The golden dunes and shifting sands of the Taklamakan are an appropriate setting for Stéphane Humbert Lucas‘ upcoming perfume by the same name. Taklamakan is the name of the world’s second largest shifting sand desert, composed primarily of large, striking sand dunes. It is also China’s largest desert, located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and a part of the ancient Silk Road trade route that helped to spread spices from China to Persia, Greece, Rome, and beyond. Spices, scorched sands, dryness, and golden warmth are very much a part of Taklamakan, the perfume, but there were other things that struck me about choice of a desert name.
The buzz on Couvent des Minimes‘ Eau des Missions Cologne was loud, excited, and almost uniformly insistent: it was a bargain beauty that was an exact copy of Guerlain‘s very expensive Spiritueuse Double Vanille (“SDV“.) Or so everyone said, from perfume groups to Fragrantica reviews. One major reason for all the excitement was the price. Guerlain’s boozy, smoky, dark vanilla costs $260 for 75 ml. Eau de Missions is $38 for 100 ml, with smaller bottles available for even less on eBay. By the admittedly crazy, skewed standards of the niche world, that made Eau de Missions practically “free.” So, I bought one of the eBay bottles to see what all the fuss was about. And it’s true, there are strong similarities to SDV. However, unlike everyone else, I don’t think the two fragrances are identical. Continue reading
I’ve long been curious about the Italian house of Maria Candida Gentile whose founder who is the only Italian to ever earn the prestigious title of Maitre Parfumeur. So, I bought samples of several things in her Classic Collection, and will focus today on Noir Tropical and Exultat. The first is a dry, dark, woody vanilla, while the second is an citric, incense, woody violet fragrance. Thus far, I’m left cold by one, and actively loathe the other. I’ll look at each fragrance in turn.
Creamy vanilla with smoke, multi-faceted inflections, and a hushed breath. That is the core of Vaniglia del Madagascar, a silky parfum extrait from the ancient Italian perfume house of Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561.
As a preliminary matter, the full title of the perfume is Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 Vaniglia del Madagascar, something which is far too long for me to write out repeatedly. For the sake of convenience, I’ll simply refer to the company as “Farmacia SS. Annunziata” and occasionally shorten the fragrance’s name to a brief “Vaniglia.” (I have an unfortunate habit of mentally thinking of the company as “SS Annunziata,” which sounds like some sort of fascist group or ship, so I may just call it “Farmacia” to avoid an inadvertent malapropism.)
I think the Farmacia is a very under-appreciated company with solid perfumes and an interesting background. It is based in Florence and has a long history that dates back to 1561, when a chemist called Brunetti worked with the Benedictine Nuns of San Nicolò to create all-natural beauty products and potions. Their modern creations are very rich and nicely done, with a style that seems very similar to that of Profumum Roma. Namely, simple, uncomplicated, and unpretentious fragrances that highlight one key note in an extremely concentrated manner. (You should see the Farmacia’s Patchouly Indonesiano. Absolute insanity!) Continue reading