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.

Frapin 1270

Frapin Chateau via the Frapin website.

The Frapin Chateau via the Frapin website.

In France’s wine country, in a parallel universe, there is a cognac estate covered by acres of fruit trees whose heavy, sun-ripened treasures drip their sweet juices straight into oak barrels filled with rum and brandy. There, the rich stew of rum raisin, orange, and plums is infused with vanilla, the light powder of tonka, and cocoa. There is a suggestion of grape flowers that swirls in the air, vying with caramel and dry woods that are streaked with the tiniest vein of smokiness. As night falls, the golden booziness fades away, leaving a cozy sheath of creamy vanilla woods. The date is 1270, the golden blend is called 1270, and the estate is the ancient one of the House of Frapin.

Frapin is relatively new to the perfume scene, having started just six years ago in 2008, but the line has been making luxury cognac for centuries. In fact, the family behind it goes back almost 800 years. To quote a Vanity Fair article,

The Frapin’s rich family heritage is the stuff of a whimsical, old-world romance novel—and, according to creative director David Frossard, the key inspiration for all seven fragrances in the line. One of the oldest and most established families in France, the Frapins have been distilling cognac from their original Fontpinot Castle, situated on 300 hectares in the Grand Champagne region of France, since 1270 and through 20 generations; they expanded into fragrance in 2008. And if a castle isn’t enough of a fairy tale for you, Louis XIV himself granted official nobility to the Frapin family in 1697.

Frapin Castle. Source: Frapin website.

Frapin Castle. Source: Frapin website.

Frapin, as a perfume house, is perhaps best known for its 1270 fragrance which is an eau de parfum created by Sidonie Lancesseur and released in 2010. In the press copy quoted by many sites, Frapin explains the meaning behind the 1270 name, as well as what the scent is meant to evoke:

1270 via Luckyscent.

1270 via Luckyscent.

Named for the year the Frapin family established itself in the Cognac region of France (and continues to make cognac to this day), 1270 was created by Beatrice Cointreau, great granddaughter of Pierre Frapin.

Together with Frapin’s Cellar Master, she sought to create a noble fragrance full of the scents surrounding the creation of cognac. 1270 is dry, rich, velvety and smooth.

The flowers of the once-proud Folle Blanche (a grape nearly extinct from the region), the vineyard grass, the wine warehouse, the rich smell of damp earth in the cellars, the wood of new casks, the loamy smell of humus where the ancestral cognacs are stored- all these notes can be detected in 1270. Gorgeous is putting it mildly… this scent defies flowery prose.

The notes in 1270, as compiled from Fragrantica and First in Fragrance, include:

Top: Candied Orange, Nut, Raisin, Plum, Cocoa, Tonka Bean, Coffee
Heart: Vine Flower, Everlasting Flower [Immortelle], Linden Blossom (Tilia), Pepper, Spices
Base: Woods, Guaiac Wood, White Honey, Vanilla

Source: vk.com

Source: vk.com

1270 opens on my skin with Bourbon vanilla and light brandy booziness, followed by juicy oranges, dark plums, caramelized cooked raisins, and a tiny sprinkling of cocoa powder. There is also the faintest suggestion of sweetened powder from the tonka vanilla. As a whole, 1270 feels quite concentrated, but also very light at the same time.

My immediate, first impression is of a deliciously cozy, warm fragrance that feels comforting and soothing. I particularly like how well-balanced the notes are, from the boozy cognac (which sometimes veers into rum territory), the fruited juiciness, and 1270’s overall sweetness. Neither element feels out of whack with the others. Even better, the perfume isn’t painfully sweet or cloying on my skin at all. For someone like myself who isn’t particularly enthused by gourmand fragrances and who shies away from extreme sweetness, 1270 feels just right.

Rum Raisins. Source: Diary of a Mad Hausfrau. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Rum Raisins. Source: Diary of a Mad Hausfrau. (Website link embedded within photo.)

A vague woodiness lurks in 1270’s background, evoking the image of old cognac barrels made out of oak. At first, it is merely a light touch, but it starts almost immediately to seep towards the core bouquet of notes. On my skin, that bouquet is primarily of a boozy, fruited sweetness dominated by rum-raisin and caramelized Bourbon vanilla. The orange notes are muted at this point, as is the light dusting of cocoa powder. One of my favorite parts is the odd sensation of grape flowers (does such a thing even exist?) that pops up every now and then. It’s a subtle floralacy with a nuance of dark, damask grapes, and much more interesting than the more typical rum-raisin molasses.

1270 slowly begins to shift. The muted touch of cocoa suddenly becomes quite prominent after 40 minutes, as does the orange. The perfume feels like a dance of swirling elements, from the cocoa-dusted oranges, to the brandy-rum, and the tonka vanilla. The woody accord looks on from the sidelines, biding its time and letting the main fruited elements shine in the spotlight. The wood note still feels primarily like oak, but the guaiac is slowly becoming more noticeable as well. As for the vanilla, its Bourbon-like nuances slowly fade, replaced by the delicate, very cozy, soothing touches of pure tonka. I keep thinking of caramelized vanilla, even though tonka really has nothing to do with that, but something in 1270 underscores that impression.

