Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Four fragrances

As regular readers will know, my favourite contemporary perfumer is the remarkable Bertrand Duchaufour, composer of vaporous chiaroscuro marvels like Timbuktu and Avignon. I recently bought $2 samples of four perfumes of his hitherto unknown to me, and here are some brief reviews.

Eau d'Italie, Sienne l'hiver
*** ghostly ciabatta

Interesting and strange evocation of---as the name suggests---a Tuscan winter. This is, it seems, Duchaufour's favourite among his own compositions: a cool dryness hovering beneath a mealy, bread-like iris and black olive accord. A study in muted greys and browns, there's a green note of something like geranium leaf in there too, coupled with the sweet, smoky nuttiness of chestnut skins. As a fragrance it's beautifully composed, the representation so up-close and precise as to be almost abstract. Sadly, it's simultaneously so fleeting that from the first spray it dissipates in the air like a faded memory of itself. Better on fabric than on skin, where it lingers with an odd, bitter dissonance.

Comme des Garcons, Sherbert Series: Cinnamon
** cinnamon leaf

Begins very like the clean turmeric-and-lemonade fizz of 1994's L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme, but morphs into late December in student bedsit-land: a raspy pong consisting of cheap 'Christmas Spice' joss sticks, limp clutches of ivy dessicated by the central heating, stale fags, and dry rot. Oh, innocence.

Comme des Garcons: Red Series: Sequoia
?** Baffling

Can't comment on this one: from trying it in the CdG shop in London I recall a big cedary-pine smell, and the sample I've been sent is a sweet floral oriental that smells so like the discontinued Fendi by Fendi (1985) that I suspect there's been a mislabelling somewhere.

Comme des Garcons, Incense Series: Kyoto
**** minimalist resin

Starts off smelling like hot hi-fi but rapidly turns into a pared-back incense-resinous accord, the main ingredients being cypress and the piny, terpenaceous tang of colophony, the resin used by violin players on their bow hair to make it grip the strings, also known as Rosin or Greek Pitch. Overall, serene and pleasant if a little stark.

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