I don’t really do tobacco, except for the occasional Kretek Indonesian clove cigarette. Having said that, I do rather enjoy the experience of tobacco-leaf fragrances on others, and Semma, a pimento-laced, fresh, but very suave scent by New York based Odin, is one of the better ones I have smelled.
While it may lack the scathing, wet-haired, wolverine pangs of Miller Harris’ Feuilles De Tabac ( a scent bolstered with tanged, wet spices and dark ripe earth, like being chased through the forests by a beast who you ache for but who you know might kill you), and it does not have the true-to-life, real, tobacco-tin aura that is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s beautiful Tea For Two (which smells exactly like the moment that my grandad would open his roll-leaf Virginia in that tightly sealed, aluminium tin when we went to their house on Sundays), it also does not – for me, thankfully, at least- possess the stomach churning sweetness that is inherent in Tom Ford’s popular Tobacco Vanille: that apple-pied tobacco, cinnamonic, nause-fest that even for this spectacular sweet tooth is just one step of creamed sugar-mama too far.
Semma does have the nose-tingling depth of tobacco however ; its brusque, masculine integrity that I like in more simple scents like Tea Tobacco by Retroverso – fresh, undemanding, yet pleasing – as well as in another recent addition to the pantheon of nicotania (and a scent beloved of The Perfume Dandy,) the more ironically reserved Wild Tobacco by Illuminum. Semma, though rather old school ( a touch too much I would say to make it truly essential ), nevertheless has a beautifully constructed classic framework around which myrrh, frankincense, cinnamon and fresh aromatics surround a prominent, and beautifully rendered, tobacco leaf.
The notes in this perfume ply round each other like stars in a constellation: each held; knowing its place. It is a stern, gentlemanly accord (and thus in all honesty, more intriguing on a woman), but there is enough sillage – it is quite strong – to announce the perfume’s presence in a room without booming it obnoxiously. And, with its tweedish, Jermyn Street tailoring, and its initial, colognish citrus top notes, the perfume, over its duration on the skin, maintains a classy, and at times, even rakish, vibe.
While ultimately perhaps a touch too staid, the held-in, well made classicism is also what I like about Semma. The lithe piquancy of the pimiento peppers, the cool affability of the frankincense and myrrh; and the men’s-club, drifting, furnitured ambience of roiled, soft-leaf tobacco, make Semma an attractive, and appealingly well-crafted, tobacco fragrance that feels something like a safe, and solid, bet.
25 responses to “YOUR SUAVE AROMAS…………ODIN NEW YORK, SEMMA (2013)”
I’m not familiar with this house. Another one I need to explore it seems.
Last week I tested Diptique’s Volutes EDP which I quite liked. What’s your take on that tobacco scent?
How could I have forgotten to mention that one when I even went out and bought it?!(not sure I should have, actually….quite like it, but there is something a bit cheap and unfinished about it although I imagine I might use it a bit in winter).
Can’t even remember if I bought the edp or edt….do you like it?
I really liked it, hesitated to buy it, but since I’m on a budget now, being unemployed and everything 😦 Volutes turned into a sweet skin scent on me, very pleasant: the tobacco subtle and the honey not cloying. That same day I also tested L’Artisan mon numero 7 which started out beautifully with spices and incense and had more sillage but turned into something cold and distant in the drydown. Out of the two I much prefer Volutes, it just felt so warm and comforting.
‘Sweet skin scent’ sums it all up perfectly.
Sorry to hear about the job situation. But at least I know you will have stocked up for a good few many years, being a rather extravagant Belgique, and will be smelling lovely for quite a while due to your lovely accumulated collection.
At least, hopefully, you won’t be compromising yourself with idiots, and that is surely priceless.
I couldn’t have said it better.
No work is not fun, but at least I don’t have to deal with idiots, morons, etc. and that means less stress.
Good for you if you can afford it.
Something will definitely come along I know it.
I have been wanting to try this for a while. I am glad you reviewed it. I love tobacco as a note, I buy those perfumes and give them to my husband. He loves his Tea for Two and Costamor Tabacca, and I would love to find more. Thank you for reviewing this, Neil!
You know, if you love tobacco as a note and you buy tobacco perfumes for husbands (as do I), I reckon you could just go for it unsniffed, if you take on board what I say about its slightly traditionalist aspects. But it dries down nicely, fills the room in a rather sexy manner I must say, and the bottle isn’t bad at all either!
Glad you liked it.
