Io Non Ho Mani Che Mi Accarezzino Il Volto probably wins the award for the longest perfume name of 2017. The words translate to “there are no hands to caress my face” and come from the first lines of a poem written by Father David Maria Turoldo in 1948. The length of the name makes it impractical for me to refer to all nine words repeatedly throughout this review, so I’m going to make my life simpler and just call the fragrance “Io Non Ho Mani.” (In my head, I mentally call it “Yo, No Mani” in a Rocky Balboa voice. “Yo, Adriennnnnnnne, Io No Mani.” It’s terrible; I know I’m a philistine and an uncouth barbarian, but I can’t seem to help it.) Name aside, “Yo, No Mani” turned out to be quite a happy, unexpected surprise. I thought it was a great spicy, woody, tobacco, incense-y, amber oriental.
Sometimes, there are happy surprises when you test a fragrance. Fougere du Paradis and Pure Incense both took me outside of my normal comfort zones and, much to my astonishment, the new environment actually turned out to be wonderful. It was the last thing that I had expected. “Pure incense” usually ends up being a “Catholic High Mass,” liturgical fragrance like Avignon, and I dislike the attendant dustiness, soapiness, and coldness that usually shows up. As for lavender, the foundational element of a fougère, I’ve hated it since childhood and was actually phobic about it until just a few years ago. (I’ve now progressed to the “wary” category, where it strongly depends on how the plant is handled.)
But Sultan Pasha has tweaked the traditional settings for both genres, and it’s made all the difference. Fougere du Paradis transports you to a bucolic pastoral setting where the lavender is bisected by verdant, grassy fields, piney elemi, and soft herbs under a warm sun. When night falls, the olfactory landscape turns dark, smoky, earthy, leathery, and immensely resinous in a way that is reminiscent of Bogue‘s much admired, limited-edition, lavender-leather fragrance, Cologne Reloaded. Pure Incense is also different than the norm. Instead of plumes of cold, clean, dusty, white smoke evoking High Mass at the Vatican (or a church crypt), this is incense by candlelight: golden, warm, resinous, and cozy. So, let’s look at each one in-depth.
An olfactory “hymn to the Spirit” lies at the heart of Lavs, a fragrance that wants you to get in touch with your spiritual side, and to feel uplifted and purified with the beauty of church incense. Lavs is a creation of Unum, an Italian perfume house founded in 2013 by Filippo Sorcinelli who is also the nose behind its three fragrances.
What is truly fascinating about Unum is that its original mission seems to have been liturgical garments or priestly robes, and its e-shop has a coolest gallery of the most elaborate Catholic robes I’ve seen outside of my television. From what I’ve read, Unum actually creates vestments for Pope Benedict and Pope Francis XVI, which has to be the most unique background to any perfume house around. Regular readers know my passion for history, so this alone caught my attention, but it was the even more interesting story behind the actual Lavs fragrance that made me want to try it. Apparently, it was originally a room spray used to scent the two popes’ ecclesiastic robes! You can read all the cool details at Alfarom‘s review for Lavs on his Nero Profumo blog site (which I’ll be quoting later on), but, suffice it say, there probably isn’t a single incense fragrance in the world today which comes with papal approval except for this one.
Cicatrices, the French word for scars, seems like an unusual choice of names for a fragrance that is a comforting haze of warmth, with juxtaposed contrasts like a quasi-gourmand opening of deliciously pillowy iris nougat next to a spicy, smoky, resinous heart that beats with licorice and patchouli. But perhaps ironic juxtapositions are the precise point of Cicatrices, the latest scent from LM Parfum. Its founder, Laurent Mazzone, explicitly sought to create “contradictory revelations,” and there is no greater contradiction than the symbolism of brutal, raw wounds versus sweet warmth.
Cicatrices is an extrait de parfum from LM Parfums‘ more luxurious Intimacy Collection and will be released worldwide on April 5th. The scent is meant to convey a “world of shadows,” but the full description of Cicatrices and its notes is as follows: