Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Oumma: Smoky Woods

Source: wall321.com

Source: wall321.com

Sacred woods, sweet smokiness, and a damask rose turned dark and dry. It’s the tale of Oumma, but only a small part of it. Saffron, leathered Burmese oud, singed mesquite, and dancing wisps of sweet jasmine are also involved in a shape-shifting story that twists and turns. It twists so much, in fact, that I experienced two fundamentally different versions of Oumma, depending on where I applied it. It can be either the saga of darkened, mystical woods, or the story of a rose dying on the vine from smoky dryness. You will hear both tales.

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

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

Oumma is a 2013 fragrance 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 with some breaks and not all in a row) so that you will be well prepared when 777 hits the stores.

Oumma. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Oumma. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Oumma is listed on some places as being an eau de parfum, but it is really an Extrait like the other fragrances in the 777 line, all of which have a concentration around 24%. According to the press release documents that I was sent, Oumma is described as follows:

A mastery of contrasts at the service of agarwood

Perfume of Communion, deep.

Egyptian Jasmine, Moroccan Rose,
Peruvian Balsam, balsam tolu,
Ashes of cade, burmese oud, nagarmotha [Cypriol].

There is more to Oumma than that. Elsewhere, I’ve read that the base also includes 3 different types of roses, while I myself smelled saffron in the fragrance, along with some sort of ambered type of resin. In his correspondence with me, Monsieur Lucas confirmed the saffron, and said that there was also a cistus/labdanum derivative called “dynamone.”

Source: stockarch.com

Source: stockarch.com

He wrote that, for him, Oumma is almost a religious fragrance in its aromatic wooded essence:

Pour moi, Oumma est assez “religieux”. C’est une vapeur “médicinale” chic à la précision “horlogère”. Une suie de bois de ouf fine comme de l’albâtre moulu, une mécanique des fluides ajustée et persistante. Les mélodies magiciennes de la clarinette et du hautbois.

[For me, Oumma is rather "religious." This is a chic "medicinal" scent done with the precision of a watch. Soot from wood, as fine as grounded alabaster, with fluid mechanics, adjusted and persistent. Magicians of clarinet and oboe melodies.] 

He also talked about how Oumma is meant to represent “heaven and earth” with the dark, balsamic resins intended to act as a concrete foundation for the more mystical, spiritual and abstract elements, like the cade which he used in order to add a “baroque” touch. In short, for Monsieur Lucas, Oumma is not meant to be stereotypical “oud” fragrance, so much as the evocation of something more abstractly spiritual by means of finely tuned, multi-faceted woody smoke.

Monsieur Lucas never talked about roses in his discussions with me about Oumma. He focused only on the woods and the cade. I think that’s significant, because he clearly doesn’t mean for Oumma to be yet another interpretation of a floral oriental, a rose fragrance, or a rose-oud-saffron combination. It’s also important because a simple rose-oud-saffron fragrance is not what I experienced on a number of occasions. In fact, what emanated from one arm was substantially different than what wafted off the other. Such discrepancies occasionally happen to me, though infrequently. (I’m starting to wonder if it is an issue of pH balance, perhaps?) Rare as such differences are, I now try to test fragrances on both arms whenever possible, as I did here with Oumma. The result was a fragrance that was totally different in its focus for first 5 hours or so, even though a portion of the middle phase and all of the final drydown were the same in both instances. So, I’m going to have to give you two different breakdowns for Oumma.

VERSION ONE:

Source: mesolithic.org.uk

Source: mesolithic.org.uk

Oumma opens on my skin with smoky, sweet, singed woods that are musky with almost a suggestion of horsey leather and a strong whiff of mesquite. The oud is not medicinal like band-aids, not fecal, or even very heavily smoked at first. Rather, it’s smooth, devoid of any funk that usually comes with oud, and smells exactly like mesquite woods that have been lightly singed. Within seconds, a tiny dusting of saffron appears, and the hint of a dry, red rose nestled deep within the woods. The whole thing lies on a dark base that feels almost balsamic and resinous.

Riding through bonfire smoke in celebration of Saint Anthony in San Bartolomo de Pinares, Spain. Source: clikhear.palmbeachpost.com

Riding through bonfire smoke in celebration of Saint Anthony in San Bartolomo de Pinares, Spain. Source: clikhear.palmbeachpost.com

Neither the spice nor the rose is as noticeable as Oumma’s increasingly leathered streak. It utterly captivates me with its mix of sweetness, muskiness, and subtle animalic touches. Slightly honeyed in feel, the leather is a little raw and really evokes for me a horse’s saddle. To be clear, I’m not saying that Oumma smells of sweaty horses. It does not. But there is a leatheriness to the fragrance that is lightly animalic with its slightly sweet muskiness, and it somehow translates as vaguely “horsey” in the most subtle way imaginable.

