pixgood.com

Source: pixgood.com

Muguet Fleuri is too new for any online reviews, so I’m afraid you’re stuck with my impressions for now. All I can tell you is that, to me, it is the Spring-time sister to Chypre Mousse. The latter is very much a “love it/hate it” scent, so I hope that reference can guide you. As to Muguet Fleuri’s gender appeal, I think it skews feminine in nature. I say that primarily because I don’t know any men who wear lily of the valley soliflores, and I don’t know if the peppered, crunchy violet leaves will provide enough of a counterpart to Muguet Fleuri’s main note or to its soapy/powder undertones. On the other hand, I’ve read of some men who buy Guerlain’s annual Muguet scent, so who knows. Speaking of the latter, I haven’t tried any of their lily-of-the-valley soliflores, but I can’t imagine that Guerlain would ever put out something so potent, intense, and different as a Chypre Mousse-like fragrance. I simply can’t imagine it. Moreover, Oriza L. Legrand’s fragrances have a definite signature — and it’s nothing like a Guerlain.

Muguet Fleuri is now available on Oriza’s website, and costs €90 for a 100 ml bottle, which is less than the €120 for most of its other siblings. The fragrance is too new to be carried by other Oriza retailers, like First in Fragrance, at this point, but I’m sure that will change soon. As a side note, the Oriza line is now sold in New York at a boutique called Juju Amuse (see the details section below), but their e-shop only carries clothing, not fragrances. However, Luckyscent in LA will start carrying the Oriza L. Legrand line starting next week, including the lovely soaps. In the meantime, if you want to test Muguet Fleuri, Oriza’s original and very affordable 6-fragrance Sampler Set has now been expanded to 7, to include the new Muguet Fleuri.

All in all, Muguet Fleuri feels like Spring’s floral symphony in a fairy forest, and I highly encourage anyone who loves both lilies of the valley and violets to give it a try.

Disclosure: Sample courtesy of Oriza L. Legrand. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml or 3.4 oz bottle, and costs €90. Muguet Fleuri is available directly from Oriza’s e-store. A great sample set is also available from the e-Store (scroll down midway to the page and it’s on the right.) The set includes 7 fragrances in the range, except for Foin Fraîchement Coupé, with each scent coming in 2 ml spray vials. The whole thing costs a low €9. Separate shipping is listed as €9, but a friend said he was charged only €7. Oriza ships globally, as I’ve had readers order the sample set from all over. In the U.S.: Luckyscent should get the Oriza L. Legrand line next week. Right now, it is carried at New York’s JuJu s’amuse. It has two locations, and I’ve provided the number for one, in case you want to check whether they do phone orders: 100 Thompson Street New York, NY 10012, with Ph: (212) 226.1201; but, also, 1220 Lexington Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10018. Other vendors in Europe: Oriza’s perfumes are also sold at Paris’ Marie-Antoinette (which was my favorite perfume shop in Paris), as well as one store in Sweden. In the Netherlands, the Oriza line is carried at ParfuMaria. Germany’s First in Fragrance also carries the Oriza Legrand line, but Muguet Fleuri is not shown on their website at this time. Oriza L. Legrand is also sold at a few places in Japan. For details on those retailers and the Swedish store, you can check Oriza Points of Sale page.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Oud 777

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

Smoke #6 by Stefan Bonazzi. (Website link embedded within photo,.)

Oud 777 takes you on a journey through the darkness of leather, smoke, and oud, before you emerge on the other side in the soft light of silky creaminess. Along the way, you stop to picnic on labdanum amber, licorice, black truffle and anise, but the main leg of the trip is primarily about sharp smoke, tobacco, leather, and singed woods. It’s not The Heart of Darkness, but it sometimes feels like “The Smoke Monster” from Lost put on a leather jacket, dabbed on a little Amouage Tribute, then went to chew some tobacco on a stroll through burning woods in Cambodia. In fact, I suspect there are some leather-clad biker gangs who would very much enjoy Oud 777.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via the SHL Facebook page and used with permission.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas, via the SHL Facebook page and used with permission.

Oud 777 is a brand new, 2014 parfum extrait from Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 (hereinafter just referred to as “SHL 777” or “777“). All the perfumes are created by Monsieur Lucas himself, who also owns and is the nose for SoOud and Nez à Nez. Up to now, the 777 line was exclusive to Europe, Russia, and Middle Eastern, but there is excellent news. The complete SHL 777 line will be coming to America in a few weeks, including the stunning amber, O Hira, that was previously contractually limited to Harrods and Printemps, and such new releases as Qom Chilom and the mandarin-ginger-immortelle-tobacco scent, Une Nuit à Doha. They will be carried at Luckyscent and Osswald NYC. I have samples of the complete line, thanks to the generosity and kindness of Monsieur Lucas, and I will be going through them, one by one (though perhaps with some breaks and perhaps not all in a row) so that you will be well prepared when 777 hits the stores.

