Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 O Hira: The Incredible Hulk of Ambers

Amber on steroids, if not the Incredible Hulk of ambers. That is O Hira, a stunning, super-powered, monster labdanum that would be worthy of its own character in the Marvel universe. O Hira is a simply spectacular extrait from Stéphane Humbert Lucas, and a scent which made me do an instant double-take the first time I smelt it. I actually said “ooohh!” and closed my eyes to better take in the tidal wave of richness. The molten, dripping, resinous juices were so beautifully honeyed, dark, leathery, and toffee’d, I was amazed. And, at a higher dosage, O Hira showed a naughty side that drove me quite wild. All I can say is, if I came across a man wearing O Hira, I’d want to rip his clothes off pretty quickly. I’m quite serious about that. I think O Hira on the right man or woman could be quite devastating.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

O Hira is a 2013 parfum extrait released by the Paris niche house, 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 è 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 new releases like Qom Chilom which I covered yesterday, the smoke monster, Oud 777 (which includes tobacco and leather touches), 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 graciousness 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.

The 777 line. Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

The 777 line. Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

O Hira is an ode to amber. SHL 777 has no official notes for the fragrance, and the press release photos or website descriptions only say:

No Pyramid.
Remake of fossilized Amber
Primitive Scent – Pure – Rare – Intense – Dedicated to the amber lovers.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas

I’ve had some correspondence with Monsieur Lucas, and he elaborated a little further. He spent more than two years working just on O Hira, using complicated, classical techniques of “distillerie, effeuillage, glacis” on the most expensive raw materials. The fragrance is an extrait with 24% concentration, and is intended to be the richest soliflore around. No, there is no actual fossilized amber, so if you’re imagining something dug up from the bowels of the earth and dating from prehistoric times, you’d be mistaken. However, it’s clear to me from the scent that Monsieur Lucas has worked very hard with not only labdanum but some other materials, including a few really dark resins, to create a scent that is as dark and as heavy as if it really had been dug up from the earth.

Labdanum compiled into a chunk. Source: Fragrantica

Labdanum compiled into a chunk. Source: Fragrantica

This review won’t be a traditional review in the way that they are usually structured because O Hira is ultimately a soliflore devoted to labdanum and, thus, its core aroma is quite simple in some ways. So, I want to start by taking a few minutes to talk specifically about labdanum. It has a very dark, toffee’d, nutty, resinous, balsamic aroma that can often feel very honeyed. It can also sometimes have a masculine, leathery undertone, which is why some amber lovers I know aren’t particularly enthused by its distinctive, almost “dirty” aroma. For me, the visuals with true labdanum are dark brown, verging almost on black, and far from ambered gold. That brings to me a very important point.

Some of my regular readers may have noted that, in my reviews, I often write “labdanum amber” or “labdanum,” instead of simply saying “amber.” It’s not because I am OCD, but because I think the difference is enormous. A perfumer once told me, “only labdanum is real amber.” Someone else said words to the effect of, “a lot of fragrances listed as ‘amber’ today aren’t actually amber, because they’re not centered on labdanum. The note is either synthetic, or an approximation of amber through other means, like an accord using labdanum highly diluted with vanilla and benzoins to really become something else.”

Lava. Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Lava. Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Labdanum amber has a dark, dirty scent that is quite unique from many of the “ambers” listed even in the niche world, and it’s also completely different from ambergris. If you’re familiar with Dior‘s Mitzah, the opening of Serge LutensAmbre Sultan (minus the herbal nuances), parts of Tom Ford‘s Amber Absolute or Sahara Noir, and the more goaty, masculine, almost dirty parts of Amouage‘s Opus VI (separate from the Ambranum and Z11), then you’ve encountered labdanum. However, if you’ve tried Dior‘s Ambre Nuit or Profumum Roma‘s Ambra Aurea, then you’ve really experienced ambergris for the most part. And if you’re thinking about softer, gentler, or powdered ambers like Histoires de ParfumsAmbre 114, then you’re talking about the quasi-amber made up primarily of benzoins for an approximation of a golden amber. But it’s most definitely not labdanum amber, in my opinion.

Source: Huffington Post.

Source: Huffington Post.

O Hira opens on my skin with a tsunami of true, undiluted, super concentrated labdanum in all of its manifestations. It is heavily honeyed, almost boozy at times, completely brown and dirty, with a hefty, walloping amount of cinnamon mixed in. Within seconds, it turns smoky with what is clearly styrax, the darkest and most leathered of all resins (and a big base note in such fragrances like Guerlain’s Habit Rouge). I suspect there is also a massive dose of Tolu balsam (as there is in Shalimar and Opium’s base) mixed in as well. What I’m less certain about are the tobacco tonalities that grow increasingly noticeable as the minutes pass. Is there actual tobacco absolute in O Hira, or is it a subset of the very dirty labdanum amber? How much of the leathery undertones come from the styrax, as opposed to something else?

It’s really hard to know the extent to which some of the nuances in O Hira stem from labdanum’s natural characteristics — only amplified and teased out to show their individual character — or whether they are from other supplemental sources as well. Monsieur Lucas told me that there is styrax in O Hira, and he mentioned cinnamon aromas from benzoins as well, so it’s very clear that O Hira is not just labdanum. But where the labdanum ends and the other notes begin is hard to say, because this is one superbly blended fragrance.

Source: .wholesalefabricsstore.com

Source: .wholesalefabricsstore.com

Within minutes, new layers emerge. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some castoreum in O Hira because there is an absolute beautiful, velvety, very musky richness which appears. It is leathered, sharp, almost skanky, but also plush like velvet. The tobacco-like dirtiness also grows stronger, while the cinnamon fades. There is almost an incense-like whiff at the edges, though it probably stems from the styrax. Lurking deep, deep in the case, there is a subtle gingerbread note that smells like Siam benzoin as well.

Source: FilterForge.com

Source: FilterForge.com

For the most part, however, I would say that O Hira is a bouquet centered around MASSIVE amounts of labdanum, along with some styrax, tolu balsam, and a tiny touch of castoreum. I cannot begin to tell you the richness of the scent. When I applied several good, hefty sprays from my decant, I was overcome by memories of my beloved (vintage) Opium‘s base. At high doses, O Hira has the same walloping, sticky, dense, dripping viscosity as 1980s-version Opium (especially in the parfum concentration). It feels like the thickest sludge of darkened, smoky, treacly amber — and I use the word “sludge” as the highest compliment in this case.

A goat whose chest and beard are covered with labdanum. Source: labdanum-creta.blogspot. com

A goat whose chest and beard are covered with labdanum. Source: labdanum-creta.blogspot. com

At the same time, though, O Hira takes labdanum’s masculine, sometimes dirty underpinnings and heightens them to an extreme degree. For the first time since I reviewed Amouage’s Opus VI, I was transported back thousands of years to ancient times when shepherds would scrape the resin off the chests and beards of goats who had clambered on or around the rock rose. There is almost a sweaty, goaty quality to the labdanum, and it has a muskiness that feels almost animalic in the first hour. Interestingly, though, I didn’t detect anything similar when I applied only a small amount of O Hira. As I’m going to explain later in more detail, this is a fragrance that I think best shows off its nuances when you apply a lot of it. A few small sprays result in a scent that is much softer, less dense, less leathered, less dirty, and more cinnamon-like in aroma.

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Source: luminarium.org

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Source: luminarium.org

For me, O Hira is unlike the other rich ambers on the market. It’s extremely different from Ambra Aurea which is a primarily an ambergris soliflore, though O Hira does have the same very opaque, dense, concentrated richness. O Hira isn’t like Tom Ford’s Amber Absolute or Sahara Noir, either, because both of those scents are heavily infused with incense. If you took Amber Absolute’s core (without the frankincense), combined it with a stripped down version of Dior’s Mitzah (without that fragrance’s supporting players), injected the two with vintage Opium’s resinous base, boiled the whole thing down to its most reduced, sticky, balsamic form, and then injected it with steroids, you would get O Hira. It is such a fatty, over-the-top, super-saturated, dark, monster amber that it feels indulgent enough for someone like Henry VIII.

And it’s so damn sexy. When I applied a lot of it, the castoreum in the base exuded a muskiness that was not only very leathered, but also rather brazen and verging on the skanky. There was a seductiveness that once again called to mind vintage Opium’s base with its lusty, bold, take-no-prisoners, raw sensuality. I just wanted to slather O Hira on someone’s neck, lick it off, and then rip off their clothes. I mean it, O Hira got me quite hot and bothered at times.

The scent only becomes better as the minutes pass. The tobacco and leather tonalities are joined by something almost verging on dark chocolate, followed by a definite flicker of salty, black licorice after about 20 minutes. The whole thing feels so dark, it verges on the brown-black in hue, and is incredibly far removed from the golden palette of many “ambers” that I’ve tried. It also feels very masculine, though women who love dark, dirty, smoky, heavy, balsamic orientals should adore it as well.

