Perfume as modern art. That is both the goal and inspiration for many of O’Driù‘s creations, and Eva Kant is no exception. It is a fragrance intended to represent the most elusive, seductive woman in the world of (Italian) comics, the partner to Diabolik. I don’t read comic books, so I’m afraid the references go over my head, but I can tell you that the O’Driù line often accomplishes its goal as both modern perfumery and art. I think each one is highly original, extremely creative, and wholly transportative to a much more organic world centered around Nature, frequently in its purest, rawest sense.
I’ll be blunt and say that several of the perfumes are far too much like art for me to actually wear them for myself, but I respect their innovative nature enormously. All too often we bemoan the lack of uniqueness in the perfume world, the factory assembly-line nature of things put out by both big and small houses, but I doubt you’ll ever encounter anything that smells like an O’Driù perfume. Anywhere.
Eva Kant is a fragrance created by Angelo Orazio Pregoni and released in 2013. O’Driù (henceforth spelled simply as “O’Driu” without the accent) is a small Italian niche company founded in 2010 as part of an artistic project by the Pleasure Factory, a specialty communications company. All of its creations are made by Mr. Pregoni, a brilliantly intellectual, free-spirit, avant-garde perfumer who loves art and seeks to break boundaries in perfumery. Most of his creations are almost entirely all-natural, often having 96% fragrance oils or essentials, with very little synthetics at all. And, from what I’ve tried thus far, his “eau de parfums” are really more like extraits with such density, intensity, and richness that they leave me blinking. We’re talking concentrated potency to rival any Profumum or Roja Dove extrait, and a few of the scents initially have great sillage, too.
Eva Kant is one of those very rich fragrances. The perfume, its inspiration, and its notes are described by O’Driu on its website as follows:
Eva Kant is the first fragrance invented and created for the Diabolik’s partner in life and crime.
Eva Kant, with its mechanism of reckless and charming notes, tells about the most elusive and seducing woman in the comics world: it represents a completely new way to style a perfume.
“EVA KANT il profumo” is like a captivating dark story: it’s introduced by the bitter and pungent grapefruit notes, then tamed by the gentler lavender ones, and then by damp woods. After the first feelings, one wants to get to the heart, but it needs to capitulate to Eva, to follow her, blinded and bonded, in her numberless coverts.
Only giving up to her, indulging in her lethal fascination, we can discovery another fragment of Eva’s obscure world: something exposed by mystical myrrh, hot sandalwood, spicy ginger. Magnolia and Ylang-Ylang hide themselves behind this alchemy. At last, our nose and our mind are spirited away by the roman chamomile, are inebriated and seduced by cardamom, entangled by the vanilla. Then, benzoin frees us from the blindfold, living us back a magnificent “vision”.
The succinct list of notes is:
grapefruit, lavender, woods, myrrh, sandalwood, ginger, magnolia, ylang-ylang, chamomile, cardamom, vanilla & benzoin.
Eva Kant opens on my skin with lemongrass, spicy ginger, and dried chamomile flowers, followed by lemony grapefruit, the bitter oils from its grated rind, sweet myrrh incense, dry vanilla, dustiness, and a hint of lavender. It’s a profusion of notes and sensations which manage to be simultaneously spicy, lightly smoky, sweet, dusty, fragrant, dry, citric, gooey, and extremely herbal. It’s a mix that I find to be incredibly rich and original, but also, I must be honest, bizarre, almost repellently cloying in its unctuousness, and, yet, strangely alluring and fascinating as well. I’ve worn Eva Kant several times now, and I’m never quite sure what to make of it. I’m someone who usually manages to come to some conclusion about a fragrance after a few tries, but Eva Kant leaves me perplexed.
There are two reasons for my ambivalence. One is that Eva Kant is a bit of a shape-shifter, and is constantly changing in terms of the notes it is highlighting. From one minute to the next, it is never quite the same. The other is that my skin frequently amplifies sweetness, and Eva Kant often smells like an incredibly rich cake that has been drenched in honey, lemon, vanilla icing before being placed in a very dusty pantry. Sometimes, it’s a spiced herbal cake, sometimes it’s a floral one.
