Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in a field in Provence. Fresh lavender stretches out in an aromatic purple expanse as far as the eye can see. Slashes of white are interspersed throughout, heliotrope whose delicate blooms launch a powerful cascade of vanilla, marzipan, fresh anise, and powdered meringue. Running through the heart of field is a river of vanilla, silky and creamy, coiling its way around the purple and white flowers to create the scent of lavender ice-cream dusted with meringue and anise. The earth below them is made of patchouli, its spiciness complemented by something a little extra that smells of cinnamon, cloves, and chili-pepper. All around, encircling the field like a dark wall, is a forest filled with myrtle, wafting its unique aromas of spicy herbs, fruity sap, herbal flowers, and green woods. Cedar grows there, too, along with green vetiver that first smells mineralized, mossy, and minty, and then, later, smoky and woody.
Glenlivet and the distilled spirit of the Scottish Highlands are the inspiration behind Spirit of the Glen, an evocative fragrance from the American indie brand, D.S. & Durga. It’s part of a trio that comprise the HYLNDS Collection, and I thought that the concepts behind both the fragrance and the Collection itself to be fascinating. Really, I loved them, so I hope you’ll forgive a brief digression into the details.
According to the copy quoted on First in Fragrance, the HYLNDS Collection “seeks to recall the myth infused lands of Northern Europe. Tracing legends from antiquity, the Iron and Viking Age, HYLNDS fragrances are made with an in depth research into historical documents, aromatic analysis of real places, and the artistic creation of the Celtic, Norse, Manx, and Anglo peoples.” The story behind Spirit of the Glen may be even cooler, at least for a scotch drinker. Luckyscent says it arose out of an actual collaboration between perfumer David Moltz and Glenlivet “to craft a fragrance worthy of their flagship 18-year aged whisky.” As he explains on DS & Durga, to bottle the scent of their famous Speyside single malt, The Glenlivet 18, he went so far as to use accords “from all aspects of whisky production” right down to “charred bourbon barrel” and touches of “sherry cask.”
There’s a new mystery on the perfume scene, a fragrance called Aeon 001. It’s an eau de parfum that is described as an “experimental” vetiver and it was made by a famous perfumer whose name will be kept secret until the limited number of bottles have all been sold. I’m not a huge vetiver lover but I’m a sucker for a mystery, particularly one that is said to involve resins, spices, and white flowers, so I ordered a sample.
Many parts of Aeon 001 made me nod appreciatively and smile. It merged several perfume genres and families, glimmered with complexity, and was far from the hardcore vetiver soliflore that I had expected. At one point, it was primarily a modern animalic chypre in the vein of Bogue‘s stellar Maai, albeit a tame, baby cousin to that scent. At another stage, it was a vetiver leather oriental. At all times, though, and from the very first sniff, I thought that Aeon 001 bore the inimitable style of Bertrand Duchaufour at his best, from the use of one of his favorite notes to his trademark style of creating perfumes with paradoxical bold airiness or impactful, dense lightness.
Every week, I get at least three or four emails from people seeking fragrance recommendations. The vast majority of them are men, but there are some women, too. Most of them are not long-time readers of the blog and have simply stumbled upon it, so they don’t know my long-time favorites that I talk about often, but a few are subscribers who seek specific suggestions. Sometimes, people start by giving me a brief idea of their tastes and/or names of prior fragrances they’ve worn. Typically, though, the information is insufficient for me to know what might really suit them, so I write back with a list of questions, trying to narrow down what notes they have issues with or love best, how they feel about sweetness or animalics, how their skin deals with longevity or projection, and what sort of power they want in both of those last two area.
What I’ve noticed is that I tend to make certain recommendations time and time again for particular genres or fragrance families. So, I thought I would share them with all of you. However, please keep in mind that these names are in response to some pretty set criteria given to me by the person in question, even though many of those factors end up being quite similar. For example, the men who like dark, bold, rich or spicy orientals all seem to want a certain sillage or “to be noticed in a crowd,” as several have put it. In contrast, most of those who want clean, crisp scents prefer for them to be on the discreet side and suitable for professional business environments. Men whose favorites are classical designer scents that fall firmly within the fougère, green, fresh, or aromatic categories (like Tuscany, Guerlain’s Vetiver, or vintage Eau Sauvage, for example) tend to want very traditional scents, even “old school” in vibe, and not something sweet, edgy, or with a twist. So, that is what I try to give them as recommendations, which means that there are a whole slew of fragrances that fall outside the category.