As a soliflore, O Hira doesn’t change in its core bouquet or essence — but then it’s not meant to. O Hira seeks to focus on one central note, shown in all its facets; one very simple thing heightened to its most luxurious depths. However, it’s clear to me that a lot of different parts were melded and fused together to create this seemingly monolithic, dense, heavy, “amber” aria. This is the sort of fragrance that sings at operatic levels, like a Middle Eastern Valkyrie belting out her final passion on a funeral pyre. You know how I’m always going on about wanting my fragrances to be Wagnerian in nature? Well, this is it. O Hira is definitely The Ride of the Valkyries.

Artist: Helen Abbas, Mosaic Collection, Summer 2013, "(Erdowaz) Slate." Source:  IslamicArtMagazine.com. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Artist: Helen Abbas, Mosaic Collection, Summer 2013, “(Erdowaz) Slate.” Source: IslamicArtMagazine.com. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Even if O Hira’s main note is unwavering labdanum, its nuances and layers most certainly change. After 30 minutes, the sometimes intense smokiness from the styrax pipes down a few notches. Or, perhaps, it merely infused every one of the other notes in such a way that it seems softer. At the same time, the honey and cinnamon tonalities take a step back, while the musky, toffee’d leather and tobacco undertones take a few giant leaps forward. O Hira also turns fractionally softer and airier in feel. On occasion, the perfume feels smoother, as if some of the edges had been buffed out. At other times, however, O Hira continues to feel like an intentionally raw, almost brute-strength amber. It’s merely dialed down from a 10 on the Richter scale to a 9. The drop is slightly bigger for O Hira’s density, however, moving from a solid 10 in the opening minutes to about a 7 after 40 minutes.

O Hira is massively potent at the start with very big sillage. I will try to give you a sense of things, but it will be hard to use my usual numbers for application or quantity. The decant I was sent had a slightly wonky spraying mechanism which wasn’t very smooth when pressed down and only gave out half-squirts, rather than a more usual, fluid spritz. Using 5 half-spritzes or roughly the equivalent of 2 big sprays from an actual bottle, O Hira projected out a good 5 inches at first, before it softened at the end of an hour to about 2 inches above the skin.

When I used a lesser amount — similar to one and a half very large sprays from a proper bottle or 3 wonky spritzes from my atomizer — things were slightly different. The projection dropped a little, and O Hira wafted out only about 2-3 inches at the start, though that is still quite good. The more noticeable difference, however, pertained to the notes. At the lower dose, O Hira became a much softer, less sticky scent with a slightly different set of nuances. It was slightly cleaner, less dirty in feel, with little of the castoreum muskiness, and none of the more brute, goaty undertones to the labdanum. The cinnamon was stronger; the styrax’s smokiness was much softer; there was much less tobacco in the undertones; no licorice nuance; and the more viscous, sticky, dense resemblances to Opium’s base largely vanished. To try to explain it in terms of visuals, O Hira felt less solidly brown-black, and more bronze-gold.

part of "The Blooming Tree," Painting by Osnat Tzadok, via osnatfineart.com http://www.osnatfineart.com/art/landscape-paintings/6088-The-Blooming-Tree.jsp

part of “The Blooming Tree,” Painting by Osnat Tzadok, via osnatfineart.com
http://www.osnatfineart.com/art/landscape-paintings/6088-The-Blooming-Tree.jsp

O Hira shifts over time in terms of its nuances and the prominence of its individual layers. However, it’s hard to give a clear description of what happens because each time I’ve worn the perfume, the layers are different at different times. The notes also feel a bit circular, in that they come back around just when you think they had died or retreated to the sidelines. For example, in one test, the tobacco seemed to fade away about 2.5 hours into O Hira’s development, though the leather remained, and the cinnamon from one of the benzoins grew much stronger. O Hira was softer, smoother, and had almost a creamy feel to it which was unexpected. O Hira lost a lot of its stickiness and opaque density, became airier, felt sheerer, and hugged the skin much more. However, it was still extremely potent when smelled up close.

That was one occasion, but, on another, the tobacco and leathered smokiness were still subtly blasting away well into the start of the 7th hour. In fact, much of O Hira’s progression of notes was different, starting with labdanum that felt practically boozy at the start, and which then transitioned into heavy cinnamon-labdanum, before ending up as darkly leathered, tobacco’d, toffee labdanum. In short, the order of the perfume pyramid was up-ended.

"Black Widow v1" by *smokin-nucleus. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within photo.)

“Black Widow v1″
by *smokin-nucleus. Source: DeviantArt. (Website link embedded within photo.)

There are only two consistent aspects to O Hira. First, its primary bouquet from start to finish is some manifestation of dark labdanum — in all its various, complex nuances — with resins. Second, O Hira consistently lasts over 11 hours. With a lesser quantity, O Hira’s longevity clocks in at about 11.5 hours. With a higher dosage (the equivalent of 2 sprays from an actual bottle, or much more), O Hira has lasted up to 14.5 hours on my perfume consuming skin. The sillage is always monstrous at first, but it generally drops to about 1-2 inches above the skin which is where it stays for hours and hours. On average, O Hira turned into a complete, true skin scent on me about 7 hours in with a large quantity, and 5.75 hours into its development with a small amount.

In a way, the best way to sum up O Hira is in terms of the images or moods that it evokes. Depending on which one of the notes dominates on your skin, O Hira can either be lavishly rich and indulgent, in an opulent manner worthy of Henry VIII, or positively sensual, brazenly seductive, darkly raw, brutal, and oozing pure, animal sex appeal. It’s a surfeit of riches, either way, and honestly feels like amber on steroids. I think it’s the Incredible Hulk of ambers, but I’ve been mulling over the possibility that it may be Iron Man instead.

Antoni Gaudi chairs at Casa Mila, La Pedrera, Barcelona. Source: gaudi-barselona.ru

Antoni Gaudi chairs at Casa Mila, La Pedrera, Barcelona. Source: gaudi-barselona.ru

The reason is that there is a definite refined intelligence to how O Hira’s notes have been put together, an attempt to have some sense of luxurious refinement that goes beyond mere brute strength or primal rawness. Speaking purely for myself, I think Tom Ford’s ambers verge more into the brute force category, and have some synthetics that prevent the scents from feeling quite as pure. To me, his ambers are potent and rich, but they don’t evoke luxurious opulence and refinement in quite the same way. They also don’t smell as if the most expensive raw ingredients have been used in almost undiluted form, which is the sense I get with O Hira. In short, O Hira feels much more sophisticated, expensive and nuanced. To me, it has class. It feels like a European’s baroque, almost Gaudi-esque interpretation of “death by amber.”

O Hira may have been released in 2013, but I couldn’t find any reviews of the scent to provide you with a comparative assessment. O Hira 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 2-3 days time when, I’ve been told, Germany’s First in Fragrance should receive O Hira, along with several of the new 2014 fragrances. As noted at the start of this post, the complete SHL 777 line will be released in the U.S. in roughly 2 weeks time.

The bad news in all this is that O Hira is very expensive. I mean, seriously expensive. I don’t have the official American pricing information but, in Europe, O Hira’s retail price is a hefty €580 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum. I have heard rumours and talk that O Hira will cost $795 in the U.S., but none of that has been confirmed. Given the Euro price, however, $795 sounds quite accurate to me. The bottom line is that O Hira is going to cost you a lot, regardless of the currency that you use. It is certainly too rich for my blood. As a general rule, and regardless of the brand, I have difficulty with nosebleed prices like these — but I find it even harder when it comes to something that is a soliflore.

O Hira’s quality and luxuriousness, though, make the math much more difficult and complicated. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the most expensive ingredients have been used in O Hira, that great care was taken with complicated techniques, and that none of it came cheaply. I can fully understand why it took more than 2 years to finesse raw materials used in such intense quantities, so that the end result would be something nuanced and so spectacularly rich. I can see it, I can smell it, and I have no doubts at all. But it’s still too expensive, in my opinion.

At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to what I’ve now decided to call the “Roja Dove Rule“: 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.

All I can say is that O Hira is absolutely worth sampling and, if possible, getting in a decant. It’s the bloody Incredible Hulk of Ambers. I think that it’s in a class all of its own.

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: O Hira is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €580. 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, but rumour has it that O Hira will cost $795. 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. O Hira is not yet in stock at the time of this review, 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 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.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 Qom Chilom: Red Ash

Source: pinterest

Source: pinterest

An ancient Persian mosque in Qom, replete with the smell of cedar. A man dressed in the colours of the dry desert sits next to a woman veiled in crimson. They sip cherry wine served in cups made of cedar and latex. The desert wind blows a fine mist of clean oud into swirls of black rubbered smoke and white, sweetened, heliotrope powder. The sour tartness of rubied cherries lies against the white of fresh almonds and the silky creamy of vanilla. Then, the desert wind blows its dry breath again, and the images change, turning into a vista of cream, powder, dry woods, and softness. It’s the story of contrasts — light and dark, masculine and feminine, harsh blackness and soft sweetness, all tinged with cherried ash. Is it a tale from Le Rouge et Le Noir by Stendhal? No, it is the Persian fabric of Qom Chilom by Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas. Source: SHL 777 Facebook page.

