Smells like the New Orleans French Quarter at Halloween. Without the booze and garbage/sewage.
MS lists the notes as: Top: Acacia flower, bergamot orange, bitter orange, galbanum.
Middle: Linden blossom absolute, blond tobacco absolute, frankincense resin, beeswax absolute cysts oil, ambrette seed, cocoa absolute, Bulgarian rose absolute.
Base: Aged Indonesian vanilla, tonka bean absolute, civet, sandalwood, Texas cedarwood, benzoin tincture, jasmine absolute, birch tar.
Hmm. Imagine a cocoa-butter-laden tourist in a cathedral with the incense burning full-on. That's the top notes (and this was the first perfume that has caused me to sneeze, although just once) ... Within minutes there is a different character to this scent.
The cocoa fades to ...a jasmine-tea-like frankincense and tobacco, as if the tourist left the building and a pipe smoker came in that tourist's place. I am getting the civet shimmering at the borders now, a little animality to the above combo. Airy and sharp animality? Yeah. Just at the edges. Nothing bergamot though, which is odd... perhaps it's covered up with the cocoa and frankincense and tobacco.
There is indeed a leathery (bookbinding leather, which conjures up yet another cathedralesque image for me) undertone to the early middle notes... a kind of wild dance between the "sacred and profane" seems to be going on here. Dry onionskin paper and leather laced with incense.
... and still a hint of cocoa butter but more cocoa than butter... seem to come to the front as the drydown progresses. Warm and soft, still with the leatheriness beneath, and the touch of tobacco as well.
It is dark, and I can understand why it's been called a Gothic scent. But sweet and warm and dark Gothic, like a New Orleans courtyard. With a little whiff of a good Nag Champa incense floating in from time to time. Must be the tobacco, sandalwood, and tonka.
The drydown has a lovely sweet/acrid woody/civet edge to it. Just before that stage, there is a wonderful slightly sweet leather that rises to the top, before settling to the musk/civet (still slightly sweet but definitely animalic, in that good way Basenoters love).
I am liking this, as it is such a complex scent... a "long-term commitment" of a full, long day of discoveries!
The initial review was based on a sample... edited to reflect further contemplation of a partial bottle later. Sometimes there is a "musty funk" to it at the top that for some might seem offputting... when the Civet seems much more apparent in the top, but other times it is for the first few hours "all about the cocoa." The scent settles down nicely and the Bergamot shows up better in the FB spray. (it showed up not at all in the sample).
This is a scent I love more, the more I wear it. With generous application I am certain it would turn heads on a night out, as its sillage on "normal" (5 sprays) application it leaves a formidable (and gorgeous) wake. It is a favorite of mine for bedtime. And even on days I forget to apply it sparingly, it gets favorable comments at the office.