Cicatrices, the French word for scars, seems like an unusual choice of names for a fragrance that is a comforting haze of warmth, with juxtaposed contrasts like a quasi-gourmand opening of deliciously pillowy iris nougat next to a spicy, smoky, resinous heart that beats with licorice and patchouli. But perhaps ironic juxtapositions are the precise point of Cicatrices, the latest scent from LM Parfum. Its founder, Laurent Mazzone, explicitly sought to create “contradictory revelations,” and there is no greater contradiction than the symbolism of brutal, raw wounds versus sweet warmth.
Cicatrices is an extrait de parfum from LM Parfums‘ more luxurious Intimacy Collection and will be released worldwide on April 5th. The scent is meant to convey a “world of shadows,” but the full description of Cicatrices and its notes is as follows:
Cicatrices opens on my skin with a beautiful, opulent iris note. It is silky, pillowy soft, slightly rooty, and sweetened with slivers of spicy patchouli and myrrh. The latter strongly resembles opoponax or sweet myrrh on my skin, far more so than the dusty, fusty, High Church aromas typically found in myrrh. The end result somehow ends up smelling exactly like nutty nougat or, to be precise, a buttery smooth, plush and tantalizing iris-y, nutty nougat. It’s never too sweet, rooty, cloying, sugared or overtly foodie, only deliciously addictive, drawing me back again and again for a sniff.
The iris is kept in perfect balance by the other notes First and foremost, there is a significant woodiness to the scent, though it’s impossible to figure out which sort of wood. Then, roughly 15 minutes later, other elements appear as well, but they’re almost as undefined. There is a drop of licorice hovering at the edges, more akin to an anise-flavoured candy than a black, chewy, heavily licorice one. Actually, what the note reminded me of the first time I tried Cicatrices was the particular aroma of violet hard candies that always end up being anise-like in taste. Regardless, the anise-licorice is an unusual note because, sometimes in the opening hour, it feels positively solid and concrete but, at other moments, it’s more like a wisp that floats just out of reach.
It’s the same story with the “leather.” Often, it feels like buttery suede (no doubt thanks to the iris’ influence) but, on occasion, the note is merely a glimmer of smokiness. Later on, Cicatrices ends up smelling quite a bit of cade, one of the ingredients that perfumers use to recreate “leather” in perfumery but, in the first 30 minutes, it’s quite indistinct. The patchouli is clearer, though not by much. It smells sweet and spicy but, for much of the time, is fully submerged in the hazy cloud that swirls around the iris nougat. As a result, Cicatrices’ opening bouquet is, for the most part (and particularly from afar), merely a plush, nutty iris nougat flecked by nebulous slivers of spicy patchouli woodiness, licorice sweetness, and soft suede.
Cicatrices shifts by the smallest of degrees in the first hour. The first hint of something creamy stirs in the base after 40 minutes, while small tendrils of smoke start to creep upwards to wrap itself around the nougat. It doesn’t smell like myrrh incense but the woodier, more singed woods variety of cade. The licorice and patchouli seem to grow stronger, feeling more clearly delineated at times but, to be honest, it’s really hard to tell because Cicatrices never develops the same way twice on my skin, except for that nutty nougat in the first hour. Whether we’re talking about the leather, patchouli, smoke, or licorice — individually or together — both the order of development and the prominence of a note is always changing.
In that sense, Cicatrices is what I call a “prismatic” scent, one that gives off different notes from one wearing to the next but also from one hour to the next, like rays of light bouncing off a crystal chandelier. Sometimes, a particular note will feel crystal clear in one test and really dominate Cicatrices’ first two hours. Then, in the next wearing, that same note will be nebulous, more akin to the idea of leather or a ghostly suggestion of smokiness than anything else.
I think the amount of fragrance that you apply makes a difference to a few of Cicatrices’ nuances. Well, some of the time. With a few sprays, Cicatrices is a spicy, woody, iris nougat for much of the first hour. But, then, I tested the fragrance with a smaller quantity and the perfume quickly turned into a smoky iris with buttery suede and a heavy dose of licorice. The smoke smelt aromachemical and resembled the note in Masque‘s Russian Tea, mixed with a good dollop of cypriol (nagarmotha). Whatever the exact note(s) in the “leather accord” (as LM Parfums describes it), it definitely seemed to include something aromachemical whose smokiness I found to be harsh at times. Thankfully, it’s not noticeable when you apply more of the scent, because the other notes blossom more.
The one thing that is consistent in Cicatrices’ development is that the iris nougat turns into a hazy warmth dominated by spicy patchouli and dark licorice. Both notes surge to the forefront at the start of the 2nd hour, quite overshadowing the iris. The “leather” is slowly turning away from soft suede to actual “leather,” albeit the most refined and buttery variety. That said, it continues to feel like the abstract idea of leather more than the actual note, and it’s frequently overshadowed by cade-like smokiness, singed woods, and a hint of tarriness. Slathered on top is the patchouli-licorice paste that is dark, spicy, and sweet. Actually, the whole bouquet feels simultaneously resinously dark and golden soft. I’m sure the labdanum in the base plays a role but, like everything else, it’s indistinct and hard to pinpoint.
At this point, Cicatrices smells different from afar than up close. When I sniff my arm, there is licorice-patchouli infused with creaminess, lightly flecked by spiciness and smokiness, and then enveloped within a swirl of dark warmth. From a distance, though, the bouquet wafting on the scent trail is almost entirely licorice-patchouli, and consistently makes me think of the drydown phase of Francis Kurkdjian‘s Eau Noire for the Dior Privée line. There are differences, though. Cicatrices is deeper, richer, smoother, and creamier on my skin, and it also has no immortelle. However, in its final hours, something about the spicy sweetness of the licorice patchouli smells incredibly similar to licorice immortelle. That ghost note doesn’t appear for a while, though, and certainly not up close.
Cicatrices doesn’t change much from the 3rd hour onwards. It is essentially a dark, warm, spicy, sweet, smoky, resinous haze. The strength of certain elements (particularly the licorice) may fluctuate from one hour to the next, but it’s extremely difficult to tease the notes apart as a whole. Sometimes, I can pull out the licorice or the woodiness, but everything has generally fused into one.
Thanks to the perfume’s prismatic nature, certain elements pop back up every so often on the sidelines. For example, the iris nougat. It briefly reappears in the middle of the 6th hour, then vanishes. Same with the creaminess which I thought had disappeared midway during the 3rd hour when the perfume seemed to turn smokier and drier, but then it came back in a very minor way in a few hours later. Other ghostly notes that weave in and out are the immortelle-like spicy sweetness, and a delicious cocoa nuance to the patchouli. In two tests, I was sure that I also smelt a drop of coffee wafting about at the top of the 7th hour, reminding me once again of Dior’s Eau Noire.
I can’t even tell you what the final drydown is like on me because there is no consistent development. Most of the time, Cicatrices is a delicious, addictive blend of plush patchouli-like spicy warmth laced with smoky woods and a tinge of licorice or cocoa. Once in a while, Cicatrices is merely licorice woods with dark resins, sweetness, and a vestige of smokiness. In its final moments, all that is left is a blur of something vaguely sweet, spicy, dark and possibly woody.
Cicatrices has good projection and longevity. Using 2 sprays, the perfume opened with an initially airy cloud that projected 4 inches. The scent quickly gained in body and depth as the spicier, richer notes emerged. The scent trail was moderate, about half a foot. Cicatrices’ sillage felt softer than some of its siblings in the line, especially as compared to the powerful, hefty Epine Mortelle, but little tendrils of scent continued to waft up when I moved until well into the 5th hour. In terms of projection, the numbers dropped to approximately 2.5 inches at the start of the 2nd hour, and Cicatrices turned into a skin scent 4.75 hours into its development. All in all, it lasted just a hair under 9.75 hours with 2 sprays, and roughly 8.25 hours with 1.
Cicatrices is too new for even a Fragrantica entry, but there is one review out for it on BL’eauOG. It describes Cicatrices as having hinoki woods, and reads in part as follows:
I found it very different than existing LM perfumes because it is more settled down meaning that it is not screaming with decadent and perverse notes. Opening is very aromatic, smelling of woody resins and herbal aromas, especially, bursting with myrrh. After some time, beautiful Hinoki tree is developing and making beautiful effect of the rain forest and the smell of earth and dust in the air. I believe that this is more beautiful hinoki scent than the one you can find in Comme des Garçons Hinoki. Later, the base is very aromatic with soft woods, rich with sandalwood and cashmere wood.
I obviously had quite a different experience. I detected no sandalwood, cashmerean, or hinoki, and none of those notes are listed by LM Parfums, but skin chemistry is a funny thing and we all detect different nuances. I do agree, though, that Cicatrices has quite a woody resinous feel, and is a softer scent than others in the line.