Qom Chilom is a 2014 parfum extrait released by the fledgling Paris niche house, Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 (hereinafter just referred to as “SHL 777“). It bears the name of its founder, a man who has been working in the perfume industry for a while, most recently as the founder and in-house perfumer for SoOud and Nez à Nez. Mr. Lucas launched his new SHL 777 brand in 2013 with 7 fragrances, all of which are inspired by the Orient and their style of perfumery. This year, just a few weeks ago in fact, he released several new scents, one of which is Qom Chilom.

The 777 line. Source: Stephane Humbert Lucas.

The 777 line. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Up to now, the perfumes were exclusive to Europe and Middle Eastern, but there is excellent news. The complete SHL 777 line will be coming to America in a few weeks, including the new releases like Qom Chilom. They will be carried at Luckyscent and Osswald NYC. Monsieur Lucas kindly and graciously sent me samples of his entire collection, and I will be going through them, one by one, over the next 10 days so that you will be well prepared when the fragrances hits the stores. Today, we travel to Persia, but soon after that will be the fantastic amber, O Hira (which blew my socks off), the smoky new Oud 777, the gourmand Une Nuit à Doha, and Black Gemstone.

Qom Chilom. Source: Sagma Corporation.

Qom Chilom. Source: Sagma Corporation.

Qom Chilom was inspired by the ancient mosque city of Qom in Persia and the narguile smoke pipes of the Orient. Like the rest of the SHL 777 line, Qom Chilom is a pure parfum or extrait in concentration with more than 20% perfume oils. (I believe the precise number may be 24%.) The perfume is about to be released, so there isn’t a lot of information out there about it and Stéphane Humbert Lucas’s website is currently under construction.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

However, he wrote to me about the perfume and its notes. For example, the plume on the red-lacquered bottle is meant to symbolise the Imperial Peacock Throne of the shahs, while the perfume’s aromatic woodiness (and subtle smokiness) seeks to evoke the ancient rites of the past. At the heart of Qom Chilom is the concept and colour palette of “red ash” or “rouge cendré”: woodiness infused with cherries and turned quietly to ash. 

According to Monsieur Lucas, Qom Chilom’s notes include:

Morello cherry – Bigarreau cherry – Raspberry

Heliotrope – Imperial Almond – Iris – Blue Cedar

Patchouly – Oud – Teak – Barks – Latex – Vanilla absolute – Musk

Source: andhereweare.net

Source: andhereweare.net

Qom Chilom opens on my skin with a burst of Morello sour cherries whose bright, unsweetened tartness is thoroughly infused with black rubber latex, then misted with a clean oud. There is a definite medicinal note that swirls all around, and, for the life of me, I cannot pinpoint its source. It is probably the cedar which feels very green, since the oud seems too clean to my nose. On the other hand, it might be the patchouli which took me two tests to detect behind all the woody notes. It is hidden almost out of sight, fully overshadowed of the strong cedar and latex, but its brief, muted presence also translates as green and camphorous.

Source: walmart.com

Source: walmart.com

Whatever the precise cause of the medicinal aroma, there is absolutely no doubt what the overall effect smells like on my skin: cherry cough drops. It’s a distinctive smell that was instantly recognizable, wafting a camphorousness that almost verged on cherry eucalyptus at times. Definite flecks of greenness are interspersed throughout the ruby and black colour palette, which seems to exclude the oud as being the cause. It might be the patchouli but, honestly, that note is virtually nonexistent on my skin.

What is interesting is the black part of the perfume. Initially, for a fleeting moment, the latex conveyed the smell of tires burning on hot asphalt, before transitioning into smokiness. At times, there is almost textural rubberiness to the note, but it primarily smells like a harsh, rough sort of black smoke.

Source: Wikicommons.

Source: Wikicommons.

Qom Chilom’s blackness is masculine but it is soon tamed by softer, sweeter notes. There is an absolutely lovely touch of raw almonds that really took me back to my childhood. Every summer, I would get bags and bags of raw almonds, crack open the green, fuzzy pods, and suck on the white treasures within. It’s been years since I’ve smelled anything similar or been so transported, but Qom Chilom has that same delicate greenness and liquidy nuttiness. Alas for me, the note is subtle, quite muted, and hardly lasts.

Croissant au amandesThe first time I tested Qom Chilom, there was also a whisper of heliotrope at the start. It combined with the raw almonds and an unexpected sudden pop of butteriness to create the distinct impression of an almond pastry. To be precise, almonds croissants covered with bright, fresh, very tart cherries, a dose of cherry cough drops, a rubbery smoke, and a lot of cedar. It was a really unusual combination, one that I’ve never encountered before, but it lasted only a few minutes at most.

Much more noticeable, however, is the vanilla which appeared consistently in both my tests less than 5 minutes into Qom Chilom’s development. At first, it is only a soft flicker of creaminess in the base, but it rise to the surface less than 20 minutes in and coats the rubberized, dry, cherried woods with smooth sweetness.

Source: zazzle.com

Source: zazzle.com

There is an oddly teasing aspect to Qom Chilom that I’ve noticed, the notes not only dance about coyly, going back and forth, but several of them also seem to morph and alter character every few minutes. At first, I thought I was merely imagining it, but, no, it happens repeatedly during the first 20 minutes and it also occurred during both my tests. One minute, the almonds smell fresh and raw, cool and liquidy. Almost the very next moment, the note is replaced by buttered croissants aux amandes. Then it vanishes entirely.

Same story with the latex. First, it smells like burnt tires; two minutes later, it is harsh black smoke; and five minutes after that, it is harsh smoke infused with creamy vanilla. Then, it seems to melt into the background, replaced by the medicinal, cherry cough drops. But, just when I think it’s gone, the actual rubber roars back, waves a black-clad arm hello, before swirling back into the background mists. Everything is constantly popping in and out, changing and twisting. Even the vanilla darts about like a teasing ghost on occasion. It is all very fascinating, maddening, enigmatic, intriguing, and a clear sign of Monsieur Lucas’ technical skill.

The only things which remain constant in the song and dance of the opening hour are the sour cherries and the woods. The oud never changes its party dress because it is consistently a tertiary note in the background on my skin. At most, it lends a subtle smokiness to the proceedings, but it also feels oddly clean at times. The cedar, however, is hardly a shy wallflower and seems increasingly hellbent on world domination. It suffuses Qom Chilom with a dryness that feels both aromatically green and a little bit dusty at times.

Source: wallpaperswa.com

Source: wallpaperswa.com

For all my fascination at the notes, one thing initially frustrated me quite a bit about Qom Chilom. The perfume is incredibly airy and sheer in feel. In fact, the first time I tried the scent, I applied 2 small sprays from my decant, began writing my notes, and then, 10 minutes later, frowned and hurriedly rushed to apply more. I had the oddest sensation that Qom Chilom was evaporating off my skin, even though that was a clearly illogical thought since the scent itself was pulsating out cherries and was quite potent up close. But there is a translucency to Qom Chilom’s opening phase that made the perfume feel just as elusive as its notes can be.

The sillage doesn’t help prevent any potential misimpressions of strength, either. Using 3 large sprays from an atomizer (or about 2 good sprays from an actual bottle), Qom Chilom projected just 2 inches at best above the skin. The fragrance dropped further at the end of the hour to hover just above the skin, and there it remained until the 3.5 hour mark when it turned into a skin scent. For my personal tastes, Qom Chilom is far too gauzy in weight and soft in sillage. Then again, as regular readers know, I like my perfume to be Wagnerian in potency, density, and forcefulness. By those standards, then, yes, Qom Chilom falls short as a very airy, generally soft, rather intimate scent.

Despite the sheerness, I soon noticed just how much of Qom Chilom’s opening phase is about contrasts, contrasts which almost verge on gender-bending. On the one hand, masculinity is represented by the oud, the black rubberized latex and the initially harsh smokiness, accompanied by Qom Chilom’s early medicinal, camphourous undertones and woody dryness.

Source: wallpho.com

Source: wallpho.com

Those aspects are juxtaposed next to the more feminine symbols: the soft vanilla; the delicate, comforting, almost maternal aspects of heliotrope’s sweetness; a growing, powerful creaminess; and the raspberry’s subtle jamminess that finally pops up after 45 minutes. Bridging the two sides is a ruby river of sour cherries. It all feels very modern, especially with the almost fetishistic rubber nuance, but there is also a subtle undercurrent of something ancient. To me, Qom Chilom feels like the olfactory expression of yin and yang; masculine and feminine; hard and soft; sweet and sour; dry and creamy. Honestly, I find it all quite brilliant on an intellectual level.

However, all of these layers and contrasts require some focus and concentration up close to detect. Thanks to the perfume’s sillage and sheerness issues, it wasn’t always easy for me to detect the subtle transitions and shifts. Being blunt, from a distance, Qom Chilom in the first hour initially smells like: a cherry cough drop; then cherry woods with some latex and vanilla cream, and, finally, at the end of the first hour, like a mix of red wine and a non-syrupy version of cherry cordial infused with cedar and a subtle trace of rubbery smokiness. I had to bring my nose quite close to my arm at times to notice the nuances, especially given how quickly some of the smaller notes melt into the background.

