Friday, 16 January 2015

Persolaise Review: Aperture from Ulrich Lang (2013)

You know a perfume is sufficiently interesting in its own right when wearing it makes you forget its marketing baggage. In this case, the 'story' revolves around photography and Lang's support of a collective - also called Aperture - founded in 1952 to create "common ground for the advancement of photography". That's all well and good, and I wouldn't wish to belittle any publicity the fragrance might be able to drum up for the organisation in question. But it would also be a shame if this release came to be known as nothing more than an 'agenda scent' (see 2012's In Peace).

It opens like a slightly more peppery version of Jean-Claude Ellena's Bois Farine for L'Artisan Parfumeur, which is to say it's powdery, flour-y, nutty, salty and gently tinged with a burst of clove and carnation. The door to the larder is opened and out come the granulated contents of various paper bags. But while the Ellena remains airy and sheer until its conclusion, Aperture wrong-foots the wearer with a wholly unexpected development. From its depths, a darkness rises to the surface. It isn't overwhelming, but it is undeniably present: a distinct, animalic funk, as sweaty as it is leathery, and a complete contrast to what has come before. Bois Farine suddenly becomes Olivia Giacobetti's playful Dzing! (also L'Artisan Parfumeur, oddly enough): opaque, physical and intent on remaining close to the skin.

What this endearing twist in the tale is supposed to say about photography is up for debate, but it certainly seems to be addressing ideas about the deceptiveness of surfaces and the power of an apparently static image - be it visual or olfactory - to startle and surprise. My reservations about the link with the aforementioned collective notwithstanding, I concede that perhaps Aperture is an apt name for the scent: it is, in some senses, very much like an opening, allowing both light and darkness to enter. But with its wide scope and its narrative intent, I'd say the fragrance ought to have been given a different moniker, maybe something along the lines of Deep Focus. Then again, that's beside the point. Forget the pictures, forget the name and just focus on the perfume. As an example of an abstract, modern animalic, it's well worth checking out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Ulrich Lang in 2014.]


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