I hope you’re all having a good weekend, whether you’re simply relaxing, plan to enjoy the Eurovision finals, or are doing something fun over the long three-day holiday in American and the U.K. It seemed like a good time for this month’s Grab Bag, with a look at random things from perfume articles on Roja Dove, CB I Hate Perfume, and Frederic Malle, to blurb reviews of two white floral perfumes that missed the mark for me, and the more personal things occupying my attention this month like music, films, a great cookbook, and The Hairy German.
Names are suggestive things, whether in literature, art, or perfumery. In my experience, fragrances often fail to live up to the moniker bestowed on them but, sometimes, the good ones lead you elsewhere, evoking other images and worlds. With Ambre Loup, I never thought a golden wolf, but of dark, elemental, and wholly primal forces, encircling and bowing to a central core. Like dancers in an ancient ritual, they go round and round, faster and faster, until they turn into a mesmerizing blur, creating an intoxicating whole. That, in turn, brought to mind a perfumed version of Dances with Wolves, the famous film about Native-American Indians, or the ancient Navajo Fire Dance.
Close your eyes, and imagine the sun setting in a sky golden, hazy, and thick with heat. Blackness looms on the horizon, a drum beat rings out, and dancers begin to circle a giant totem made of tobacco. Ambergris, labdanum, vanilla, spices, aromatic cedar, the stickiest and blackest of resins — one by one they whoop and stomp, round and round, their feet beating up clouds of cinnamon and cloves, as the golden thickness of the dying sun hangs heavier and heavier atop their heads. The blackness crashes like a wave over the land, engulfing the dancers, merging with their aroma to create a blanket of rich, dark tobacco that is sweetened with vanilla, rendered musky with ambergris, and thick with labdanum. Village elders watch the dance from under the shade of giant cedar trees, puffing on tobacco pipes, and sipping rum or scotch. All of it swirls into one, all of it engulfs you, a cloud that is so thick and richly heady, you can feel it coating your skin, stroking you with heavy fingers of opulent darkness, caressing you, seducing you. This is the narcotic world of Ambre Loup from Rania J. Parfumeur.
Cologne Indelebile is the latest fragrance from Frederic Malle, and the first release for the brand under its new Estée Lauder ownership. The word “indelebile” means “indelible” or permanent, and the new Malle is meant to be a “modern yet traditional” eau de cologne that reinterprets the genre partially by lasting “forever.”
Cologne Indelebile was created by Dominique Ropion, and is described on the Malle website as follows:
A clean scent, yet surprisingly magnetic. A modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever. Dominique Ropion embraces musk’s nature as both a quasi-aphrodisiac and a scent of purity to create a very personal interpretation of Eau de Cologne. A splash of the best neroli intertwined with orange blossom, bergamote, and the most technical musks for a scent that endures, and endures, and endures… Cologne Indélébile (Permanent Cologne).
I’ve tried a number of fragrances that didn’t work for me over the last eight months, but not all of them were actually bad scents. Although I scrubbed all of them off, a few were things that I actually think some of you might like quite a bit. The problem in each case (for me) was that the fragrance had one or more elements which pushed one of my hot button issues, and did so in a way that not only felt imbalanced but, quite frequently, also made the scents physically difficult to test.
Perfume reviewing is a wholly subjective thing that is dependent on individual tastes, experiences, and skin chemistry, but it’s not easy to write about scrubbers in exhaustive detail, one after another. (And I’ve gone through a lot of scrubbers in the last 8 months that I haven’t talked about.) For many of the fragrances mentioned in this post, I lacked the heart and will to write thousands of words for one of my usual reviews, and didn’t want to cover them even in one of my short(er) Reviews en Bref because I wasn’t keen to relive the experience. Yet, as I said, some of you might like a few of the fragrances quite a bit — like the new Cilice from Euphorium Brooklyn which should appeal to lovers of dark, smoky, woody, and campfire fragrances. Two of the scents are things that I would sincerely recommend to people with a very particular taste set to try for themselves.