I spent a lot of time on boats growing up. One of the greatest things was when I was on a long sailing trip there was a moment when there was no land to see. It always made me feel small and insignificant. I would walk around the deck and all I could see were the dark swells of the open ocean. There was a scent to this. Not the lively sea spray, a deeper solemnity to the depths we moved above. Even now thinking about it I have a hard time describing it except it was devoid of nature. Aesop Miraceti tries its hand at interpreting this.
Dr. Kate Forbes
Miraceti is one-third of the “Othertopias” collection. It is one of the two which have the ocean in mind. Karst describes a rocky coastline with a mineralic perspective. Miraceti which translates to “the boat” is nowhere near a harbor. Creative director for the brand Dr. Kate Forbes collaborated with perfumer Barnabe Fillion for all three. Miraceti is meant to project an austerity. M. Fillion uses a well-chosen trio of ingredients in seaweed, frankincense, and labdanum to form his vision.
I said the open ocean is devoid of nature. That’s not exactly true. There are large patches of seaweed covering the surface. You might associate the smell of dried-up clumps on the beach with it. Out on the ocean there is a cleaner scent with just a hint of iodine within. In Miraceti the seaweed exudes that damp aquatic vegetal minus the elemental tinge. If there is a surrogate for that the astringent silvery frankincense provides it in a small way. This is the smell of concentrated cones of incense. Slightly metallic over a resinous depth. It is a fitting choice to represent the open seas.
The base accord returns to the boat itself as the labdanum adds in the sun-bleached planks of the deck. Styrax represents the sharp scent of the rigging while ambrette seeds remind you there is a person on the boat with its botanical musk. It is surrounded by the seaweed and frankincense to complete the effect.
Miraceti has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Miraceti doesn’t exactly mimic my memory of standing on deck in the middle of the Atlantic. It comes close enough that it takes me far enough away from the shore to make it worth the trip.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Aesop.
If you’ve ever watched any movie which takes place in a post-apocalypse setting there is almost always this shot. You see that nature has reclaimed the cities. The roads are overgrown. The tall buildings have crumbled. What is left is covered in vines. It is an allegory for Nature eventually winning over technology. It is a visually enticing shot even if it has become the way of setting the passage of years after a disaster. I can’t say that I’ve looked at any of those scenes wondering what it smelled like. Aesop Eremia offers their interpretation.
Dr. Kate Forbes
Eremia is part of a three-perfume collection named “Othertopias”. Since the 2017 release of Hwyl Aesop has been consistently increasing their fragrance line-up. Creative director Dr. Kate Forbes has given the task of creating a new perfume standard at the brand to perfumer Barnabe Fillion. This has proven to be a great choice. He has chosen different ways of interpreting the current trends. Besides Eremia, Karst and Miraceti are different interesting takes on aquatics. I like them both enough that I expect to review them together later in the summer. Eremia captured my attention first because it is intensely green with a hint of the urban landscape beneath.
It begins with a sharp crystalline green from galbanum. When this is used at this kind of concentration, I usually see it as dense. M. Fillion wants a density as well. His is of overgrowth. The galbanum by itself wouldn’t have done it. He uses the citrus of yuzu and its prominent green aspect to form that intertwining of old vines forming an impenetrable wall. There also seem to be some other herbal notes included as texture. I was struck by how this type of green was great in the summer heat.
It changes nature as iris comes into play. This is a version where the carrot-y quality is prominent. M. Fillion also takes advantage of the powdery quality to add a softness to the very green opening. The rooty nature of iris leads the way into the base. Here there is a small amount of geosmin or petrichor to create the concrete beneath the vines. There is also a subtle musk which might be the creatures hiding in the foliage.
Eremia has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I remain impressed with the entire recent collection of Aesop fragrances. Eremia is a great example of the ongoing effort.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Aesop.
As much as I complain about the numerous spring rose releases I receive each year there is always one which stands out. This year that is Aesop Rozu.
Dr. Kate Forbes
I only discovered the Aesop line of perfumes a few years ago because I was a fan of their shaving products. The collection is small, Rozu is the fourth release, but particularly well-curated. Dr. Kate Forbes has been teaming with perfumer Barnabe Fillion for the previous two releases which continues here.
The inspiration for Rozu was the life of architect Charlotte Perriand. M. Fillion spent time with her family doing background research. He decided to feature the time Mme Perriand spent in Japan during 1940-41. It also intersects with a visit M. Fillion made to the Japanese town of Wabara where he visited the rose producing farm there. While there he would learn of the newest variety cultivated named after Mme Perriand. This is the rose used as the keynote in Rozu.
The reason I tend to be so dismissive of the spring rose releases is they all go for the same fresh scrubbed debutante aesthetic. Rozu goes for a modern design with a rose which carries a different scent profile. The Charlotte Wabara rose carries a richer fruitier scent profile. M. Fillion’s job is to highlight the differences while also designing the right frame.
Rozu opens with the Charlotte Wabara rose right there. M. Fillion pairs it with an icy green frost of shiso leaf. It is like finding an interesting bloom with the last hints of the overnight frost. Baie rose coaxes out the fruity facets. A gorgeous slightly smoky guaiac finds the black tea grace note within this unique rose. The green of the shiso is recapitulated through an equally sharp vetiver. It all comes to rest on a sandalwood focused base accord given warmth through myrrh and patchouli.
Rozu has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Because this is not the typical fresh rose of so many spring releases it is wearable by either gender. I think this will be a hit among male rose perfume lovers. I like it because it proves a better designed rose can rule the spring.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Aesop.
