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.


Filed under Flowers

46 responses to “NEAR DEATH BY SCENT : : : FATHOM V by BEAUFORT (2017)

  1. It was interesting to read about my not liking vetiver, by the way. Did I not in the past? I know I was perturbed by his Miller Harris Terre De Bois (an utterly fascinating, earthy, strange, almost sour scent from the beginning of that brand’s output): maybe in the pastI was averse to the note in a way I am not at all now. We were at university together: while music has always been our main link, there has also been a continuous perfumed soundtrack for the last thirty years, and Peter was the first person who made me rethink perfume when he turned up smelling splendiferous in Shalimar.

    Has anyone else had a reaction of shuddering repugnance like this?

    • I was surprised reading that, too, so my brain made up the conclusion that your friend was referring to you not liking Bloom rather than not liking vetiver. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an extreme reaction to a perfume, but maybe as my dislikes get stronger as I get older, it could happen later!?

      • An Australian friend of mine also physically heaved when he smelled one of Beaufort’s, yet my brother loves that smoky tar gunpowder type scent and wears it lavishly. It’s interesting: this gruff, powerful, historical chemicalia really works for some people: I know that Samantha at I I Scent You A Day loved Fathom V.

        As for vetiver – yes. When I was younger I was more into the ambery side of things; maybe back in university I wasn’t so drawn to earthier tones, though I did have and wear Guerlain Vetiver. It’s interesting how you forget things about yourself sometimes.

      • I’ll have to try it if I get a chance. It’s true about forgetting things about yourself – when I first delved into perfumery 2.5 years ago and told my old friends from school, they said I always used to sniff all the bottles in stores when we went shopping together, which I didn’t remember. It was probably at The Body Shop, where I got my perfumes back then.

      • I am loving their Lemon Shampoo right now.

  2. Robin

    Dear Peter. What an ordeal. Is he usually a kind of sanguine guy, and this is entirely out of character? Or . . . I’m transfixed by the idea that a fragrance would have the power to do this. Awed. I’ve smelled crummy, even obnoxious perfume, but never had the sense of being poisoned or overtaken by evil forces. Wowsers. I’m trying to conjure up a smell that would do that to me. Fascinating, either from the perspective of Peter’s sensitivity/sense of drama or the power of a truly malevolent composition.

    He wasn’t having you on?

    Now I want to smell it!

    • You are right about the sanguine: Economics major; controlled (Virgo like D); but also a swooning neurasthenic aesthete like me – which is why I knew this was real when I read it.

      Mine wasn’t as extreme, but you will remember my Cabotine Lemon that I threw into some cupboard or other (I still don’t know where it is lurking); I remember you talking about bad juju. I think this is P’s equivalent.

  3. Kind of odd and so primitive that scents can trigger such emotions in humans. I know Estee Lauder makes great quality fragrances but there is some synthetic animalic musk in their base that just smells rank to my nose. Like to the point of making me physically and violently retch.
    Perris is one of my favorite perfume houses!

    • They stock Perris at Nose Shop Yokohama but I haven’t investigated yet. Which ones do you recommend ?

      • I have only tried their Black collection, I own their Ylang Ylang Nosy Be and of course their Tubéreuse Absolue.
        Tubéreuse Absolue is very similar to Houbigant’s Orangers en Fleurs (same perfumer) but with a touch of vetiver. Ylang Ylang Nosy Be starts a bit citrusy but uses cardamom to balance the slightly animalic ylang ylang. I like everything I have tried by Perris!

      • Totally inspired to now go and try everything properly. Next Wednesday. Arigato.

      • Karina

        I‘ve sampled and enjoyed all of their Rose de Grasse collection, which includes a jasmin, a rose, a lavender and a mimosa. The mimosa is my favourite of the lot and the lavender is pretty good too (close to Hermessence Brin de Reglisse). The ones in this series are all composed by Jean Claude Ellena I believe.

      • I love Mimosa so will have to go back and smell it. I wasn’t sure about the bottles though: a bit gaudy with all the gold etc. I found them offputting and can’t imagine accepting them into one’s collection.

  4. Lauren

    I struggle with too much oakmoss – Oriza’s Chypre Mousse leaves me terribly queasy. On a trip to Bloom myself, they gave me a sniff of Sombre by Strangers Perfumerie which smells simply revolting: vomit and dog poo. It’s silly rather than sinister. Neither of these have hit me at that existential level, though: the only time a scent has left me shaken is on the train smelling something on a stranger that filled me with terror. I concluded it must have been an association from childhood, unless i was picking up something from that individual.

    On a lighter note, I bought Beaufort’s Terror and Magnificence for my husband – it is almost parodically butch. Imagine Steve McQueen lounging in his leathers, smoking in the Archbasilica in Rome. It makes me laugh.

    • Amazing. I love this drama and your descriptors.

