NEFERTITI by MAHER OLFACTIVE (2020)

 

 

 

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Nefertiti is independent perfumer Shawn Mayer’s tribute to/ interpretation of Miles Davis’ 1968 ‘post-bop’ album Nefertiti – a record I am unfamiliar with ( I am not a jazz buff, nor a Davis collector, even if I love Kind Of Blue, the psychedelic freak funk of On The Corner and Bitches Brew,  and in particular,, the exquisite Sketches Of Spain). I can’t comment on any aural/olfactory similarities.

 

 

 

 

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For me, the perfume – a strange, cavernous, and mysterious scent, musty, subdued, cool and green, with notes of kyphi incense, ‘jazz cigarette’, oud, musk, vetiver, a lingering heart of immortelle absolute ( a note I am never comfortable with, too sweet and medicinal); jasmine, and, in the opening accord based on the unique perfume that the queen Nefertiti herself is said to have worn – orchid leaf and honey  –   is a cool and wreathing, enigmatic oddity that rather than the pioneering brilliance of the experimentalist Miles Davis, puts me more in mind of a day I once spent at the Altes Museum in Berlin a decade ago, one of the institutions on the ‘Museum Island’  that controversially houses perhaps the most fascinating and mesmerizing artwork I have ever seen : the bust of Nefertiti created by Egyptian sculptor Thutmose circa 1345 BC.

 

 

 

 

 

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Encased in glass, in a black space by itself, I was utterly stunned by the eerie, pulsating life force this work exhibited; a magnetic pull that felt like magic. This was a physical sensation of alarm, vulnerability and fascination simultaneously; my heart racing as though it were knowingly casting a spell on me. There was a power. I would keep encircling the statue,  from back to front, unable to tear myself away.

 

 

 

 

 

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The pictures here do not remotely do this creation justice. The reality is both much smaller, slender – yet also bigger. Commanding. In fact, when the archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt came across the perfectly preserved bust in an ancient craftsman’s underground chamber in 1912 , he was so overcome by its life force, commenting, as he held it in his hands, that  ‘it is ALIVE. It cannot be described in words. It must be seen’.

 

 

 

 

 

The Nefertiti bust is pictured during a press preview of the exhibition 'In The Light Of Amarna' at the Neues Museum in Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

Maher Olfactive’s perfume is of course not as bewitching nor compelling as this magnificent work of art. Nothing could be. But it does, I find, also plunge you straight into a different sphere and shadowed headspace, like the airless darkness, the hushed intrigue you often experience as you pass through the atrium of a museum and move through to the exhibits. The perfume has its own peculiar, resinous glow that in the gentle, persistent, if quite eloquent and melancholic base is almost redolent of old Christian Diors such as Diorling –  even Rochas’ Mystère.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A curiosity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Comments

Filed under Incense

13 responses to “NEFERTITI by MAHER OLFACTIVE (2020)

  1. Tara C

    That bust is amazing! There is no substitute to seeing works of art in real life. I remember seeing a Rembrandt exhibit in Paris and being mesmerized by the three-dimensional quality and incredible light emanating from the canvas. I had seen numerous prints and never felt moved by them until I was in the presence of the original.

    That perfume sounds intriguing too, I love immortelle. I don’t see it on his website though, guessing it’s discontinued?

    • I think it is brand new. I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly, as it is definitely odd, but then both d and I were drawn to it again this morning – and it is definitely mysterious and intriguing.

      The Nefertiti bust is like nothing else. I honestly had some kind of psychic experience from standing next to it, like The Curse Of The Mummy or something. Its eyeless eyes see right through you.

    • Katy

      There are two websites. Chatillon Lux and Maher Olfactive. I ordered samples about a year ago and fell in love with Weinstrasse and Santal Austere, the dusty, dry oud sandalwood I never knew I wanted, ordered a full bottle. All the fragrances are really interesting and well done. I just saw Nefertiti on the Maher Olfactive website. It is small batch perfume, so you may find yourself waiting between batches!

  2. bibimaizoon

    The notes in this fragrance sound very intriguing. Some days an odd fragrance is definitely called for.
    I was mesmerized too when I first saw the Nefertiti bust in Berlin. So modern looking with her delicate bone structure, perfectly arched brows, winged eyeliner, and long, slender neck. Yet her expression is so ancient with those heavy, tranquil eyelids and a slight smile. Strangely reminiscent of a serene Buddha or Greek Kore.

    • How brilliantly described. Yes. It DID feel completely modern looking, and new, to the extent that it overwhelmed me. I couldn’t quite tell if the vibe it was giving off was benign or malevolent though – it really perturbed me

  3. Renée Stout

    That bust is nothing short of sublime. The scent sounds interesting, but as I read your words, I couldn’t get the smell of Guerlain’s Djedi.

  4. OnWingsofSaffron

    Oh, I absolutely MUST comment here!!
    The Nefertiti bust was moved a few years ago to the spectacularly renovated Neues Museum. The New Museum is one of the many museums on the island, and is the most stunning museum I can think of–and I’ve seen many! All old structures including war destruction– be it just an old tile–are left, everything else is in polished modern reconstruction. There is a great virtual presentation of the Neues Museum online: https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/neues-museum/about-us/videos/
    And it’s well worth checking out the whole range, as the other museums are just absolutely awe inspiring!
    Back to Nefertiti–here a link in which you can zoom around in the new setting: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/audienz-bei-nofretete/ZQKiSnxV4cRAIw.
    The bust is in single hall (nothing else in there) with a magnificent dome, and has gotten a completely new lighting system. All of a sudden this artefact of glamorous 20-something queen becomes, may I say: very human and direct. You can see little wrinkles in her face; she looks aware. People in the hushed silence sort of communicate with this masterwork come to life. I admire the way you can stand right in front of here. No five meters off, but right there next to here.
    There are other old Egyptian sculptures of similar quality and– oh my god, it is so absolutely shattering to see all the artwork on the Museum!!
    Please do go. Buy a day ticket–or even better: a 3-day or 7-day ticket–in advance and visit museum by museum.
    Lastly: this link will give you a good impression of the magnitude of the Museum Insel, and believe me, in each house the artwork ist of the highest order: https://www.museumsinsel-berlin.de/en/home/
    Sorry for this long and rambling comment, but this place is so dear to me that I have a nearly Messianic drive to introduce it to others!

  5. I am utterly captivated by the bust of Nefertiti and have been since seeing it in an art book when I was a very young girl. The perfume sounds interesting, but probably not as amazing as something worthy of its namesake.
    I really need to visit Berlin. I adore so many works of art in the museums there.

    • Honestly. You have to see it. I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but it honestly had that effect on me; LIVING. Almost to a slightly scary extent, like it was possessed of some kind of potency that went beyond the sum of its parts. Quite glad it was under glass, actually!

      Berlin is an amazing place to visit. So uncohesive architecturally, but that is its charm. You have the rough and cool areas, the elegant parts – it’s great to go there in summer. You can go and see Nefertiti in the day time and then dance your ass off in some underground club at night (plus they even take coronavirus seriously!). I am a big fan of the place. We fell in love with it in 2008.

      • It is definitely one of the cities I am most excited about visiting in the future. My great-grandmother was a Berliner, so I have even more reason to visit.
        I am sure Nefertiti will move me in ways no other piece of artwork has. I almost feel I will be able to commune with her.
        I can hardly wait.
        Oh, and yes, Germany has taken Covid19 seriously.

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