Mesquite wood chips on coal. Source:  My Story in Recipes blogspot. http://mystoryinrecipes.blogspot.com/2012/08/grill-smoked-chicken.html

Mesquite wood chips on coal. Source: My Story in Recipes blogspot. http://mystoryinrecipes.blogspot.com/2012/08/grill-smoked-chicken.html

Oumma slowly shifts as time passes. The rose seems subtler than ever, more like a suggestion and a wisp fading in the wind. The cedar comes out in its own right after 10 minutes, but the main woody element to my nose is the oud with its mysterious, strange similarity to mesquite. Oumma is turning drier with every passing minute, taking on more and more of a smoky, singed aroma. In one test, it also wafted a parched dryness in the base that felt almost like an aromachemical. It was slightly sharp, almost desiccated in feel, though it was a subtle touch. It lurks in the base next to an equally muted hint of something almost tobacco’d, though I suspect that it is merely another facet of the leathery oud.

Up top, the suggestion of saffron grows stronger, taking on a spicy bite that is almost like that of a mild chili or pimento pepper. And, call me crazy, but on two occasions, there was almost a chocolate-y cardamom-like touch to Oumma’s bouquet as well. The first time I detected it, it was fleeting enough for me to think it was all my imagination, but the wisp appeared a second time as well. It adds one more lovely layer to that opening bouquet of multi-faceted, wooded richness.

black-smoke-image_Wide25 minutes into the perfume’s development, the cade bursts out with great strength. To my nose, cade and birch tar are extremely alike, but cade has a slightly more turpentine, phenolic, oily undertone. Monsieur Lucas finds cade to be more “masculine,” while he sees birch tar as more “feminine.” I don’t know about that. All I can say is that Oumma begins to take on a very heavy oiliness, as if a thick layer of an actual attar oil were lying on my skin. Its smokiness has a subtle tarriness that definitely resembles that in birch, but there is also a quiet suggestion of turpentine lurking deep down below. Meanwhile, the oud’s singed tonalities are turning into woods on fire, emitting a thicker blanket of black smokiness. The rose is now completely dead on my skin.

Burnt Wood, via Docmattk on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Burnt Wood, via Docmattk on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

As a whole, Oumma in its opening hour is a dry, leathered oud with increasingly hefty, billowing cade smoke, subtle touches of different spices, a sweet muskiness, and a touch of tarriness, all upon a dark, vaguely resinous base. It is simultaneously sharp, dry, and musky with a very thick, heavy, oily feel that resembles that of an attar. Like an attar, Oumma’s concentrated nature does not come with enormous sillage. I generally had 3-4 inches of projection, at most, in the opening 30 minutes, regardless of whether I applied 2, 3, or more sprays from my atomizer. That sillage soon softens, and, at the start of the second hour, Oumma generally hovers about 1-2 inches above my skin which is where it stays for hours on end.

Oumma’s development varied on my skin after this point. At some point, usually around the start of the 3rd hour, tiny flickers of jasmine emerge, but they are muted at first and they weren’t consistently a strong feature on my skin each and every time I test the fragrance. In contrast, Oumma’s rose note always pops back up, though it is usually in the background. Once, for a brief moment, Oumma smelled rather like a turpentine, woody rose with intense smokiness. Around the same time, the aromachemical-like dryness disappears quite quickly, there are fluctuating degrees of cedar, and the spices soften over time before fading away around the end of the 3rd hour.

Source: rgbstock.com

Source: rgbstock.com

Each time, and in every test, Oumma turns smoother, with much better calibrated, balanced levels of smokiness and dryness. The tarry undertone vanishes at the start of the 4th hour, the leather feels less raw and musky, and Oumma loses its occasionally sharp touches. The fragrance still smells of singed woods, but the fire is no longer roaring away

For the most part, Oumma’s second phase consists of a multi-faceted, smooth, deep wave of relatively dry woodiness dominated by singed woods, followed by very subtle flickers of either jasmine or rose that are fully mixed into the cade smoke and a light touch of sweetness. The whole thing lies atop a smear of golden, almost ambered resins in the base. On one occasion, the jasmine grew quite noticeable, and its sweetness thoroughly tamed the smoky toughness of the cade. On another occasion, the counterbalance seemed to come more from the tolu and peru balsams in the base.

Photo: Jo Van Damme on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo..)

Photo: Jo Van Damme on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo..)

Throughout it all, however, the oud never smells like the agarwood to which I am accustomed in other fragrances. This is not the oud of a Montale, Amouage, or Xerjoff fragrance. There is no funk at all, no “noble rot.” To that extent, it is practically a “clean” oud — one that smells merely like expensive woods that are slightly leathery and musky at first, before turning primarily singed in nature. What was interesting about it was the subtle meatiness lurking underneath at times. In one test, the oud’s aroma in the first hour reminded me of an actual “steak au poivre,” only this one was cooked on a mesquite barbecue grill. On another occasion, however, the oud’s main focus was centered on leather, and nothing else. In all cases, however, it is fully infused with the cade’s birch-like smokiness and smells dry.

Black Magic Rose Wallpaper__yvt2Oumma has a third and fourth phase as well. The third stage is where my two versions come much closer to meeting up and merging. The fourth and final one is where they are identical. In the former, the rose comes out to a significant degree. At first, it is a full, deep, multi-faceted damask rose with great smoothness and depth. Like the oud, it is thoroughly infused with the cade’s smokiness. On occasion, the rose feels as though it has been lightly sprinkled with saffron, but the general impression is of a very meaty, rich rose that is fully subsumed within the dry, singed, still slightly leathery woods and the cade. In all instances, however, this version of Oumma is never driven by or centered on the rose. It’s all about the woods.

