Maurice Roucel, you old roué! I think I’ve figured out your game. You made a beautiful musk-vanilla-amber template in the lab one day, and you thought to yourself, “Maurice, old boy, this ain’t half bad! I can get at least three good fragrances out of this.” You dialed up the rude bits on the template to arrive at Musc Ravageur, and you sanitized it with cotton and heliotrope and doll’s head plastic to come up with Helmut Lang EDP.
Le Labo comes a knocking, and you decide, you know what – let’s see if we can’t wring a last drop of juice from this old sponge. We’ll name it after an ingredient that isn’t noticeably in it, let’s say labdanum, so as to give those contrary hipster mofos at Le Labo their jollies. Add a pinch of cinnamon, a touch of powder, and my standard musky-ambery-vanilla, and BAM! Everybody’s happy.
Well, not me, Maurice, not me. The last imprint of the well-used template is too faint to leave much of an impression. It’s a midget in a hall of giants. Civet, leather – castoreum? Pfff, please. Shalimar has more underpantsy funk than this. The trouble is, of course, that Labdanum 18 can only cower in the shadow of its more outgoing big brother, Musc Ravageur, and its more distinctive, characterful little sister, Helmut Lang EDP. And if I want a powdery musk-amber-patchouli scent that smells like skin, I always have the soured-fur delights of L’Ombre Fauve to fall back on. Desolee.
This is NOT a labdanum scent in any capacity, yet I’ve always had a soft spot for this one and quite enjoy wearing a ton of it. It’s along the same lines as Helmut Lang’s EdP with its clean, powdery amber-musk, but there’s not much to look at overall. It starts off with a powdered amber and what strikes me as a distant violet (probably my imagination), and then transitions into a coumeric / vanilla dust kind of accord. And that’s pretty much all it does. Zero labdanum (not that that’s a bad thing as labdanum can be hideously acrid) but as far as simple powdery skin-scents go it’s a keeper, even though you can probably get just as much satisfaction from an analogous scent like L’Erbolario’s Ambra Liquida for far less $$$.
Warm, woody spicy at first. I admit, I don't know laudanum from olibanum. This smells quite linear to me. Sadly, within an hour it turns to Play Dough on me. I guess I can live without it although it starts out nice enough.
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Labdanum opens with a pleasant, warm, dusty ambery accord, with perhaps patchouli on the very base, aldehydes, a subtle and discreet vanillin-tonka accord and a well-executed heart of civet and musk, animalic and camphoraceous. Boozy-sweet breeze all over. Almost geometrical in its simplicity, but bold and clear, a journey among nostalgic souvenirs of dusty chypres, just "deprived" of any notes except patchouli, animalic accords and amber. Modern, mature, elegant, simple and most important, smelling good, clear, high quality. The evolution is quite linear but I guess it is part of the concept, and being so pleasant, it is surely not a minus. Bravi!
Genre : Oriental
So where’s the labdanum?
Oh, I’m sure there’s some in there, but anyone expecting a labdanum-centered fragrance will be sorely disappointed here. Labdanum 18 is actually nothing other than an attenuated Musc Ravageur: Musc Ravageur “Lite,” if you like, composed by the same Maurice Roucel who did the superb original for Frederic Malle. Labdanum 18 is thus not only unoriginal, but conceptually misguided as well. As I see it, the whole point of Musc Ravageur is its over-the-top extravagance, its unabashed sensuality, and yes, an certain perverse gaudiness. To defang it as Roucel has done here is to render it pointless. There are plenty of other great spicy-sweet oriental fragrances out there at less than half Le Labo’s price. Without thinking about it I can name at least a half a dozen: Eau Lente, Shalimar, Jaïpur Homme, Maharanih, Shaal Nur, L’Air du Desert Marocain, and let's not forget, Musc Ravageur!
Shares a lot of facets with Ambre 114 to my nose, pleasing but not too complex powdery slightly spiced amber, perhaps could have benefited from a little edge. As the drydown sets in I get a bit of vanillic almost almondy side which is for me a bit of a turn off, I'm not really getting much of the promised animalics either. I guess I'd call it good-meh, good quality and certainly nice if you like your ambers to play politely, but I personally prefer mine with a little more bite, ala Ambre Absolute, Opus VI et al.
There is labdanum in the opening, with some castoreum. It remains, however, quite dull and unexciting on my skin, and one could not call it amber-like on me. In the drydown a bit of cinnamon is added, and tonka too. Otherwise a quite boring powderiness. Limited silage and projection with three hours of longevity. L 18 might love my skin, but my skin does not like L18.
