I tried not to over-saturate with blogpinions before we ventured to the JAR boutique, but it's hard not to take note of the myriad dismissals of Shadow: that it smells like relish, marinated tomatoes, hamburgers, pickles, etc. Well, it does not. Or, perhaps I should say, if your relish really smells like this then where can I get some?
Just to be fair, I actually sniffed a jar of relish. Its development is linear with top notes of vinegar and dill followed by fructose, clove, and citric acid in the drydown. It was actually less exciting than I expected.
Then from jar to JAR.
First, let me say I have not given a lot of thought to the texture of a scent before. Many designer fragrances (I realize now) come out of the bottle extremely hissy and coarse. They are the olfactory equivalent of an old fashioned TV picture barely watchable through bad reception. I buy a lot of niche fragrance, and their textures tend toward the finer end of the spectrum. But this thing. Ach mein gott. It is stitched together so finely that it may as well have been wept from those angels on the head of a pin. It is well beyond my noob nose to account for how this texture is so beautiful--as if the fragrance "pixels" disappeared and I was seeing for real for the first time--but wow, there it is. A whole new level.
Now the notes. I understand where the pickle comes from, but that is such a lazy way to describe what's really going on. There is a beautiful juxtaposition between vetiver and (what to my nose smells like) mustard seed. It is a sweet-savory tug-of-war against a backdrop of clove, a wood that I cannot identify, and an indolic whore of a carnation. It is fairly linear. It does not have amazing longetivity. But what these players act out on the stage of my arm is so refined, so perfectly crafted, and so stunningly unlike anything else I have smelled that I hardly know how to put it into words.
I also sniffed a jar of mostarda, which is my personal favorite condiment. And I would say the mostarda is a little closer than the relish. But it plays out the same way: sniffing the condiment only reinforces that, not only is the JAR not from the fridge; I'm not even sure it's of this world.
This is some badass juice.
From time to time, I read on here a description of some long lost classic Guerlain that evolved for days, full of surprises at the second hour, the fifth hour, etc. I was certain I would never get to experience this quality in a fragrance because they just don't seem to build them like that any more.
Enter Kinski. I had sampled it from a vial previously, worn it for an hour or two, and enjoyed it very much. I found the citrus peel, smoke, hard wood, and marijuana notes to be very well balanced: skanky, elegant, and wry all at the same time. What I did not expect when giving it a full and proper wearing today is that, at hour three, it sheds the skank as a very handsome vetiver-wood composition emerges (not unlike Itasca). At hour six, it has transformed AGAIN. Its twilight is a damp, salty vetiver...I want to use the word "chasm" because its depth suggests absence as much as substance. At this stage, I don't think a comparison to Sel de Vetiver is off the mark. Kinski actually tapers as an aquatic, which in this case is not dismissive; it's a cold, inscrutable thing riddled with brooding and loss.
The whole experience has been extraordinary. It gives the impression of a fire being slowly extinguished. Or the sun falling into the ocean. I am in awe.
Update: Hour 7, and the dampness is trading places with a dry smoke. Inky midnight. It is dying on my arms as Encre Noire.
23rd December, 2011 (last edited: 11th February, 2012)
I have never reviewed a fragrance before, but I noticed that gs02 has not gotten much love and had to say something. I am mesmerized by this scent. There is a complicated interplay among something grapefruity, a mellifluous tonka-amber wave, and an ethereal iso-e-supery cloud. It's like a rapid, three-way ball game that's too fast to comprehend but whose players know exactly what to do. It's mystical and captivating and a little confusing.
I also freely admit that some of my lack of comprehension may come from being a completely amateur aficionado. Out of curiosity for what another nose would make of it, I asked my partner what he thought. He replied with a squished-up face and the comment that it smelled like chewed-up cinnamon gum. It does have both cinnamon and saliva notes, but for some reason I don't find them offensive. Many of the qualities in gs02 remind me of qualities I also like in Geza Schoen's Clive Christian X; but where the latter is an aristocrat or tycoon, gs02 is an architect and engineer. It's less showy and more intellectual.
It also smells great mingled with cigarette smoke.
At this point, I've emptied two sample vials and am well into my first bottle. To my nose, gs02 continues to fascinate. I look forward to Geza Schoen's other creations.