I do get the bitter note Barbara Herman mentions in "Scent and Subversion", and it reminds me of celery. It is a bitter, and maybe more abstracted green floral than my go-to green, the long discontinued Weil de Weil. There is a stillness to it the befits its name.
Silences was just announced as discontinued. Tell me, are there any assertive, unsweet greens left?
Part 1: Jacomo Silences: A walk through the ancient forest...
This is a beautiful, real example of a Chypre perfume with an emphasis on the word "green". I really get more of the green notes than the florals with this one. The oakmoss, vetiver, bergamot, the classic galbanum and the accompanying floral notes of watery hyacinth and soft jasmine, iris & lilly-of-the-valley.
What I get from spraying is a very rich, slightly dusty green floral vibe. This "dusty", slightly "bitter" note comes from the galbanum, a resin from a desert plant which is musty and damp and bitter, but also slightly smooth and sweet. I think what balances this "bitter green" is the use of the florals, especially the iris/orris root. The iris is used in another famous fragrance No. 19 by Chanel. But I find that here the dyrdown is richer and a little more complex. It's really nice.
Immediately this fragrance reminds me of spring and summer... in the forest. During these months the forest has a certain smell of damp and drying grass and leaves, and moss from the trees, and the smell where there is a lake of river or swamp, with all the animals living there and in the trees and grass. Like the full circle of nature. This fragrance is like two children playing in the summer forest, all day hiding in and climbing trees, catching frogs, singing songs all day, laughing. There is a feeling of "childhood innocence" to me here. But if you have not had this kind of childhood, then imagine it is also like a walk in the mountains, with the tall trees along your path, as you walk, rest, camp, make a fire, all throughout your journey. It also reminds me of the great forest of Europe, Asia, and North America. Especially the ancient forests of Europe, which the early ancestors used to live in, and which covered the whole continent from the sea to the ocean. It's very nostalgic.
Overall, I think if you are a "green" or "outdoors" person, who loves the smell of nature and being in nature itself, then you will like this one. For me I do not really see it so much as a "formal" perfume, but depending on the situation yes it is versatile enough to be used for that, and it will add character and complexity to your presence. In my opinion it can be worn all year round, but especially in the spring and early summer, I think it would fit perfectly then... and also the late winter, where it will remind you of the smell of pine trees outside. Do I recommend it? Yes! If you like the description above, then yes. But just remember, it has a personality of it's own so you have to make sure you like it and can become friends with it. Some people say it's too sharp and green. But for others it will fit just right. Give it time, wear it outside for a few days, and you'll see what I mean. A classic for sure!
Part 2: A tale of two sisters... Chanel No.19 & Jacomo Silences
Now, I want to compare between Chanel No. 19 and Jacomo Silences, as these perfumes are often compared together. Let's first start by saying that No. 19 was first, and so most other "similar" perfumes are descended or "inspired" by that one. But there is something about Silences that I like, which No. 19 doesn't have... and that is an entirely different character and personality. From the start these two are very different. Put it this way, if they were "sisters", then No. 19 (the older sister) would be the wealthy, successful rich woman of society. She has married someone rich, she lives in a nice, expensive house, she hosts dinner parties wearing her perfect black dress and pearl necklace and earrings. She hangs out with rich, wealthy people in society. She has perfect white skin, like a Greek statue, perfect hair, perfect nails. Perfect life. But, she is cold, she is quietly unhappy. She has everything but she feels like she has no control. Like her rich, successful life has been "planned" for her by others. She smiles for guests, and laughs politely, but when she takes off her makeup at night in her mirror, she sometimes wants to cry.
Her younger sister is Silences. This one you could call a "free spirit". She is an artist and was once a beautiful model. She is a painter. She lives in a small, cute house by the river. She goes for a run every morning with her dog. She does not take everything in life too seriously, but she enjoys every minute of her life. She spends most of her time outdoors, in nature. She loves being in nature, running, painting, enjoying the different seasons. She loves who she wants, and she lives each day to the full. Cooking, being artistic, with the dog, out in the woods. She has no regrets in life. She does not have the money that her older sister "acquired" by marrying a rich man. She does not smell so expensive like her older sister, but she has character, and a big heart. She does not want anything more in her life, and she is happy.
