By Tove Solander
I knew Parfumerie Generale L’Ombre Fauve reminded me of something, and I kept thinking of S-Perfumes Lust and Le Labo Labdanum 18. When I saw it compared to Dana Tabu, of which I have recently acquired a couple of cute vintage minis, the pieces fell into place. Today I’m reviewing all four of them side by side: the niche, the limited edition, the “olfactory installation”, and the classic cheap cologne. Here are the notes for three of them; I haven’t been able to find any notes for Lust:
L’Ombre Fauve: amber, musk, wood, patchouli
Labdanum 18 (Ciste 18): ciste, civet, castoreum, musk, vanille, birch tar, cinnamon, patchouli, gurjaum balsam, tonka bean
Tabu: amber, jasmine, musk, oakmoss, orange blossom, rose, vetiver
All four scents belong to the family of ambery, woody, and resinous orientals. They are dry and powdery to various extents, which lends them a ”dusty” air of old places and old times. I think of different textures when I smell them, from fabrics like velvet and wool to unpolished wood but the materials are all dark and soft to the touch. Not just any dark colour; I envision them as different shades of brown, from nearly orange to nearly black.
Lust is the most evocative one but not of lust! The name made me expect something animalic or perhaps hypnotic and sickly-sweet. Instead, Lust smells like murky crypts and dusty old museum halls. There may be brocade curtains heavy with the dust of centuries, there may be church incense stuck to old fabrics, there may even be stuffed animals, mummified bodies of saints or skeletons in the closet. But no living, lusting beasts. If this is lust, it’s Hieronymous Bosch’s depiction of Luxuria in Hell. And for me, the ex-metal fan and history nerd who visited the ossuary of Kutna Hora without a shiver, a great comfort scent! Colour: dusty, shadowy earth brown.
When I first tried L’Ombre Fauve I found it highly evocative of cool cellars and dusty attics. I wrote a rave review on how it was just like seeking shade in a musty old cellar when the sun is blazing outside, on how it captured cold stone walls, cool dirt floors, warm brown velvet, and sun-heated wood. Upon retrying it, I’m afraid it’s less evocative, more of an ordinary rich, powdery, ambery/woody oriental, sweetened with a hint of high quality vanilla. Still a great scent but perhaps not original enough for the price, as I first thought. At least I can tell myself it isn’t so I won’t mourn the fact that I can’t afford one of Luckyscent’s remaining bottles… Colour: different shades of reddish brown.
Labdanum 18 is not very far from L’Ombre Fauve, especially not in the latter’s less evocative incarnation. Although amber isn’t listed among the notes it’s still for me a decidedly ambery oriental: rich, sweet, dry, powdery and slightly burnt, like burnt sugar. It has more vanilla than L’Ombre Fauve but it’s a much less cloying vanilla than the one in Patchouli 24 (am I the only one who found that scent overly sweet?) It also has a sort of refreshingly sour top note which conventionally could be called citrusy but which oddly reminds me of rhubarb. Mmmm, rhubarb… With the vanilla and cinnamon, Labdanum 18 is at some moments close to a freshly baked rhubarb pie. Think Burberry Brit Red but better. Colour: burnt sugar.
I have Tabu eau de parfum in a vintage mini bottle, and I’m not sure how much it has aged but it still smells good (I guess some of you will say it never did…). It has more green and floral notes than the other three, and it shows. Next to the others, it almost verges on chypre, although a decidedly oriental chypre. The citrusy/green chypre notes are sour, sharp and musty in the old-fashioned way I no longer find entirely unpleasant. During the drydown, the sharpness recedes, and what’s left is more of a smooth, powdery, resinous oriental. The orange blossom still shows, lending it an air of orange liquor-drenched cake. The cake is, however, old and dry – the kind baked by some elderly relative who no longer has the hang of it and who’s too cheap to eat it while it’s still fresh. If this sounds awfully negative, please keep in mind that “dry” is higher praise for a perfume than for a cake. Colour: the brown and orange hues of the seventies.
Image source: suendhaft.com, luckyscent.com, barneys.com, scentedmonkey.com
20 comments April 24th, 2007