Arz El-Rab, Berdoues
This dry, softly sparkling wooded floral glitters because of that irresistible rhizome, ginger. Cedar’s tart sap traps iris’ lustrous dust and as particle and viscous syrup comingle, a comet of ginger alights on the surface of this gritty, sticky fragrant lake and illuminates the composition from the topmost surface to the deepest depths of Arz el-Rab. A taut yet delicate refreshment, this Berdoues Cologne provides the wearer with the immediate impetus for take off. Invigorating.
Lumiere Blanche, Olfactive Studio
A silken cocoon of spice, Lumiere Blanche is feather light yet completely comforting. As star anise and cardamom weave a web of sweetness around the woody heat of cinnamon’s curled bark, iris, almond milk and cashmere wood mesh, into one glowing white light–until specks of hot spice burn through this creamy illumination. This exploration of hot and cold as simultaneous sensations is reiterated in the contrast of cool, cutting cedar and sandalwood, while tonka bean and white musk ensconce us in a sumptuous puddle of warmth. Offering a distinctive, subtle sensuality that’s faint yet irresistible. Lumiere Blanche is blinking apparition you immediately fall in love with despite its ephemeral character.
The screeching collision of aldehydes, spice, florals and woods that are Noise imbue the wearer with a sense that they’ve just lived through a seconds-long earthquake, or imagined a car crash in the middle of an uninhabited highway. As abrasive as this sounds, Noise is hyper-balanced, daring and tight, and utterly wearable. You’ve never met a saffron like this before, magnified through the space-age-gaze of aldehydes and ozonic notes, and grounded by the strange creaminess of magnolia and orchid. Noise is wild and revved up, but on skin the powerful base notes keep this invigorating action grounded and accessible, while the top and heart notes raise our energy levels, and our eye line; when wearing Noise, there’s no choice but to look up and meet the day, face on.
Montecristo, Masque Milano
Montecristo offers a regal if rakish perspective on spice. Ambrette’s diffuse musky tones cast a soft, glazed light onto the proceedings, like the gentle flicker of a burning, handspun tallow candle. Rum’s boozy, naughty tang of sweetness registers as decidedly wrong but oh-so-right–like the delirious pleasure of drinking liberally, without keeping an eye on the future. Tobacco’s dulcet, damp browns intermingle with dry, grey-green, floral celery seed and give the impression of an autumn bonfire of wet leaves. A dusty guaiacwood interweaves with sharp cedarwood while patchouli throws some fruity depth into the mix, for a multifaceted, adaptive base that deftly reflects the quiet sizzle of the preceding notes. Think of Montecristo as the perfect finishing touch.
The smell of things preserved, at sea. Spices infuse tea, and their piquant waft waters precious petals of imported florals. The sweet scent of osmanthus drifts into deep, pebbly containers. Rich, oily coffee blooms a pungent perfume that rolls, across the tilting ship’s floor, onto scrolls of freshly tanned leather. As the leather sustains a fresh stain of this fragrant hull, the incensed contents (myrrh, frankincense, sandalwood and styrax) wrapped in it’s skin-soft folds also absorb the communal, blurred scent of storage. Encapsulating this olfactive symphony, the ship’s woody borders retain this delectable melange of imports. As luxuriant and precious as hidden cargo, Nanban is a voyage of discovery across midnight seas. Dark and treacly, with an effervescent animalism, this high contrast nautical pirates our hearts.
New York Intense, Parfums de Nicolai
Like being photographed in front of the Flatiron on a crisp autumn morning, by a beloved. New York Intense is a heady, determined sniff of confident, bright-blue skies. Bergamot and sicilian lemon breed a sort of soapy cleanliness that is the only smooth surface in this zoomed in, pixilated portrait of spice. Cloves dark sweet hugs the svelte, linear contours of Thyme’s coniferous, herbal freshness, while cinnamon, black pepper and pimento pile into a red-hot pickup destined for Motel Menage A Trois. Just when this highly seasoned commotion threatens to bound off skin and into another’s ether, amber’s salty tongue whips this piquant chorus into shape and consolidates this dense, dynamic scent. New York Intense replicates the constant, sonic buzz of the city that never sleeps.
A sweet fire burns in the heart of Psychotrope, as if a bolt of lightning (made of spice) has hit the sap filled veins of said stricken tree and started a sugar fire. The searing freshness of elemi and cypress is both parroted and parodied by bittersweet pimento berries, who pave the way for a move into the hotter climes of incense, saffron and the hot-cold woody intensity of gurjum balsam. Cedarwood and styrax recall the colder acidity of the top of this fragrance, while ambergris’ saline crystals magnify the animated sizzle of this river of sap-colored scent. A more worldly interpretation of this enflamed, sanguine arboreal creation could be roasted nuts toasting, splitting and spitting up their saccharine properties on a silver-hot, grated grill. Slightly gourmand and slightly deranged, Psychotrope promises to pack new dimensions into your dreams of strangely spiced scents.
Thirty Three, Ex Idolo
Though barely spiced, this oudy rose reverberates with the same high frequency of its more prismatically seasoned brethren. Perhaps the contrast of incredibly dry yet luminous notes creates the illusion of such piquancy, but whatever the reason this scent belongs in this peppery pack. Aged Oud is the core of Thirty Three, which perhaps in its long-preserved state, presents a more savory heat than in younger incarnations. Dusted with a finely ground black pepper, and steeped in white tea strewn with rose petals, Thirty Three would be a woody floral maelstrom were it not contained in the industrial setting of a caoutchouc cup anchored by a handle of damascus steel. A bittersweet aromatic, Thirty Three will warm your skin to a rosy glow in no time. Totally galvanizing, this scent will spur you to break boundaries beyond scent.
Boccanera, Orto Parisi
Though it’s as factually indeterminate as a gaping, black orifice, we feel certain Boccanera contains some ‘spice’, besides the sensually provocative piquancy of it’s namesake. If we had to guess we’d reckon ginger is an indefinite contributor, and perhaps black pepper and pimento also illustrate this darkly shaded bouche. The velvet base against which these spices sizzle smells like musky cocoa, warm skin painted with pure cacao. Deliciously animalic, Boccanera is an open ended to which we seek no clarification. We’re happy to enjoy it’s sable bite regardless of provenance.
Spice Bazaar, Nishane Istanbul
Initially yuzu-bright and brilliantly green, once on skin Spice Bazaar emerges as a more blush-inducing collective of aromatics. Ginger’s glittering juice is a sweet mist that drenches crisply spiced cedarwood, and this co-mingling spawns hotter outgrowths. Branches of cinnamon unfurl from the ridges of cedar’s bark, while sweaty, indolic blossoms of cumin emerge out of black pepper buds that dot the tips of this tree’s branches. Strings of saffron populate the interior of these cumin blooms and once the petals open, the metallic floral potency of this vermillion seasoning infiltrates every corner of this scent with its unusual signature. The perfect way to beat the cold, Spice Bazaar packs long-lasting, palate-challenging intensity into a delectably digestible scent.