Hiram Green‘s new Arcadia is officially an aromatic lavender fougère inspired by idyllic green forest landscapes, but that is only a fraction of the story that unfolded on my skin. I found Arcadia to be a fougère-oriental hybrid whose fresh, clean, aerated green-laced lavender opening soon turned into creamy lavender ice-cream with deeply resinous, woody, incense-y, spicy, and ambered qualities for the vast majority of its lifetime. The end result strongly and consistently reminded me of Serge Lutens‘ original version of Fourreau Noir, a dark, delectable bell jar beauty that was the first and only lavender fragrance to bring this decades-long lavender-phobe to my knees. Needless to say, I was equally enthused by Arcadia.
There is not a person alive who has been unaffected by the wretchedness of 2020 and the pandemic that has dominated the list of traumas. I won’t even start to talk about the issues of this year because they are many and all hideous. But what about the escape methods for many of us during the best of times: scent? How much is perfumery still a big escape in the midst of one of the worst years in the 21st century?
Yet, that is only one part of the tale because 1861 Naxos is like a kaleidoscope where the images change and realign themselves into different shapes with every click, especially in the first half of its life. Over time, the images and the notes change faster and faster, thanks to the impact of silky vanilla, dry woods, incense-like smokiness, spicy patchouli, and even some ambered booziness. The result is a bold powerhouse that has already become a big favourite with perfumistas, chosen by Basenotes readers as one of the best niche fragrances released in 2015 and frequently sold out on places like Luckyscent or Twisted Lily.
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.