Photo: Kevin Lynch at closetcooking.com

Photo: Kevin Lynch at closetcooking.com

At first, 1270 is simultaneously both a very potent scent, and a really sheer one. It almost feels thin in its gauziness. The notes themselves are strong, but not the weight of the perfume. Even the sillage is soft. Though 1270 initially wafts 2-3 inches above the skin, the projection drops quickly after 20 minutes. By the end of the first hour, 1270 hovers a mere inch above the skin. It turns into a skin scent shortly before the 2.25 hour mark, lingering on for many more hours as a discrete cozy cocoon of warmth that feels quite suitable as an office scent.

Vanilla powder. Source: food.ninemsn.com.au

Vanilla powder. Source: food.ninemsn.com.au

1270’s first major change occurs at the end of 90 minutes. At that point, the woody element leaps onto center stage, pushing the cognac fruits back, and dancing with the tonka vanilla. 1270 has suddenly transformed into a tonka vanilla scent thoroughly infused with dry woods and a light nuance of smoky darkness lurking deep in its base. The guaiac is now more evident than the oak, but there feels as though a touch of cedar is flitting about, too.

About 2.5 hours into the perfume’s development, the woods grow smoother, but also a touch smokier as well. Guaiac can sometimes have the aroma of autumnal leaves burning in a bonfire, and there is the lightest suggestion of that here in 1270 as well. The leaves are lightly dusted by an amorphous blend of spices, but the main bouquet is of soft vanilla woods. Something about the overall combination reminds me of a more refined, more elegant version of Imaginary Author‘s Memoirs of a Trespasser, but without the latter’s synthetics, guaiac sourness, or stale nuances. 1270 continues to manifest a lingering trace of cognac fruitiness at its edges, but I don’t detect any immortelle with its maple syrup characteristics. There is no linden blossom either on my skin, and absolutely zero coffee.

A lovely creaminess arrives at the start of the 4th hour, transforming the vanilla woods into something richer and warmer. It muffles the touch of smokiness, turning 1270’s main focus back to tonka coziness with dry woods and vanilla. The latter is a lovely note that feels as silky as ice-cream, but never too sweet. An abstract floral element pops up every now and then; it feels like a white flower, but still nothing like lemony linden blossoms. The cognac fruits continue to linger on at the edges, but they are the tiniest, muted touch now. The same thing applies to the sprinkles of spice that, occasionally, seem like cinnamon.

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

Source: wallpaperscraft.com

As a whole, 1270 is primarily a swirl of rich, creamy tonka vanilla with oaked woods. And it remains that way for hours to come. A few secondary notes wax and wane in the distance, but the core essence of the perfume is quite linear. 1270 simply turns more sheer and translucent, a mere trace of golden silkiness on the skin. In its final moments, 1270 is a smear of something vaguely vanillic that is alternatively sweet and a little dry.

Every time I wore 1270, I kept thinking about how it would be a great office fragrance for someone who wanted a very personal, subtle touch of warm sweetness. 1270’s longevity adds to this impression, as 3 small spritzes from my atomizer resulted in a fragrance that remained an incredibly long time on my skin. The two times that I tried 1270, it consistently lasted over 10 hours: roughly 10.75 hours with a small quantity, and 12.5 with double the amount. In all cases, however, I had to put my nose right on the skin, and sniff hard to detect it after 6 hours. This is a very intimate, discreet fragrance. As a side note, I happen to think that 1270 skews a tiny bit feminine, primarily because of the lightly powdered tonka, but there are quite a few men who adore the scent, so it’s going to come down to your personal tastes.

Photo: choco-mello.blogspot.com

Photo: choco-mello.blogspot.com

Reading the reactions to 1270 on Luckyscent was interesting because they range all over the place. Some people rave about 1270 as the most delicious thing ever, while a few simply shrug. One woman finds the perfume to be too masculine, while a man thought it was too feminine. A few people talk about how 1270 smells like pineapples, while others talk about either vanilla butterscotch, rum raisins, or honeyed flowers. One person complains that it actually was not boozy at all. For some, it is too sweet, while others say think it is just perfect. A number of people aren’t enthused by the opening, but love the “spicy,” “warm” drydown. Others fall in love immediately from the start. There is also absolutely no agreement on how long the fragrance lasts, its potency, or its sillage. One person wrote about how 1270 was heartbreakingly fleeting, others say it lasts forever. As you can see, there is no consensus — on anything at all.

On Fragrantica, it’s almost the same story. However, judging by the votes given in the longevity and sillage categories, there does seem to be more of an agreement. For duration, there were 29 votes for Moderate (3-6 hours) and 25 for Long-Lasting (7-12 hours). In terms of sillage, the vast majority (53 people) found 1270 to have the lowest amount of projection possible, voting for the “soft” category, followed by 32 people choosing “moderate.”

