Originals

something you don't come across every day. Dailymail.UK.com

something you don’t come across every day. Dailymail.UK.com

You know it’s a funny thing, most of us, plus the media, plus critics, even academics, like to say that we admire originality.  That is to say that we do, very much, so long as we can see how that originality sold in the 18-49 demographic last year? Also, was that gross or net? We love originality- just so long as someone else has done it first.

This means that you will almost never smell an original perfume.  They’re too risky to sell.  Supposing the public doesn’t like them?  The same goes for any number of new products, but trust me on this one, if you’ve smelled thousands of perfumes you know original ones are extremely rare.Some perfumers and some brands are a little more likely to produce something new but these days they are very few and far between. So what have I smelled that really is unique?  Good question.

  1. Annick Goutal’s Folavril (1986) This perfume which is the oddest floral/fruity aldehyde ever was a mixture of mango, aldehydes, tomato leaf, boronia, and jasmine.  The perfume was weird but funny and cheerful. Folavril is now almost
    Folavril was not like anything else. from Pinterest.com

    Folavril was not like anything else.
    from Pinterest.com

    impossible to find and probably changed because the formula depended on that boronia which is wicked expensive. Soapy, fruity, tangy, a puddle splashing scent for people who didn’t take themselves seriously.

  2. Hilde Soliani’s Bel Antonio (2008)  Hilde produced a couple of really strange and startling fragrances but this one which is all Gauloises and espresso, is one of the strangest and most evocative I’ve ever come across and is a wow among masculines. If you think New Harlem or A*Men was good, try this.
  3. Aftelier Sepia (2012) Mandy is a law unto herself and this particular fragrance is proof.  Dismissing notes I will say that Sepia smells of ambergris and black tea to me and if that sounds mystifying to you, well, then that makes two of us.  I don’t understand this perfume, my Hub dislikes it, but it is simultaneously soothing and strange, like being in a very warm stable.  Is that good?  Yes.
  4. Guerlain’s Pamplelune (1999) This was a one off for Guerlain, but they scored with this Mathilde Laurent composition and it is one of the weirdest perfume ideas of the last twenty years: squaring black currant off grapefruit. Bizarre.
  5. Neil Morris for Takashimaya (2008) Neil Morris is not getting the press he deserves for being as talented as he is.  This is only one of many Neil Morris perfumes that is quite unusual,and this is one part Tokyo tea shop to two parts Kyoto garden, and is one of the most arresting fragrances I’ve ever smelled, just as complex as Une Fleur de Cassie.
  6. Penhaligon’s Lily and Spice (2006) I mention this lily because it is one of my long term loves but is totally oddball.  This is a big old Easter lily, pepper, saffron, and dirt,
    Penhaligon's discontinued Lily &Spice a leathery lily

    Penhaligon’s discontinued Lily &Spice a leathery lily

    a lot of dirt.  This is a lily your dog dragged in from the garden by mistake.  Nothing like it, zed, nada, zip doppelgangers, and believe me I tried to find some because like a lot of these scents it’s discontinued.  One of a kind.

  7. Parfum de Nicolai’s Cococabana (2006) Palm leaves, coconut and …tuberose! Yeah this is really really idiosyncratic and a departure for the de Nicolai firm.  Not available any more and you can see why, but it might have had a cult following if they had hung on.
  8. Caron’s Poivre (1954) Caron has always created rather offbeat perfumes and this mid fifties scent is a case in point.  This is PEPPER and CLOVES and no fooling, so much so that a few people think of clove oil and dentists.  I love this and it may well be my favorite Caron. Nothing comes close, not Poivre Piquant or Le Labo’s Poivre 23 certainly not the ladylike Bellodgia or the high fallutin’ Golconda. This is just crazy hot.
  9. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cuir et Champignon (2010) Dawn has experimented a good deal while expanding her line and this is a perfume that incorporates a little umami into a leather frag. There is just a little bit of salt in there too and the result is a perfume that is oddly appealing but very peculiar.  This comes in on the edge of chypre animalic but is not quite like anything else.  A fine choice btw for anyone who
    Another original from Edmond Roudnitska

    Another original from Edmond Roudnitska

    has had enough sugar in their perfume.