Source: rgbstock.com

Source: rgbstock.com

Oumma’s final phase usually begins somewhere around the start of the 9th hour. On my skin, it is consistently a simple bouquet of dry woodiness with a touch of powder and some vaguely ambered sweetness. The powder is really almost like a granular texture, more than actual powderiness or a perfumed note, but it’s a little hard to explain. Regardless, Oumma’s drydown on my skin is primarily abstract woodiness with powdered dryness. Nothing more. Oumma remains that way until it finally fades away, usually some time well after the 14th hour, depending on how much of the fragrance I applied.

VERSION TWO:

Source: publicdomainpictures.net

Source: publicdomainpictures.net

My second version of Oumma begins with the same meaty, mesquite, leathery woodiness, infused with musky sweetness and cade smokiness. The ambered, resinous, cistus labdanum base is much more noticeable, as is the saffron up top. Oumma is significantly less dry, parched, and smoky this time around. The cade is dialed down about 5 notches in this version, if not more. Oumma feels smoother, deeper, warmer, and more finely calibrated or balanced in terms of its various parts.

In this version, Oumma is significantly more floral on my skin for a good chunk of its first stage. The jasmine is the first to come out this time, adding its sweetness and floral touch 75 minutes into the perfume’s development. Shortly thereafter, the rose appears. It is even richer than in the other version, more velvety and sweet. For a brief instance, it carried a little bit of a sour nuance, but generally, it is a blood-red, deep rose. Its prominence fundamentally impacts Oumma’s character on my skin, skewing the perfume’s focus away from the woody, leathered, or smoky elements.

Source: wallpho.com/

Source: wallpho.com/

The metamorphosis of the rose is at the heart of this version of Oumma. The flower begins with full-bodied sweetness and stands alone, but soon turns into a leathered, velvety rose with musky, smoked wood, followed by cade smoke and a subtle sprinkling of spices, all above a resinous base. Oumma loses its subtle jasmine touches by the end of the second hour, leaving the rose as the perfume’s only floral star.

Spirit of a Dying Rose by Vincent Knaus via RealityDefined.com.

Spirit of a Dying Rose by Vincent Knaus via RealityDefined.com.

Over time, Oumma begins to turn drier and drier, slowly seeping the moisture and juices out of the rose. About 3.5 hours in, Oumma is mostly a soft, deep rose that feels dark brown and almost withered. The cade smoke and leather are much weaker now, but Oumma continues to reflect a dry, mesquite-like woodiness. Slowly, the ambered base starts to emerge, while the jasmine occasionally pops back up for a brief moment to wave hello before disappearing again.

At the start of the 5th hour, Oumma is a dry, withered, decaying, brown rose with amber and woody dryness. There is the first hint of something powdered and grainy that emerges, and this time, it feels almost (but not quite) vanillic in nature. By the time the 8th hour rolls around, Oumma’s rose is powdery, dry, ravaged, and woody in a way that reminds me of the drydown to Guerlain‘s Middle Eastern rose fragrances, namely Encens Mythique d’Orient from the Déserts d’Orient collection.

Source: wallsave.com

Source: wallsave.com

Oumma’s final stage and drydown are a return back to woodiness. Slowly, very slowly, the rose gives up the fight and dies, leaving only the same powdered, abstract, blurry woods I experienced in my other version. Again, Oumma had enormous longevity. Here, to be precise, it lasted 16.25 hours, though the sillage felt much more intimate in this version when taken as a whole. This time, Oumma hovered just above the skin after 2.75 hours, and I used 3 very large sprays. I think the fact that the cade’s smokiness was so much weaker in this version is one reason why the fragrance feels much softer and tamer. That said, the longevity is really excellent.

ALL IN ALL:

Oumma. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Oumma. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

I found one detailed review for Oumma. It is from Persolaise, who spends a good deal of time initially questioning the sincerity or genuineness of Monsieur Lucas’ fascination with the Middle East, his motivations, his personal feelings, and whether he has sold out to claim “his share of petrodollars.” Once he gets to Oumma’s actual aroma, he finds it “gorgeous,” but far from unique. He thinks it is saved from being like every other oriental rose fragrance only by the quality and richness of its ingredients:

Oumma is nothing we haven’t smelt before. So at first sniff, it would seem to suggest that SHL has, in fact, sold out and wants nothing more than to claim his share of petrodollars. The scent is a balsamic, leathery, woody rose, of the sort which can often be detected within a 3-mile radius of Harrods. But as if determined to silence any detractors, Humbert-Lucas has employed two strategies to make the perfume considerably more attention-worthy than most of the other Dubai-centric wannabees. 

A damask rose.

A damask rose.