Pineapple upside-down cake. Source: browneyedbaker.com

Pineapple upside-down cake. Source: browneyedbaker.com

I was interested to see that, once again, the issue of pineapple came up in terms of what people detected in 1270. For quite a few people actually, though most seemed to love it. One chap writes, in part:

The pineapple note is the first thing that hits you and it’s sweet and realistic then there’s a coffee, patchouli, cacao, vanilla wonderfully Nutty gourmand thing.
1270 is a class act from start to finish it makes you smell edible…positively edible. I don’t mean this in a ridiculous sense but in a deeply sensual way. The pineapple is persistent and you do get a jammy, plummy little bit figgy thing too it’s an immense fragrance.
If you couldn’t tell I adore this scent my first impressions have been very good however it didn’t last very long on my skin. Once again a second wear should yield answers regarding longevity.

Update: Upon wearing a second time I’m just as captivated as when I first caught a whiff of this lovely juice. To me the prominent notes are pineapple, cacao and wood. It’s almost like a pineapple upside-down cake covered in nutella, it has a kind of caramelized quality without being too sweet. I think that’s because of the honey element and the fact that it doesn’t feel ‘blended’ particularly, more like the pineapple sits right on the top and feels juicy and clear compared to the warm,sweet base. I adore this fragrance and really want it but the performance is a bit of a let down and it doesn’t project. Despite this it smells really really good[.]

Source: colourbox.com

Source: colourbox.com

Other posters had a vastly different experience. I was surprised to see that, for a few people, 1270 actually did have a coffee aroma, mixed in with all the rest. For a handful, plum was much more noticeable. Below are some other impressions of 1270, from women and men alike, including a review from someone who doesn’t like cognac but loves this fragrance:

  • It would be a strange choice for someone who doesn’t even like/drink cognac, but…love at first sniff! Warm and cozy, this scent envelops you and carries away. A co-worker told me that a woman wearing this scent does not belong in the mundane office environment, more like a gent’s club where expensive cigars are being smoked, expensive leathers are everywhere you look, expensive drinks are being poured. [¶] No great projection or longevity. It is a very intimate scent. However, and maybe for this exact reason, I want to hold on to it and never let it go.
  • The opening made me fall in love with this perfume. best opening ever! I couldn’t believe how good this smelled. it’s a delicious raisin/plummy/sweet honey/coffee/vanilla combo. Incredibly blended. I’ve heard a couple people say this reminds them of butterscotch, and I can see that too I guess. 1270 has two distinct phases on my skin. 1st- the awesome opening which lasts an hour or two. 2nd- a subtle vanilla drydown that goes away way too quickly. This perfume lasts a total of about 2 to 3 hours on me. This would be my signature if not for the poor longevity. Still and all, I will always always own a bottle of this, no matter how quick it disappears on me. love it love it love it.
  • Legitimate liquor in the form of perfume. [¶] 1270 is somewhat spicy, also boozy, however, the fruity notes are outstanding, most notably plum, who joins perfectly to honey, a mix warm and sweet, and later comforted by creamy vanilla. [¶] It creates the appearance gourmand, but feel a background resin, coffee or chocolate, something like that, delightfully well done, a scent so perfect that I do not care about the projection, i walk with a decant.
  • This perfume gyrates all sweetness and spice without tip-toeing over the line into cloying. Far too simple for my tastes at this price tag, however, but a lovely, comforting fragrance nonetheless. I wish Frapin had walked the line a little tighter, risked a little more for a truly unforgettable fragrance instead of this very lovely, but very safe bet.
  •  Initially I loved it, a rich gourmand scent with my favorite vanilla tonka accord. Yum. Sniffing it was so satisfying with the pineapple, plum and coffee smells and it was sweet and somehow chewy like Panforte. My only hesitation was that it was maybe too masculine for me. Well I got over the masculine problem but what finally kept this from being a “love” is the longevity. On me it doesn’t last more than six hours and if I’m going to spend this kind of money I’d like it to last all day. Also, as the weather has gotten warmer, I’ve found it somehow smells more musky and manly. I’ll try it again in when the weather cools down[.]
Photo: Dove Voice via congok.com

Photo: Dove Voice via congok.com

A few men find 1270 to be similar to Thierry Mugler‘s A*men line, with one saying “[t]his is a beautiful fragrance….a niche version of Pure Malt with more natural ingredients.” However, a number of other people think that 1270 is merely pleasant, but without sufficient complexity or uniqueness. I don’t think they’re wrong on that score. 1270 is extremely nice, but it’s not the most original, edgy, complicated or nuanced fragrance around.

However, in all fairness, that is not Frapin’s goal. They seek to make boozy fragrances with refined, top-notch ingredients for a scent that is comforting, cozy, luxurious and sweet. The price tag for that is, currently, $145 or €105 for a large 100 ml bottle, a decent figure which is quite moderate by the admittedly skewed standards of the niche world. Even better, you can still find 1270 in a few places for much less. (See the Details section at the end.) So, is this a scent that is worth $145? That will depend strongly on your personal tastes, and on how long 1270 lasts on your skin. It certainly smells expensive to me, and feels high-quality in nature.

