My friend Peter in London emailed me the other day.
“Since I wrote, I have been on what I’d call a total perfume bender. To blow away the staleness of 3 months of lockdown I am manically demanding a whole wardrobe of new smells. I had a lovely afternoon in Bloom Perfumery in Covent Garden a week ago trying everything they had in citrus, green or vetiver (sorry I know it’s not your favourite but I am addicted). I came away with a gorgeous citrus, Mandarino di Sicilia by Perris, and a towering EVIL green, Fathom V from BeauFort – which deservers a whole chapter of its own, disturbingly morbid and funereal, like being smothered in a pile of putrefying lilies, almost unwearable. I keep having to have a sniff.”
This morning I received an addendum:
“I must just add a follow up. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES try Fathom V or wear it anywhere you can’t immediately wash it off. I had to destroy my bottle. It was so evil it affected my mind. A little spritz in the shop, fine. Super green, stays lovely and sharp for a few minutes. Morbid, yes, extreme but wearable. But when I wore it out a second time for a walk, the fumes seriously upset my psychological balance, the oakmoss (or some camphorous synthetic) and lily making me feel ill and plunging me straight into a state of DESPAIR, no other word for it. Not despair through association but it felt like a direct link from the scent opening up a well of pure misery. I could hardly drag myself home and just wanted to give up by the side of the road. Somehow I got home scrubbed it off, washed my shirt and jacket and threw the whole bottle away. Didn’t recover all evening and my mood was seriously low until I woke up the next day back to normal. I would just avoid it altogether. Pure evil. Not taken so strongly against something in years.”
I don’t think I have ever heard of a more visceral hatred of a perfume and felt I had to share ( reading this made me laugh out loud). I have actually never smelled Fathom V myself, though I have written about other perfumes by this house before: the reviews on Fragrantica are also varied and fascinating enough to make me want to try it just for the splayed, garish lilies; the musty-old-flower shop-down-a-back-alley-in-London vibe; the oceanic rage. It sounds almost mesmerizing. At the same time, after reading of Peter’s profound disgust at the very deepest cellular and spiritual level (his experience almost comes across as a physical and mental poisoning), I definitely would approach this very daunting sounding perfume with the highest levels of trepidation.