Firstly, he’s imbued the composition with tremendous richness. His publicity machine would no doubt have us believe that he’s achieved this by using a high proportion of naturals. And perhaps he has. But I’m sure he hasn’t stayed away from the synthetics in his palette either. This doesn’t really matter, because Oumma creates the all-important illusion that it is luxurious and opulent. Maybe it’s the presence of a dry saffron note, maybe it’s the deft handling of the musks in the base, or maybe it’s because SHL really has poured a barrel-ful of rose oil into the stuff. Whatever the reason, the juice rises to the status implied by its gasp-inducing price tag.

Secondly, he’s paid attention to the scent’s structure. Most of these Arabian roses wallow in their base notes, letting any charm they might have had drown within a quicksand of synthetic sandalwoods and bellowing musks. Oumma stands up tall, allowing the different facets of its personality to come to the fore at various stages of its development. My guess is that SHL has given the scent its legs by paying attention to the citruses at the top. Not unlike the function of the bergamot in Shalimar, these pull and stretch the other, heavier elements of the construction, paradoxically causing them to appear weightier than they would have if they’d been left undiluted. In other words, the citruses add contrast.

So yes, [...] it would be churlish of me to deny that Oumma is a highly accomplished piece of work, full of the warm-blooded tempestuousness which we’ve come to associate with the ‘exotic’ East.

Obviously, both of the versions of Oumma that I experienced differ widely from what appeared on his skin. I certainly had no citruses at all, let alone a Shalimar-like structure or resemblance. On my skin, Oumma was primarily the dry woody fragrance that Monsieur Lucas intended, though the rose was a partner in one of the instances to some variegated degree. Skin chemistry is clearly going to impact what sort of fragrance you may experience in turn.

There are no other detailed reviews for me to provide you with a more consistent sense of Oumma’s character. The perfume has an entry on Fragrantica, but there are no comments listed as of yet. On Basenotes, one thread contains a brief, passing description of Oumma as dry and woody, but not much more.

I don’t have the official American pricing information for Oumma but, in Europe, the perfume retails for €395 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum, just like Oud 777. While that figure comes to $545 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 Oumma will probably retail for around $495 or $500 in the U.S., but that is only a guess.

Source: Wallsave.com

Source: Wallsave.com

At the end of the day, I find Oumma to be interesting, but it doesn’t move me emotionally. My favorite part was the sweet, musky leatheriness of the opening. I loved it, especially because of its animalic, vaguely horsey feel which I found to be evocative and very sexy. (If Burmese oud always smells like that, I have to get my hands on some!) After that, though, my feelings turn to ambivalence. Rose fragrances do nothing for me in general, so that part left me cold, while the heart of singed woodiness didn’t really stand out for me. It’s all very well-done, but I suppose purely smoky, wood-centric fragrances require a little more for me personally. Some touch of sexiness, perhaps, or something a little warmer and ambered. On my skin, Oumma’s primary characteristic was woody, smoked dryness — and that’s not enough for me, especially for €395. In this, as in everything to do with perfume, it’s going to come down to personal tastes and skin chemistry.

All I can say is that you should definitely sample or sniff Oumma if you like very dry, woody fragrances with a cade (or birch-like) darkness, or if you adore smoky Orientals with deep, withered roses like Guerlain’s Encens Mythique. If either of those things sound appealing, Oumma should be available and in more stores quite soon.

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: Oumma 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. Oumma is actually listed on their website, since it is one of the 2013 releases, but FiF is out of stock. FiF informed me that they should be getting more of the SHL 777 line soon. 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 Cannes, France, the boutique, Taizo, is said to carry the line, but I don’t see SHL 777 on their website. 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. Luckyscent and Osswald NY will be your best option once the SHL 777 perfumes are released in America. However, Osswald has changed its sample program to take away the great “10 for $20″ deal that it had previously, due to abuse by some customers. The Sample section on the website now shows pricing that is per vial and dependant 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 order by phone as well.

Oriza L. Legrand Muguet Fleuri Giveaway Winners

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Random.org has spoken, and I have the names of the fifteen winners for the huge Muguet Fleuri perfume giveaway so generously provided by Oriza L. Legrand Parfums (“Oriza“).

THE WINNERS:

There were 92 people who entered, and Random.org selected the following 15 names:

Shawna LiskStephanAna (A.)RnoceanThe Ascetic LibertineCarolyn GudgelNemoImeldaCarolineMalmaisonToraNancySGMegan in St. MaximeMaybell, and Anita M!

Kafkaesque Oriza Muguet Fleuri Winners

Congratulations to you all! You will each get ONE 10 ml travel spray of the new Muguet Fleuri from Oriza L. Legrand.

You have THREE (3) days to contact me with your shipping information. I will then forward that information on to Oriza in Paris. The deadline is end of the day, 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time in the U.S. on Monday April 21st. Please send an email to Akafkaesquelife @ gmail . com  (all one word, scrunched together) with the necessary information.

If I fail to hear from you within the deadline, I will give the gift to the next person on the list shown above, and/or move the winners up by one.

SHIPPING:

Oriza will send the prizes directly to the winners. Given that the company is located in the 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 little longer if your country has really nightmarish customs issues.

