16 ottobre 2010

Nobleness in a cup

"He got more and more things and powers, not only indian idols and games but all the carved, painted and bewitched objects, the cups made with coconuts and the sandalwood case, the livingroom and the library. He was also a magician, a knowledged and a wise man" H. Hesse - The magician's childhood

pic taken from here

An elegant figure of a man slips off his leather gloves and opens a sunburst and windswept since months sandalwood case full of spices and coffee, disclosing so the aroma inside.
This is what Maître Parfumeur et Gantier's Santal Noble conjiures up immediately in mind. An austere and valuable image, the neovictorian elegance of a woolen double-breasted suit,  a luxury made of details to be worn for pleasing themselves and not for pleasing the others: maybe that's what Jean-François Laporte had in mind while concocting this juice and that's why this rich fragrance lasts for hours with minimal sillage surrounding you in a discrete way.

Sprayed on skin, it goes straightway to a spicy and herbal register with a smoky hint that introduces unexpected a slightly bitter note of coffee. This is mainly why I never got myself the chance to try this fragrance before: even if I'm a coffee junkie and I love its smell, it seldom carries me away. I find it often fake, cloying, bootlickingly gourmand, especially when it's coupled with other edible notes like caramel, chocolate and vanilla. This happens in the majority of fragrances launched few years ago during the olfactory trend of the gourmand in a cup as I like to call them, one for all A*men by Thierry Mugler. I love coffee but I wouldn't like people to think I've just tripped up a Starbucks caramel macchiato.

Neovictorian look by McQueen
Santal Noble, like a self-confident man speaking few words, keeps aloof from all these juices: here coffee is the toasted and strong smell of freshly ground beans giving an almost woody sensation. It's a modern touch that keeps the elegant line of the whole but immediately clarifies that's not a fragrance stolen from your grandpa's shaving set. The spicy-bitter sensation later introduces the heart of the perfume where Mysore sandalwood shines like a diamond solitaire, warm and smooth without giving in to easy bisquity tempations, made stronger in its woody facet by vetiver and patchouli touches than never overwhelm the sandalwood. It seems like you can feel the smoothness of the carved wood while fingertips perceive the dryness through the grain of this indian wood sacred to gods. According to a legend sandalwood smell is so intoxicating that snakes are said to wrap themselves around the tree. The base of the scent maybe takes up this sensation with tonka bean, oakmoss and ambergris with a pinch of vanilla rounding the roughness of the wood in coils of a slightly animal trail.

Speaking about coffee smell, aside its use in perfumery, I think it's one of the most fascinating aromas for many reasons. First because drinking it we're used to a 360 degrees olfactory perception because we smell it and because of the taste rising from the mouth to the nose. Moreover it's a powerful stimulus because it's like a flash when you smell it, it's difficult to ignore it. Actually looking at the composition of its aroma with a gas cromatography we can see many interesting things: the main components in terms of concentration of smelling molecules released, feature on the top B-Damascenone, a main compound of damask rose smell with a honeyed-fruity vibe. Then we find the most characterizing molecules with a spicy-toasted-woody facet of coffee, the furfuryl-mercaptanes (source here) containing sulphure.

But why this aroma, will it put us in a good mood of will it disgust us, never leaves us cold? The explanation has ancestral origins and it's given by the fact that these molecules are released during the decomposition of proteins and it's in some way index of a potentially toxic food. I've got it! A simple coffee is able to wake up olfactory sulvival instinct to recognize toxic food from the edible one rising an alert.
Who knows if the perfumer, like a magician or a wise choses the coffee note for that stinging blow, that flash capturing all the senses like a spell or simply to follow the trend of the moment. I want to fool myself believing it's because of the shiver running every morning waking up, for that little noble magic.

2 commenti:

Anonimo ha detto...

Bravo, Ermano, for your wonderful review of one of my favorite fragrances! It is forward thinking yet elegant. It is assured and uncompromising; it does not want or need everyone's approval. Your review is a good reminder that I am long overdue to wear this one again.


Magnifiscent ha detto...

Thank you dear Terry. Indeed it is an uncompromising scent and I'm sure a woman with your allure pulls it off flawlessly!

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