Two minor, unrelated issues are worth mentioning. First, a handful of people on Luckyscent have stated that they think 1270 has been reformulated, as their recent purchases reflected a scent that is markedly different from what they had once owned. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true, as all perfumes seem to get watered down or reformulated into something weaker after a while. Second, there seems to be a weird situation on a number of retail sites, including Frapin’s own e-boutique itself, where 1270 is the one perfume in the range which is unavailable or unlisted. 1270 has not been discontinued, as it is Frapin’s flagship fragrance, so I can only assume that it has sold out.

As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed 1270, but I wasn’t moved by passionate love. It’s nice, very nice, but it’s a little hard to get excited about 1270 and I can’t figure out why. Perhaps it is because, at its core, 1270 is both uncomplicated and very discreet, two things that aren’t my personal cup of tea. Perhaps, I simply find it hard to lose my crackers over very sweet vanillic scents. I don’t know. That said, I definitely think that 1270 is worth trying if you’re looking for a very intimate, cozy fragrance that is an easy, “wearable,” “grown-up gourmand.”

Given the very sharp divergence in opinions, however, I don’t think 1270 is suitable for a blind buy. Maybe, it will turn to caramelized “pineapple upside-down cake covered in nutella” on you, or will feel too much like something suitable for someone of the opposite gender. 1270 might be a “fleeting heartbreaker,” or perhaps it lasts but turns out to be too sweet for your personal tastes. Try before you buy!

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: 1270 is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 3.4 oz/100 ml and which costs $145, €105 or £98. In the U.S.: 1270 is available at Luckyscent, though they are currently back-ordered with future shipments to go out in April. You find 1270 currently in stock at Beautyhabit. MinNewYork does not have 1270 listed among the Frapin scents on their website. Amazon has 1270, and discounts it for $110 instead of $145. The seller is alternatively said to be Frapin itself or “Euro Sale.” Outside the U.S.: In Canada, 1270 is available at The Perfume Shoppe for CAD $145. In Europe, you should technically be able to buy 1270 directly from Frapin’s perfume website. However, it is the strangest thing: 1270 is the sole Frapin fragrance not listed. In the U.K., it is available at Bloom Perfumery. In France, Frapin is carried by a whole host of sellers. Premiere Avenue sells 1270 at the old price of €96. Some Frapin retailers don’t show 1270 on their websites with the rest of the Frapin scents, like Paris’ Jovoy. Other Paris retailers, however, are Marie-Antoinette in the Marais and Nose. In the Netherlands, you can find 1270 at ParfuMaria. For the rest of Europe, there is First in Fragrance which sells 1270 for €105. In Australia, you can find 1270 at Meyers or Libertine which sells it for AUD$195. In Dubai, you can find Frapin at Harvey Nicks, among other vendors. For all other countries from Italy and Lithuania to Austria, South Africa, Kuwait, the Ukraine, Russia and many others, you can use Frapin’s Points of Sale page. SamplesSurrender to Chance sells 1270 starting at $3.99 for a 1 ml vial. A number of the vendors on this page also sell samples.

Majda Bekkali Fusion Sacrée (Lui): Drunken Gourmand

“Rum is for drinking, not burning,” is the opinion of one hardcore rock group with a song by that same name. Apparently, Bertrand Duchaufour and Majda Bekkali think otherwise, judging by their fragrance Fusion Sacrée Pour Lui. It is a firmly unisex celebration of hot buttered rum that sets sail like a battleship in a sea of a thick, gooey caramel flecked by flotsam of sweet oranges, bitter neroli, lavender, coffee, vanilla, and seemingly every other element under the sun. The whole thing is then set on fire, burnt with smoke, though it does little to alter the vessel’s gourmand heart. Hours later, it washes up on vanilla sands where it rests in a haze of sweetness.

Wallpaper by Njanj. Source: scenicreflections.com

Wallpaper by Njanj. Source: scenicreflections.com

Majda Bekkali launched her eponymous perfume house — Majda Bekkali Parfums or Majda Bekkali Sculptures Olfactives — in 2010. According to her website, she did so after years of developing fragrances for luxury brands because she wished to move away from commercial imperatives and marketing approaches. Initially, Ms. Bekkali began with two fragrances for her new house but, in 2012 or 2013, she released Fusion Sacrée.

Fusion Sacrée via Luckyscent.

Fusion Sacrée via Luckyscent.

The eau de parfum comes in dual Men’s and Women’s versions, both of which were created by Bertrand Duchaufour. In my opinion, Fusion Sacrée Pour Lui is, despite its name, a very unisex fragrance, thanks to its richly gourmand heart. Speaking of names, Luckyscent calls the scent Fusion Sacrée Obscur (Lui), but that seems unusual. “Obscur” is also not part of the perfume’s title on Ms. Bekkali’s website, where it is listed as “Fusion Sacrée Pour Lui.” (For convenience and speed, from this point forth, I’ll simply call the fragrance, “Fusion Sacrée.”)

On her website, The Sculptures Olfactives, Majda Bekkali describes Fusion Sacrée as follows:

A battle of contrasting forces is at the heart of everything. A divinely balanced equilibrium.