      Even a tiny speck of canine excrement sends me into wild panics, but I must admit this post and these comments is making me want to go to Bloom next time I am back in London just to try out all of these outrages firsthand.

  5. Wow, your poor friend! I must confess that I liked Fathom V when I too tried it at Bloom, and I have it in a Beaufort London discovery set. I’m pretty sure I wore it again back home in the US at least once and liked it again. I put the set away somewhere, but now I MUST take it out and really test! Wish me luck!

  6. Robin

    Did I say something wrong?

  7. OnWingsofSaffron

    I have this perfume, and yes, it s quite potent, full of character and – unfortunately! – has some aromachemical lurking in the dregs. But it is no witches brew, no potion cursed by jungle zombies.
    In the comments above, there is mention of vetiver and oakmoss. Yes, they may be part of the perfume but I am convinced it is the saline, seaweedy aspect that just might be the culprit.
    Initially, I was rather taken by the strong statement of the perfume, but at the end of the day it is the aromachemical that keeps me from wearing it more often. Same with Andy Tauer perfumes.

    • Ah.

      That is a perfume house I can’t do whatsoever. I have respect, and he is apparently a really lovely man, but I can’t do those bases. AT. ALL. Is this like that?

      Re: seaweed. I have a deep loathing at the heart level, which is why I can’t eat a lot of the food here and have never been able to. I just don’t like it as a taste or a smell. For me it is something washed up on a beach, odd and horrible, or that ends up in my hair when I emerge from the waves. Theoretically I am really into it, perfume-wise, but not in reality, unless hidden within something cleverly.

      • OnWingsofSaffron

        Well, I don‘t think Fathom V is into „hiding within“. It ain‘t subtle!

      • Lauren

        Have you smelt Silence the Sea by Strangelove? A faecal oudh coupled with a seaweed-at-high-tide ambergris make this one a real challenge for me. And it costs a fortune.

      • No I haven’t. And I probably couldn’t abide it. And YET: something about the way you describe it draws me in.

  8. Karina

    Loving Peter‘s guest post and the imagery you selected with it. Can‘t say I‘ve ever reacted quite so emotionally to perfume. BUT I did wear a perfume once on a speed train journey where I ended up having a horrible bout of motion sickness and had to use the cramped metal, well used loo to retch (lovely story I know). Speed trains and loos here (Germany) are not what they are in Japan – I can say from experience. Anyhow I cannot wear that perfume any more. Every time I try, I get slight motion sickness. I keep trying to wear it and give the scent new associations but so far no luck (and more motion sickness haha). A shame, since I did quite enjoy it before that day.

    • BUT WHAT WAS THE PERFUME? You can’t tell the story and not identify it!

    • Karina

      LOL apologies! The culprit (or victim?) is Élise by Rancé 1795.

      • I have cursorily sniffed some of their stuff in Ginza but dismissed it instantly at the time as being rubbish for some reason

      • Karina

        I‘ve had the same reaction to most Rance scents. It’s the (to me at least seemingly fake) historicalness of the brand that puts me off. However this one I smelled on someone and had to know what it was. It has a great sillage and an interesting eucalyptus note. Eucalyptus takes me back to the Eucalyptus trees of my childhood and I always loved walking under the canopy and picking up the scent in the air. So – I wouldn’t go round asking people to desperately go smell the Rance concoctions or even the Elise scent. But this one to had something special because of that prominent eucalyptus. It’s an unusual note in perfumery I think. Or I haven’t encountered it much. Anyway – my body blamed the neroli. It’s the same as in Diptyque’s Eau de Sense and I’m just waiting for the moment when I am able to see my sister again so I can pass that one on because she loves it. This turned out to be a bit of a ramble…

      • Ramble away!

        I wasn’t overkeen on Eau Des Sens, and love eucalyptus, but primarily as an essential oil for the bath (I also love the Kneipp Eucalyptus bath salts). I have never known it to work successfully in a perfume.

        And yes – that whole fake historical schtick is innately irritating.

  9. thatdvorak

    Fathom V is just a strong, synthetic herb; and I don’t like it’s green, leafy drydown. Peter definitely has read way too much H.P. Lovecraft lately, obviously. But I must confess that his lovecraftian writing style sounds quite close to the original. [Fathom V is quite a simple green, not marine, bit cheap and strong accord. It’s not like the Elder Ones came back for World Domination].

  10. thatdvorak

    Stuff I tried to scrub off? Secretions Magnifiques. That’s definitely not MY sex orgy.

  11. Tara C

    I smelled the Beauforts when they first came out and instantly wrote them off as vile and unwearable. My most recent traumatic experience was with Bogue Douleur which smells like sweet vomit. I had to scrub frantically to get it off as it felt like an attack on my life. Serge Noire was equally repellent but in a different, noxious BO way. That sample was carried outside directly to the bin.

  12. Lauren

    This was a very enjoyable post and comments, given the subject matter!

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