Parfumeurs Du Monde, part two

Originally published on  19 February, 2017

Parfumeurs Du Monde, Part Two

Continuing on with perfumer Isabelle Gellé’s magnificent Parfumeurs Du Monde project, where part one took us to Peru, and the fields of Turkey and Bulgaria, we now turn our noses south towards India, Madagascar, and South Africa.

Kashi edp (Light Essence Of India) Isabelle Gellé (2017) 

Patchouli can certainly be a polarizing note in a fragrance, but when it’s done right it can absolutely shine and delight, as it does in Isabelle Gellé’s offering for her Parfumeurs Du Monde series! 

Notes are:
 Fennel, Iris Root, black Pepper, Yellow Hibiscus
, Licorice, Patchouli, Osmanthus, Indian Jasmine,
Amber, Peach note, Indian Sandalwood, Vanilla, Ylang, White Musk 

Growing up in San Francisco in the 60’s and 70’s, I was surrounded by the smell of patchouli. It was one of the defining scents of the Viet Nam War/Hippie generation. I honestly thought I had smelled enough patchouli to last three lifetimes.
When my journey into fine perfumes started in earnest, I must confess I steered clear of patchouli, until I discovered how truly wonderful it can be in the right hands. 

With Kashi edp (NOT the breakfast cereal) Gallé pays homage to the Indian sub-continent and specifically the city of Vâransai, where patchouli is used in the production of incense and to perfume sari’s and shawls. This gorgeous perfume is surrounded by a downy softness, and the sometimes harsh herbal quality is smoothed out by the jasmine, osmanthus, and vanilla. The sweet earthy facets are played up to create a scent that is nothing short of amazing, like standing in a gloriously hot Vâransai garden, lush with sub-tropical plantings, complete with the smell of dry and dusty earth. But be warned, this stunning tribute to patchouli is a “nuclear” edp with enormous sillage. One or two sprays will last you through to the next day! 
Tsingy edp (The Princess Who Walks On Tiptoes) Thierry Bernard (2017)

Thierry Bernard chose Madagascar as his perfumed inspiration and Ylang as the representative note, and quite frankly, it’s a match made in heaven. Having spent years on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies, Thierry is accustomed to being surrounded by a tropical scented dreamscape that to my mind and memory, must be what heaven smells like.

Notes are:
Pink Pepper, Kaffir Lime, Lime, Ginger, Red Mandarin
, Frangipani, Vanilla, Nosy Be Ylang
, Tonka, Exotic Basil, Elemi, Patchouli, Vetiver 

In describing Tsingy edp, Thierry envisions “Madagascar, at sun’s dawn with the mist slowly clearing, the plumes of ylang-ylang and frangipani, impregnated with delicate vanilla are dissipating off the wet earth. Tsingy, “The Princess who walks on tiptoes” was born there. This olfactory tale reveals colors, odors and emotions of a magnificent scented land.”

Smelling Tsingy is a truly warming experience, and the perfect antidote for a dull winters day. Opening with a blast of kaffir lime whose milkiness surrounds the common lime and red mandarin, Tsingy quickly settles into a beautiful ylang, slightly indolic, sweetened by vanilla and made more tropical by the frangipani, tonka, and vetiver. You can smell the humidity and almost feel the moisture dripping off of the blooms and giant philodendron leaves. It feels quite soporific, like settling into a woven grass hammock at night, while the jungle rustles and comes alive as you slowly drift off into a very deep sleep. Just beautiful.
Izwe edp (Sacred Land Of The Zulu’s) Perrine Scandel (2017)

Our olfactory journey ends in South Africa and a tribute to the Bucchu plant, the citrus-related shrub that is endemic to the mountains of the Cape Provence, with an aroma that is minty, fragrant, and citrus-sharp all at once. Indigenous tribes have used the oil of the Bucchu leaves for hundreds of years, both to scent the body and as a healing and bug-resistant agent.

In Izwe edp, Perrine Scandel uses the aromatic properties of the Bucchu and combines them with notes of the African savannah to create a scent that honors both the historical and contemporary feelings of the South African nation. 

Notes are:
Bitter Almond, Grapefruit, Bucchu
, Davanna, Rose, Geranium, Sage,
Blackcurrant, Amyris, Tuberose, Patchouli, Labdanum 

What a wonderful and compelling perfume this is, both modern and vintage, perfectly representing a country and region where cultures clash and mix. Izwe is a dream of the African savannah, replete with dry parched soil, tall grasses brown and green and a touch of wild animal, musty, furry and slightly fecal. There’s a slight hot breeze which carries with it the smell of a campfire in the distance, bitter and balsamic. I suspect lovers of perfumes from the classical era of the bigger houses will love this one as I do. It perfectly marries the old-fashioned high couture scents with the contemporary zeitgeist of a country changing and growing. Perfect.

-Robert Herrmann, Contributor

Disclosure: Many thanks to Isabelle Gellé for supplying the samples, and my opinions are my own.

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