Painting by EbiEmporium on Redbubble.

Painting by EbiEmporium on Redbubble.

Everything starts to change at the start of the second hour. The early streaks of creaminess that ran through Qom Chilom’s base now rise up fully from the base and take over the whole scent, adding some necessary richness to counteract the early sheerness. Actually, the latter aspect feels fractionally better now, as if the perfume has deepened to go along with its new, and truly lovely, smoothness. At the same time, the cherry cough drop undertones pop up much less frequently, and are very muted when they do. Now, the fruit feels primarily like a deepened wine or tart cherry cordial. The oud feels even cleaner and smoother than before, while the vanilla has turned into a silky mousse. The patchouli is absolutely nonexistent on my skin, while the almonds are long gone and the jammy raspberry has largely melted into the base.

"Tree Bark II" art at Houzz.com

“Tree Bark II” art at Houzz.com

As a whole, the two main notes driving Qom Chilom at this point are the sour cherries and dry cedar. It all feels incredibly creamy and smooth, but simultaneously drier than some of these descriptions might lead you to believe. The subtle smokiness and rubber of the latex help to keep the vanilla and sweet raspberry in check. As for the cherries, they may be more like a dark, woody wine, but they still maintain a vestige of tartness which is very nice.

By the end of the 2nd hour, powder arrives on the scene, though it’s not the almond-vanilla heliotrope variety, nor the powdered makeup aspect of iris, either. It’s merely something lightly sweetened in nature. Tiny flickers of heliotrope dance in the background, while smokiness from the latex hovers about like a black mist. In the base, there is a subtle warmth and an ambered glow. As a whole, Qom Chilom is a bouquet of dry cedar and tart cherry wine, lightly dusted with a fine layer of delicious heliotrope, then flecked with touches of latex, vanilla, and oud, all resting upon a base with an undercurrent of sweetness and golden warmth.

Source: wallsave.com

Source: wallsave.com

About 3.5 hours into Qom Chilom’s development, the perfume subtly shifts yet again, and transitions into its third and final stage. Qom Chilom is now a skin scent on me, centered largely on powdered woodiness with cherries. The most noticeable and lovely aspect of the fragrance is the creamy texture which is almost like a note in its own right. I have read that teak is a very soft blond wood, so maybe that is the contributing factor, but the wood accord now feels as if it has been smoothed out into a fine, airy mousse. It no longer smells primarily of cedar. Instead, it now feels like a soft beigeness in a cocoon of abstract woodiness infused with dry vanilla and sweetened powder. Tiny bits of raspberry and cherry waft delicately at the corner, like garnish on a plate of woody cream. The oud is barely noticeable, but when it is, it feels very clean, almost sweet.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

Qom Chilom turns softer and more abstract with every passing hour. By the end of the 5th hour, it is primarily woody creaminess with dryness and a dusting of barely sweetened powder. The other notes remain on the sidelines, popping up occasionally but Qom Chilom’s core essence is quite simple at this point. Near the middle of the 9th hour, the perfume feels like a mix of powdered woody dryness with baby softness, sweetness, and refined, clean warmth. In its final moments, Qom Chilom fades away as a slip of powdered, dry, sweet, woodiness.

For all my grumbling about Qom Chilom’s light weight and intimate projection, I give it full marks for longevity. In both tests, the perfume consistently lasted well over 12 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. Granted, it was a skin scent at the 3.5 hour mark, but Qom Chilom was always easy to detect up close if I brought my nose near my arm, up to the start of 9th hour.

Qom Chilom is too new for me to provide comparative reviews, and 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 will change in a few days time when, I’ve been told, Germany’s First in Fragrance should receive several of the new SHL 777 fragrances, including the older 2013 perfume, O Hira. As noted at the start of this post, the complete SHL 777 line will be released in the U.S. in roughly 2 weeks time.

Qom Chilom. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

Qom Chilom. Source: Stéphane Humbert Lucas.

I don’t have American pricing information but, in Europe, Qom Chilom’s retail price is €235 for a 50 ml bottle of pure parfum. (And the bottle is stunning, in my opinion!) At today’s rate of exchange, €235 comes to about $326, but 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 in the $290 range, though that is purely a personal guess.

Is that a little high for 50 ml? Yes, it is. Then again, Qom Chilom is pure parfum extrait at roughly 24% concentration, and the bottle is stunning with its red lacquer, a domed cap that I believe has been hand-done, and a semi-precious stone in the front. So, I’ll tell you what I’ve said repeatedly in the case of Roja Dove’s much more expensive (but similarly sized) 50 ml bottles of parfum extrait: it’s going to come down to a personal, subjective valuation as to whether you think the price is worth it.

All I can tell you is that Qom Chilom shows the high quality of its materials, has refinement, and demonstrates a very skillful touch. At the end of the day, the perfume doesn’t feel very much like me, but that is a matter of personal taste resulting from the notes. It has nothing to do with how good or interesting the perfume is — and Qom Chilom is both those things. It is also exceedingly original, in my opinion.

So, if you’re intrigued or tempted, keep an eye out for Qom Chilom in the upcoming days and weeks. Hopefully, it will transport you back to ancient Persia in a cloud of cherried ashes and wooded 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: Qom Chilom is an Extrait or pure parfum that is only available in a 50 ml bottle and costs €235. 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 O Hira 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 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.

Roja Dove Danger Pour Homme

Source: wallpapercentrals.com

Source: wallpapercentrals.com

A walk through a citrus orchid quickly leads to lavender fields that are first brisk and bracing, then creamy and smoothened into ice cream. The light all around is thick with salty-sweet ambergris, a golden haze rendered even richer with patchouli and spices. Dry woods hover at the edges, with mighty cedar casting its long shadow over the creamy warmth lightly flecked by leather. It’s not a tale of Danger, but of ambered, spicy warmth that is both very unisex for Oriental lovers, and quite delicious at times.

Danger Pour Homme is a fragrance from Roja Dove. It was released in 2011, and is available in a pure parfum or Extrait form, along with an eau de parfum concentration. This review is for the Extrait. And I’d like to stress again that, contrary to the name, Danger is wholly unisex in feel. On his personal Roja Parfums website, Roja Dove describes the scent as follows:

Danger Parfum or Extrait. Source: Paris Gallery.

Danger Parfum or Extrait. Source: Paris Gallery.

“You’ve Been Warned”
FRESH, SWEET, WARM, VERY SENSUAL, and LEATHERY
“Laden with potent aphrodisiacs — this creation is not dangerous for the man who wears it — it is dangerous for the woman who smells it on him.” –Roja Dove.

INGREDIENTS:
Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Tarragon, Lavender, Cumin
Heart: Jasmine, Violet, Lily of the Valley
Base: Vetiver, Cedarwood, Wood Notes, Clove, Galbanum, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rhubarb, Ambergris, Vanilla Castoreum, Musk, Leather Notes, Tonka Bean.

Source: backgrounds.mysitemyway.com

Source: backgrounds.mysitemyway.com

Danger opens on my skin with incredibly brightness centered on fresh bergamot and sun-sweetened, warmed lemons. It is followed within seconds by patchouli infused with amber. This is my sort of patchouli, real patchouli and one of my favorite notes in perfumery with its spicy, smoky, beautifully brown richness. The ambergris also smells real, instead of the more generic “amber” often found in perfumery. It’s slightly salty, musky, almost wet and marshy, with a strong vein of caramel running through it. Fast on the heels of the patchouli-amber combination is a powerful lavender note that transforms Danger’s opening into that of a fougère, albeit one of the oriental fougère sub-class.

"Green-purpel Fractal by Aqualoop31." Source: aqualoop31.deviantart.com

“Green-purpel Fractal by Aqualoop31.” Source: aqualoop31.deviantart.com

As a result, Danger’s opening feels split down the middle, with bright, fresh, bracing, aromatic notes on one side, and spicy, multi-faceted warmth on the other. The lavender initially smells clean, very herbal, and pungent. The twin threads of herbaceous and citric freshness are supplemented by rivulets of oakmoss, then dashes of green galbanum and hints of lime with an equally herbal tarragon.

Arriving on the other side of the aisle are spicier, warmer notes. Most noticeable is the cumin which is sweet, spicy, and a little bit animalic. Yet, cumin-phobes should not fear. At no time does it smell of food or body odor, let alone stale, unwashed, fetid sweatiness. It merely adds an additional layer of spiciness to the stunning patchouli. The spicy sweetness is amplified by cloves, a creamy vanilla, and a subtle vein of rich, burnished, smooth leather.  The latter feels almost honeyed, but it also is more of an impression of “leather” on my skin than the actual note. It’s a largely abstract accord — more of an idea, if you will — and a subtle one at that.