Oud 777. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Oud 777. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Oud 777 is a pure parfum that Monsieur Lucas described to me as follows:

Grand OUD
Brown Oud from Burma
White Oud from Laos
Leathers selection
Tonka

Based upon what I smelt, there is absolute no way that list is complete. None. In fact, I have the sense that Monsieur Lucas is one of those perfumers who, like Profumum Roma, prefers to give merely a nutshell synopsis. Perhaps it’s because he believes that one should experience a scent and let it transport you where it will, instead of focusing on the tiny specifics. (He has been very amused by my OCD obsession with facts and details, though he’s patiently taken the time to answer my numerous laundry-list of questions, and always with graciousness.) I suppose we should be grateful that he’s not Serge Lutens who doesn’t offer any notes at all, but that doesn’t change the fact that Oud 777′s official list doesn’t really give you a full sense of the actual fragrance. 

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com.  (Website link embedded within.)

Photo by Daniel Fox. Source: petapixel.com. (Website link embedded within.)

Oud 777 opens on my skin with such a rich blast of heavy labdanum that I instinctively reached for my decant to make sure I hadn’t accidentally re-applied O Hira. There are differences, to be sure, but for an instant, Oud 777 is all about dark, toffee’d, resinous, stick labdanum amber just like O Hira. Oud 777 had a definite whiff of tobacco lurking deep down in the base, but this labdanum was also animalic and redolent of chocolate. Then, the oud arrived — and all thoughts of O Hira vanished. My first thought and the exact comment in my notes upon smelling the agarwood was, “Uh oh.” It had the same blue cheese tonality that some really aged, very expensive Laotian woods possess, and I gulped in dread. Thankfully, it barely lasts. In fact, it lasted less than 4 minutes, and, yes, I timed it to be sure. (I know some of you all too well….)

Even though the blue cheese note in Oud 777 briefly brought back memories of Xerjoff‘s infamous Zafar, the two scents are nothing alike and there are strong differences. The oud here is not pure Gorgonzola for one thing. It’s also sweet, honeyed, and creamy. For another, it’s also much more animalic than Zafar was on me. Unlike some, I personally didn’t experience a heavy barnyard scent with Zafar, and had no feces. With Oud 777, however, I’m afraid the blue cheese segues into a few minutes of something that is both lightly fecal and strongly like a barnyard.

Source: artclon.com

Source: artclon.com

I’d like to clarify that, in my mind and to my nose, there is a definite difference between, “animalic,” “horsey,” “urinous,” “barnyard,” and “fecal” — with the progression moving from left to right in terms of intensity, rawness and brutality. Let’s just say that Oud 777 covers all of those bases for a few minutes, with the exception of “horsey” and “urinous.” I can see a few of you shuddering right now, so let me repeat that all of this lasts another 5-8 minutes. So, in total, there was a 15-minute period of difficulty, at most.

There are other things happening on the periphery of that multi-faceted, complicated Cambodian wood. Oud 777 is also musky and earthy. In fact, I would swear that I detected both a truffle-like aroma and the sweetness of loamy, black soil. The whole thing sits upon a river of labdanum that feels very leathered, slightly honeyed, and subtly smoky. It’s now very different to the labdanum in O Hira, as it has a significantly stronger leather component, less honey, less sweetness, and much more of a styrax-like smokiness.

Source: sggwaser.ch

Source: sggwaser.ch

More importantly, however, there is an odd herbal note flittering about that feels like a dot of green in the vast vista of brown-black. It drove me quite crazy at first, because it was so muted and minor that I felt I was imagining it. Was it really there, and was it really some mix of tarragon with fennel/anise??! Slowly, slowly, the note grew stronger and, yes, 10 minutes in, Oud 77 has a definite touch of fresh fennel, though with a slight tarragon whiff as well.

By an incredibly strange, unplanned twist of fate, I went to my parents’ for a very late dinner last night with my notepad, computer, and 2 hours worth of Oud 777 on my arm. Guess what was on the menu? Caramelized, grilled fennel! The funny thing is that, sometimes, I can almost “taste” some perfume notes on my tongue (it’s a really odd feeling), but last night, I was quite literally eating the same notes that were wafting from my arm. When caramelized and grilled, fennel heart has a strong black licorice taste. Previously, my notes for Oud 777 stated that, 20 minutes in, the “mystifying” herbal note transformed into “bright green anise fennel with a hefty side plate of chewy, black licorice.” Having that precise combination subsequently confirmed in person, on the tongue, was quite disorienting, I can assure you.

