There is something undeniably pleasurable about an all natural extract. Classic parfums I rarely inhale from the bottle : for me the enjoyment with Bal A Versailles, say, in the most concentrated form, is all in the wearing, from the development from A, to B, to Y. You will rarely, if ever, get such subtle morphing and creamy, purring roundedness without the use of some synthetics and/ or natural animalics (civet, castoreum). I doubt it is olfactively feasible. And I still maintain to this day that the iconic Jean Desprez is possibly the most perfect base accord ever created, particularly for those who love musk ambers. I am wearing it right now, and it is delirium.
Yet to also have the fresh possibility of a clean, clear, more modern amber – a deceptively simple, but sensually pleasing formula composed of essences of cistus labdanum absolute, tonka bean and peru balsam oil with a hint of vanillin for the drydown, spiked with a headclearing opening of bergamot, juniper berry and prominent pink pepper from the island of Réunion for a reflective dot of benevolence (and who doesn’t need a shot of that in these deeply cruel and shocking times – I think I have personally gone into denial, hence this post); a concentrated, more lathed, version of the original scent, housed in an ergonomically designed and palm-nudging little square bottle nestled in white paper box —- it all strikes me as very welcome. Cobalt Amber extrait is the ideal scent to secrete somewhere on your person – a pocket? – for a weekend away at the house of a friend; to wake up to a brand new day and want nothing, after showering, other than to be soothed and surrounded by your own private and gentle protective cocoon. While the duration of this perfume on skin is not in reality comparable to an endlessly, erotically orchestral odalisque such as Shalimar – to which this perfume bears some resemblance, the spice of the pepper note excepted – that legendary Guerlain extrait in fact usually burns my skin when I apply it (what we suffer for the things we love); whereas the minimalist, but lingering, clarity of Cobalt Amber feels like much more of a safe ally.
The other new release in this series I have tried (and I am now quite eager to smell the extrait versions of Grey Labdanum and White Vetiver when I get a chance) is Green Cedar. For a gracious, soft and uplifting, all year round coniferous Christmas Tree, this one catapults you straight from the city into the fresh air of the rural; therapeutic. Unlike the more arid, sawmill-like Virginia cedar essential oil I am more familiar with, or the sweeter, denser, redder, Moroccan variety favoured by Lutens in the Bois, which I am quite drawn to as it is one of the boisé notes I can wear with ease (I am a huge fan of Cèdre), Isaac Sinclair, head perfumer for the creations of this Amsterdam-based perfumery here utilizes a special ‘double-distilled’ Texan cedar oil bonded together with some cedar from the Atlas mountains for the forested pungency, as well as a proportion of guaiac wood and ambrette for skin grounding. But what is especially interesting for me in the extrait version of this new scent is the beautifully fresh and unexpectedly aerated top accord of natural magnolia oil from China, two different cardamom essences (from India and Guatemala) and a touch of Belgian angelica, for a herbal, purifying sensation; resinous and calming, and carefully (and aesthetically) calibrated so that when you apply the bottle mouth to skin, only a little emerges at a time, preserving the integrity of the volume – it is vital that an extrait feel precious – and allowing the scent to open up naturally at its own pace, uncluttered. I am very much a forest person, but not one who likes to smell of one, so I am unlikely to choose this as my own scent identity for the day when out on the town. But I would imagine that Green Cedar is probably one of Abel’s best sellers here in Japan, where there is an inbuilt audience receptive to all scents hinoki, hiba or pine-like (and something also potentially erotic about the almost sour, uric element present in oily, conifer cones, something edgy while simultaneously trustworthy). For me personally, this is more the kind of scent I will conserve and occasionally enjoy just a dab of here or there for relaxation, or for the delightfully fragrant, decontaminating sense of goodness I get from the opening accord (quite beautiful) : : : to just uncap and inhale directly from the bottle.