THE SCANDALS OF NATURE : : : : : HERETIC PARFUMS’ DIRTY GRASS (2020) + DIRTY MANGO (2020) + DIRTY GINGER (2017) + FLOWER PORN (2020) + FLORGASM (2018)

Ordinarily I find that too much intimation of the ‘forbidden’ or the ‘naughty’ in perfumery is something of a turn off. While we all know that sex sells, a name like ‘Flower Porn’ immediately arouses my close-to-the-surface inner skeptic (the word ‘porn’ itself has also become vastly and tediously overused in my view, and in often very ineffective contexts : on social media you will see a beautiful quotation or a poem published, and soiled, by seeing the ugliness of the provider ‘word porn’ at the bottom of the page; a photographic landscape is posted by ‘nature porn’: there is furniture porn, chocolate porn, ‘inspiration porn’, you name it – but for me these simply don’t work for me as reference points for something that you fixate on or gorge on, because, quite simply, porn is porn: titillating and exciting to many, and serving a useful purpose, but with one, very obvious aim only – and not necessarily an especially edifying one.

Thus, though Flower Porn is most definitely an eye-catching name for a perfume – who wouldn’t notice that bottle first when they scanned a niche perfumery’s selection? – I initially gave it and its brethren from Heretic Parfums (again….always those ‘devilish’ and provocative names for perfumeries) short shrift: at first I churlishly didn’t even smell it out of a conviction that it must be cheap in sentiment, commercially desperate, and/or salaciously vacuous ( Florgasm, though, I have to say: what a name! This is genius. How come no-one thought of it earlier?)

Anyway, the proof is always in the pudding, in the same way that you never know how someone is going to be in the sack until they are actually in there with you. And, to my surprise, I really quite liked some of this range when I finally got my nose on the perfumes and put my prejudices aside. Moreover, I have to say that the initially slightly eye-rolling ‘dirty’ concept, when you look into Heretic Parfums motivations and conceptualizations further, is actually quite interesting; not based, as would probably be predicted, on the grungey musks and saccharine synthetics that get so many ‘erotic’ perfumeries’ knickers in a twist (and an absolute joke, to me, when so many vintage, ‘ladylike’ and ‘gentlemanly’ perfumes back in the day contained vastly more shocking quantities of genuine filth – think Monsieur de Givenchy; La Nuit De Paco Rabanne; as for Bal A Versailles…….don’t let me go there).

No. What I like about founder and perfumer Douglas Little’s officially stated approach is a new attitude to naturals, essential oils and botanical extracts in perfumery. Rather than the ‘healing’ and scientifically verified medicinal qualities of plants (to which, as you know, I subscribe wholeheartedly; empirically), the creator of the Heretic line, while appreciating those facets of aromatherapeutic substances, wants to veer away from the hippie apothecary vibe of natural perfumery and instead concentrate on the natural imperfections and messiness of essential oils in a purely olfactory setting; their lack of smoothed down edges, the strange routes that they take (anyone who has ever used a raw ylang ylang or neroli; a patchouli or a lavender – and especially citruses – knows that pure essential oils are not really wearable as perfumes: there are often unpleasant tangents (ylang ylang unpleasantly harsh at the end of its duration, drained of vitality; rose just sour and depleted; jasmine rich, foul); strange, lurking unexpectations (the hidden ‘milkiness’ of rosemary and eucalpytus; the ‘curdled’ quality of natural sandalwood in some phases of its olfactive progression; almost every oil in fact just too vibrant and multifaceted to be curtailed with a commercially viable simplicity). This brand, therefore, claims to actively embrace, indeed showcase these ‘feral aspects of nature’, while still, presumably, culminating in aesthetically pleasing perfumes.

Little says on Heretic’s website that

“Natural fragrance is a unique and unexplored niche within the fragrance world that for the most part has been used for spa and aromatherapy products. My interest in natural perfume has very little to do with health benefits and everything to do with their depth and complexity. Natural fragrances are much like wine in that you can detect nuances of the plant, the soil and its surroundings. They have a character that cannot be found of achieved with the synthetic copies. These fragrances are alive, unique and create an olfactory fingerprint.”

The few I have smelled certainly do have a vivid life to them. Of the two flores escandalosas, I found Florgasm to be the more successful in terms of harmony (a prominent orange blossom/ neroli punctured with fresh ylang ylang, tuberose, jasmine, hibiscus, bitter orange, bergamot and lemon), though Porn is also very flower-shop fresh – both of these have a certain florist’s in the early morning feel that would make them nice off-to-the-office -in-pressed-white-shirt briskness : with its green, peppery galbanum/ geranium/ violet leaf vetiver rose spiced with coriander and black pepper; the volatile, floral notes smell quite hyped up and tingling to be all sealed permanently in the same bottle together.

Detractors do say on scent fora that both of these (and many of the other Heretic perfumes) are too short lived on the skin – as is to be expected – even if for me personally the entire notion of ‘projection monsters’ and ‘stamina beasts’ is a misguided nightmare of the modern age that has truly brought down perfumery’s status low in the eyes of the non perfumisti, and the more sensitively-inclined scent haters of the ‘general public’. Yes, there might be a spritzy faintness to some of these delicacies, but nonetheless there is definitely also something extraordinarily appealing for me about the idea that the perfume you have just sprayed on literally contains virtually nothing but flowers.