Danger changes quickly and within minutes. The bracing lavender turns very creamy, though it’s not yet on the verge of being lavender ice-cream. A tiny whisper of nebulous, indistinct florals lurks about the edges, the saltiness grows stronger from the oakmoss and ambergris, and the cumin-patchouli accord melts into everything. I don’t smell any lily-of-the-valley, violet, or jasmine in an individual way — now or at any point in Danger’s development. The main impression from afar is of honeyed, spicy, ambered warmth with herbs, citruses, creamy sweetness and a hint of burnished, aged leather. Up close, the vanilla slowly softens the lavender’s edges, while the golden haze of the ambergris grows richer.

Five minutes in, the cumin, oakmoss, cloves, leather and tarragon merge into the other notes, transitioning seamlessly and in perfect balance. They all work indirectly to add further richness to the notes, but they aren’t a strong presence in an individual way. I no longer smell Danger, and instantly think “Oh, cumin!” or “Oh, oakmoss and leather.” Out of the three, however, the cumin remains the most distinct, noticeable element for the greatest amount of time. Every time I think it has actually disappeared, its dusted, sweet spiciness pops back up at the edges, but it’s quite muted.

Photo: Emily M. Hanson on Deviant Art. emilymhanson.deviantart.com

Photo: Emily M. Hanson on Deviant Art. emilymhanson.deviantart.com

As a whole, Danger’s opening bouquet is primarily centered on bright citruses, aromatic but increasingly creamy lavender, spices, patchouli, and vanillic sweetness upon a rich, slightly salty, musky ambergris base. It is a perfectly balanced, rather heady, and addictive layering, but Danger is also much airier than those rich notes would lead you to believe. 3 small sprays from my atomizer, amounting to about 1.5 sprays from an actual bottle, create a soft, extremely deep, rich cloud that hovers roughly 2-3 inches above the skin. That number drops, though, to just an inch in projection at the end of the first hour. And, there, it remains for quite a while.

Danger is a very rich, refined, luxurious scent, but it also made me think of a number of other fragrances. Initially, in the opening minutes, Danger brought to mind Roja Dove’s creation for Puredistance, the fantastic M. Danger has the same sort of quasi-leather nuances with bright citruses, all anchored upon a very oriental framework, but the similarities end there. Danger is substantially more herbal and heavily spiced than M, and much less citric. It is primarily a fougère in its opening phase, while M is a chypre. For Danger, the oakmoss is but a tiny, fleeting blip in the overall framework; it is quite the opposite for M. In addition, M has no lavender or patchouli, let alone cumin in even the tiniest degree.

Photo: Wanna Be A Country Cleaver, Megan Cleaver, via Tastykitchen.com

Photo: Wanna Be A Country Cleaver, Megan Cleaver, via Tastykitchen.com

A stronger connection is to Histoires de Parfums 1725 (Casanova) but, even more so, to Parfums de Nicolai‘s new Amber Oud. The latter is a fragrance with zero oud that opens with creamy lavender-vanilla before transitioning to a lavender, vanilla, spicy patchouli, amber scent. The similarities become particularly strong about 20 minutes into Danger’s evolution when the vanilla seeps into everything, turning the lavender into aromatic ice-cream and making the patchouli even smoother. The cedar shows up around the same time, initially lurking around the edges in the same way that it does in Amber Oud, though it grows significantly stronger over the course of Danger’s development.

Photo: Victoria Goncharenk via de.fotolia.com

Photo: Victoria Goncharenk via de.fotolia.com

However, here, too, there are differences. Amber Oud has no cumin, no bright citruses, and no undertones of leather. It is sweeter and substantially more vanillic, not to mention much less woody. The amber notes in the two fragrances are also quite different, as there is initially just a generic “amber” in the Nicolai scent which eventually turns into labdanum. Danger, however, opens with a clear ambergris tonality that slowly turns more abstract and more into simple golden warmth. In Danger, the cedar is much stronger as a whole, and the perfume is also lightly flecked by vetiver at the end of the first hour. For the most part, it smells like a much richer, more complex, nuanced creation than the much simpler, sweeter, less woody Amber Oud.

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

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

Speaking of woodiness, Danger picks up an interesting undertone after 40 minutes. The cedar provides a subtle smokiness, but there is a tiny streak of black tarriness that also lurks deep within the base. I have to wonder if the unspecified “woody notes” include birch, and my impression grows stronger at the start of the 3rd hour. Many fragrances attempt to recreate “leather” through other notes. As the Perfume Shrine explains, “[r]endering a leather note in perfumery is a challenge for the perfumer[,]” and that what is “actually used” to create that olfactory impression are vegetal or synthetic ingredients which can include birch tarjuniper cade, and quinoline. The Perfume Shrine adds:

isobutyl quinoline … possesses a fiercely potent odour profile described as earthy, rooty, and nutty, echoing certain facets of oakmoss and vetiver and blending very well with both. Isobutyl quinoline also has ambery, woody, tobacco-like undertones: a really rich aromachemical!

Much of that description applies to what I smell in Danger. There is a very quiet, very muted smokiness lurking at the edges, but there is also a definite trace of something tobacco’d to my nose. It pops up about 2.5 hours into Danger’s development, and is definitely nutty in nature, almost verging on a coffee nuance at times. It works very well with the subtle vetiver, the growing presence of the cedar, and the spicy sweetness of the patchouli.

Art by Emma Gallery Art Deco at aliexpress.com

Art by Emma Gallery Art Deco at aliexpress.com

By the end of the 3rd hour, Danger is an infinitely creamy blend of sweet, spicy patchouli with vanilla, amber, vetiver, vaguely tobacco-like tonalities, cedar, and lingering traces of something nebulously herbal. The whole thing is flecked with general woodiness, a subtle smokiness, and tiny touches of cumin — all upon a sliver of something leathered in the base. The lavender lingers in the most abstract, muted form possible. Like the cumin, every time I think it’s finally vanished, a tiny dash of something herbal reappears in the background. Soon thereafter, a little after the start of the 4th hour, Danger turns into a skin scent on me.

"Fire Storm" by Marina Petro. Source: marinapetro.blogspot.com

“Fire Storm” by Marina Petro. Source: marinapetro.blogspot.com

Danger’s core essence remains unchanged for a while. Many of the notes merely turn more abstract, losing their distinct shape and edge, and the perfume devolves into something softer. The amber in the base re-emerges after 6 hours and rises to the surface again, adding a caramel warmth to the patchouli and woods. Tonka is lightly threaded throughout. Around 8.25 hours into Danger’s evolution, the perfume is a soft blur of tonka, patchouli and cedar, all infused with an amorphous, warm, ambered glow.

"Shell Life" by David White. Source: skytopia.com

“Shell Life” by David White. Source: skytopia.com

With every passing moment, the perfume turns more abstract. By the end of the 9th hour, Danger is a creamy, sweet blend of tonka and woodiness with just the lightest touch of patchouli. In its final moments, it is merely slightly powdered tonka with a dash of woodiness. All in all, Danger Extrait lasted just a little over 11.75 hours on my perfume-consuming skin with 3 small sprays from my atomizer. The sillage was generally very soft after the first hour.

I thoroughly enjoyed certain parts of Danger, especially as I’m a serious “patch head,” but I have to confess that my early enthusiasm for the scent waned. The opening 20 minutes are wonderful, especially with the cumin, but the perfume lost a lot of its more interesting qualities at the end of the 90 minutes. There is richness, quality, and spicy warmth galore — no doubt about it. I simply wasn’t very moved by the overall sum total. Don’t get me wrong, Danger is lovely in smell, but it also feels a little uninteresting and simple at its core. If it cost $150 or something more in line with other niche pricing, I wouldn’t have an issue, but I’d like to be moved much more for $435 (a price that is soon going to rise further within the next few days and is for a 50 ml bottle, not a 100 ml one).

I think it really comes down to personal perfume tastes and the Roja Dove style. I’ve reviewed about 7 of his fragrances at this point, from his two Fetishes to Diaghilev, his Amber Aoud, Innuendo or Creation-I for Women, and Enigma (Creation-E), and I can appreciate the solid, core refinement that is his signature. I see the extreme quality, as well as the skill shown by a number of them. But I’m continuously left feeling flat.

Gainsborough. "Landscape with Cows and Human Figure."

Gainsborough. “Landscape with Cows and Human Figure.”

They simply don’t speak to me, move me, or demonstrate a soul other than luxuriousness. Some people like Van Gogh, others like Gainsborough, Rubens or Klimt. There is no doubt that all of them are masters, but they don’t suit every taste. For me, Roja Dove has the perfect brush strokes, but perhaps it’s a little too perfect, and a little too centered on seamless opulence on a largely flat oil canvas. Danger evokes the feel and colours of Gainsborough’s warm, rich landscapes, but I’ve never been particularly swayed by Gainsborough — and I’m not here, either, my patchouli love notwithstanding. For Danger’s very high price, I’d like something a little spark of life or a distinctive character that goes beyond mere luxurious quality and richness. But that’s just me.