A contrasting note which in the first place proposes its delicious, mouth-watering facet with a drop of rum and celery and an outpouring of opulent spices. Fusion Sacrée Obscur then reveals a voluptuous and velvety heart where creamy notes of white coffee and tuberose unite. The base notes are earthy, woody and resinous conferring this miraculous moment of sacred fusion with a vibrant and unforgettable aura.

Caramelized sauce amberAccording to Luckyscent, the many notes in Fusion Sacrée include:

Rum, citron, celery, sweet orange, neroli, cardamom, lavender, davana, bergamot, white coffee, tuberose absolute, cloves, geranium, sweet william pear, liquorice, benzoin resinoid, opoponax [sweet myrrh] resinoid, ambergris, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, caramel and musk.

There are 23 notes on that list, and I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that they all hit me at once when I put Fusion Sacrée on my skin. At once. Simultaneously. All of them! Well, all right, there is a wee bit of hyperbole, simply because the tuberose, cloves, sandalwood, and davana flower took a little longer to show up, but, honestly, I felt as though I’d been hit by a force-field of incredibly strong, multifaceted olfactory notes.

Source: iwallpapersfive.com

Source: iwallpapersfive.com

Fusion Sacrée really is that intense of an opening salvo, especially if you commit the error that I did the first time around and apply a lot. In the case of Fusion Sacrée, though, “a lot” is quite a relative thing; 3 sprays from my tiny atomizer (or the equivalent of 2 good sprays from an actual bottle) sent me reeling. You really need to get used to this scent and its concentrated richness. The second time around was better, because I expected the early blast and had steeled myself. In fact, I generally prefer really potent, strong fragrances but good God, that first time….! And even on subsequent wearings, working my way up with cautiously larger amounts and a slow sense of adjustment, even then, Fusion Sacrée is quite something.

Source: Chef Keem at chefkeem.squidoo.com

Source: Chef Keem at chefkeem.squidoo.com

Part of the issue is the nuclear velocity of the perfume in the opening half-hour, but I found myself equally overwhelmed by the sheer deluge of notes. I could smell a good 15 of those 23 ingredients in the mere opening seconds alone, but they don’t hit you one after another. No, they hit your nose simultaneously. The most obvious, dominant elements are burnt sugar, rum, fierce artemisia, bitter neroli, syrupy orange, green celery, amorphous spices, buttered caramel, nutty sweet myrrh, dusty cardamom and lavender. These are just the most obvious ones….

Source: Simplyrecipes.com

Source: Simplyrecipes.com (website link to recipe for caramel sauce embedded within. Click on photo.)

Fusion Sacrée is overpoweringly cloying, syrupy sweet, pungent, bitter, green, herbal, boozy, woody, spicy, and gourmand, all at once. My initial notes are headlined by “drunken gourmand,” in capital letters with lots of exclamation marks, and a few mutterings about “Sybil” (or multi-personality disorder). Yet, for all that Fusion Sacrée is meant to be a boozy fragrance, its core essence doesn’t translate to actual “rum” to my nose. Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a lot of sweet liqueur in Fusion Sacrée, especially in its opening hour, but the dominant impression I always have is of generalized syrupy, sweet goo.

The caramel, hot buttered rum, and sticky orange sherbet congeal into a giant, dense ball. From its curves jut out other elements like little shards of coloured glass: bitter green neroli, pungent purple lavender, cream-laced coffee, and burnt black smoke, to name just a few. In fact, the hard, dense mass of diabetic sugariness throws out random notes like a disco ball. They vary in their prominence and role, making it even harder to dissect the perfume as I usually do.

Artemisia Absinthium

Artemisia Absinthium

There are a few notes that stand out amidst that buttered, orange-caramel syrup. On my skin, the artemisia (or wormwood) is particularly powerful with its very sharp, woody, green bitterness. Artemisia is a note that was used in absinthe liquor and, according to one Basenotes thread, is also central to Krizia Uomo, Aramis, and One Man Show fragrances where it was used for its long-lasting, intense pungency.

Geranium pratense leaf, close-up. Source: Wikicommons

Geranium pratense leaf, close-up. Source: Wikicommons

Here, its green forcefulness in Fusion Sacrée is matched by equal amounts of neroli. They infuse the hot buttered, diabetes-inducing goo with intense bitterness, and, yet, none of it balances out. In fact, in a strange feat, the end result feels even more cloying and sickly to me. Honestly, this odd match of green, extremely sharp bitterness with extreme sweetness may be the most difficult part of the entire scent for me. Have you ever bitten deep into the rind of an orange? If so, you know how you get that bitter oil lying thickly like a mealy layer in your mouth? Well, imagine that taste multiplied tenfold, then covered by heavy caramel, sharp bitter herbs, pungent lavender, Bourbon vanilla, and hot buttered rum. That is what Fusion Sacrée reminds me of, and I find it much worse than the perfume’s sweetness.