This fragrance introduces all the olfactory complexity of the resinous note of labdanum, an element "di per se" arousing a multifaceted aroma with diverse facets, some of which are ambery, some incensey, some leathery/musky, some woody, others finally smoky, mellifluous and musty/mouldy. The perfumer creator decided in this case to support each of those nuances with the insertion of many accessorial elements as the musk, animal notes, resins, balsams, sweet-smoky tonka and a spicy patchouli which imprints sophistication and "importance" to the all whole olfactory fatigue. Labdanum 18 is an articulated white oriental. At the beginning for instance i detect the labdanum in its resinous outlook and i smell opposite types of accents, detect at once something detergent, soapy and rediant and something else vaguely smokey in the middle of a sort of ambery and musky general resinous feel, with fuzzy olfactory reminiscences about Ambre Fetiche Annick Goutal, E.Coudray Ambre et Vanille, Le Male Gaultier and Shalimar Guerlain. While at the beginning the aroma is more properly resinous, in the final phase of the development becomes really subtle and sensual even if almost evanescent on my skin. In this stage the scent is feminine in my opinion and really close to the skin (at least the mine). In the central stage the labdanum is overwhelmed by many other elements under my nose and it tends to disguise its substance and hide itself before to appear again in the base. Is properly in the dry down indeed, after some hours of development, that i detect more strictly the labdanum presence in its more stressed airy/boise' (almost incensey and anyway sharper) temperament. In this phase the juice is dry, cool with a touch of birch tar, musky and vaguely talky/eliotropic. An almost edible concoction for the lovers of the heavenly and immaculate ambery/resinous juices.
Wow - this is quite a piece of work.
At first, it strikes me as standoffish, with needlessly aggressive dark greens shouting for attention through a cloud of shrieking powder. The result is the perfume equivalent of an embarrassing loud racist grandmother or that guy at a bar who thinks that he's more likely to score if he acts really aggressive to all the other guys there. Just unpleasant.
Thankfully, given an hour or two, the loud greens and the powder tame each other under the watchful eye of an aldehydic chypre skeleton. The greens get less gross and more patchouli-ish, and a subtle vanilla sweetness rounds everything out, creating a smell that's kind of like a powdery old-fashioned amber perfume, but very green and patch-heavy.
The green patchouli amber is fine, but there are many many ambers that I like more than this and that don't have that off-putting top, so I don't really feel the need to keep trying to enjoy Labdanum 18. As an aside, I don't get the comparisons to Musc Ravageur at all, even one bit. MR is a poopy old-school fougere drowned in vanilla and pie spices and L18 is a mossy green oriental chypre. Aside from the fact that they're both sweet (and L18 is just BARELY sweet), they really have nothing in common. Oh well - we all smell things differently!
for all of those who love musc ravageur but think the opening is too harsh, give this a try. it's basically musc ravageur on training wheels. more powdery,less animolic, a great scent for a night out. although, i do prefer mr
I 'get' why some people love this, but also why some are totally underwhelmed. This fragrance is everything that's wonderful about amber - warm, cuddly, powdery, grounding, close to earth, hearth, and security. That's a great set of adjectives, and why amber is consistently loved. I can't diss its raison d'etre. This one does the job.
On the other side - amber can be boringly one-dimensional and flat if you're not in need of its warm, earthy succor, or if you're not an amber person. I have an 'amber' friend and she loves them all, smells good in them all, and radiates amber.
But for me, amber needs to do a little more to be able to push my buttons. And that's always been my problem with it - I need a little more complexity layered in or I become bored.
That is the problem with this amber - just not enough complexity. When ambers are kept at the level of AMBER, they have no where to go but where they are - that niche they inhabit so successfully. I only need to inhabit it every so often - on snowy days sitting inside by the fire, holidays, etc., all the typical amber-ances.
I notice it's been compared to it's half-sibling Musc Ravageur a lot, and found lacking, primarily in animalics. A fragrance can't be demoted because of lack of animalics - each fragrance has it's own being. But the comparison is irresistible because they have the same father.
I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate by saying this, because I too prefer Musc Ravageur, and consider it my favorite ambered fragrance. It has so much more going on, and yes, it's sexier, though an amber doesn't need to be that. But amber does lend itself sooo well to that direction, and makes the whole seductive tone very warm and inviting.
All in all, this is a nice amber. It doesn't necessarily need more sexiness, just more... anything. But it is marketed as labdanum, so one shouldn't really expect more technically. But for me, amber always feels like a base that lacks completion, that begs for accent notes, needs a story line.
Note: actual labdanum resin (cistis is the essential oil) has a somewhat high, vaguely oud-like, sidenote, which this one lacks, even if it's called by that name. Sonoma's Incense Pure actually has a more realistic labdanum note, and the drydown on that one is almost pure labdanum to me. I don't consider that preferable - it's just interesting how the names don't always end up reflecting the fragrance they're sourcing, but what else is new?
18th July, 2012 (last edited: 31st March, 2013)
My first Le Labo sniff is cringe worthy. In fact I want to remember it, so as not to make this mistake again. I am reminded me of what put me off perfume for years.