Also – Le Soir is gorgeous – that deep, honey, pot pourri smell with a patchoulie undertone hidden away… I prefer the female to the male version which is rare as I sualyy prefer male versions of those kinds of scenets. However Absolu pour le matin (very different from Cologne btw) is stunning – very unique. It conjures mountain goats, swiss alps and Captain Von Trapp singing Edelweiss weirdly enough (hahaha), and has this austere dry pulsating thyme and citron running through that just drives you on, settling really late on in the day to a hint of something sweet – rose or jasmine – that comes on like night stock! I wore the sample religiously in the last couple of weeks of my PhD write-up (and in the last few days slept 2 hours in 96 hours!! Crazy shit!) – and it just drove me on and kept me buzzing and calm and in control. I feel overwhelmed with nostalgia for those last couple of weeks when I wear it actually (even though it was only last year!). The day I submitted the thesis however, I woke up and couldn’t wear it! I was completely perplexed as to what to wear then spontaneously reached for the vintage Eau de Dolce Vita you sent (my other 1998 London scent!) and it was somehow perfect…
If a perfume can drive you on, and has such a wonderfully potent affect, the creator has very much succeeded, n’est-ce-pas, especially when so much of it all is just dross and couldn’t raise a single emotion if it tried. I will definitely need to try this on! So frustrating, though, that there is no way in HELL that the bitches at Isetan would ever hand out a sample. I would have to try it on, and I am always very wary about trying things on the skin, especially as I am usually perfumed already.
Maybe on a hot day, unscented….I will go to Tokyo and do some proper hand/arm testing. It’s been a while..
How delightfully tempting does this one sound!
And would you believe it, FdTabac by Miller Harris was my substitute for an egg – The Dandy don’t do chocolate.
I’ve never thought myself the wolverine kind so I best get into practise for that, it may even require new clothes. Meanwhile I shall seek this one out lupine style.
Yours ever and Happy Easter
The Perfumed Dandy
Happy Easter to you you fine wolf. I thought of you the second that I smelled Semma (what a strange sentence).
Feuilles de Tabac: Have you reviewed it already I can’t remember. How do you smell in it? I know Nina wears it as well and love it. And I do think that Miller Harris is strangely underrated – I think that company make some really fine scents.
I haven’t reviewed Feuilles, I rarely do with perfumes I actually own purely of my own volition, a strange foible.
Miller Harris is hugely underrated to my way of thinking, and even the six scents they did for M&S at practically no money include four decent affairs.
I may, in fact have a little MH day, over Whitsun perhaps… when I’m feeling self-indulgent.
The Perfumed Dandy
Dear Dandy and Ginza – Happy Easter to you both, and what a marvellous Easter pressie Dandy! Enjoy! I do indeed love Feuilles de Tabac, and it’s so weird you should mention this Ginza, as I’ve been returning to fdT in my mind a lot in the last couple of weeks pondering whether or not to buy a bottle. I’ve finally been paid for some freelance work, and whilst it’s stiil tight (and I am of course supposed to be saving up for Melbourne!), I am on a fragrance flutter at the mo! I’m on a dry, woody tip and am currently tossing up between fdT and Etro Palais Jamais. In fact, on the Etro front,I’d love a bottle of Etro Grene Street (ADORE!) but it’s out of my price range still, likewise Francis Kurkdijan’s Absolu pour le Matin – though I now have a fresh, new, sample of that courtesy of a very sweet and instinctive young woman at Harvey Nicks in Leeds who somehow clicked out of all the spritzes I was trying, that I somehow needed that one, and spent ages rummaging through the samples to find it! And weirdly, last week, I really felt I actually NEEDED Absolu; so am happy to have it again. I agree with you both about Miller Harris. It’s a very underrated range – and am noticing that the prices of this are coming down on Ebay, which is great for perfumistas on a budget, but pehaps suggests it’s losing some popularity, which is a shame because they really are well-made and unusually bold scents – and have a real Yorkshire, no-nonsense solidity. I met my friend Andy in Covent Garden a couple of weeks ago and introduced him to the range in the Miller Harris shop! He loved it and is considering buying some for his bloke. Of all the ones we tried FdT was the one we both loved. It’s one for the moment I think.
I would love to know what you smell like in it, Nina. Women in tobacco scents = fascinating.
Etro I also like very much. Did you try Palais Jamais chez nous or just come across it independently? That odd, jasmine vetiver? It is very nice, actually, and strangely Matty totally fell for it as well (and he doesn’t really like perfume). The Grene Street I have never heard of – pray tell us more.
I know Soir, but not Matin: I think a trip to Isetan is most definitely in order soon, not that those snotty cows would ever give samples, but I could at least spray some things on cards. He’s the real deal, that perfumer.
PS. After musing ici, have plonked for the Palais Jamais! 100ml of the stuff is winging its way to me from sunny Germany as I write! FdT will soon follow methinks.