I really liked Cicatrices, but it is a scent that I enjoyed more with each wearing. I wasn’t blown away the first time, except for the nutty iris nougat note which I wish had lasted longer. The problem was that I’d applied only a small amount, and that brought out the smokiness that isn’t really my favorite. However, subsequent wearings and applying at least 2 generous good sprays changed my views. It brought out the plush warmth, spiciness, and other richer notes. Plus, I loved the whiffs of cocoa and “immortelle” in the later hours in particular. However, I was a little frustrated by the indeterminate nature of the fragrance, the “world of shadows” that seems to have been an intentional goal. I prefer it when the notes are blended seamlessly, but are not so elusive.
Still, there is no denying that Cicatrices was thoroughly enjoyable to wear, and it is a cozy fragrance that I think will appeal to a variety of tastes in both genders. Its blend of gourmand elements, darkness, spiciness, smokiness, woodiness and warmth feels wholly unisex to me. It’s also a very easy-to-wear fragrance, in my opinion. However, if you have issues with spicy patchouli or licorice, Cicatrices probably isn’t for you as both elements are strong chords throughout the perfume. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the drydown phase of Eau Noire or if you love woody-smoky-resinous fragrances, I think you may enjoy Cicatrices quite a bit.
Disclosure: My decant of Cicatrices was courtesy of LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.
This sounds intriguing indeed. I’m not been a fan of anise in perfume, but this one might remedy that. It’s interesting because I adore anise (starting with those Pastilles when I was a kid), fennel, and licorice. Maybe I associate all these things too much with food and cooking smells?
I can’t imagine I would here. Everything in your description makes me feel as if I’d find this wonderful, though I have to admit that I’ve been underwhelmed by every single LM perfume even though others (including you) have described it and I thought, “Oh, yes, I’d love that!” But, I need another perfume want as much as the proverbial hole in the head, so it matters not. When I saw you had another long and good review, I actually thought “When is Kafka going to go back to reviewing things she hates??!” But, really, it’s marvelous that there’s so many great new fragrances on the market (so many – ha! – would you were reviewing the mainstream releases!!). . .
Btw, I love CdG’s Hinoki, defying my usual tastes. The turpentine note in it is strong; it really smells like wood in an artist’s studio. Smell is so affected by our memories and associations, I think.
I laughed OUT LOUD at your thought, “When is Kafka going to go back to reviewing things she hates??!” Seriously, I’m grinning right now. But I think you forget the review right before this one was for Bogue’s new O/E, and I was hardly thrilled with that one. And immediately before that, there was the horror of Kalemat Musk. In truth, there have been 4 other ghastly fragrances that I tested over the weekend and scrubbed off in less than 15 minutes, but I really don’t have the energy to put myself through writing about them yet. That would mean I would have to endure a full test of each, something I don’t have the tolerance to endure right now. Basically, a whole slew of negative reviews is waiting in the wings. lol
With regard to LM Parfums, some lines simply don’t work for one and that’s okay. I also know the Norlimbanol in a few of them (like the Black Oud that you initially loved) was a problem. It’s one I sympathize with. I’m curious if you’ve tried Epine Mortelle though, since you are such a rose lover. That one has finally come to the states it seems, at least to Luckyscent. Maybe that one will work for you?
You are SO right, lol. I blocked out the Kalemat Musk, and zipped through the Bogue review. . .and my goodness, I’ve realized my memory is very, very bad, and it’s a bit worrisome. It’s also been pointed out to me that I have a bad memory for negative things. A really good self preservation technique that my brain has taken too far?
I wonder if I have a Epine Mortelle sample somewhere. I do have a few LM samples I just never got to!
Really, though, I personally need no new fragrances (though can hardly wait to try Kiste)! I will try this one of these days. It does sound fabulous. And I’m very glad I made you laugh out loud, and I’m happy you spelled it out. 🙂
I’m sorry to hear of the frags that you only made it through fifteen minutes of. My goodness!! Knowing how brave you can be, they must have been execrable indeed!!!
I *wish* I could block out Kalemat Musk…. Re. the memory issue, I know a number of medications can impact it for the worse, so I wouldn’t blame yourself in the least. Besides, we all become a bit foggy about irrelevant things when we grow older, and my reviews are hardly anything of worldly significance. 😀
If you haven’t tried Epine Mortelle, then I hope you will find that amongst your LM Parfum samples since you are such a massive rose lover. I think it’s much better than things like Malle’s Lipstick Rose.
Dear Kafkaesque, This sounds really lovely, iris and suede notes, mmmm. Beautiful review, as always. I must say that as someone who has many scars from various necessary surgeries (from 3 bouts with cancer), Cicatrice is not a name that I would choose for a fragrance. However, scars do show where the wearer of the scars has been and certainly provide one with options for the future. Will the wearer of the scars overcome the circumstances that caused them or will the scars overwhelm the person who wears them? Interesting!