I love Dirty Mango.

Quite how one extracts the scent of a mango is anyone’s guess (and ‘musk and white woods’? Are these as kosher as we have been lead to believe?), but the main mango accord here, circled with mandarin orange and geranium for spikiness, is undoubtedly rather delicious. There is something about the overall, fresh and mouthsmacking feel to the scent that reminds me a little of Chopard’s delirious Casmir, but without that perfume’s heaviness nor rich vanilla; Rather, there is a lighter sensation to the perfume, an endearing adult cuteness, which makes it far less slimey and ridiculous than Montale’s hilarious Mango Manga; less pixellated and overly thought out than Bertrand Duchaufour’s glittering Bombay Bling. I could wear this.

Dirty Ginger I would leave for someone else: but there is no denying that this one is peculiarly sexy. Firstly, I love ginger to death – it is one of my favourite flavours and cooking ingredients (my ultimate ginger in perfumery would probably be Versace L’Homme from 1984, though it is not listed as an official note; or the sultry ginger-led Gucci Envy for Men from 1998, which D wears with aplomb) : I don’t believe that this optimistic, and ultra-fortifying rhizome is used anywhere near enough in perfumery. Dirty Ginger is more experimental and eccentric than any other fragrance I have smelled based on this note (ginger vs shiso vs palo santo vs lime, with cumin, tea and black pepper all writhing suggestively down in the mix : : : : diffident, dirty (that would be the combination with the armpit sweat note of the cumin, and definitely distancingly erotic). Ironically, I also actually find this one the most ‘aromatherapy-ish‘ of today’s selection – but that certainly doesn’t detract from its growlingly suggestive, odd-ball charm.

To finish, predictably I go for the vetiver.

While on the whole, I avoid buying expensive niche vetiver scents because – contradicting what I wrote earlier about the unwearable overcomplexity of most natural oils – vetiver is one that I do wear in pure essential (at a fraction of the cost, and with more fulfilling results). That said, if I come across a fragrance that can capture the earthiness of the finest vetiver zizanioides but then embellishes it with something that I know I can’t do by myself, then my ears prick up. Dirty Grass is one of these : the greenest, grassiest vetiver (top notes like freshly cut grass stems in the opening, along with galbanum, coriander, and CBD cannabis oil, though I am not sure that this was printed on the label I saw here in Japan where there are very strict regulations regarding this). In tandem, these notes make the fragrance feel alive, and I am definitely intrigued : to be revivified, zoned out and anchored simultaneously strikes me as a pleasing fragrance option. I will definitely be taking this one out for a second spin with view to possibly getting a full bottle; a hint of skank in the overall mix, for me, not deterring the mind from a generally, wholesome, and very clean, vitality.

14 Comments

Filed under Flowers

14 responses to “THE SCANDALS OF NATURE : : : : : HERETIC PARFUMS’ DIRTY GRASS (2020) + DIRTY MANGO (2020) + DIRTY GINGER (2017) + FLOWER PORN (2020) + FLORGASM (2018)

  1. Emma Fushimi

    Florgasm! Amazing! I think my DH would love the Dirty Ginger.
    I also LOVE that Soulwax track 🙂

  2. “Anyway, the proof is always in the pudding, in the same way that you never know how someone is going to be in the sack until they are actually in there with you. ”
    Ha ha haaa! Ain’t that the truth. Many a pleasant and unpleasant surprise to be had when it comes to intimacy.
    I recall when Heretic Perfumes first came out at Barney’s (?) I sort of wrote them off as another trendy NYC/LA hipster house like Le Labo. When Mr Little partnered with Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, I sincerely wrote him off as hipster hype. I suppose I shall have to give Florgasm & Flower Porn a try after your glowing praise & as they both seem like scents I would enjoy.
    Florgasm is an absolutely brilliant name, how did the huge marketing firms of the big fashion houses miss that? I love the milky hue of the actual juice in the photo, does seem a bit naughty?

    • Just a bit!

      As for Gwyneth and Goop……I shall refrain from commenting. The whole thing is undoubtedly hipster – an area I don’t do too well in, as I can’t abide conformity, especially when it comes to the beards and the shaven sides of the head, the nose rings. the skintight jeans, oh my god …AAAAAAGGH –

      but the perfumer doesn’t look like that in the photos, and, as you say, lucky him for coming up with or coming across the name Florgasm. I should have thought of it myself in all these years of raving about flowers.

  3. They sound interesting, but I do not really like the names. I hate to say it, but I enjoy nice names for fragrances, as well as nice fragrances themselves. That might be the snob in me, but I feel Shalimar wouldn’t be as elegant, if it were called Vanilla Custard.

  4. Robin

    Thanks for the enlightenment about Heretic, because I otherwise would have written them off. (The connection with GOOP alone would have done it.) Despite the names, they sound incongruously appealing. Yes, the vetiver would be very N.C., and probably Ric, too.

    By the way, I stumbled across a bottle of Encre Noire Extreme for dirt cheap and it’s on its way here for Ric. I haven’t sniffed it before. Did I do good, or is it rubbish?

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