  10. Mario Valentino Ocean Rain (1990) A very late composition by Edmond Roudnitska and a cross between Le Parfum de Therese and Diorella- sort of.  There is a strong thyme note in this along with many other odd ingredients, and like Therese, there is an aquatic component to the stuff.  It reminds me, as Luca Turin pointed out, of Vie de Chateau. A showstopper of sorts and can be picked up relatively cheaply on Ebay. Maybe an aquatic leathery chypre-does that make any sense? That is my list and I’m sticking to it.  Did you ever come across something totally unique in your perfume explorations?
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11 thoughts on “Originals

  1. Good points, and quite a few of these which I haven’t tried. I’m sure this is a conundrum to think long about, but instantly springs to mind: le feu d’issey, petroleum (HdP), and personally le Parfum de Therese was for a long time the weirdest I’d sniffed. Also the dusty cocoa patchouly Vetiver of SL in Vetiver oriental i find original. I should love to try AG’s Eau du Fier one day…

    • Le Feu d’Issey is one I keep thinking I will run across and haven’t, so I can’t speak to that, but good point about Eau du Fier and Le Pd T. Therese takes some getting used to, and I still am not sure what the perfume is talking about, though I am sure it’s about something.

      Vetiver Oriental is also a good one, I really liked that. In fact it was the only Lutens I’ve liked so far. But it was definitely odd.

  2. Great list, if rather a depressing one. It’s hard to find many of them; the market doesn’t always want original so if you stumble upon it, grab it!

    Molinard Habanita is one of the weirder fragrances in my universe. I can never really get my head around its combination of dry, smokey, vetiver, vanilla, and jam notes. I own a bottle but hardly ever wear it.

    • Don’t know if you read Grain de Musc but the writer there seems to love and wear Habanita a lot. Then recently Steve over at the Scented Hound reviewed it and reminded me that I have never tried it. Major oversight!

      But what I really agree with is your observation that if it’s good and odd buy it! Yes, because now I can’t find so many of these things and they were really striking. Personally, I tend to mourn Folavril. Oh well…

  3. Such a thoughtful post! The key point is to find the ones that unusual and good. I’ve tried quite a few that are just weird. I will agree about Habanita. Like Annemariec, I am fascinated by that combination of notes, but I can’t wear it, although I keep trying. I will propose Bandit and Jolie Madame as true originals, in their day and even now. I always enjoy Cellier’s audacious compositions. Roudnitska’s Diorella: the surprises and humor in this composition never pales for me. For a recent one, how about Tauer’s Sotto la Luna Gardenia? A hypnotic floral garnished with mushrooms and nuts that I found captivating, somehow.

    • That’s a good list, Bandit is an oddball scent even now how many years after its introduction? Jolie Madame too.

      You’re right that in the end they have to be attractive and not simply weird or they never get worn. Obviously Habanita has been a success with lots of folks. Must try!

      Sotto la Luna Gardenia I don’t know. Curiously Tauer has not been a success with me probably because his perfumes are strong and I have foghorn skin. 🙂

  4. I was resmelling Vanille Galante and that is pretty out there, though with some kinship with Lily & Spice all the same. I wonder if it could scratch your L & S itch when your bottle’s gone. And Bvlgari Black of course, and Dzing! And come to think of it DSH Cimabue is unlike anything I have smelt.

    • Bulgari Black is one of the cases where stretching produced a hit. It can happen.

      Agree about Vanille Galante being out of the ordinary. My daughter loved it, but I miss the smell of dirt! No doubt part of one’s past lives were spent in barnyards as have serious nostalgie de la boue.

      Cimabue is one of Dawn’s best and I remember Makeupalley people saying it was her version of Saffran Troublant , but the key word here is version. Cimabue was distinctive and better than Saffran IMHO.

  5. Memoir Woman is probably my weirdest: part apothecary’s shop, part BWF boudoir, part tannery (leather and fur). I’m still not sure why I didn’t give up on it immediately; it took me like eight wearings to scratch the itch of finding out what exactly it *was* since the Amouage description of it as an “animalic chypre” was so vague and so opposed to my experience with it. It is freaky but so comforting.

    Pamplelune just makes me simply happy.

    Possibly the weirdest scent I’ve tried was one Andy Tauer did for the Tableau des Parfums project, Loretta. It is in some ways a precursor to that Sotto La Luna Gardenia, but where the Gardenia is very earthy/rooty, Loretta was this bizarre counterpoint of hallucinogenic patchouli, camphoraceous tuberose, and a very syrupy plum that made me think of original Poison. Freaky, freaky stuff.

      • I remember when Loretta came out, very interesting reactions and now you’ve described it, I can see why they were so off kilter.
        Daphne – you mean the Daphne Guiness one? Sounds v. odd but she does trade in peculiar-seen some of her outfits??!!

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