To me these are the differences. They are both green, both have an iris note, but this note is unbeatable in the Chanel, and is powdery, floral and smells clean, polished and expensive. The Jacomo smells "greener", like you are in the forest outside, with the smell of herbs and green leaves which the Chanel doesn't have. Basically, if you are an "active" person, or if you have memories of childhood in the countryside, then you will like and enjoy Silences. But if you want to smell the smell of "perfume", or want something "posh" or "expensive", then go for No. 19. Both are great choices. I think the Jacomo is a little more relaxed and carefree, but if you want to impress or are in a very formal situation, then go for the Chanel. Both are masterpieces!
I am not usually a great fan of either green florals or green floral bouquets, but when one comes along of this quality, I take my hat off.
Although Barbara Herman found this "green to the extreme, bitter and herbaceous," I do not.
For me this is a lovely, soft, rounded green floral, very subtle, with a powdery rose center. Orris and galbanum here work together to form an intoxicating veil around the florals.
First Edit: On repeated use, I find this is very close to Guerlain's rose masterpiece, Nahema, although less dense and a bit greener than that classic.
*Note: It would seem the one negative review here is for a different product - Silences for Men.
22nd July, 2014 (last edited: 08th June, 2015)
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Silences is an lovely green floral scent built over a soft, translucent chypre foundation. It is a bit more yielding and forgiving in nature than its precursors, Yves St. Laurent Y and Chanel No. 19, though clearly of the same lineage. Bracing galbanum, muguet, and hyacinth top notes give way to rounder, sweeter notes of green jasmine and velvety iris root, warmed by moderately animalic musk and indole, but still fundamentally crisp and clean thanks to judiciously applied aldehydes. The chypre character is less pronounced than in say, Givenchy III, perhaps because any mossy notes are counterbalanced by a degree of fruity sweetness until well into the drydown. In all of this Silences is closely allied with Capucci’s beautiful but defunct Yendi. Whether Silences is still in production is not clear to me, but it’s far easier to come by than Yendi, and makes a good accessible alternative.
I’m of the mind that strongly green-influenced fragrances lean toward gender neutrality, and Silences is no exception. Floral content or not, this would make a crisp, yet distinctive warm weather fragrance for the an open-minded man. Heck, even the stark black bottle looks the part.
Silences has been one of my all-time, absolute favorites, one of my "BIG LOVE, can't live without" perfumes since I first acquired it in 1981. I love it as much or more today as I did when I first sniffed it, and through the intervening years have always somehow managed to hold on to at least a sampler vial of it. It is one I've had to miserly ration or even only sniff the cap because there was no way to obtain more. In a much leaner time I was once *thrilled beyond measure to score a small handful of tester vials at an estate sale.
But, I do not wear it as often as one might think, what with being so madly in love with it. And that has caused me a great deal of self-reflection over the years. I don't wear it as often as others even though I love it more than some in my regular rotation. At times I've even second-guessed my commitment to it. There are other perfumes that are similar, and I have them and love them and wear them, but they are not Silences. It is special to me for reasons I can not fully articulate.
The initial blast of crisp and cold - no, icy - galbanum is like no other and must be what it is that hooks my heart. The hyacinth and hint of rose that follow and unfold is what sets that hook and the oakmoss reels me in.
Silences is deliberate, straight-forward and no-nonsense. It is sleek. It is high-speed and low drag. It is retro-contemporary architecture in the genre of Frank Lloyd Wright, with Milo Baughman and Russel Wright furnishings, a Modigliani hanging on the wall and a Henry Moore out in the shade garden. It is Dave Brubeck. It is Ansel Adam's black and white photography. It is a chilly, grey, early spring day.
It so perfectly conveys a part of me, and I wish to never be without it.
Continuing my (maybe interesting to no one but myself, but absolutely fascinating to me!) total n00bi journey into vintage green-floral-chypres, this is my next-favorite after Niki de Saint Phalle. I've also just tried Molinard de Molinard yesterday, and Paloma Picasso and Ivoire de Balmain recently. My nose isn't smart enough yet to describe the actual differences between these closely related frags, so I can only talk about them in terms of how they make me feel. (So if you want a comparison of notes, you're on your own. I have no idea what makes them do what they do.)
- To my mind, NdSP is basically perfect, and these others are variations on her theme. It's deep, fascinating, laughing, thoughtful, and everything I want to be. Everything I want to be perceived as.