The magnolia wafts in and out, smelling incredibly buttery and unctuous with a moistness that feels almost tropical. It is positively dripping thick wetness which smells both lemony and like over-ripe florals that have thrown their legs apart, spread-eagled in the heat. When the magnolia wafts in, the chamomile-ginger cake transforms into a magnolia one with heavy denseness, then drizzled with vanilla, lemon, and ginger icing, and nestled amongst waxy, lemongrass leaves with a few sprinkles of chamomile. Instead of dustiness (which I presume stems from the cardamom), there is now muskiness and a sharp honey note that is somewhat animalic.
There is a third version of Eva Kant which veers from a very humid, hot-house floral moistness to something substantially drier, greener, and more herbal in nature. This Eva Kant is largely dominated by the lemongrass but there is far more going on as well. There are medicinal overtones, pungency, a slight bitterness, and something that smells distinctly like salty vetiver. The latter can sometimes have a lemongrass nuance, so that is not a surprise, but the overall effect in conjunction with the ripe florals and sharply honeyed, musky sweetness is a scent that reminds me strongly of Vero Kern‘s Onda Eau de Parfum. Eva Kant is much more overtly herbal on my skin, as well as sweeter, more vanillic, and less marshy, but there are definite similarities. At least, there are on those occasions when I’m not experiencing some sort of gourmand, herbal, or floral cake with heavy vanilla icing.
For the next few hours, Eva Kant veers sharply from one version to the next, often within minutes. One second, the perfume will be entirely green with various multi-faceted herbaceousness and citric overtones, a strong streak of spiciness, sweetened incense, and a subtle hint of something vaguely floral. Mere moments seem to pass before the chamomile and ginger take over, and the perfume changes again. Then, minutes later, Eva Kant suddenly turns into a moist, gooey, unctuous magnolia infused with the most unusually sugary-sweet myrrh incense that I have ever encountered, along with extreme dustiness, and lemon-honey-vanilla icing.
I tried — I tried really hard — to wrap my head around Eva Kant. I wore it multiple times, but, each time, I consistently struggled until the drydown phase began roughly 9 hours later. At that point, Eva Kant finally becomes easier for me. The perfume is now a soft, pretty blend of vanilla lightly flecked with herbs, lemongrass, greenness, and a touch of something vaguely floral. In its final moments, Eva Kant dies away as herbal vanilla.
All of this comes with initially huge sillage and extrait-like concentration. Using 2 big smears, amounting to one spray from an actual perfume bottle, Eva Kant opened with 5 inches of projection in a very dense, thick, almost solid scent. That number soon dropped, and the perfume hovered just 1-2 inches above the skin by the 90 minute mark, then became a skin scent by the middle of the 4th hour. The fragrance has much softer sillage if you use a smaller amount, though it is still incredibly dense in nature. Using one big smear, Eva Kant opened with about 2 inches of sillage, then became a skin scent on me by the start of the 3rd hour. In terms of longevity, Eva Kant consistently lasts over 11 hours on me with a small amount, and with roughly 12.75 hours with a larger one.
Eva Kant’s intensity and richness make it hard to believe that it is a mere eau de parfum. I’ve tried “extraits” that feel like eau de toilettes in comparison! While I normally love fragrance with immense heaviness and potency, I’m afraid I struggled quite a bit here. If my skin didn’t amplify sweetness, it would be easier but, as it is, two of the 3 Eva Kant versions that I experienced felt cloying to me with over-saturated, gooey richness that overwhelmed me completely. The third version which was primarily herbal greenness with lemongrass, dustiness and spiciness was easier, except for the medicinal nuance and pungency.
For all that Eva Kant wasn’t for me personally, I deeply admire its boldness and complexity, but, even more so, how evocative it is. What repeatedly came to mind was the incredibly bright, lush, vivid greenness of The Shire, the hobbits’ home in Lord of the Rings. Cast your mind to the film version with its beautiful valleys of green that are dotted by colourful flowers and herbs, where hobbits walk barefoot through dusty, winding paths. Sometimes, Eva Kant is the verdant landscape of The Shire, but other times, it is the interior of Bilbo Baggins’ dusty pantry where a herbal-floral cake drizzled with a honey-lemon-vanilla icing waits to be served for tea. In all cases, it feels like a multi-faceted, wholly creative, almost organic brew that is presented with HD richness.