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

FINALLY:

I would like to thank you Oriza’s two owners, Hugo Lambert and Franck Belaiche, for their enormous generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness in offering so many wonderful prizes. They have put their heart and soul into Oriza, trying to stay true to its great legacy, working to keep it relevant in today’s modern world, and doing it all on their own. I wish them nothing but the greatest success, and I fervently hope that this giveaway sparks more interest in a venerable house that goes back almost 300 years. 

Source: allpolus.com

Source: allpolus.com

I also hope the winners will let me know what they think of Muguet Fleuri when they receive it and have the chance to try it. 

For those who didn’t win today, you can always order samples of Oriza’s creations directly from the company. Almost all the fragrances (except for  Foin Fraîchement Coupé) come in a sample set that costs €9 for a total of 7 fragrances, each in a 2 ml spray vial. Oriza’s international retailers are also listed at the end of this post.

As a side note, if you are the U.S., Luckyscent will soon carry the entire Oriza line — including the new Muguet Fleuri, the soaps and candles, sometime this week. If you are in New York, you can always try Oriza’s fragrances at JuJu s’Amuse, though I don’t know if they’ve received the new release yet.

Thank you to everyone for stopping by, and have a lovely weekend.

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.

Profumum Fumidus

Source: hqoboi.com

Source: hqoboi.com

The roof! The roof! The roof is on Fire!’ The lyrics of the old ’80s song often run through my mind when I wear Fumidus, a smoky tank of a fragrance centered on vetiver and birch, with beautiful touches of salty, peaty, Laphroaig single-malt whiskey. It may be a creation from an Italian perfume house, but Fumidus conjures up images for me of a small house by a Scottish or Irish seaside village. Outdoor fires burn vetiver bricks, as a man sips his Islay scotch, and his old car rumbles idly by to the side, releasing whiffs of rubber and diesel, before quickly dying away. A thick haze of black smoke lies over the house, growing stronger with every passing minute, and soon turns into a vetiver smoke signal going up to Mars.

Source: wallpaperno.com

Source: wallpaperno.com

Fumidus is a behemoth of smoky greenness, so dark that it verges on black. Nay, it actually is visually black for me, at least at first. If it were a vehicle, it wouldn’t be some sleek, sporty Italian number, but a lumbering, heavy, intimidating, military Sherman tank intended to plow down everything in its path. And, for the most part, I mean that in quite a good way. But let’s be clear about a few things right from the start: Fumidus is a challenging fragrance that requires some patience; you must love both vetiver and birch tar in all their facets; and there is nothing remotely unisex about this fragrance. Nothing. Not one iota. It is pure masculinity with an unrepentant swagger and enough testosterone to give Arnold Schwarzenegger pause.

Source: Profumum website.

Source: Profumum website.

Fumidus is an eau de parfum from Profumum Roma that was released in 1996, and its name seems intended to give you full warning of what it is all about. Profumum‘s website writes quite simply:

Aristocratic white smoke of prestigious cigars
diffuses in chambers heated
by peaty Scottish whiskies
and the warmth of fireplaces burning oak logs.
[Notes:] Vetiver, Smoked birch

I don’t think that summation covers the half of it! Luckyscent‘s description is much more on-point and apt, in my opinion:

Fumidus means smoky, and smoky it is. The smokiness of aged Laphroaig scotch served neat, It is also earthy – the earthiness of rich, freshly tilled land surrounded by uncut forest. Deep and magnetic and commanding, this blend of rich peat, grassy vetiver and brisk birch conjures up a vast estate and its moody young lord making his way through the fog on an unruly stallion. It’s outdoorsy, but in a way that makes it clear that you don’t just work in the forest, you own that forest yourself, along with a good bit of grassland and quite possibly a castle. Unmistakably masculine and very sexy.

[Notes:] Essence of distilled scotch, vetiver root, birch bark.

Source: nyloveswhisky.com

Source: nyloveswhisky.com

Fumidus opens on my skin with a rich, heavy, very concentrated wave of single-malt whiskey from the Islay isle — and, God, is it fantastic. I have a particular weakness for Laphroaig (though Laguvulin 16 is also superb), and that is precisely what is pulsating off my skin like a sonic sound wave. Boozy, just barely sweetened, very smoky, Islay scotch, thoroughly infused with peaty bog and a touch of salt.

It completely evokes Scotland or Ireland by the coast, as the salty sea air passes over the cliffs and moves over earthy, dank soil on its way to a small farmhouse. In front of it, a large campfire is burning birch logs and vetiver bricks. A man sips scotch, and contemplates the singed woods that are slowly going up in smoke. A sliver of compost lies fermenting in the corner, near his old car. It lies idling, its engines emitting rubber and diesel which mixes in with the smell of its rough, broken leather. They all rise up, swirling into the dark haze that lies like an oily, black blanket over the house.

