Friday, April 10, 2015

Persolaise Review: Cologne Indelebile from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Dominique Ropion; 2015)


As the power of perfumery is so closely associated with memory and recollection, it's no surprise that very few fragrances seem to smell of the future. The vast majority remain either in the territory of today or yesterday. But some of them do manage to pull off the near-impossible: they break away from the shackles of the past and soar towards unimagined landscapes. The latest of these fiercely forward-thinking compositions is Dominique Ropion's Cologne Indelebile for Frederic Malle.

Interestingly, it shares several features with another future-focussed scent: Alberto Morillas' Cologne (Thierry Mugler). Both of them pump their citruses through clouds of steam. Both of them make intriguing use of edgy, metallic notes. And both of them employ a cocktail of intimate musks as their base. But whereas Morillas' work is single-minded in its approach - it's a relatively inconspicuous scent - Ropion's effort is anything but. It may be a 'mere' cologne, but it operates on a thrilling scale.

From the moment it announces its presence, gigantic lemons appear to invade every corner of the space around it. They're followed by a seamless blend of sharp, dry herbs, forming a tail of sorts to the citrus comet of the opening. And then we have the stardust: orange blossom and neroli, presented with as much complexity and irresistibility as I've ever experienced in a perfume. If you've used orange blossom water in cooking, you'll recognise its part-sweet, part-metallic, wholly-sensuous personality here. When linked to the lemons at the top and the musks in the base (Malle's publicity material states that Ropion used a mix of four different synthetic musks) its effect is the very definition of breathtaking: it makes you gasp with excitement, pleasure and surprise. And it makes you keep gasping: the longevity of this stuff more than lives up to its name ('indelebile' means 'indelible' or 'permanent') and marks an astonishing technical accomplishment.

I have no way of knowing what percentage of CI is composed of natural ingredients; what I do know is that a perfumer of Ropion's skill and experience is more than capable of using synthetics in such a way as to create the illusion of 'naturalness'. It is this very real sense of the mutability of natural materials which is perhaps this composition's most abiding feature. On some days, it feels as though it's been plucked straight out of an Italian orchard. On others, it evokes images of asteroids, satellites and distant moons. And then, just when it feels like it's going to settle down, it wanders into a North African sweet shop, where caramelised sugars meld with orange blossom and rose water. At all times, it manages to feel like a cologne that is both classical and wildly innovative.

Perhaps that's why, more than anything, wearing it made me think I was an Edwardian gent teleported aboard the Starship Enterprise. Like the space-faring vessel of Captain Kirk and Mr Spock - filled with computer screens, gleaming, sci-fi surfaces and people from all planets and galaxies - Cologne Indelebile is a utopian vision of a multi-cultural existence. And if that isn't the smell of the future, I don't know what is.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle in 2015.]

Persolaise

10 comments:

  1. What an evocative review of what sounds to me like such an unpleasant experience! I guess I'm more down-to-earth than beam-me-up these days.

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    1. Leathermountain, I can thoroughly recommend being beamed up by this baby :-)

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  2. Sounds amazing - i am looking forward to trying this more than any release so far this year !

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    1. Holly, I hope it won't disappoint you. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it.

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  3. Your description is incredible: "a perfume that smells of the future". It really makes me curious. How does the future smell? If it's Starship Enterprise, I won't enjoy it, although I like the shimmer and pureness of metal...hmmm, very intriguing. But I have a feeling I could like this one because I like citruses and I like musk and I don't care if it is synthetic or natural as long as the composition pleases me.

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    1. Neva, thanks very much. CI is a seamless blend of citrus and musk, so it may well be the smell of *your* future ;-)

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  4. thanks for your review. I sampled it recently, and I'm afraid I don't share much of your enthusiasm! while Cologne Indelebile is certainly interesting and long lasting, it does not really move much further than a really lovely cologne. It's a bit of a Castile Penhaligon's on steroids, with a similar white musk base, although way more persistent. I'm not sure I find it very futuristic, although it's certainly a very modern take on the cologne theme, and a very pleasant one at it. Sorry to spoil the mood! :)

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    1. Lupo, you mustn't apologise at all; the whole point of these comments is to get a discussion going :-)

      I didn't see the Castile connection myself, but I probably know what you mean.

      Maybe what you read as 'modern' is what I read as 'futuristic'.

      Anyway, it's a shame you didn't much enjoy the scent. I completely fell for it.

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  5. Persolaise, this is a new thought for me and I find it fascinating! What in the world does the future smell of? Or maybe it's not of the world... the mind boggles (or at least mine does.) Thanks for the review, I look forward to trying this and exploring the new neuronal pathways you've set firing.

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    1. Holly, I know, it's a perplexing question!

      Do let me know what you think of CI when you try it.

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