Unum Lavs: Popes & Sunday Mass

An olfactory “hymn to the Spirit” lies at the heart of Lavs, a fragrance that wants you to get in touch with your spiritual side, and to feel uplifted and purified with the beauty of church incense. Lavs is a creation of Unum, an Italian perfume house founded in 2013 by Filippo Sorcinelli who is also the nose behind its three fragrances.

Source: Unum at http://eshop.lavs.it/

Source: Unum at http://eshop.lavs.it/

What is truly fascinating about Unum is that its original mission seems to have been liturgical garments or priestly robes, and its e-shop has a coolest gallery of the most elaborate Catholic robes I’ve seen outside of my television. From what I’ve read, Unum actually creates vestments for Pope Benedict and Pope Francis XVI, which has to be the most unique background to any perfume house around. Regular readers know my passion for history, so this alone caught my attention, but it was the even more interesting story behind the actual Lavs fragrance that made me want to try it. Apparently, it was originally a room spray used to scent the two popes’ ecclesiastic robes! You can read all the cool details at Alfarom‘s review for Lavs on his Nero Profumo blog site (which I’ll be quoting later on), but, suffice it say, there probably isn’t a single incense fragrance in the world today which comes with papal approval except for this one.

Pope Francis. Photo by matrixpictures.co.uk via The Daily Mail.  Photo lightly cropped by me.

Pope Francis. Photo by matrixpictures.co.uk via The Daily Mail. (Photo lightly cropped by me.)

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Morph Parfums Montmartre 1894: Iris Melodies

Iris with leather, frankincense and myrrh, topped off by tales of Montmartre in 1894 and a dancer from the Moulin Rouge who receives an enchanted vial of ambergris… I was instantly intrigued. I’d never heard of the perfume house which was an Italian one, but the Italians make some great fragrances and those notes had a siren’s lure. So, I sent off for a vial of Montmartre (as well as one of a scent called Cruda that turned out to be a rose rollercoaster), and thought I would tell you my own tale.

Montmarte and its box via Morph's Facebook page.

Montmartre and its box via Morph’s Facebook page.

Morph Parfums is a relatively new Italian house that may have been founded in 2103, judging by their Facebook page. A comment on Parfumo.net says that their creative director (and possible founder) is a man called Dr. Andrea Angelino, while the perfumes are made by Maurizio Cerizza. Apparently, all of them are super-concentrated in nature, clocking in at a whopping 33% which is far higher than most extrait de parfums. On their website, Morph describes them as being

the outcome of a careful research of the best natural essences which have been chosen with passion all around the world. Morph redoubles, in its creations, the quantity of usually used essences so creating intense Eau de parfum and enhancing the endurance and the intensity on the skin of its unique odors. Odors that describe with stories, travels, adventures and emotions.

"Spanish Dancer at The Moulin Rouge" (1905) by Giovanni Boldini. Source: WikiArts.

“Spanish Dancer at The Moulin Rouge” (1905) by Giovanni Boldini. Source: WikiArts.

Morph also has long stories for all their scents. For Montmartre (sometimes called “Montmartre 1894“), it is about a young ballerina called Yvette who works at the famed Moulin Rouge in Paris’ Montmartre district in 1894. One night, a street vendor gifts her with a mysterious vial of an opulent, ambered perfume whose aroma enchants everyone who encounters it, leaving them happy and smiling. The rest of the tale is a long one, but ends with Morph saying that it has “found the magic ampoule of Yvette, hidden for decades by her smiling descendants. Morph has reproduced its unforgettable aroma of amber, natural elements and a touch of happiness.”

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Olivier Durbano Prométhée & Lapis Philosophorum

"Prometheus Carrying Fire" by Jan Cossiers, 1600-71. Source: allposters.com

“Prometheus Carrying Fire” by Jan Cossiers, 1600-71. Source: allposters.com

Prometheus rising, bringing fire to man, and The Philosopher’s Stone, transforming metals to gold and offering the chance at immortality — those are two of the great myths of history, now embodied in fragrances centered on dark earth notes with incense. How could I possibly resist? If there is anything I love more than perfume, it’s history, so I was instantly intrigued when I came across Lapis Philosophorum and Prométhée (hereinafter just “Promethee”).

They are two fragrances from Olivier Durbano, a Parisian jeweller who specializes in expensive creations using semi-precious stones. Apparently, from what I’ve read, his jewellery is a big hit with the French “glitterati,” as one person put it. Yet, he also has a perfume line, roughly 10 fragrances in total, most of them inspired by a different semi-precious stone. His latest two, however, are drawn from mythology, but all of them are his own creation and made without the assistance of a perfume “nose.” I’ll look at each one in turn.

Photo via the Olivier Durbano website.

Photo via the Olivier Durbano website.

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Il Profumo Chocolat Amere & Ambre d’Or

Pre-Columbian chocolate with chilies. Source: CaFleureBon.

Pre-Columbian chocolate with chilies. Source: CaFleureBon.

Dark chocolate infused with fiery spices that transforms into patchouli woods. Or, musty myrrh infused with ambergris, honey, incense and opium flowers which puts you inside an ancient church before taking you to sweetened woods. Chocolat Amere and Ambre d’Or are two very different creations from Il Profumo, which is the focus of today’s foray into Italian perfume houses. I rather liked parts of Chocolat Amere (which is officially spelled as “Chocolat Amère,” though I’ll skip using the accent here for reasons of speed.) To my surprise, the fragrance somehow recreated a definitely patchouli vibe after a beautifully bitter, spiced Mexican chocolate opening. Ambre d’Or, however, was not my personal cup of tea, for reasons that we’ll get to later. Continue reading