There are a few reviews for Eva Kant thus far, and most people seem to like it. On Basenotes, all 5 of the comments are positive. (As a side note, 4 of the comments are from men, which should tell you how unisex Eva Kant is despite the rich floral element). “Colin Maillard” has a detailed assessment which I think captures the perfume’s feel, contradictions, and complexity extremely well, even if the specifics of our experiences were different. His terrific review reads, in part, as follows:
One of the most intriguing and stunning “new” scents I have smelled since a long time, one of those scents which literally smell like nothing else. The opening is a slap: a biting, angular, nondescript potion of flowers, musk, a load of spices, an animalic oily drop on a gorgeous dusty vanilla base, mixed with a totally unrelated, still inexplicably perfect and fit carnal and lascivious “feel” I can really not come to describe. Cloves, ginger, pungent spices, a really dense and pulsating heart of flowers – magnolia and ylang – some raw animalic notes like castoreum, aniseed, a meditative balsamic breeze with an herbal feel, caramelised benzoin and myrrh, incense. A totally peculiar blend both decadent and medicinal, archaic and futuristic, with ambery translucent notes and narcotic flowers. […]
Then, it slowly and brilliantly evolves on a rich, decadent floral accord, which in turn gets a really weird, evocative and a bit creepy, sticky and opalescent feel of water – not in a predictable “calonic” way, rather of lacustrine, stagnant water, still salty but much dense and almost oily, together with a counterpart of talcum/vanilla and spicy dusty notes, medicinal and sensual at the same time. That medicinal feel is the other “pillar” of this scent, a subtle but bold vibe which does not disappear and stays there […. It is] a terrific scent, not “challenging” to wear since it perfectly manages to be daring and new still smelling amazingly good, exuding talent and intelligence, with a beautiful evolution and a totally unique and distinctive personality.
Two of the other descriptions talk about Eva Kant’s herbal, woodsy aspects, its boldness, or how it is a “masterpiece”:
- The opening is a unique, creative and mesmerising entry into the EK experience: lavender and a woodsy impression, given added freshness by an orange-grapefruit citrus background, form a delicious, smooth top note accord. Soon a gently spicy myrrh is added, accentuated by a very mild ginger. The middle notes then therm towards the floral, with a magnolia of beauty combing with ylang ylang very convincingly. At that stage I get a nut-aroma with a herbal component – this all is working together beautifully, merging without losing structure. Later in the base I get a cocoa-tonka note predominating, but whiffs of the myrrhe still come up once in a while. All this is most exquisitely blended of ingredients if the highest quality, whose natural purity and beauty is discretely dazzling. Very good silage and projection, with over twelve hours of longevity on my skin. And astounding masterpiece, and one of my personal O’Driu favourites.
- The unusual bitter citrus (chinotto?) is so appropriate in this scent, tempered by a touch of lavender & greens, initially reminding me of passing an upmarket urban fruit and flower stall, laden with greenery then tempered by ylang, vanilla and resinous spices as the journey proceeds. [¶] A bold and stylish creation, fast becoming a favourite.
You may remember that I talked about the magnolia’s incredible wetness and moistness in my description up above. On my skin, it never felt like a synthetic element or calone, but something almost tropical in its humidity. Others, however, have felt differently. There is Colin Maillard’s review which talks about a calone note amidst the dustiness and medicinal herbs, but he is not alone.
Dr. Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchards Perfumes also detected a calone note which, on her skin, evoked swimming pools. At the same time, she thought Eva Kant smelt like a lemon and vanilla dessert, something which definitely overlaps with part of my experience, before it eventually turning into a “dainty,” “inoffensive” aquatic floral scent. Her blog review on Perfume Project NW reads, in part, as follows:
After smelling Peety, I was surprised by how mild and inoffensive Eva K smelled. The first sniff is like a slightly camphorous lemon and vanilla-flavored dessert. The first time I tried it, on a rainy day, I smelled a bit of rubbery ylang-ylang at low intensity plus some quiet citrus and herbal notes, but the second time, on a cold, clear, dry day, the lemony citrus was dominant. […] Each time I wear it, I smell something overtly aquatic, not listed in the notes, which quickly becomes a dominant theme.
