It’s hot out. After all my whining about the rain and cool weather, it’s now decidedly hot. At least for the next four days. Then, slightly cooler. Slightly. The garden has gone mad in happiness. I’ve been wearing factor 50 and I’m still slightly tan.
‘Freedom day’ tomorrow. I don’t even want to think.
Two weeks ago, I talked witchiness in perfumes. A few days later, some comments on Spell 125, the new offer from the UK-based Papillon Artisan Perfumes, popped up (apparently it was released on 7 July due to meanings associated with the number 7). So, I felt it was meant to be and off I went to find a sample. In the process, I got the whole line so while some of these have been reviewed here in the past, I may do a whole line thing soon if I can find a concept to tie things together beyond there being seven fragrances by one house.
Anyway, Spell 125. I complained in the witchiness post that a number of perfumes I put in this category simply aren’t magical and mysterious on me – even if they are beautiful out of the bottle.
Well, Spell 125 goes some way to bridging that lack on my part.
Per the Papillon website, “In the Book of the Dead, Spell 125 represents a balance of light and dark, life and death. The compelling ceremony of weighing the deceased’s heart against a feather animates a delicate olfactory rendering of the lightness of the soul, with just a sliver of the underworld’s shadows”.
This is incense-focused – ie, it appears to follow the tradition of things burned for ceremony. The notes include white ambergris, Siberian pine, black hemlock, Green Sacra frankincense, Ylang and Indian sandalwood.
On me it starts with an almost rank, medicinal, astringent aspect. Note: this is not a bad thing.
I get pine, dirt with pine needle droppings in late winter when the snow has receded and things smell a little like they’ve been sitting under cover for too long, away from the air. With development, it shifts more towards orthodox incense – a mixture of resins modified by the heat of the burning. There’s a whisper of something sweet under that – the ambergris maybe. Again, this supports the perfume rather than being irritating. The drydown, sadly, is very fleeting, but is soft and smooth, almost chocolaty – perhaps the sandalwood, and, interestingly, this sandalwood works on me. This is not very long-lived on my skin (maybe three hours max). But I would remind that my body temperature generally runs slightly below 98/36.6 which definitely affects longevity of some perfumes.
I put this on my son as well because his temperature is normal. On him, this opens up pine and incense: the pine of cold air in winter forests and an incense that reminded me of cold interiors of very old religious buildings. This opening is much truer to the fragrance in the bottle. It moves on to being a proper incense fragrance – smooth and resinous. The drydown actually is slightly woody on him. So maybe the hemlock and sandalwood. Not sweet though, just a strange juxtaposition of smooth and cardboardy. And it is far stronger and more long-lived on his chemistry. Which is to say on a ‘normal’ person it would probably be quite tenacious.
This is beautifully done and certainly dark, mysterious and enigmatic. Any sweetness is fleeting and simply softens the hard edges of the incense and pine without detracting from their specific idiosyncratic smells.
A note on the inclusion of hemlock: this is not like Ormonde Jayne Woman – it’s not unctuous or sweet. Rather, it’s quite spare and cleaner (for lack of a better word), sharper.
In addition to the UK company site, Papillon fragrances can be found in quite a number of places. See the website for the list.
Spell 125 is offered as EdP. In the UK bottles are 50ml priced at £150.
Anyone sampled this? It’s well worth seeking out, IMHO, especially if the fragrances noted in the 5 July post are ones you love or if you’re simply an incense lover.
PS Picture above is of the one white poppy in my garden. Everything else is pink, purple, magenta, red or yellow. I’ve never seen one of these before. Thank you, Mother Nature