Sunday, 25 December 2011

Miller Harris, Feuilles de Tabac

Very odd take on woody-tobacco, full of unsettling swerves. Starts with the overpowering and indeed alarming citrus/farmyard/rotting hay note of clary sage which lasts about a minute before settling down to an oily hum round the back of the fragrance. It comes on arm in arm with the clove/herbaceous smell of crushed basil. This pungent soggy-leaves accord then swiftly dissipates and the hay is then picked up by a series of meadowy notes which come forward and circle cheerfully like Graces. Despite the advertising blurb about the 'smoky, romantic brasseries of Saint-Germain' this is in no wise an urban fragrance, nor is it in the least French: it is an attempt in fragrance at the English pastoral. It's all very like a Samuel Palmer print in fact: dusk in August, a harvest moon lengthening the chilly shadows (the cold tang of pine needles) in a field with noble rot (patchouli), and sheep shit hovering under the wonderful, sweet fragrance of drying grass (mainly tonka bean here). But there's something here like the sulphurous quality of bad breath too, and a briny, sweaty animalic note: no bad thing, in fact, as it saves the fragrance from excessive prettiness. Despite the name, there's not much tobacco leaf here: instead it's the fuzzy, vanilla-like sweetness of nicotiana flowers which is prominent, the perfume of which is especially strong at dusk. After this bold opening, Feuilles de Tabac suddenly loses the courage of its convictions and dries out to something cool and woody---leafy, a little 'beige', with a lot of cedar---which sadly then doesn't do much.

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