Monday, July 16, 2007

The Sign of Four

Famed nose Bertrand Duchaufour has crafted his fair share of "dry" scents: Eau d'Italie's Bois d'Ombrie, Sienne l'Hiver and Paestum Rose, Comme des Garçon's Series 3: Incense: Avignon and Kyoto, and L'Artisan Parfumeur's Dzongkha, not to mention their unbelievably strange and wondrous Timbuktu (2004) inspired by the perfume tradition of the ancient West African kingdom of Mali. The common thread running through Duchaufour's scents is a palpable fascination with incense and dry wood accords which eschew the sticky, savoury amber accords commonly wedded to them, viz. Maître Parfumeur et Gantier's Eau des Îles. A dichotomy is formed which divides such "exotics" into the separate camps of old world churchy and tropical spicy. The special thing about Timbuktu is that it manages, quite effortlessly, to bridge the two: a fleeting top note of green mango is followed by a brief floral (karo karounde, according to the L'Artisan Web site); there is poivre rose and faint cardamom, too. All are grounded in a beautiful, crystalline accord of vetiver, myrrh and patchouli, which, more than acting as a mere base, seem to penetrate the heart and top notes. Wearing Timbuktu on warm summer night at an outdoor café in Williamsburg, I was able to perceive each level singly while, at the same, an almost vertiginous depth of all three simultaneously. Hands down, this is one of the most ruggedly masculine of the more rarefied exotics and, along with Méchant Loup (1997), the pinnacle of Duchaufour's art.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll sing along with you about the joys of Timbuktu. You get Duchaufour so precisely. I wish I'd been able to pin him down as well as you...

July 31, 2007 at 1:21 AM  
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