Violet leaf absolute is one of those materials which serve to show how utterly impossible it is to describe smells with words. In perfumer-shorthand, it's called 'green', but that places it in the same category as galbanum (think: peas and peppers) and cis-3-hexenol (cut grass), which doesn't really help a layperson gain an understanding of its unique odour profile. Sure, it shares a few facets with grass, but it's also melony, waxy, sappy, vegetal and eye-poppingly bracing. Like the opening of Dior's Fahrenheit - which famously contains a notable quantity of it - it hisses with organic life.
All these attributes are brought to the forefront in Gorilla Perfume's Kerbside Violet, a bold, larger-than-life exercise in olfactory graffiti art. The Constantines' fine fragrance output has never shied away from the quirky and the unfamiliar - indeed, eccentricity is one of its most commendable attributes - but lately, the strangeness has seemed rather forced. In their so-called Volume 2 range of scents (released in 2012), weirdness became an end in itself (see: The Bug or Lord Of Goathorn). As an experiment, the collection certainly wasn't devoid of interest, but its gimmicky nature caused some of the brand's bona fide gems (The Smell Of Freedom, Breath Of God, Orange Blossom) to appear duller when placed alongside their new, bizarre siblings.
Thankfully, Kerbside Violet (a member of the new Volume 3) redresses the balance. With carefree abandon, the scent takes its star ingredient, combines it with whiffs of exhaust fumes, petrol and wet concrete, and whips them up into a surprisingly wearable statement on urbanisation and our relationship with the natural world. It may start falling apart towards the end of its development - there are moments when its synthetic supports become too conspicuous - but like a modern, neon-coloured Vent Vert, it takes the wearer on a pulse-quickening dash across a landscape painted with various shades of green and grey. Quite a memorable trip!
[Review based on a sample provided by Gorilla Perfume in 2014. Note: at the moment, Kerbside Violet and the other Volume 3 scents are available only at the Gorilla shop in Islington and the flagship Lush store in Poole; they should go on general release very soon.]