Well, perhaps not entirely just me. I was taken aback and completely surprised to see a distinct level of unenthusiasm for Danger on the official Basenotes thread for the fragrance. Some of the comments there:

  • meh.  [¶] bought it blind cuz it was cheap (ish) on ebay and i wanted to try a roja dove. i sold it after three full wearing. it was quite sumptuous but utterly mediocre, if that makes any sense. a sort of amalgam of classic fougeres that just didn’t say anything. apparently he also did puerdistance M; didn’t like that either. i’ll stick with duchaufour, jp guerlain, roucel, sheldrake, thank you very much
  • A boring masculine with no particular twists. The quality is absolutely there but, at these prices, it’s not enough. More “stereotyped” than “classic”.
  • I enjoyed the scent as it started very citrusy and refreshing; then I got a mixture of fougere notes that lasted for about 3 hours max. [¶] I was hoping for a big perfume soul but just got an average masculine fougere with average longevity. [¶] Disappointed… [¶]
    Medium Thumbs !
Source: Wallpaperscraft.com

Source: Wallpaperscraft.com

There is one very positive review, however, and it reads, in part:

Ambregris and Vetiver

I don’t recommend everyone to try the Eau de Parfum concentration. The beauty of Roja’s perfumes lives in the interaction of a sumptuous base with the heart notes, after a bright start (bergamot is the signature usually, bitter but extremely sparkling); to obtain this you should smell, absolutely, the Parfum version. [...][¶]

DpH (parfum concetration) for me is the finest and most sensual combination between tons of natural ambregris (intense salinity, deep and gently animal), and tons of Haiti vetiver burbon with “grandeur”. A sparkling opening of bergamot (as always) dense and palpable with the bright green of galbanum; subtle violaceous nuances of Grasse jasmin and lily of the valley. Finest ingredients made by Robertet in Grasse. I was shocked to percive such that quantity of natural ambregris in a modern perfume, as to keep the salty in the bottom of the tongue and be able to feel it with the taste. So much to fix the drydown for three days on my wirst. Here is the “Danger”: a soft, sensual animality with a great depth (ambregris) in a so luminous fragrance with the most souave vetiver that I’ve smell.

Source: Usafilm.info

Source: Usafilm.info

On Fragrantica, the comments are much more positive, with one noticeable exception:

  • it smells to me more like an oriental fougere than an oriental fragrance. I cannot detect the leather or amber to noticeable; instead, i get a good dose of a classic combination of lavender, spices (with the clove the most noticeable on my skin), herbs, woods and some coumarinic/vanillic touch. It smells true to the good fougere orientals and it makes me think, while not being equal, to Opium Pour Homme and the recent Houbigant Fougere Imperiale. I’m sure that Roja Dove uses excellent materials in his compositions, but the Fougere family is one that for me i don’t see such a deep difference between something more affordable and something expensive like this that would justify the price and purchase.
  • 1725 Casanova is a cheaper option which smells eerily similar to Danger pour homme in terms of its bright floral nature. Roja Dove not shy on ingredients, brings the house with more notes than Mr.T have necklaces. Far from the average “chick magnet” fragrance, this is a conversational piece and dare I say an event on its own. Danger has a complexity that I can only compare to a kaleidoscope. Led by an array of feminine florals, this fragrance manages to never get in its own way. Overall, this is a light airy fragrance with massive sillage and longevity. I found this to be perfectly unisex.
  • Danger Homme Parfum are tons of salty, musky, sweet NATURAL Ambregris (yes, natural ambregris) perfectly balanced with other tons of the best Haiti Vetiver. This wonder opens with the light of bergamot and warmed by soft woods and mountain flowers. A touch of rare natural Grasse-Jasmin gives a subdued suede tone. In this concentration and thanks to ambregris the sillage and longevity are huge.
  • smells like they took Amouage Gold Man and said “let’s try to make this not smell terrible.” and they did a great job, replacing the animalistic element of civet with castoreum, ambergris, and leather. they also tone down the feminine florals to an acceptable level. this to me seems like the best modern take on a classic men’s fragrance. Which does put in more on the mature side for me. And while it lasted all day, the projection was practically none existent on me. [Emphasis to names with bolding added by me.]

I liked Danger the most out of the Roja fragrances that I’ve tried thus far, primarily because I am addicted to real patchouli. The ambergris and cumin touches are also lovely, though I wish the latter were not so muted and intangible. On the other hand, that should reassure any cumin-phobes who might have been put off by Danger’s list of notes.

In short, if you like oriental fougères, real ambergris, tons of patchouli, and spicy warmth, you may want to give Danger Pour Homme a sniff. It is truly unisex, in my opinion, so women who enjoy Histoires de Parfums’ 1725 Casanova, Parfums de Nicolai’s Amber Oud, or patchouli-amber scents in general should have no problems carrying off it off. Whether it moves you enough to be worth the price will be a very different matter, however, and will come down to personal, subjective tastes.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Danger Pour Homme is a Pure Parfum or Extrait that comes a 50 ml/1.7 oz size that costs $435, €395 or £345. There is also a Eau de Parfum version which comes in a 100 ml bottle, and which costs $285, €265, or £225. The U.S. pricing will increase in a few days and in mid-April 2014. In the U.S.: Danger is available in all concentrations from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, though both sites are currently back-ordered at the time of this post. However, New York’s Osswald has both in stock at this time. The 100 ml EDP version is also sold on Amazon, either by “Roja Dove” or “Get Wholesale Price,” for around $391 which is higher than retail. Same thing with Cosmetics Now which sells the EDP of Danger for $355.95. Outside the U.S.: In the U.K, you can buy Danger in all versions directly from Roja Dove at his Haute Parfumerie on the 5th Floor of Harrods, his e-store at Roja Parfums, or Fortnum & Masons. However, Harrods sells only the 100 ml Eau de Parfum version. In France, Jovoy in Paris sells Danger in both versions for €395 or €265. Zurich’s Osswald also carries the full Roja line, and sells Danger, but they don’t really have an e-store. In the UAE, the Paris Gallery carries the whole Roja Parfums line and sells Danger in both Extrait and EDP. For all other locations, you can use the Roja Dove Locations listing which mentions more stores from Poland to Germany, Lithuania, Russia, and the Ukraine. There are no Canadian, Asian or Oceania vendors listed. Samples: If you’re in the U.S. but not close to any of the stores listed above, you can test Danger in either version by ordering samples by phone from OsswaldNY. They offer a deal of 10 samples for $20 (shipping included) for domestic customers. Their phone number is: (212) 625-3111. Surrender to Chance does not carry the fragrance at this time.

Roja Dove Enigma Pour Homme (Creation-E)

Rivers of brandy and tobacco flow out like tributaries to a sea made of spicy, crystallized ginger and dark plum molasses. An ambered wind blows, making the waves froth white peaks made of vanilla mousse, while the sky rains down cardamom, more ginger, and soft cocoa. Eventually, the brandy river dries up, leaving a sea of Christmas plum pudding that crashes onto shores of pure tobacco in a land called Enigma.

Source: listofimages.com

Source: listofimages.com

Roja Dove‘s Enigma Pour Homme is a regal, refined vision of spicy, sweet, boozy, dark and golden richness. The fragrance was released in 2013, but came to America under the name Creation-E due to legal trademark reasons. Some European sites simply call the perfume “Enigma,” which can be misleading as there is also a white-labelled women’s version, but the men’s fragrance is largely unisex in my opinion, despite its name. Enigma or Creation-E comes in two forms, an Extrait Pure Parfum version and an Eau de Parfum. This review is for the Extrait.

Enigma or Creation-E Pour Homme via Bergdorf Goodman.

Enigma or Creation-E Pour Homme via Bergdorf Goodman.

On his personal Roja Parfums website, Roja Dove describes Enigma as follows:

“Mysterious & Compelling – Defy Expectations”
RICH, SOFT, WARM, SPICY, POWDERY, & SENSUAL
“The mystery of the name drove me to create a fragrance that seems to be all things to all people, but itself is certain and assured, whilst creating ambiguity in others”. Roja Dove

INGREDIENTS
TOP: Bergamot
HEART: Geranium, Heliotrope, Jasmine, Neroli, Rose
BASE: Ambergris, Benzoin, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Cognac, Ginger, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Vanilla.

Source: vk.com

Source: vk.com

Enigma opens on my skin with a potent wave of cognac and ginger, followed by spiced, dark fruits, more ginger, tobacco, black pepper, and cardamom. Seconds later, there is a note like the softest milk chocolate cocoa, then rich amber, a whisper of geranium, and drops of vanilla. The tiniest slivers of jasmine and a spicy, rich, dark patchouli pop up momentarily, then fall to the wayside.

Christmas Plum Pudding set on fire with brandy. Source: fooods.net

Christmas Plum Pudding set on fire with brandy. Source: fooods.net

At its core, Enigma’s opening bouquet is spicy ginger in a sea of expensive, heady cognac, dusted by cardamom and infused with dark, juicy, fruits, all atop an ambered base. The walloping, hefty dose of ginger feels both like the spicy, slightly biting fresh kind, and the more sweetened, crystallized variety. It is conjoined with a strong fruited accord that feels like a touch of peach has been mixed into very dark plum molasses cooked with brown sugar. I don’t know where the accord comes from, as there are no fruits listed in the notes, but I’ve tried Enigma a number of times and “Christmas plum pudding” or “ginger sugar plums” is always an immediate thought that crosses my mind. Plum puddings are made with cooked or dried fruits, a lot of ginger and some cardamom, then drenched in brandy, so the association makes some sense.