Talisker, an Islay single malt. Photo: Savuista at the Savuista blog.http://savuista.blogspot.com/2013_10_01_archive.html

Talisker, an Islay single malt, on burnt wood in a camp fire. Photo: Savuista at the Savuista blog.http://savuista.blogspot.com/2013_10_01_archive.html

The best parts of Fumidus’ opening for me is the smoky, peaty Scotch commingled with the saltiness, the dank earth and, yes, the touch of compost. Fumidus is far from being an “aquatic” fragrance, in the way that we classify such things, but it briefly portrays an almost aquatic saltiness from a Northern Atlantic seaside town better than anything I’ve encountered in a while. It merely happens to be the salty feel of vetiver and burning smoke, instead of kelp. (For actual “kelp,” and genuine Northern sea aromas, Profumum has Acqua di Sale.) The small slivers of rubber and diesel at Fumidus’ edges add to the originality of the mix, though the diesel only lasts about 10 minutes, at most, on my skin.

Source: Savuista at savuista.blogspot.com. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Source: Savuista at savuista.blogspot.com. (Direct website link embedded within.)

I’m slightly less enthused by the sheer rawness of the burning vetiver, but that is solely because of my personal issues with the note. As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I am not the world’s greatest vetiver lover, especially when it is in soliflore or concentrated form. I also prefer a particular type of vetiver aroma, like the earthier dank version that is in Vetiverus by Olivier & Co. For me, the fresher and simultaneously almost raw sort of smoky vetiver that is in Fumidus is much more challenging. If it weren’t quite so intense, it might be easier. That said, its peaty, marshy, almost fungal aspects, and the way it reeks of sweetness and booze… those parts are fantastic. The single-malt sweetness is so incredibly rich, nuanced, and deep that I want much, much more of it. The amount that appears on my skin isn’t enormous, alas.

There is a definite oiliness to Fumidus that I think speaks to the perfume’s character as a whole. It goes beyond the mere issue of tarriness, or Fumidus’ occasionally rubbered undertones. It’s also quite separate from the heaviness of that vetiver stew. Rather, there is an unctuousness to Fumidus that feels as though extremely concentrated essences were used to create an attar-like thickness. Fumidus feels quite opaque, and, as such, it fully bears the Profumum Roma signature. Many of their supposed “eau de parfums” are actually Extraits, reportedly coming in at a whopping 42%-44% in concentration, and Fumidus feels heavier than most.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

It also has good sillage at first. Using the dabbed equivalent of one large spray from an actual perfume bottle, I experienced roughly 3 inches in projection, though it felt like a solid brick wall in terms of heft and weight. I suspect most people’s usual 2 spray quantity would yield a much more forceful cloud. Perhaps a little too forceful for most practical purposes. As I noted at the start, Fumidus is a challenging fragrance that may require a little patience at first, and initially going to town with the number of sprays may not be the wisest thing until you get used to it.

I have to wonder about Fumidus’ list of notes, and whether it is complete. I’ve noticed in the past that Profumum Roma has a tendency to give a nutshell synopsis of the ingredients in its fragrances, and to skip over the finer points. With Fumidus, it feels as if there may be some sort of resin or benzoin underlying all that smoky vetiver, as Fumidus turns much richer and slightly sweeter after 30 minutes. It’s a different sort of sweetness than the boozy scotch, and feels more like styrax or some balm. Whatever the reason or source, it helps wipe away the diesel aroma entirely, while also fractionally softening some of the rubber.

Tar pit bubbles. Source: Los Angeles' La Brea tar and asphalt pits. tarpits.org

Tar pit bubbles. Source: Los Angeles’ La Brea tar and asphalt pits. tarpits.org

The birch, however, is beginning to resemble something out of La Brea’s famous tar pits in Los Angeles. In fact, it feels as though it’s practically bubbling. As the fire continues to burn the vetiver logs, the campfire smoke billows out into the skin. The earthy, almost marshy muskiness that I love so much fades away about 45 minutes in, leaving a vetiver that is primarily smoked and only a little bit boozy. It’s a mix that is probably incredibly sexy and hot on the right man, but I cannot imagine any woman pulling it off. Frankly, not every man could (or may want to) either.

David Gandy for Esquire Mexico (December 2013). Photo: John Russo. Source:  davidjamesgandy.blogspot.com

David Gandy for Esquire Mexico (December 2013). Photo: John Russo. Source: davidjamesgandy.blogspot.com

However, on the right man… on the right man, Fumidus would be riveting. He would definitely be wearing all black and leather, like one of the Ramones. Or, he would be in a bespoke power suit and getting out of a Bentley. There is nothing in-between, in my opinion. Absolutely none. Fumidus is too much of a balls-to-the-wall explosion of darkness and untrammeled intensity. It feels ferocious, untamed, aggressively masculine — and utterly unrepentant about any of it. In fact, it would probably give you a cheeky grin at thinking it was a simple vetiver fragrance. Either that, or snarl in your face before throwing back a neat three-fingers of Laphroaig.

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Source: wallpaperup.com

Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Source: wallpaperup.com

In short, Fumidus’ brutishness in the opening hours feels quite feral. It merely happens to be disguised or cloaked in the veneer of a civilized sophisticate’s taste for expensive scotch. None of that is an insult, by the way. I think there is something to be deeply admired about a fragrance that is so unapologetic about having a purely raw and untamed heart. I respect its brute force enormously, as well as its smoldering intensity and how it plays with something as refined as single-malt scotch in a sea of more primitive darkness. Now that I think of it, Fumidus would be a good scent, symbolically, for the television version of Hannibal, except Mads Mikkelsen’s character would never be as obvious as Fumidus can be.

