I´m supposed to be reviewing Elternhaus´ Moslbuddjewthing today, the scent which according to their website is “directed against limited partisan political and religious thinking, which always produces violence. For this reason, the Elternhaus perfume object may be understood politically, but if it had to be categorized, it would be, at the most, cosmopolitan.” You can achieve all that at $300 for a 50ml bottle (from Luckyscent.) Knock yourself out. If you haven´t had your daily fill of fatuous, high-art bloviation after reading that excerpt, here´s the link.
Marc Buxton created it. I mean, I guess he did. His name´s on the website, anyway, but who can tell? Maybe “Marc Buxton” is the name of their dog, along with that dog named Jesus they talk about. All I know is, I’m not going back in there without my waders on.
Sure, it´s a fine fragrance. I mean, look at the notes (cassis, basilic, marioana base, mate, immortelle, labdanum, olibanum, rose, gaiac, black pepper, vetiver, sandalwood, cedar wood, patchouli, musk, amber.) Unless you upped the rose or the cedar to some sort of thermonuclear proportions, you´d have trouble producing something I hate. I don´t get any cassis in the opening and for the first three minutes it´s rich and woody and I found myself thinking, Christ – what if I fall in love with this? But then Christ answered my prayers and trotted in a somewhat bitter, herbaceous smell (is marioana like marijuana?) which wasn´t terrible, but unless you love the smell of dope it wasn´t fabulous either. I can´t really detect the immortelle, which makes me sad but would make some of you happy. The sandalwood and vetiver kick in, the dope note fades after half an hour or so, and the drydown is one of those powerful, seamless, creamy wood fragrances where no notes stick out particularly. It´s like a giant, smoothly sanded wooden ball. Did I love it so much that I´m going to buy a bottle? No. But I´m not going to judge you if you buy it.
What´s an incense that achieves world peace for me? Well … that´s a pretty high bar, frankly. I went up and stared at my collection for awhile, trying to figure out where I wanted to go with this review, and here´s the rough segue:
Point A: I have a lot of incense and woods fragrances, because those notes are arguably my favorite in perfumery.
Point B: (follow along here, this gets twisty, do you need to go get another cup of coffee first?) I can conjure up pretty effortlessly in my mind the smell of many of my greatest perfume rides – from Mitsouko through En Passant and Carnal Flower and right on out to the weird wings (Jicky parfum. Bal. Le Labo Vetiver.) If I think of them, I can smell them in my mind.
Point C: I´ve been in a period of fascination with fragrances with low sillage/high longevity – the sort of stuff that vibrates in the background for a long, long time.
If I do a diagram of those mental tangents as applied to me personally – and why not, it can´t be any stupider than the diagram on the Elternhaus site – I come up with a sample of one – L´Artisan´s Passage d´Enfer.
I have always been amused that a fragrance name that allegedly translates to “the gates of Hell” can provide me with such happiness. There´s no brimstone there. It´s the all-purpose fragrance improver. I have sprayed Passage on top of more insipid florals and dull musks than I care to remember. Olivia Giacobetti did it, and it´s genius – fragrance as a personal transporter. This is not church or cathedral. There´s a delicate floralcy (Luckyscent says lily) that emerges slowly from the frankincense, a luminous glow, an other-ness that gives me the same kind of thrill I get from meandering alone at dusk down an interesting rain-damp street in some city I love.
The thing that really blows me away about Passage, having given it a whole day of attention recently, is I never remember what it smells like. I remember maybe 75% of the scent – the silhouette of the fragrance – but my mind fails to capture the rest of it – the part that rises like smoke and hugs me like mist, all at the same time. Melancholy and joy. No matter how many times I wear it, I never quite remember just how beautiful it is until I put it on.
So, here´s my earnest, multi-faith prayer for you – if you´ve got some long-neglected fragrance sitting up there on your shelf, because you´re always catting around with the new samples on the block, go put some on right now – or tonight or tomorrow – and give that scent the love it deserves.
Photo: Campanile di San Marco, Venice: Jim Richardson, apertureprofessional.com. If you didn’t really look at the photo, you might want to scroll back up there, it’s striking.