Enigma’s strong spice basket never feels like a visit to an Arabian souq because of the powerful cognac and ambered warmth. The scent is richly brown, strongly boozy, and sweet, with an almost leathered undercurrent to the resinous base. The amber never feels like ambergris on my skin, but more like a full-bodied, deep, golden warmth that anchors the scent and makes me feel as though I should be sipping from a snifter on a soft leather chair before a library in a very opulent library. On the table beside me should be a pipe, stuffed with sweetened, slightly fruited tobacco but unlit because tobacco is not a central part of Enigma’s opening minutes.

Source: snappypixels.com

Source: snappypixels.com

Other elements add to the vision of richness. The cardamom is very noticeable at first, and utterly lovely. On my skin, it verges on and replicates soft cocoa. While the main ginger scent keeps everything fresh and spicy instead of gourmand, Creation-E also feels as though everything has been crystallized in brown sugar. There is a definite molasses undertone running through the scent like a pulsating vein. Sometimes, it feels like caramel, thanks to the ambergris, but, mostly, it feels like brown sugar drenched in brandy.

Fille en Aiguilles. Source: Serge Lutens' Facebook page.

Fille en Aiguilles. Source: Serge Lutens’ Facebook page.

The overall combination strongly reminds me of bits of other fragrances, all mixed together. The very first time I applied Creation-E, I took one sniff and immediately thought of Serge Lutens‘ fantastic Fille en Aiguilles. The latter has a definite ginger sugar-plum aroma atop a resinous base of brown sugar sap. Enigma feels like a super-saturated, heavy, second cousin to the Lutens fragrance, only without the latter’s strong frankincense or pine notes.

At the same time, however, Creation-E is built upon a plum pudding note with tobacco that called to mind Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille. I did a side-by-side test one day. The Tom Ford fragrance lacks Enigma’s powerful brandy note, is substantially more vanillic, has touches of beeswax, and very little ginger. However, there is a subtle plumminess underlying all that tobacco and vanilla that feels like distant kinship. In short, if the crystallized ginger plumminess of Fille en Aiguilles had a three-way, torrid, sexual escapade with the tobacco vanilla of the Tom Ford and the hefty, fruited booziness of Kilian’s Apple Brandy, the love child might be Roja Dove’s Enigma.

On my skin, the core essence of Creation-E remains largely unchanged for the first few hours. There are small notes that come and go. The hint of geranium vanishes after mere seconds, though it pops up again at the end of the first hour for a brief moment, adding a peppered, leafy, green piquancy before it disappears again. The heliotrope lurks about in the background in the opening minutes, but never really makes a proper appearance on my skin. I don’t detect any rose at all, nor neroli. After 20 minutes, the jasmine creeps into the background, but it is extremely muted, subtle, and short-lived.

Kephalis. Source: Givaudan.

Kephalis. Source: Givaudan.

The tobacco is equally subtle at first, but it grows stronger with every passing minute. I have to be honest, this was a slightly difficult note for me, and I like tobacco a lot. When I first tested Creation-E, I dabbed it on and only in a small quantity. I was hit by a very distinctive aromachemical whiff. To me, it smelled like Kephalis, a synthetic that I’ve encountered 3 or 4 times before and which Givaudan describes as follows:

Kephalis is a very versatile and rich product, used as a long lasting heart/basic note. It blends well with floral notes (jasmine, rose, violet, lavender, etc.) as well as sophisticated amber, woody-aldehydic, tobacco and masculine creations.

On the other hand, there are any number of tobacco aromachemicals on the market with woody-ambered characteristics, and I’m certainly no expert on the subject. I don’t know which one was used in Enigma, but there is no doubt in my mind that the tobacco note is chemical.

Source: cigarettezoom.com

Source: cigarettezoom.com

The second and third times that I tested Creation-E, I sprayed instead of dabbed, and I applied quite a bit. To my relief, the richness of the other notes drowned out that chemical harshness and left only sweetened pipe tobacco as an aroma. So quantity makes a distinct difference, at least at first, since the sharp dryness does reappear later. That said, I realise that my nose is much more sensitive to aromachemicals than most, and that the average person is completely unfazed by them, if they can even detect them at all. However, I can only recount what I smell, and I detect a tobacco whose aromachemical nature was very noticeable at times. I doubt anyone else would be bothered by it, so let’s move on.

Photo: Greg Meyer at coastalphotography.com.au

Photo: Greg Meyer at coastalphotography.com.au

Enigma shifts and starts to change after 30 minutes. The vanilla grows stronger, turning into a deep, frothy mousse that is really lovely. The tobacco’s aroma-chemical twinge starts to creep around the edges, but it is easy to ignore at this point, especially as the perfume turns more golden, ambered, and warm. Enigma feels almost unctuous in its beautifully rich, completely narcotic depth, as if rivers of ginger, plum molasses, and pipe tobacco had merged with small streams of creamy vanilla to flow into a sea of brandy. Cardamom, black pepper, and amber rain down from above, while a lone dove of jasmine flies over, then vanishes out of sight.

The cognac is particularly intoxicating, but not in the singular and excessive way that Kilian’s Apple Brandy manifested itself on my skin. Enigma has massive body, like the most expensive, aged liqueur can have, with layer upon layer of other elements to create a multi-faceted bouquet. Yes, there is a hefty amount of unadulterated booze on my skin, but there is also a lot more, so that it feels as though I’m wearing actual perfume, not that I’ve accidentally slipped into a vat of Calvados or Armagnac.

Source: edchef.com

Source: edchef.com

At the end of the first hour, Enigma is a tobacco-ginger plum pudding, dusted with more ginger, set in a sea of crème anglaise vanilla sauce, then drenched with brandy and set on fire. It’s a potent, rich bouquet with only 2 small atomizer sprays but the sillage isn’t overpowering. Initially, the Extrait pulsated out about 3 inches above the skin, but at the end of the second hour, Enigma drops to an inch above the skin. At the start of the 4th hour, it is almost a skin scent, though still extraordinarily rich and easy to detect up close.

Tobacco leaves. Source: pipesmagazine.com

Tobacco leaves. Source: pipesmagazine.com

Creation-E continues to shift by microscopic fractions. The cognac begins to fade away by the end of the 2nd hour, as the tobacco grows more powerful. By the start of the 4th hour, the booziness has vanishes almost entirely, though a lingering richness pops up occasionally at the edges for another hour. Enigma is now largely a tobacco vanilla scent with dark plummy fruits, dusted with ginger and other more amorphous spices, all atop a smooth, golden, ambered base. 4.5 hours in, the perfume turns drier and woodier in feel, centered mostly on spiced tobacco and ginger, lightly flecked by vanilla and dried fruits. It is also a complete skin scent by this point.

By the end of the 7th hour, Enigma is primarily a tobacco fragrance on my skin. It feels dry, dark, and with a nuance that is almost leathered. There is very little sweetness or vanilla, though a trace of gingered plums remains at the periphery along with a thin smear of abstract amber. To me, the tobacco smells aromachemical in nature with a harsh woodiness. Again, I doubt anyone else will feel the same way. Tiny flickers of benzoin and a vague hint of lightly powdered tonka appear in the last few hours, but they are very muted and muffled on me. In its final moments, Enigma fades away as a blur of woody tobacco. All in all, the Extrait lasted 10.5 hours on me with 2 small sprays from an atomizer (amounting to one big spray from a bottle), and almost 12 hours with more.

Roja Dove via Twitter.

Roja Dove via Twitter.

I very much enjoyed parts of Creation-E. The richness of the cognac, spice basket, Christmas pudding opening was marvelously intoxicating. It all felt very regal, heady, and sophisticated. While I was unenthused by the aromachemical clamour of the tobacco, that actually wasn’t my main difficulty with the scent. It was that Enigma Extrait felt a little too monolithic and unchanging. On my skin, the core essence of the Extrait was primarily some version of ginger plum molasses with tobacco, and I found that a little tiring after a while. That said, I think Enigma would be lovely to wear once in a while in the winter. It’s the sort of scent that makes you feel like dressing up in a velvet smoking jacket, putting on a silk ascot, and taking out a pipe. In short, it makes you feel a little like you’ve suddenly turned into Roja Dove himself.

There is a lot of hype, buzz, and adulation for Creation-E out there. In fact, there is so much that I rather expected the perfume to fall short. It doesn’t, for the most part, though I don’t share the wild worship for the scent that many others do. Creation-E actually suits my personal tastes much more than the famous Diaghilev, perhaps because it feels more modern or perhaps because boozy orientals are more my style. Either way, I think Enigma is definitely worth trying for anyone who enjoys a scent that is a mixture of the best parts of Fille en Aiguilles, Apple Brandy, and Tobacco Vanille. It’s absolutely unisex in that regard.

