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.