I am notoriously difficult to but a gift for because I buy what I want as I want it. Yes, I’m one of those. One of the beneficial aspects is when I get gifts they are things I didn’t know about. A couple years ago I received a gift of Moroccan Neroli Shaving Serum from an Australian brand I had never heard of called Aesop. When I used it up a few months later I ventured to the local Washington DC store to replace it. When I walked into the store I didn’t know they made perfume. It turned out to be my lucky day because they were featuring their perfume, Marrakech Intense. This was a perfume right in my spicy woody sweet spot it has been one of my favorite fall scents since I bought it.
Dr. Kate Forbes
I again headed to Aesop a few weeks ago and this time I coincided with the release of a new perfume. I wasn’t sure I’d like it as much as I did Marrakech Intense. The new perfume is called Hwyl. Hwyl is inspired by ancient Japanese hinoki forests. Creative director at Aesop, Dr. Kate Forbes, re-teams with perfumer Barnabe Fillion, who was responsible for Marrakech Intense, for Hwyl.
Hwyl does carry a strong cypress facet evoking hinoki but what is really striking is the use of incense. There seem to be multiple sources which form an overlapping resinous accord at the heart of Hwyl. There is also strong green thread running throughout. It is different style from Marrakech Intense entirely. The definition of hwyl is “a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy” The perfume delivers on its name
Hwyl opens with very herbal thyme which provides a place for baie rose, elemi, geranium to attach to. The very clean cedar-like nature of cypress provides the hinoki inspiration point. Then the incense starts to form up at first a familiar metallic frankincense finds a dynamic partner with the thyme. Softer myrrh and olibanum add softer facets. Finally, there is a smoky version of incense I couldn’t place. It is combined with a classic vetiver for the base accord. The smoky incense and the vetiver particularly provide a pleasing final few hours.
Hwyl has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
The layered incense accord at Hwyl has captured me from the moment I smelled it on a strip. M. Fillion has delivered a delightful resinous layer cake on a cypress plate. If you like incense you should discover your local Aesop boutique. There are surprises to be discovered there.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample form Aesop.
In the war of attrition that is exclusivity I think Le Labo is winning. There are many perfume companies which play the exclusivity game. Boutique exclusives, special collaborations, city exclusives, genetic exclusives; okay the last one isn’t reality, yet. In any case the lines come up with ways to entice you to want to try these exclusives. The nice thing for me is that so often when I get a chance to sniff it I am usually not smitten enough to want it, except for Le Labo. Le Labo has been making city exclusives that are only sold at the Le Labo boutique within that city. I went through many gyrations to own four of those; Gaiac 10, Poivre 23, Vanille 44, and Aldehyde 44. Thankfully Le Labo allowed the rest of the world to get in on the fragrances and for one month every other fall the city exclusives are available everywhere Le Labo is sold. But now they have a new exclusive even more exclusive than the city exclusives.
Le Labo partnered with lifestyle and clothing store Opening Ceremony to create a fragrance, Geranium 30. Geranium 30 would have floral designer Thierry Boutemy as creative director overseeing perfumer Barnabé Fillion. M. Boutemy is known for his fantastic floral designs most notably as part of the set design for director Sofia Coppola’s movie “Marie Antoinette”. M. Fillion is not a well-known name in perfumery circles but he has been exploring fragrance in most interesting ways. Last November he was part of a show in conjunction with Belgian design house Unfold where he added fragrance to different ceramic diffusers created via 3-D printing. This was a very exciting partnership and as I was reading the press release I got more excited until I reached the end and read this, “Limited Edition: 100 bottles”. Surely this must be a typo and they meant 1000 bottles. Nope 100 bottles was it. When I knew it was only going to be so few I fervently hoped this would be one of those rare Le Labo misfires. Nope this might be the best Le Labo floral since Rose 31; of course.
Barnabé Fillion at Unfold November 2013
Geranium 30 is an example of what Le Labo does so well in allowing creatives to follow their instincts. In this case M. Boutemy had created a series of smashed and stomped upon flowers for the Opening Ceremony collection with his name on it. M. Fillion picks up on that and creates a floral that captures a physical grinding of flowers against the concrete. On the surface Geranium 30 is a spicy floral fragrance but taken together it is a collision of the garden against the sidewalk.
M. Fillion takes a brilliant grapefruit as the top note of Geranium 30 and uses that to segue into the geranium. Geranium is one of my favorite floral notes because it carries greener facets closer to the surface. M. Fillion ups that by adding just the right amount of galbanum to tint the green a few shades darker but not to overwhelm it. For that he uses black pepper and it is used as a flame to consume the floral heart of Geranium 30. Where cumin consumes the rose in Rose 31 the pepper does the same thing to the geranium here. As much as I love Rose 31 this might be a more balanced effect as some remnants of the geranium linger after the pepper flamethrower has died down. The base is a wet concrete accord and a cocktail of white musks.
Geranium 30 has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I have been very conflicted about writing this review because Geranium 30 is one of my favorite new fragrances of the year and as of this writing is sold out. Bottles are popping up on auction sites for crazy prices. I wanted to write this because I am going to hope that when the next sale of city exclusives comes around they will relent and add Geranium 30 in to the list of exclusives. It is a great fragrance which deserves a very wide audience especially for those who are appreciative of the line. The exclusivity game may be a war of attrition but, damn them, Le Labo plays it so well they will probably be the last perfume line left standing.
Disclosure: This review was based on a split of a bottle I purchased.