I can imagine that Palais Jamais (whose bottle and box I also really like) might be more pleasantly completing for spring days, as it has a very nice aura to it, while the Feuilles De Tabac has got a bit more bite and oomph for different occasions. Nice to juggle the two, and I would also imagine that it wouldn’t matter if you were wearing clothes that had got influenced by one or the other as they would possibly complement.
Is there some inexpensive German emporium I am unaware of, by the way?
I’ll make sure I wear some next time I’m over or next time you’re over here! I find tobacco scents intriguing – particularly love Paloma Picasso for this reason (have a whole story going on for that perfume that I’ll write you sometime) – and Lyn Harris does these particularly well. Love La Fumee similarly!
Re: Etro – I don’t think I tried any whilst I was at yours, but it was you who introduced me to the range (and I think Palais Jamais – or it might have been Royal Pavillion?) through writing about how it smelt on Duncan one day. You were enthusing about it in massive detail and it sounded divine and up my street in terms of the vetiver and jasmine – also the oak moss – and I think there was something about it that reminded me of Eau de Navigateur (which I DID try at yours and utterly adored!!) so it sort of lodged in my noodle as one to try. (I was looking through your vetiver posts earlier trying to find this review but couldn’t so am wondering if it was actually a facebook chat. And I’m not sure whether it was Royal Pavillion or Palais Jamais, but given the former’s got Sandalwood I think it was probably the latter…). Anyway, when I found myself in Knightsbridge Harvey Nicks sometime last year, there was a whole Etro range, and a very austere, sassy and professional sales woman was hopping enthusiastically between this and the Annick Goutal’s which gave me ample time to immerse. I thought I’d like the patchoulie but could take it or leave it a liitle – I think Il Profumo’s Patchoulie Noir has ruined me for life – however the Grene Street has totally grabbed me now! I tried this for the first time when revisiting the Knightsbridge store with Emily a couple of weeks ago, and was blown away by it. It’s got a really strong Basil kick, hints of mint and vetiver or perhaps oak moss, bergamot, and then has this sweet powdery undertone that must contain violet leaf and nutmeg, also perhaps a fruit zest (lime). I’ve recently however discovered that an indistinguishable smell I sometimes discern in perfumes and could never define is in fact Rosemary, and I think it may have a bit of that in it. Anyway, when I spritzed it, it made me feel totally upbeat and confident – in fact I became very charming! – so that’s another for the list!
I must say it was fun going shopping with Emily too! She’s got a strong green and fruity palate, really likes the Marc Jacob range, but also usefully hunted out the Eau de Cartier Zeste de Soleil which has been our defining mother-daughter scent in the last week along with the Elizabth Arden Green Tea she bought off her own bat for Mothers’ Day (and which suited me more than I thought it would!). She has a budding perfumista nose that one!
Re: Germany… there’s a seller on Ebay from Germany that has a ton of Etro perfumes going for around the £55 mark. If you put Etro into Ebay, you’ll find it! xx
Loving the Emily connection: fantastic. The idea of mother-daughter scents defining certain periods in your lives. Beautiful.
I don’t know a lot of these scents, you know!
Knightsbridge House of Fraser, not Harvey Nicks!
Semma sounds lovely, Mr. Ginza! Staid, classic, and tweedish sounds perfect. 🙂
We all have our stiffer side sometimes……!
Some traditional things just need to stay the same and always be there when you need them.
I agree, and when they are actually new and thus less stuffy (this is a bit like an old scent while managing to smell vaguely contemporary) it can achieve quite a nice balance. I would like to check out more from this line, actually.
Ooh Neil! Palais Jamais arrived today in its divine purple / Beardsleyesque box! It is the most glorious sunny day here and I just caught the postwoman as I was heading off for a walk! The minute I spritzed it I was overwhelmed with a memory of your house and I’ve realised that I did try some at yours! Do you remember when we hit that posh store in Tokyo and did a massive spritz-cocktail that sent fellow commuters scrabbling for the ages of the train carriage; and which should by rights have smelt hideous but by the next day had created the most gorgeous melange of its own that lingered on that scarf we bought?! Well the key perfume in that I’m realising was Palais Jamais and I suddenly remembered hitting that section quite hard when we were in the store. I have a feeling we then added to it from your bottle when we had the ‘green spritz’ morning – you were introducing me to a load of ‘green’ scents (including the Je Reviens, Silences, Jules and some gorgeous 1970s Italian one in a big bottle whose name I’ve frustratingly forgotten) – and I have a feeling Palais Jamais may have been one of those. Anyway when I returned from Japan my scarf held the smell of the holiday for weeks after, but six months on, come Christmas, one gorgeously dry, sweet, cardamony smell lingered and I’ve just realised today that Palais Jamais was it! I am so delighted to have a bottle of it. It’s going to be my scent du mai.