Photo: Narinder Nanu via washingtonpost.com

Photo: Narinder Nanu via washingtonpost.com

Fumidus doesn’t change drastically at its core for quite a few hours. Some of the subtler aspects may fade away, before briefly popping back up at the periphery, but the perfume’s essence continues to be various manifestations of vetiver and birch, with vetiver coming out ahead. Fumidus’ sillage drops down at the end of the first hour to roughly 2 inches above the skin, where it stays for a while. The biggest change, however, is that the beautiful booziness begins to fade at the end of the second hour and the start of the third. Until then, the vetiver and birch had been in a two-way race for the top spot, with the vetiver leading by a nose, while the Laphraoig quietly trailed behind. By the middle of the 4th hour, the scotch is far behind, and it falls out of the race entirely by the start of the 5th hour.

In its middle stage, beginning roughly around about the 4.5 hour mark, Fumidus turns essentially into a more concentrated, smokier vetiver soliflore. I’ve read a few people  who say that Fumidus’ drydown is like that of Chanel‘s famous Sycomore, but I find extreme differences. On my skin, Sycomore never wafted hardcore birch smoke or tarriness. It also never felt like a soliflore. In its later phase, I had impressions of burnt caramel, black cocoa powder, incense, and dry earth. Flickering hints of evergreen from a juniper note also added a certain chilly coolness which offset Sycomore’s smoky earthiness, as did the creamy sandalwood in the base. But the main difference is the vetiver’s smokiness. It was significantly softer and much smoother in Sycomore. Fumidus feels like smoked vetiver on steroids. Sycomore is not. Neither brutish force nor opaque singularity are words that I’d use to describe the Chanel scent.

And Fumidus is quite singular in its focus. On my skin, it turns into campfire smoked vetiver with singed woods in the middle phase, then into purely smoked vetiver, before finally ending up as rather minty vetiver with only subtle traces of smokiness. My skin has a tendency to turn Haitian vetiver into something quite fresh, bright green, and peppermint-like, so once the birch in Fumidus fades away as a hefty presence, the grass’ other nuances come more to the forefront. In its final moments, Fumidus is like a thin smear of vetiver greenness, and nothing more. All in all, it lasted an enormous 15.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin, with the equivalent of one spray from an actual bottle. It’s not surprising. Profumum Roma’s fragrances last for an eternity, and on people with normal skin, quite easily in excess of 24 hours.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

There are mixed reviews for Fumidus out there, primarily because of the sheer intensity of its smokiness. As one person on Fragrantica called “Scentzilla” put it so well, “what the hell did you expect from a perfume that is named ‘FUMIDUS’, I ask you?” In all fairness, however, for a few people, the specific difficulty seems to be an ashtray-like nuance to the burnt birch wood:

Seems it’s a love or hate thing with this scent– to me it smells like someone spilled some Scotch into an ashtray full of cigarette butts. Had to wash it off.

There are numerous Basenotes threads devoted to Fumidus, from its official entry page where someone brings up Chanel’s Sycomore once again, to general discussion threads. In one beautifully evocative description, a chap talks about Fumidus as perfume Art, with a smell that also bordered on that of oil paints:

What a beautiful example of perfume as art. I was initially repulsed, trying to decide why this would be proffered as a perfume to be worn on the body. The initial blast of birch tar was an oil painting completed, but propped in the corner waiting to dry. The smell of an artist awake until the final stroke was applied.

I don’t get the smoke, but I get the effort. This is a perfume that captures a moment. Having spent innumerable hours in an artist’s studio, I get no warm outdoorsy notes, but straight up painting. Maybe the woody scented breeze through an open studio window. Like spending an afternoon with Picasso. The perfect fragrance for a day at the art museum. I shall have an entire bottle for that purpose alone.

Sid Vicious via oxforddnb.com

Sid Vicious via oxforddnb.com

In another thread, a commentator called “Sloan” has a review that made me nod in agreement, especially at his comparison to Sid Vicious. “Sloan” loves Fumidus, though he admits bluntly that he hated it at first because he judged it too quickly and without adequate patience:

I have since come around to developing a serious appreciation for this fragrance. My original negative comments were a prime example of judging a fragrance before giving it a thorough wearing. After testing a majority of the line, Fumidus has since become my first and only full bottle purchase from Profumum and an all-time favorite.

Fumidus is a stunning smoky, woody, earhty vetiver fragrance with a ghost of Scotch. The smoked birch opening has a “sod off” snarl that would have made Sid Vicious green with envy. As the smokier top notes fade, the benzoin note adds a Scotch element. Recalls the smoky, peaty Laphroaig Scotch, which has an odor similar to tincture of benzoin or Benzocaine. The drydown is an earthy vetiver reminiscent of Lorenzo Villoresi’s amazing Vetiver with some wood added to the mix. Ferocious at and brutish times, Fumidus is a beast that energizes my inner animal. A complex, shape shifting, powerhouse not for the meek. The wearing experience is akin to a symbiotic relationship in which Fumidus and the wearer wear each other. Remember, patience and persistence is required.