Source: science.nationalgeographic.com

Source: science.nationalgeographic.com

At the bottom of all these layers is the leather. Initially, and for the first hour, I really don’t smell leather, per se, but rather the mere impression of “leather.” It feels more like a subset of the labdanum, than leather in its own individual right. That subsequently changes, and in a big way, but at no point does the leather feel like black birch leather. Instead, it’s almost like a textural feel at times, a raw roughness, if you will.

Licorice. Source: Dylanscandybar.com

Licorice. Source: Dylanscandybar.com

30 minutes in, Oud 777 is a blend of leathered labdanum with animalic, musky woodiness, anise, chewy black licorice, strong smokiness, a slightly muted earthy black truffle, styrax, and tiny suggestions of chocolate. With every passing minute, the black licorice grows stronger and nestles itself right next to the leathered labdanum. As for the oud, I have to say that I really don’t detect the note as actual agarwood any longer. The blue cheese left the building long ago, followed shortly thereafter by the barnyard and fecal tinges. What there is now is merely an abstract woodiness that is taking on an increasingly singed aroma.

I have a distinct disadvantage in all this because I have never smelled Cambodian oud (to my knowledge), let alone a “white oud.” I’ve heard plenty about how Cambodian agarwood is supposed to be the most expensive or sought after variety, and the blogger, The Smelly Vagabond, once told me on Twitter that either a single or a few chips of it sold for about $600 a few years back. So I looked up descriptions of Cambodian oud to learn how it may differ from the Laotian or Indian types that I’m more familiar with. I came across one Basenotes thread where a chap described his Cambodian oud as follows:

I get the barnyard smell that everyone is talking about…it’s a very dark and a raw animalic scent…very smokey, leathery and woody…

If that is the case, then it is very close to what I detect in Oud 777. The agarwood doesn’t smell like any thing I’ve encountered previously, but initially consists just of smoky woods that verge on the burnt. At the start of Oud 777, I had ascribed some of what I detected to labdanum’s undertones and to styrax, but as time passes, it’s become abundantly clear that something else is going. I have no idea where the labdanum starts and the Cambodian oud ends, what is the precise source of the leathery undertones, or even if there is styrax in Oud 777 any more. All I know is that the perfume starts to become darker and darker, smokier and smokier.

Nicolas Obery Gicle Digital Print. Source: googleplussuomi.com

Nicolas Obery Gicle Digital Print. Source: googleplussuomi.com

At the end of the first hour, Oud 777 has become something that is completely different from its opening bouquet. There is a distinct and very prominent tobacco tonality, almost as if Tobacco Absolute has been used. It accompanies an intense, rather arid smokiness, so it must stem from the Cambodian oud. Whatever the source, man, is it smoky! It doesn’t smell like frankincense smoke, but like a super potent, concentrated, and very fierce mix of Serge LutensFumerie Turque with Amouage‘s Tribute attar. I love Tribute, but the reformulated Fumerie Turque was too sharp for me, and something about the note in Oud 777 feels the same way.

Part of my difficulty is that the smokiness becomes so desiccated and intense that it eventually began to hurt my nose when I smelt Oud 777 up close and for too long. By the middle of the 5th hour, I actually wondered if an aromachemical had been used. Probably not, judging the Basenotes description of Cambodian oud. There is probably just a hell of lot of the Cambodian wood in Oud 777, but I’m afraid I’m too much of a wimp for it. 

Source: rgbstock.com

Source: rgbstock.com

From the start of the second hour until the 5th hour, Oud 777 blasts away razor-sharp smokiness and burnt woods, mixed with strong tobacco-like aromas, a very dark leatheriness, hints of black licorice, and an increasingly subdued labdanum amber. There is a slightly vanillic creaminess that appears at the start of the 4th hour which makes things better, though it’s not powerful or significant enough at first to counter that powerful tobacco-woody smokiness. To be fair, Oud 777 definitely feels softer and slightly smoother, and the creaminess makes the smoke less parched in feel, but the singed, burnt tonality continues to have a certain sharpness that is too much for me.