Coffee with cream. Source: sixpackabs.com

Coffee with cream. Source: sixpackabs.com

Other elements are tossed into the mix as well, though they are hardly as dominant on my skin. There are brief, subtle pops of geranium, usually manifesting themselves as the slightly peppered, fuzzy leaves. During one test of Fusion Sacrée, using a slightly higher dosage, there was even a moment of tart tanginess from the orange, but it was soon blanketed by the hot buttered rum. After 20 minutes, even more notes arrive. There is a lovely dose of coffee, followed by hints of black licorice, and a burst of smoke. The coffee note is smooth, creamy, but also a tad spicy, thanks to a light dusting of cardamom. I wish the it were stronger, but the coffee is an extremely subtle, small wave in the tsunami of hot, buttered, boozy, caramel, orange, artemisia and neroli.

It is probably at this point that I should repeat what regular readers know full well. I’m not particularly enamoured with the gourmand genre. I don’t have a sweet tooth when it comes to perfumery, which makes Fusion Sacrée even harder for me to deal with. In addition, my skin amplifies both base notes and sweetness as a whole, though Fusion Sacrée is clearly intended to be an over-the-top boozy gourmand on everyone. It is loved for precisely that reason, and the perfume certainly accomplishes its task well.

I may not be in Fusion Sacrée’s target audience, but I struggle with the perfume for other reasons. To be honest, this is one perfume that has too much going on even for me! It feels as though someone told Bertrand Duchaufour, “More. No, more, more, more. No, I mean it, seriously, I want MORE!” And he so responded by throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the wall, to mix one’s metaphors, to see if that would finally be enough. I would like Fusion Sacrée if the balance didn’t feel so grossly out-of-whack, with certain elements being as overpowering as a Five Alarm Fire.

Source: wallpaperup.com

Source: wallpaperup.com

The degree of ridiculous excess is clearly intentional, for there is no other way to explain it, especially from a master of finesse like Bertrand Duchaufour. Majda Bekkali must have specifically sought everything from the diabetic sweetness that hurts my teeth, to the overpowering barrage of notes that shoot out at you in the opening minutes like bullets fired from a .50 caliber rifle. All this makes Fusion Sacrée a scent that is heaven for many people. I, unfortunately, am not one of them.

Nonetheless, I fully recognize the skill behind Fusion Sacrée. For one thing, it is a very prismatic scent, something which is never easy to accomplish. As a result, the exact progression of notes has never been precisely identical on the different occasions that I have worn it. Sometimes, the nutty sweetness of the opoponax is more apparent in the opening hour, at other times the licorice, clove, and geranium. Cedar flits in and out like a darting bee, and there is always a subtle suggestion of celery that lingers as a very disorienting, odd touch.

Sulphur smoke at an Indonesia mine. Photo by Andy VC. Source: www.andyvc.com/sulfur-miners/

Sulphur smoke at an Indonesia mine. Photo by Andy VC. Source: www.andyvc.com/sulfur-miners/

Yet, the mass at the heart of Fusion Sacrée doesn’t change enormously until the end of the first hour. At that point, the smoke suddenly intensifies, if one can even call it smoke. The note is extremely hard to explain, but it is simultaneously a bit sulphurous, a bit like burnt plastic, and a bit like badly singed woods — all at once. The first time that I tested Fusion Sacrée, something about the scent reminded me of how really concentrated honey can feel sharp and burnt to the point of actual sulphur smoke. The second time I tested Fusion Sacrée I was reminded instead of the smell of burnt plastic. Neither description actually fits the smell perfectly, but they’re as close as I can come to convey the oddness of that “smoky” accord.

I don’t like either version. I particularly don’t like how it adds to Fusion Sacrée’s strange discordance. Diabetic sweetness, artemisia bitterness, unctuous buttered hot rum, pungent herbs, sticky orange sherbet syrup, caramel, coffee, celery, and now some sulphurous smoke. (Celery? Seriously? With everything else?! Why, for the love of God, why?!)

tuberoseThen, making matters more difficult is the sudden, ghostly burst of a green tuberose that pops up. Yes, tuberose, on top of everything else. It darts about with the other tertiary notes, like the cedar and the occasional whisper of sweet myrrh. None of them are prominent or key aspects of the perfume on my skin, least of all the tuberose, but they add to the dizzying quality of the scent. God, I wanted to like Fusion Sacrée so much, and yet I frequently found myself feeling utterly queasy instead. Like, “get it off me, I feel sick” queasy. It is probably the fault of my skin, amplifying the sweetness, but Fusion Sacrée on my skin is both cloying and completely nauseating.

The perfume’s potency doesn’t help matters. This is one powerful scent, even for me with my admittedly skewed love for fragrance bombs. In the opening minutes, Fusion Sacrée wafted a good 6 inches around me with a few tiny squirts from the atomizer. To put this into context, 3 atomizer spritzes of Fusion Sacrée felt to me like the equivalent of 5 sprays of Coromandel from an actual bottle, all applied to the same area. Another equivalent example, 4 large sprays of either Hard Leather or Alahine. All of these fragrances are very potent at the start, but even a small amount of Fusion Sacrée can easily match them.