I’m sorry to hear about the cancer, sweetie, but I hope you’re okay now. I really do. I hope you’ve kicked and beaten its hideous hide into remission. As for the issue of scars, I’ve always seen them as a badge of courage, survival, and endurance. I have many small ones on my body from surgeries or accidents, as well as a 7-inch long one from an accident that almost killed me as a child and which resulted in numerous surgeries in the years that followed. I see the scar as a positive symbol, as well as a part of who I am, and I would never get rid of it. I hope you see yours as similarly positive badges of endurance and survival.
Be that as it may, “Cicatrices” still wouldn’t be my first choice for a fragrance name. LOL. By the way, I don’t see you as a patchouli lover. Are you? The more traditional kind, not the gooey fruitchouli that is used in so many modern, mainstream fragrances. If you’re not keen on the spicy, woody original kind, I would not recommend Cicatrices for you. Same if you’re not keen on licorice. The iris and suede are there, but they’re hardly as central to the fragrance as the other two notes.
Kafka, I saw Cicatrices listed a few days ago on Fragrantica, I believe. I was hoping you’d review it because of your love for Hard Leather. My French is execrable but I thought Cicatrices meant scaring and I thought ” what the hell would scarring smell like?”. Btw, I haven’t tested my sample of Hard leather, but I sniffed it and know I’ll love it, along with the Black Oud. As soon as Luckyscent has this newest one I’ll buy a sample. This really sounds like it’s exactly what I love, especially the heart of resins, woods, smoke. The opening is edible iris-nougat? I am hungry and you had to show me a picture of Laudrée’s nougat ! A couple of years ago I was obsessed with Violet pastilles but don’t remember tasting licorice. O/T….my latest batch of sample goods arrived yesterday; smelled Kiste and happy I ordered 2 vials of Kiste. 🙂 That’s great stuff, which makes it *another* full bottle possibility. Uh oh says me. Richwood, Rose de Petra and Phi une Rose de Kandahar also fall into full bottle worthy though Richwood is a bit too $$. Great review. Thanks 😀
Yes, Fragrantica had photos and a brief mention of Cicatrices in a round-up post on the Milan Esxence show, but there is no actual entry page for the scent yet. I’m sure they’ll do it once they return from the show.
I’m enjoying your brief run-down of the samples you got, and am not at all surprised that you loved Kiste, Rose de Petra and Tauer’s PHI. If that last one ends up being your favorite out of the full-bottle ones, you may want to consider ordering a bottle if Luckyscent still has one, since it is a seasonal, limited-edition release.
I have 32 samples in all from Luckyscent. Unfortunately Kandahar is already gone until autumn. You did warn me it’s seasonal but I procrastinated as usual. Thanks to you I’ve really hit the jackpot with my samples. 🙂 I do stray occasionally e.g. The Infidels and Gulbadan….lol. I would have tried more but Luckyscent is out of so much, which is best for my wallet. Oh, this is off the wall but, is that Laurent Mazzone in the 2 LM Parfums ads? I like that look he’s got.
Yes, it’s him in the photos. He’s a very nice chap.
32 samples — wow! You’ll have enough to be sniffing away for at least a …. week? 😉
Maybe less. :/ lol Actually I’m now curious to know what’s the average number of samples people buy now that I thinkabout it. I told you I’m impulsive.:)
You had me at “iris nougat”, dear Kafka. I have not scratched the Kiste itch yet and I am being dutiful, for once, by ordering a wee sample with my most recent STC purchase at 20% off. I of course don’t need a 100 mL sample but will see if I can get a decant as soon as it is available.
I’m trying to get information from LM Parfums on when Cicatrices will be available, since I have the impression it should be sooner than a few months from now. I hope you get to try it, since I do think you’ll enjoy parts of it very much. (I still don’t have a handle on your feelings about licorice, though you seem to coming around on the spicy patchouli. lol) 🙂
My gorgeous K,
Long time no comment! I am finally done with a huge thing I had to deliver yesterday and I finally can relax, clean my house! and read your blog. This post called my name immediately. Cicatrices!
That opening sounds incredible! Licorice, however, always worries (from afar or from close up)
Sending you many many greetings
Congratulations on submitting the huge You-Know-What! You must be exhausted, as well as relieved that it’s finally done. 🙂 Lovely to have you back, my dear. 🙂
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