Other bloggers don’t find Eva Kant to be primarily an aquatic or aquatic floral scent. The Basenotes reviews seem to be much more reflective of the general consensus, as almost everyone talks about a fragrance which begins with herbal and green elements before slowly manifesting a more spiced, magnolia, ylang-ylang, incense-y, and vanillic character.
Take, for example, the blogger Notable Scents. For him, Eva Kant opened with “a [r]obust yet slightly candied lavender” which was soon “joined by few flowers and then by ginger and sweet incense.” Later, he writes that amber and vanilla appeared in the base, but what struck him was how the “top notes last throughout the whole wearing and additional notes join the mix as it develops. I’ve never experienced this before with a fragrance before.” He never mentions aquatics or calone.
For Smelly Thoughts, there was no calone either, only a natural wateriness to a scent that “starts with a bracing grapefruit, rosemary, lavender combination.” He writes:
It’s herbal, astringent, but not as intense and bitter as many of the earlier O’Driu compositions. Underneath you can smell the wonderful O’Driu vanilla already, from afar that is… up close, the opening is too brash and loud to detect it. It smells a little medicinal, almost like an aromatherapy scent, but not at all so much as to be off-putting – it’s comforting more than anything.
A little spice works its way in, just a touch of ginger, and underneath a sheet of wet wood. Describing it, I pretty much feel like I’m rewording the marketing description… but to be fair, it’s pretty bang on for the most part. The damp, woodsy herbal opening, softened by the background vanilla, begins to turn more floral and even a little aquatic. No, there’s no calone, or heavily synthetic “watery” accords. Instead, the thing I pick up as “watery” seems to stem from a combination of the ginger, the citrus, the woods and the magnolia and chamomile that slowly joins in [.]
Like me, he found Eva Kant to be a constantly morphing “chameleon” with great density and richness. In fact, I fully agree with large parts of the rest of his review, from his descriptions of the animalic hints in the base and subtle smokiness, to Eva Kant’s overall boldness:
The texture in Eva Kant is what is so extraordinary, it smells both dense, thick and oily, whilst at the same time conjuring this faux-melon-like translucency that at times feels extremely light. Then, you bring your nose back in and get the big hit of vanilla and benzoin underneath, that hint of something animal, even smoky – and the density of the heavy natural ingredients, and it’s all thick and smouldering again. Eva Kant has a great, great depth to it, whilst showing flickering signs of light throughout… […] It has a warmth throughout it, which is what makes it so wearable, and a sweetness underneath that provides a huge breath of a relief. It’s volume on the skin is thankfully not too loud, otherwise Eva Kant could simply be too much to handle, but its presence makes itself known all day/night on your skin.
It’s strange… Eva Kant as it begins to relax and meld with your skin, seems impossible to review. Up close it acts as a chameleon, kind of morphing in and out of focus. I find it almost impossible to break down just an hour into wear, but experienced as a whole piece, when wearing it… all I can say is I love it. The best I can describe it is: a great light up top of slightly honeyed florals, ylang, magnolia, the creamy remains of citrus, with a softly spiced sandalwood and vanilla in the base – all draped in this floral water – and something just a little jarring throughout. O’Driu’s most intelligent and harmoniously composed work to date… a must try.
On my skin, Eva Kant’s volume and sweetness seem to be significantly “louder” than on him, which is perhaps why it became far “too much to handle.” That said, I think he’s right when he writes, “it’s not a particularly sexy fragrance, nor do I find it romantic … it’s bold, dominating, confident and bitter-sweet.” It really is, though I would add herbal to that list as well.
If you’re a fan of bold, lush, moist magnolia and ylang-ylang fragrances with a herbal twist, a green opening, and a rich vanilla base, give Eva Kant a try.
Disclosure: My sample was courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.