- I don't love Paloma and while I wouldn't turn down a free bottle, I don't think I'll be buying one. It doesn't do anything . . . more. Or better. (Plus the bottle design is hard to open! At least in mini form. No way to get at the juice in the middle without scratching up that ominous barrier ring of blackness, which turns out to be just basic plastic, which kinda detracts from the glamour.) And the drydown is unsatisfying.
Ivoire de Balmain is more assertive and has absolutely monster sillage on me -- to the point that my husband can tell when I'm wearing even a dab (and he is actively bothered by it, so I try not to wear it at home). It has all of the interest and none of the kindness or joy I feel in some of these. I would wear it to impress and intimidate underlings, or middle-school students, or phone company employees, and make them not even THINK of defying me.
Molinard de Molinard, conversely, has all of the joy and less of the interest. It's all about the happy side. I will wear it to cheer up on gloomy days, or to make people want to be nice to me. No darkness here at all. Also no longevity! It's gone on my skin, except for a whisper, after two, maybe three hours.
Silences is lovely. It has that one delicious element in the drydown that I most crave from NdSP . . . but, somehow, not as much complexity. It gets to the drydown much faster, with fewer facets along the way. There's less there there. But I do want a full bottle, to wear it often over time, to figure it out -- and, by comparison, to figure Niki out. Right now, I have this sneaking, unfounded suspicion that what draws me to Niki above Silences is something odd, something off; something akin to a wild artistic streak that some might call mental illness. A personification of a hint of the "nervous breakdown" that the wildly talented, real life Niki de Saint Phalle had in her early adulthood, when the pressures and vile ridiculousnesses of her time and station (well-heeled but no longer well-off, brilliant, liberated in thought, conventional in practice) got to be too much for a while. Silences might make all too much sense. It might be too well balanced.
I know -- maybe it's the mythos of NdSP, of her life, of my associations with it, that make me prefer it slightly to Silences. I'm not sure yet. I am excited to figure it out. I'll come back and write more when I do. :)
So many components point in the same direction: green. Galbanum, narcissus, hyacinth, hedione, lily of the valley, oak moss, vetiver. At various points in its evolution, Silences is cool, dewy, radiant, fresh, grassy, powdery, dark. Although Silences follows the traditions of both green florals (Vent Vert, No 19) and green chypres (Bandit, Ma Griffe, Miss Dior, Y) it doesn’t go the leather route. The moss balances out the florals and galbanum, but it never gets truly bitter in the leather fashion. It shares so many notes with other florals and chypres, but in the end veers smartly away from them. The drydown gets both woody and cozy with a strong cedar note wrapped in musks. Still it remains green with both a slightly peppery vetiver (that perfectly transitions from the floral/galbanum opening to the cedar) and a resinous moss.
There’s nothing slack about Silences. It is precise and to the point at all times, yet skirts the ice-queeniness of so many green florals and chypres. Silences demonstrates the difference between cool and cold.
Silences is very much in the vein of No. 19, but despite its hushed, mysterious name it comes across as remarkably bright and bubbly. It starts with a rush of bracing green that has a fruity nuance, and develops into a slightly sweet and very inviting floral heart. The drydown is refined but not aloof in the way that some chypres tend to go. As a male, I find No. 19 a bit easier to get away with, but on a warm, sunshiny summer day Silences is irresistible.
I absolutely love this fragrance. It is a subdued and refined chypre with a green and citrus note in a splendid and smooth black bottle. I haven't been able to find it in the UK for many years now - alas!
Silences is a quality fragrance - highly recommended.
A nice fragrance, reminds me of Chanel 19...very green, not too spicy, elegant, good lasting powers. Elegant bottle and a sort of "pensive" name, which I like in particular.
This is one of the few female scents i resent not being masculine or at least created also in a masculine version. Exqusite, preciously refined Oriental notes, also the illusion of space the name promotes. And of course i love to see and feel it worn by women.
Elegant floral chypre, feels like a happy marriage between Coco Chanel and Diva Ungaro,though both came some years later, but more fresh, green and less loud. The name, the black bottle and the general feeling are quite melancholic, but not in a depressing way, rather serene and calm. A definite classic, it goes smoothly through the notes, giving a somewhat powdered woody drydown.