Source: Basenotes

Source: Basenotes

There are no blog reviews that I can find for Creation-E, but there is a lot of talk about the scent on different Basenotes threads, as well as some Fragrantica reviews. I hadn’t read any of them while I was tested the perfume, so I was interested to see that a number of people brought up Tobacco Vanille on Fragrantica. There, commentators are largely positive:

  • this has the most realistic tobacco note I have ever smelled. There are comparisons to Tobacco Vanille, but to be honest it does not remind me of TV at all. The sweetness isn’t there, the spicy potpourri scent isn’t there…This is just…Well, better. [¶] To be honest, this reminds me EXACTLY of a Coca-Cola slushie from Target, with a tobacco note added…In a good way. [¶] Also, there is a lightness (but potent, make no mistake)to this that makes it wearable almost all year round, excluding extremely hot days. I could see this being worn on a cooler summer night even. [¶] Definitely, DEFINITELY full bottle worthy for me.
  • The opening is similar to Root Beer Soda.
    Its okay. If I compare it to the Roja Dove line, it’s better from the bunch.
    Probably the only almost original scent.
    The other fragrances of the Roja Dove line are knock offs, of less quality and less less appealing of Guerlain and Amouage.
  • To me this fragrance centres around the cognac experience. The opening is most certainly boozy with the cognac unravelling its characteristics slowly. [¶] Milder spices such as pepper and ginger fuse together with the raw sweetness of vanilla. I also get a floral note amidst this composition. A pipe tobacco lingers throughout combining well with the wetter elements of cognac.
  • THE TOBACCO VANILLE KILLER! FOLKS, IF YOU HAVEN’T TRIED THIS YET… PLEASE DO! ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIKE TOBACCO VANILLE. THIS HAS AN COGNAC TWIST TO IT, THAT’S ALL.
Source: dailymail.co.uk

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Perhaps the most useful assessment comes from a chap called “Taskphorce” who compares Enigma in the Extrait version that I’ve talked about here with the Eau de Parfum concentration. His review reads, in part, as follows:

The cognac is so authentic and attractive and a friend who interviewed Roja Dove informed me that Roja incorporated actual extracts from a Cognac distillery into this fragrance. The Eau de Parfum seems to hold the Cognac note throughout the entire fragrance whereas the Extrait seems to turn slightly floral in the base. Regardless, both strength’s are of high quality and the differences are insignificant. In the base, I am detecting a semi-sweet vanillic tobacco and the cognac is still lingering. I hate to say this because I respect and love Krigler but Established Cognac doesn’t compare to Creation E. The Cognac note dissipates in nearly 5 minutes with Est. Cognac. I am on hour 6 and the cognac note is holding strong. I can’t get enough of this fragrance. It has quickly climbed to the top in my top 5. I am becoming obsessed with Roja Parfums and am already plotting my next purchase. You get what you pay for and Roja Parfums are so complex, unique, and produced with the finest materials in the world, it is my opinion that they are unmatched in the industry.

Ginger. iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

Ginger. iStock photo via Wetpaint.com

On Basenotes, an early thread on Enigma has similarly positive thoughts. It opens with a brief review from “Hedonist222″ who writes, in part:

(I gave the parfum extrait a thorough wearing)
It starts out with lots of ginger thats softened by cognac, musk & benzoin.

Heliotrope & cardamom are still lurking.

A while into it and all the perky notes have now evaporated and what’s left are somber notes like tobacco, benzoin Ambergris,.

These set the stage for a mellow floral accord.

Ginger remains prominent but softens as the perfume develops.

It’s a very good perfume. Completely unimposing, very smooth. Regal.

A few others agree with the description of “regal,” and one person called Enigma-E “outstanding.” On the other side of the aisle, however, someone called “Rouj” wrote that he was never impressed with Enigma to wear it out of the store.

Basenotes’ official entry for Enigma Pour Homme only has one review listed thus far. “FISS80″ writes, in part:

Heliotrope. Photo: Crystal Venters via Dreamtime.com

Heliotrope. Photo: Crystal Venters via Dreamtime.com

This fragrance has an old school vibe without actually smelling dated. I can see the comparisons to TV [Tobacco Vanille] but it is an absolutely different fragrance altogether. It is much lighter and no where near as sweet. I swear I smell the neroli and bergamote all the way through its development. The tobacco and vanilla are blended extremely well and the cardamom comes through in a big way towards the end. I think that the dry down more closely resembles Spicebomb than TV. I thought and thought about what this fragrance reminds me of. Finally I got it. This brings me back to my grade school days doing arts and crafts! I believe it is the heliotrope in the opening that does this. In any case, I really like the cognac in this. To me it is this note and the heliotrope that set it apart from both of the aforementioned fragrances. That and its superb construction. Well blended, long lasting, perfect projection, and excellent longevity. 8/10 [Emphasis and bolding to names added by me.]

Source: wallpaperwa.com

Source: wallpaperwa.com

I love heliotrope, so I’m rather envious of his experience, as well as that of “Mick Trick” who also detected a lot of the same note. In another early Basenotes thread, he writes about the Extrait/Parfum version:

Initial thoughts from hand sample last night and full wear today. Enigma enters with a floral plume, almondy heliotrope and touch of slightly indolic jasmine and neroli combine with benzoin laced vanilla and congac to give an ever so slightly dirty boozy honey like accord. As the heart is revealed an ambery creamy sandalwood accord joins the fray and builds in strength towards the drydown where it dominates as the florals recede. During this stage where Enigma is at its sweetest it shares some similarity to Amber Narguile in its feel. Tobacco (unsmoked and fine) is in the mix and plays a supporting role, becoming more prominent during the drydown also. The drydown actually reminds me a little of a more opulent and less synthetic version of the Opus VI late drydown, but playing at a much lower volume. Basically it’s a sandalwood laced amber at this stage, fuelled by benzoin and vanilla and a touch of spice. The sweetness level drops slightly during late drydown as it hums a soulful soft ambery resinous tune, some white musks enter at this point it is incredibly delicious and alluring, one of the softest most velvety delicate things I have ever experienced. [Emphasis to names with bolding added by me.]

If you will notice, all of the scents brought up in these comparisons are unisex ones. So, if you are a woman reading this review, do not be put off by the “Pour Homme” part of Enigma’s name. If you have a taste for Orientals that are boozy, ambered, spicy, fruited, and tobacco’d in nature, you will have no problems carrying off the scent.

Creation-E is not cheap, and its American price is soon going to go up even further. Right now, a 50 ml bottle of the Extrait costs $435, €395 or £345. I’ve read that the U.S. price is going increase around the early or middle part of April by about $30 or so, if I remember correctly. If you’ve already tried Enigma Extrait and want to purchase it, now may be your time. (As a side note, I found a discounted bottle on Amazon, though there is only one left. Check the Details section at the end.) If you have wanted to test the perfume, you can order samples from OsswaldNY. If you’re in New York, Bergdorf Goodman carries the Roja Dove line, while Neiman Marcus is your best bet for other parts of the country.

Regardless of your location or country, if you love Enigma but are put off by its cost, there are a number of groups that offer perfume splits or small decants on a more affordable basis. Basenotes has a Splits section, while Facebook has a few different, perfume groups that you can join, like Facebook Fragrance Friends. However, you may need someone to recommend you to the main one, International Fragrances Split Association, that I believe is currently offering all the Roja Dove fragrances.

Is Enigma Pour Homme worth a test sniff? If you love rich Orientals with either tobacco or booziness, then absolutely. It’s very well done. Whether or not it brings you to your knees will depend very much on how you feel about ginger, plum pudding, cognac, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, and the price.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Enigma or Creation-E Pure Parfum Extrait is available in a 50 ml/1.7 oz size which costs $435, €395 or £345. There is also a Eau de Parfum version which comes in a 100 ml bottle, and which costs €265, £265, or around $350. In the U.S.: Creation-E in the 50 ml Extrait form is sold at Neiman MarcusBergdorf Goodman, and Osswald NYC. Creation-E Extrait is also sold at a big discount on Amazon at $349, and the seller is listed as both “Roja Dove” and “SAI Holdings WW INC.” Outside the U.S.: In the UK, you can buy Enigma Pour Homme from Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie on the 5th Floor of Harrods. Roja Dove also has an e-store at Roja Parfums, and he sells the 50 ml Extrait for £345, while the 100 ml EDP is £225. In France, Jovoy Paris is the exclusive distributor for Roja Dove perfumes, but the website only shows the Extrait version in the white Women’s bottle. I can’t see the black-labelled men’s version on the site. Zurich’s Osswald also carries Roja Parfums, but I don’t see Enigma on their list. In the UAE, the Paris Gallery carries the Roja Parfums line, but only has the Extrait from what I can see, not the EDP. It’s priced at AED 2,050. For all other locations, you can use the Roja Dove Locations listing which mentions more stores from Poland to Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, Russia, and the Ukraine. I don’t see any Canadian, Asian, or Oceania vendors. Samples: If you’re in the U.S. but have no access to one of the listed stores, you can order samples by phone from OsswaldNY. They offer a deal of 10 samples for $20 (shipping included) for domestic customers. Their phone number is: (212) 625-3111. Surrender to Chance does not carry the fragrance at this time.