Okay, the countdown's over: the Invasion Of The Day Job has well and truly begun. For the next 8 to 10 weeks, free time is going to be almost non-existent, which means bloging will have to be kept to a minimum. Having said that, you shouldn't detect too many disruptions to Persolaise.com's regular service, because I'm very excited to announce that I've lined up a series of guest posts (and at least one interview) from some of my favourite people in the perfume world. The first of these will be published on Tuesday 10th May and it'll be written by a well-known perfumer who is currently up for a major award.
Those of you who don't regularly visit Basenotes may not be aware that Part 1 of my interview with the Director of IFRA UK was published on Wednesday. Please click here to be redirected to it. You may also like to head over to Bois De Jasmin for a list of Top 20 perfumes as chosen by blog readers. And if you're in a link-clicking mood, then check out Grain De Musc for another chapter in the story of Sécrétions Magnifiques.
For the rest of today's post, I'm going to cheat a little by permitting myself to reprint my review of Tauer's Carillon Pour Un Ange from last year. The reason for my laziness? Well, the perfume didn't actually get released in the UK until this week, and as I happen to think it's wonderful (and I'm meeting up with its creator later this evening), I reckon it deserves another mention. So without further ado:
A few weeks ago, Madame Persolaise and I were on an escalator, descending into London's Tube network. She was wearing vintage Diorissimo; I'd dabbed my wrists with a few drops of an oud oil I'd picked up in India. As we sank deeper inside the city, a draught of air rushed past us, blowing through our hair and clothes. And in that instant, something rather magical happened. The incomparable lily of the valley of Monsieur Roudnitska's masterpiece mingled with the feral snarl of my oud and created an entirely new scent around us: an odd, unearthly mix that glowed over our heads like an incandescent halo.
The essence of that moment has been captured by Andy Tauer in Carillon Pour Un Ange, easily the most unusual of the four scents he's released this year. I say 'unusual' because it's the type of perfume that causes reviewers to stare at their keyboards in frustration and resort to maddening phrases like 'almost, but not quite' and 'just about, possibly, maybe, but I'm not entirely sure'. In other words, it's an enigma. Yes, its heart is based around a green lily of the valley accord, but it doesn't try for a single moment to provide a straightforward impersonation of the flower: with a diffusiveness and a tenacity that are nothing short of astonishing (spray a tiny bit on paper and you'll see what I mean) it creates a strange, otherworldly evocation of the tiny white blossoms, boldly pushing the scent to a grassy, pea-like extreme at which it almost becomes too synthetic. Almost, but not quite.
Underneath this floral shimmer is a dark base that could perhaps be summed up by the word 'leather', but again, that wouldn't come close to conveying the fullness of its complexity. Mossy, earthy and metallic, its foundation conjures an intensely physical shade of brown, a landscape covered in unrecognisable textures that seem organic, but could possibly be entirely man-made. Possibly, but I'm not entirely sure.
Carillon's intangible unknowability suddenly makes sense when you consider that, in the early stages of its development, it was called Gabriel. Like the vision that appeared before Mary, it is recognisable, yet utterly alien; it projects a sense of protective safety, whilst remaining frightening; it is divinely beautiful but also, in some ways, divinely unapproachable. And like Biblical angels, it dispenses with human notions of sexuality and presents its own celestial sensuousness. Indeed, it's one of very few 'unisex' fragrances for which the term seems reductive: the way it operates requires a far more provocative label, something like 'duosex,' perhaps.
Like all challenging scents, it's bound to divide opinion. But if you consider yourself to be a fan of perfumes that are out of the ordinary and you wish to be transported to a setting that's as concrete as it is illusory, you cannot afford to turn deaf ears on this particular peal of heavenly bells.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]