Licorice doesn’t seem like a boon companion of green leaves and herbs but some fragrances have set the pair up together. As matches go this one seems more like optimism than common sense, but it pays to remember that licorice itself has a background in the herb garden.
The perfume from Bielhlparfumkunstwerke PC 01 is rather like that. Since the packaging is so clean and minimalist you receive no clue from the line what you’re getting when you crack a sample vial, and so the perfumes take their exits onto the air with no fan fare and no preconceptions. You have no idea whether the perfumer was a realist or a romantic, evoking an experience or simply bottling an abstraction.
So it was a surprise to discover that the second sample I opened from the line sent me by Jeffrey Dame, was a very pale green scent, a complete break from the dark fragrance Mark Buxton had created, with a second act that features what smells like licorice to me. Altogether a light delicate scent that is easy to wear and use which reminded me irresistibly of the moth with the celadon colored wings and big eye-spots I once saw in my garden in Vermont. The wingspan on it was impressive as though it could take to the air of late summer in a lazy flapping of big pale green wings, which later on it did as I watched. PC 01 is much the same way, light but unhurried, and with something about it that recalls the evenings around the summer solstice when not much goes on and you’re glad of the torpor.
Of course this sort of fragrance is no new thing. Ever since licorice became popular after the success of Lolita Lempicka, there have been further attempts to make the public love the scent of Good’n’Plenty. One of the interesting ones that relied on an herbal dry down as this one does, was Guerlain’s Anisia Bella, though it was not one of the more commercial Aqua Allegorias.
If you liked herbal scents, if you appreciated a certain soft green quality to a scent without too much sweetness associated with the accord and of course aniseed, then AB was for you, and if not, you were left wondering just who had left the dill and star anise jars open after that last foray to Penzey’s? I liked it, but I’m pretty tolerant of herbal smells and even like herb gardens which I’m more apt to fuss over than a perennial border, if the truth were told.
Plants should be multi-taskers, which herbs always are, and my favorites such as rosemary or lavender, do a lot of things including being beautiful all at the same time. This was the case with that Guerlain, it was lovely, but in a low key way that you might be apt to pass by one your way to observe something showier in a flower bed and then miss if it died over the winter; Lady’s Mantle, SweetWoodruff – that kind of herb.
As for the PC0,1 I barely got to finish my own impressions of it because it went to my mother-in-law, with whom it lasted about a week. It was just so green and prefect, who could have resisted it? Any more where that came from?