Another person who changed his mind about Fumidus wrote:

I’ve been trying this one out lately. At first I hated it, mostly because I felt there was some sort of compost or fungus note in there, but now I’m really growing found of it.

A few things it reminds me of:
- The wet rich earthy soil behind my backyard. I live in a somewhat foresty area.
- My elementary school playground. The floor was covered in a birch like wood. After a rainshower the the entire place smelt like Fumidus.
- The inside of a old wooden cabin with a fire inside going off, somewhere out in the middle of the nowhere.

Birch bark. Photo: Hattie Wilcox at Available Light Only photography. availablelightonly.com/

Birch bark. Photo: Hattie Wilcox at Available Light Only photography. availablelightonly.com/

As should be clear by now, Fumidus is quite a “love it/loathe it” scent, so there are some very negative reviews on Basenotes as well. In the official thread for the fragrance, some commentators write:

  • Scotch and vetiver – these notes I love. Birch bark – this I don’t. I think it’s a shame that birch bark was included in this scent because I think the other notes in Fumidus are so outstanding: The Scotch and vetiver are strong enough to survive through the birch bark miasma… they exhibit the potential of forming an intriguing accord, but, alas, in the end they are undone by the presence of lesser than they. I love the smokiness and the intriguing combination of scotch and vetiver of the fragrance, and this would be a great fragrance if it weren’t for the birch.
  • I get mildew; chestnut; the wet, black rot of forest-floor compost; rooty vetiver. I’m afraid I find the overall effect to be decidedly disgusting. [¶] On the other hand, it’s not the disgusting of incompetence or indifference, and I can certainly envision some sick bastard enjoying this. It’s just an extreme scent. If the description appeals to you, don’t be too put off by the predominance of thumbs down. [¶]I would imagine that to enjoy this, you would have to really like Frederick Malle’s Vetiver Extraordinare, but find VE too tame and sanitized.
  • Fumidus was a scrubber for me. As much as I love the raw vetiver in MPG RdV and Frederic Malle’s VE, the smoke in this fragrance just really blows me away. It smells a bit like a stale, half-smoked cigar drenched in scotch.. over top of a great, raw vetiver. It’s just a bit too dirty – I wish there was something in here to temper it a bit. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
Irish peat bricks in an outdoor fire. Source: freeirishphotos.com

Irish peat bricks in an outdoor fire. Source: freeirishphotos.com

At a much harsher extreme is the review from “Alfarom” who writes:

The notes list is promising the scent is definitely disappointing. Ok, there are three ways to approach this review for me:

1) Great perfume if you like to burn wet vetiver roots in the fireplace (translated: A LOT OF SMOKE) while drinking some Scotch and in the meantime you don’t realize your place is going on fire.

2) great perfume if you want to smell like you’ve just been rescued from you mountain hut that has gone on fire.

3) great perfume if you like to set fire to the trashcan where you have wasted an old vetiver fragrance gone bad.

To me it simply smells horrible, unpleasant and definitely unbalanced on the smoky side. Sorry, I’ve to pass on this one.

I think “Alfarom” is a great critic, and I usually agree with him 8 times out of 10. In this case, though, I like Fumidus significantly more than he does. I happen to love intense smokiness, and the Laphroaig part blows me away, even if it only lasts a few hours. My thing is not so much the smokiness, as the fact that I simply don’t like smoky vetiver all that much. So, ultimately, I really do end up in the same place as he does, in giving Fumidus a personal pass.

At the end of the day, Fumidus is not a scent for the faint of heart, and your feelings about it are really going to come down to your personal tastes, not to mention your skin chemistry. It is an extremely challenging fragrance – and it is intentionally crafted that way. So, if you’re a hardcore vetiver lover, give it a try, but also exercise a little patience. There is beauty in its raw, primitive, feral nature, but not everyone likes untamed beasts. On the right man, though, with the right skin chemistry, I think Fumidus would be utterly captivating.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Fumidus is an Eau de Parfum with Extrait concentration that only comes in a large 3.4 oz/100 ml bottle which costs $240 or €179. Profumum doesn’t have an e-shop from which you can buy their fragrances directly. In the U.S.: Fumidus is available from Luckyscent and OsswaldNYC. Both sites sell samples at different costs.. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, Profumum perfumes are sold at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie in Harrods. Elsewhere, you can generally find Profumum line at Paris’ Printemps store, Premiere Avenue in France, France’s Soleil d’Or, the Netherlands’ Celeste (which does not include Fumidus amongst its website choices), Hungary’s Neroli, Switzerland’s Osswald, and Russia’s Lenoma boutiques. Premiere Avenue sells Fumidus for €190. According to the Profumum website, their fragrances are carried in a large number of small stores from Copenhagen to the Netherlands, Poland, France, the rest of Europe, and, of course, Italy. You can use the Profumum Store Locator located on the left of the page linked to above. Samples: Surrender to Chance carries samples of Fumidus starting at $6.99 for a 1 ml vial. You can also order from Luckyscent.

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.