Serge Lutens' L'Orpheline recently impressed me with the endearing way it linked distinctiveness and quietness. And now, a very similar vibe appears in Phillippe Romano's 11 from Odin, the newest addition to the New York-based brand's growing - and increasingly well-regarded - portfolio. I gather 'semma' - the non-numerical segment of this creation's name - means 'tobacco' in a Native American language, and, appropriately enough, the sweet, smoky, hay-like earthiness of that little-used material is the primary focus here. It's given a faintly powdery, retro feel - which is where the link with the Lutens comes in - thanks to the inclusion of violets and myrrh. But there are plenty of spices too - mainly pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves - as well as a tea facet which stops the whole from descending into Oriental cliches. Both fresh and serious, it calls to mind a politically correct, 'western', liberal view of The Other, be that a member of the 'east' or of the indigenous population of the USA: it's fascinated with 'exotic' materials, but it exercises respect in its treatment of them, preferring to use them with a light touch. If it were a head shop, 11 would be the one that doesn't look like any other head shop, choosing gleaming, sci-fi-inspired interior decor rather than the usual woods and velvets. But don't worry: facade notwithstanding, its soul is rooted to the earth.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Odin in 2014.]