Yet, Fusion Sacrée is also imbued with a surprising airiness. A reader of the blog, Tim, who kindly gifted me with my sample of the Fusion Sacrée is a huge Bertrand Duchaufour fan. Tim coined the perfect phrase to describe the perfumer’s signature style: “heavy weightlessness.” That is precisely the situation with Fusion Sacrée. The cloud that billows out around you may feel like a ten-ton frigate, but the forcefulness of the notes belies their actual lightness. At the end of the first hour, the powerful sillage drops, and Fusion Sacrée hovers a mere 1-2 inches above the skin. (Yes, I was grateful. No, it did not help my nausea.)

Photo: Anita Chu via Bunrab.com

Photo: Anita Chu via Bunrab.com

Fusion Sacrée may be quite prismatic when it comes to its notes, but the perfume itself is rather linear as a whole. I frequently say that there is nothing wrong with linearity if one likes the notes in question, and I hold to that view here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this marvel of gourmand engineering if that is your personal cup of tea. Fusion Sacrée glorifies hot buttered rum and caramel syrup to an impressive degree.

At the start of the third hour, the fragrance hovers just above the skin, but the gourmand cocktail is imbued with a growing amount of dryness. There is also a very nebulous tinge of woodiness that lurks in the shadows, though it never reads as “sandalwood” to me. At most, there is a touch of cedar. By the start of the 4th hour, Fusion Sacrée is a skin scent centered around buttered caramel, sticky orange, bitter artemisia, neroli, vanilla, and burnt notes (that are occasionally sulphurous), all on a warm, golden base.

Image "delicious caramel cream" by Scaloperion on Deviantart.com

Image “delicious caramel cream” by Scaloperion on Deviantart.com

A few hours later, all the notes lose their shape and individual distinction. They blend seamlessly into each other, as Fusion Sacrée turns into an abstract haze of golden, sticky, resinous sweetness with vanilla, smoky dryness, and a lingering but subtle vein of green bitterness. In its final moments, the fragrance is a mere coating of sweetness. All in all, Fusion Sacrée lasted a little over 11.5 hours with 3 atomizer sprays, with that number rising or dropping depending on how much more or less of the fragrance I applied. Generally, Fusion Sacrée turns into a skin scent on me around the 4th hour, though it’s easy to detect until a good number of hours later.

I seem to be in a distinct, tiny minority when it comes to Fusion Sacrée, for this is one very beloved scent. Some bloggers didn’t find the sweetness to be intolerably cloying at all, though I don’t know what their definitional standards or tastes are like when it comes to gourmand scents as a general rule. Take, for example, Ron from Notable Scents who found Fusion Sacrée to be “sweet but not overly sweet.” He added that “[t]his is a gorgeous scent which is sold as a masculine but could easily be worn by women.” One reason is that Fusion Sacrée’s “base is a snuggly mix of caramel, vanilla, and woods.”

Source: hdwalls.info

Source: hdwalls.info

Mark Behnke who wrote about Fusion Sacrée on CaFleureBon also enjoyed the sweetness, writing:

Fusion Sacree for Men is connected to its feminine partner by tuberose in the heart and benzoin in the base. Despite that Fusion Sacree for Men strongly displays its genetics with a deep resinous woody chest bump. Cardamom, orange, and lavender whisper across the early moments before M. Duchaufour uncorks a bottle of rum. M. Duchaufour is much too versatile a perfumer to be pigeonholed by one note but speaking solely for myself when he adds rum to the early going of a perfume he makes it always seems to work for me. It is probably why I often envision M. Duchaufour as a bit of a pirate. The boozy rum accord finally starts to be pushed aside by tuberose but the tuberose is accompanied by clove to accentuate the mentholated quality of the tuberose over the sweeter aspects. Geranium also keeps it slightly greener than you might expect from tuberose. The base begins with an unusual candied diptych as M. Duchaufour combines licorice and caramel. The bite of really good black licorice is tempered with the thick nature of caramel. This combination is so surprisingly good I look forward to its appearance every time I wear Fusion Sacree for Men. Benzoin, opoponax, ambergris, musk and sandalwood apply the finishing depth.  I wore Fusion Sacree for Men on the first bitterly cold day of 2013 and it was a perfect companion under my cashmere sweater.

Source: tomsguide.com

Source: tomsguide.com

On Fragrantica, the vast majority of people absolutely adore the fragrance. Five reviews use the word “masterpiece,” while others opt instead for gushing raves. To give just one example of the latter:

Before Fusion Sacree, there were none; after Fusion Sacree there will be no more. I hope I have everyone’s undivided attention…This stuff is so good it made me edit my other reviews. This aroma is competitive to all the gourmand greats such as Gourmand Coquin, Ambre Naugille, etc. So many notes to choose from where do I start.. A rummy opening aggregated with extreme caramel capsized by tons of harvest. There’s also a slight smokey ingredient that I have yet to figure out. To sum up everything, Rum and Caramel headlines the scent throughout making pit stops to each note. The Rum and Caramel then races back onto the track in search of the next set of notes to tangle with. IMMEDIATE WORDS: Comforting, Smooth, Sweet, Dandy, Delicate, Delicious, Week at the knees, Will You Marry Me. It would be disrespectful to call this sublime. The word to describe this haven’t been concocted.