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

I have to say, I rather feel like a wuss. I’ve concluded that Tribute is about as far as I can go with this sort of intense smokiness. On my skin, Oud 777 makes Tribute feel like a walk in the park. I’m quite serious. The Amouage attar had some hidden roses, a much richer, deeper softness, a velvety smoothness, and neither a burnt aroma nor any tobacco ashiness. Oud 777 doesn’t feel thick, dense, and as smooth as Tribute, and obviously the notes are completely different as well. For me, Oud 777′s smoke feels piercing, but the tobacco tonality is also substantially and significantly stronger than anything I detected in Tribute, and the leatheriness feels different as well. Rougher, rawer, and more intense. To be fair, my skin tends to amplify base notes, so maybe it’s just me.

Painting by Moon Beom via Lostateminor.com

Painting by Moon Beom via Lostateminor.com

Still, I am hugely relieved when the creaminess rises fully to the surface about 4.75 hours into Oud 777′s evolution. The perfume now smells of cream, sharp smoke, and singed woods, all flecked with tobacco, leather and vague whiffs of toffee’d labdanum. The cream note is odd because it smells quite separate and distinct, almost as if it were an actual element. The official note list for Oud 777 that I got from Monsieur Lucas includes tonka, but this doesn’t smell like the sort of tonka that I’ve encountered before. It’s neither vanillic nor powdered, and it’s not really sweet, either. It feels more like beige woods or some sort of really high-end Australian sandalwood in its smooth, creamy, wooded softness. Whatever the actual source of the note, the creaminess blessedly ends the reign of The Smoke Monster. Later on, it becomes responsible for Oud 777′s absolutely lovely drydown phase.

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

Oud 777 continues on this same path for several more hours, turning more abstract and creamy with time, and changing only a little around the 10th hour. (Yes, I said, 10th hour!). Oud 777 is now a blur of creamy woodiness with an almost soapy cleanness to it. (The mysterious “white oud” perhaps?) The woodiness also has a faint whiff of the sort of oud note that I’m much more used to, but it’s subtle.

The soapy quality vanishes after an hour, and Oud 777 chugs along in its increasingly lovely drydown. The vanilla-ish tonka weaves its way through the notes, but it’s the return of the labdanum which is more significant. It is golden soft and warm, and melts into the butter-smooth creaminess which now feels like silk. I love the drydown, especially as the dry woodiness is increasingly subdued and subtle. In its final moments, Oud 777 is a mere blur of silky, smooth creaminess with a vestige of dry woods and subtle hints of ambered warmth.

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

All in all, Oud 777 lasted at least 18.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin. I say “at least,” because it is actually still churning along as I write this review. I’m dumbfounded, especially given how voracious my skin can be. I almost feel as though I’m imagining it, but no, at this very minute, I can still easily detect creamy woodiness with labdanum amber and a slightly clean vibe at times. For all I know, this thing could go on for another 6 hours, so I’m just going to get on with the review for the sake of my writing schedule.

By the way, Oud 777 wasn’t really a skin scent for all that time, either. In fact, it had quite a strong sillage at the start. Then, for a good portion of its life, Oud 777 hovered about 2 inches above the skin. Unfortunately, my usual numeric breakdown is going to be a little fuzzy this time when it comes to the quantity that I used. The decant I was sent had an even worse spraying mechanism than my O Hira atomizer, giving out little drops and dribbles, rather than an actual spray. However, I always judge things by surface area saturation on a particular stretch of skin on my forearm, so I can approximate the amount. I applied roughly the equivalent of 2 big sprays from an actual bottle, 3 good atomizer spritzes, or about 1/3 of a 1 ml vial. That quantity gave me over 18 hours in longevity!

In terms of sillage, Oud 777 initially projected out about 3 inches at first, before it dropped down to 2 inches after 30 minutes. There, it stayed for hours, turning into a skin scent near the end of the 5th hour, though it was still easy to detect without any effort at all. Actually, I’m not sure if “skin scent” accurately conveys the situation in this case. You do have to put your nose on your skin to smell it, but Oud 777 essentially just lies right on the skin as a silken smear. O Hira really did the same thing as well for about 7 hours, so maybe I need to find more precise terminology. Whatever the linguistic phrasing, Oud 777 never really turned into a skin scent in the way that I’m used to, perhaps because the perfume still hasn’t ended. Honestly, I’m completely stunned by Oud 777′s longevity.

Source: featurepics.com

Source: featurepics.com

As a whole, Oud 777 is quite light in feel. Potent and definitely sharp at times, but quite airy and sheer in weight. Oud 777 feels very dark for the first 5 hours, with a very leathered texture that continuously evoked images of a rhinoceros’ rough hide in my mind, more than any smooth or even black, rubbered leather. Actually Oud 777 has been created in a way where texture feels like a distinct, individual characteristic, almost like one of the notes itself. That was noticeable in the middle section as well when the creaminess appeared to act as a bridge between the opening stage’s blackness and the drydown’s ivory visuals.

