When it comes to innovation in materials it seems recently that it mostly has happened on the niche side. I usually am tipped off that something new in the perfumer’s toolbox is being used. Which sets off a lemming-like response in me to rush out and try whatever new perfume it is in. When I received my sample of the new mass-market perfume Miu Miu I was surprised to see an ingredient listed I had never heard of; Akigalawood.
Of course I was off to the internet to find out more. While taking my first sniff of Miu Miu I was detecting a slightly peppery oud-like woodiness in the base which I was attributing to the new ingredient. When I got to the Givaudan website I learned a lot more. I have spoken about taking natural raw materials and fractionating them via distillation. It is a way of altering the scent profile by enhancing concentrations of specific ingredients within the parent essential oil. What Givaudan is doing is entirely different. They are using an enzymatic process to break down an essential oil leaving behind only some components. This is fascinating because with distillation it is physics which determines what your fractions produce. With the process behind Akigalawood it is biology through what the enzyme chooses to digest and what it leaves behind.
For Akigalawood the Givaudan team added patchouli to an enzymatic bath and after allowing it to sit washed it with salt water and what remains was dubbed Akigalawood. This is patchouli with all the earthy herbal qualities removed. The spiciness and the woodiness are what predominates. It is surprising to me that the woodiness is very similar to a cypriol-based oud accord. I think in the right hands this could produce a fantastically fragile oud perfume.
For Miu Miu perfumer Daniela Andrier decided to keep it very classical as she uses a white flower accord to take you down to the new raw material. There was a real conscious creative decision to make Miu Miu feel like a throwback to the 1960’s and the ad campaign with model Stacy Martin strongly hints that this was the inspiration. The difference is by using Akigalawood it is always going to have that contemporary feel.
Miu Miu opens with what is almost becoming a trademark for Mme Andrier as a sharp green accord catches your attention. Muguet picks up the green to make the transition to mostly rose with a little jasmine in the heart. When the three floral notes combine it has a real vintage feel of a white flower powerhouse of the 1960’s. Then the Akigalawood uses the spicy aspect to enhance the rose and contrast the muguet. I strongly pick up this oudy quality which I like very much. It makes Miu Miu feel like a perfume unstuck in time.
Miu Miu has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Early on 2015 was not shaping up as a good year for the department store fragrances but the last few months have provided a number of really interesting entries. Miu Miu does not smell like everything else in the department store. The ability to tilt classic while also tilting contemporary is unique in this sector. It feels almost daring in its desire to give perfume wearers something so distinctively different. I hope that these kind of fractions will be embraced by the consumer because Miu Miu deserves some positive attention.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Miu Miu.