A woman wrote that she didn’t care if Fusion Sacrée is for men, she had to have it. Really, the fragrance is so unisex, she shouldn’t have to worry about ridiculous gender marketing. It would be like calling Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille a scent that is meant only for one gender. Nonsense! Speaking of vanilla, I should add that one chap found that note to dominate on his skin, instead of the boozy rum: “A masterpiece indeed for gourmand lovers. Very vanilla on me. I was hoping for more rum and licorice.”

I was more interested in two other comments. First, one Fusion Sacrée admirer warned that you need to go easy on the trigger when applying the perfume, which is excellent advice. Second, I was glad to see a second person notice the odd, smoky element underlying Fusion Sacrée:

Ok, this one is getting on me. A true gem I have to say. At first I wasn’t blown away by this, but after a few testing and wearings this one gets better and better. It’s so good that this will be one of my favorite fall/winter scents. And I’m not talking about the amazing gourmand vibe from the caramel and the rum, the vanilla and amber sweetness, no, what I really love is the smokiness that kicks this scent into another level. I don’t know where this bonfire smoke comes from, but I guess it’s the amber in combination with the musk that is of superb quality. This smoke melts every note into a notes trip through the whole process from beginning to end. This one makes you hunger for chilly fall days and cold winter evenings.

Source: appszoom.com

Source: appszoom.com

In the midst of Fragrantica’s love fest for Fusion Sacrée, a rare handful were distinctly unenthused:

why is this shit right here so overhyped ? it smells like celery mixed with rum. who whants to smell like that?? if you want a nice caramel scent go for a men. it beats the shit out of this one.

The other review entailed too many strings of “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”s denoting extreme boredom to be worth quoting, but the basic bottom line is that the reviewer found Fusion Sacrée to be largely generic in nature.

As you can see, my perspective on Fusion Sacrée is distinctly that of the odd man out. Perhaps it’s because my skin amplifies sweetness, or perhaps it’s because I don’t share the current obsession with syrupy gourmands. It’s probably both those things, combined with the nature of the scent itself: a discordant, chaotic barrage of notes. For me, Fusion Sacrée is not a case of “everything but the kitchen sink” because the sink actually has been tossed in as well — along with every other contradictory note in sight.

That would still be fine in many cases. I love complicated, complex fragrances, not to mention powerhouses, but there needs to be harmony and balance when you have a profusion of contradictory notes. I found neither here in the juxtaposition of cloying goo with pungent bitterness, sharp herbal elements, syrupy fruits, dessert caramels, coffee, tuberose, hot buttered rum, and a burnt plastic note that verged on sulphurous smoke. In fact, I would give anything to know how the creative process went with Bertrand Duchaufour, because I suspect his personal tastes skew towards a much more finessed approach than this explosion of excess. But over-the-top excess seems to be what the client wanted, and it’s what he delivered. In spades.

If gourmand fragrances are your passion, do not listen to a thing I say. Go order a sample of Fusion Sacrée immediately, as there is every likelihood that you will fall in love with it. If you’re a woman, then pay no heed to the “Lui” or Men’s label, as this is a fragrance that you could easily wear so long as you enjoy booziness to go with your sweetness. Plus, it is very affordable (in the skewed world of niche prices) at a “low” $125 for a 50 ml bottle.

However, if you’re one of the rare few nowadays who dislikes ultra sweet fragrances and whose skin amplifies such notes, then it should be obvious by now that Fusion Sacrée is one to avoid. You might end up huddled in a foetal position, rocking back and forth with queasiness, and whimpering Lady Macbeth’s refrain at your tainted arms, “out, damned spot! Out, I say!”

That may or may not have happened to me….

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Fusion Sacrée (Lui) is an eau de parfum that comes in two sizes. There is a 50 ml bottle which costs $125 or €90; and a 120 ml/4 oz bottle which costs $230 or €185. In the U.S.: you can find Fusion Sacrée in both sizes at Luckyscent and MinNY. Outside the U.S.: Majda Bekkali has a website with an e-store, but Fusion Sacrée is, oddly enough, not one of the handful of choices available. In France, you can find Fusion Sacree at Paris’ Jovoy for €189 for the large 4 oz bottle. Germany’s First in Fragrance has both sizes for €90 and €189, respectively, as does Italy’s Alla Violetta. In the U.K., Majda Bekkali’s fragrance’s are sold at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie on the 5th floor of Harrods. In Russia, you can find Fusion Sacrée at ry7. For all other European vendors from Armenia to many others in Russia, you can turn to Majda Bekkali’s Store Locator page. Alas, I don’t think Majda Bekkali is carried in Australia, Oceana, the Middle East, or Asia. Samples: I obtained my sample from a friend, but you can order from Luckyscent or MinNY. You can also try The Perfumed Court where prices start at $4.99 for a 1 ml vial.
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