Oud 777 is too new for me to provide you with a comparative assessment, and the fragrance doesn’t even have an entry on Fragrantica at this time. In fact, at the time of this post, it’s not widely available outside of Harrods and Paris’ Printemps. That will change in a few days time when, I’ve been told, Germany’s First in Fragrance should receive more of the SHL 777 line. And, according to Monsieur Lucas, the collection will be released in the U.S. in roughly 2 weeks time.

I don’t have the official American pricing information for Oud 777 but, in Europe, the perfume retails for €395 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum. While that comes to $546 at today’s rate of conversion, my experience in the past with European exclusives is that they are always priced lower than the exchange amount. My guess is that Oud 777 will probably retail for around $495 in the U.S., but that is only a guess.

I’m not sure what I can say about the pricing at this point, as I’m starting to sound a little bit like a broken record with regard to what I’ve termed the “Roja Dove Rule.” For people new to the blog, what I mean by that is: it’s going to be a personal calculation that comes down to each individual’s subjective valuation and tastes — and the extent to which the fragrance in question brings them to their knees such that the price becomes worth it to them.

Photo: Federico Bebber. Source: MyModernMet.com

Photo: Federico Bebber. Source: MyModernMet.com

For me, personally, Oud 777′s price is too high for the scent in question, especially as it lacks the enormous opulence of O Hira. Then again, O Hira is meant to be the crown jewel in the line and is in a whole other category, so that’s not really a fair comparison. My difficulty in all this is that judging a high-quality fragrance that is well done ends up implicitly being an assertion of (my) personal economic feelings. It’s not like we’re talking about some toxic aromachemical bomb that’s been badly put together from a 3rd rate company, or a flimsy, generic fragrance that lasts a mere 2 hours. This is a different matter, and I’ve given up trying to do the math. (It doesn’t help that Cambodian oud is said to be extremely expensive.) Bottom line, Oud 777 would be too expensive for me even if I hadn’t found the smokiness of the middle phase to be such a challenge and even if I had loved the whole thing. You have to make your own determinations.

Is Oud 777 the most approachable scent? I don’t know. I doubt you could wear it to work. I also think that Oud 777 skews quite masculine in feel. Then again, I know quite a few women who absolutely adore very smoky, dry, woody scents with tobacco and leather, so it is going to come down to personal tastes. (Yet, again.)

At the end of the day, all I can say is that you should definitely sample or sniff Oud 777 if you like really dark, extremely smoky, woody scents that eventually transition into a beautifully silken creaminess.

Disclosure: Perfume sample courtesy of Stéphane Humbert Lucas. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Oud 777 is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €395. The 777 line should be in American stores — Luckyscent and Osswald NYC — by the end of April 2014. I don’t have U.S. pricing details. Outside the U.S.: Currently, the Stéphane Humbert Lucas’ website is under construction, and doesn’t have an e-store. The best online resource is First in Fragrance which currently has about half of the SHL 777 line, and will soon be receiving the newer releases as well. As of this morning, Oud 777 was not yet in stock, but I’ve been told by SHL 777 that it should be in a few days. In London, you can find the entire collection at Harrod’s Black Room, while in Paris, they are exclusive to Printemps under the name 777. In France, the SHL 777 line is also said to be available at Taizo in Cannes, but they didn’t list the line on their website the last time I checked and they have no e-store. Zurich’s Osswald also carries the line, but I don’t think they have an e-store any more. The Swiss perfumery, Theodora, also has SHL 777, but, again, no e-store. In the Middle East, Souq.com has about 6 of the earlier perfumes which it sells for AED 1,500. In the UAE, the SHL 777 line is available at Harvey Nichols and at Bloomingdales in the Dubai Mall. In Russia, SHL 777 is sold at Lenoma. Ukraine’s Sana Hunt Luxury store also carries the line, but they don’t have an e-store. Samples: None of the U.S. sample sites currently carry this fragrance, but Luckyscent and Osswald NYC will be your best option once the SHL 777 perfumes are released in America. Osswald used to have a great sample program where you could try any 10 fragrances in relatively large vials for a mere $20, with free shipping. However, that program is only available to U.S. customers, and, more importantly, it may have recently changed. Looking at the Sample section on the website now, there is no set deal, and pricing depends on the cost of the particular perfume in question. They range from $3 a vial up to $9 a vial for fragrances that cost over $300. You can call Osswald at (212) 625-3111 to enquire further as to the situation.