Sweet powder. The best of Shalimar with the addition of baby powder. Oh dear. I save samples, one never knows when reference might call. But this went down the loo. Sometimes I don't have my glasses on and reach for a surprise tester. I would say this is my most unfavorite fragrance of all time.
09th July, 2012 (last edited: 15th July, 2012)
Labdanum 18 is yet another fragrance following in the trend of sweet, ambery incense scents.
Animalistic, but a little tame too, Labdanum 18 is beautiful. It has that dirtiness and rawness found in fragrances like Oud 27, Rose 31 and Patchouli 24, however this fragrance is much smoother, more feminine and sensual.
I'm tending to compare Labdanum 18 to Donna Karan's Essence Labdanum, although I find the latter a touch too linear and weak. This fragrance in particular has a deliciously sweet smokiness, which turns to powder towards the drydown.
The scent is minimalist yet effective. From all of Le Labo's oriental offerings, Labdanum 18 is the most feminine and incense-y.
I really loved the progression from the top notes to the heart, however in the drydown, while this fragrance still captivates me, I find it a little too predictable. My only gripe being that it shares many similarities with other incense-based scents.
In regards to longevity, Labdanum 18 does last considerably well. I found this fragrance very enjoyable on the day that I wore it, relishing in its smoothness and its exotic aura.
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This one reminds me an awful lot of Lutens Ambre Sultan. It has that oriental amber/vanilla thing going for it. It gets a bit powdery after the resinous top wears through and overall just doesn’t do a lot for me. Definitely left me wanting more and I don’t find this one all that great.
This starts out deep, sweet, smoky & slightly medicinal on my skin, with the animalic growl of castoreum lending it a confident & sexy swagger. Over the first hour it slowly becomes sweeter, more powdery & ambery, but that delightful smokiness remains. 3-4 hours in, there's a sweet, musky vanilla, & 5 hours in it's faded to a very Guerlinade-like skin scent. The sillage is moderate for most of it's duration.
l was compelled to try this after reading the comparisons to Shalimar, & l can see the similarities in the drydown. lt also reminds me of Solange Azagury-Partridge's Stoned, but l think l prefer Stoned; it has more complexity, greater sillage & a much more prominent labdanum note to my nose. l adore the first hour or so of Labdanum 18, but after a promising start it seems to lose it's power; rather like a big cat that turns out to be a little pussycat underneath. lt's a nice comfort scent though, & very cozy to wear on a cold winter's night.
Maurice Roucel is a genius. I own his Frederic Malle fragrances, Musc Ravageur and Dans Tes Bras, and they are among the most complex yet delightfully wearable scents I've ever encountered. Labdanum 18 is baby powder for grown-ups. Love it.
Roucel's interpretation of the labdanum is an average quality amber/vanilla with some spices on top and an almost imperceptible civet note. It sits somewhere bewteen Musc Ravageur and Ambre Sultan but lacks the brilliance of the former and the majesty of the latter. Nice but nowhere close being exciting or distinctive.
Surely not a standout.
I ordered 5 samples from Le Labo`s website last week.
I tried Labdanum 18 as the first of them today...
This scent is a true oriental...I fully agree with Mimi Gardenia in that the whole experience feels like a smoother version of Shalimar...beautiful suave experience with lots of vanilla notes...warm cosy scent for autumn/winter days where you are in the mood for coffee, chocolate, reading a book, listening to your favourite music, writing poetry or painting a picture...
Incredible longevity after only 3 tiny spritzs on my chest...and as they say in Le Labo`s website... this scent is personal, delicate and intimate for those who like to perfume themselves for themselves..
Big thumbs up...
What do you know -- Le Labo have actually represented pretty well within the fragrance the name on the bottle. That resinous amber note softened by vanilla is very nice indeed. I can't smell a single trace of birch tar either -- it's not a leather scent. Rich and heady -- I love it.
By suppressing the no-holds-barred creamy opulence of his earlier Musc Ravageur, Maurice Roucel has neutered that horndog, forfeiting its libidinal charms, and the resulting Labdanum 18 is really just a big, frigid amber. There’s some commendable birch tar up top, but the remaining timid animalics combined with the vanilla smell, amusingly, like a newly wiped and powdered baby’s bum.
Without a doubt, my absolute favourite Le Labo fragrance. Labdanum 18 is just utter perfection ! ~ It's downright intoxicating and ever soooo smolderingly sexy to me.
I love it's mix of animalic and powder notes over the resinoid base. With the ethereal incense notes gently rising above. Like a shimmering opalescent silk edged with plaited purple & gold velvet. (And even Byzantine drop pearls off the corners). ~ Just a totally gorgeous scent !
It does have a certain feminine quality. But that of a statuesque androgynous deity, more so ! (One who turns into a panther by night).
It's the only powdery scent that I will gladly wear. And I'm a guy ! (Who usually hates powdery notes i frags). Here it just works. Beautifully balanced opulent scent !
Cistus labdanum is a classic amber material and has many facets to it. I had hoped that the le Labo minimalist approach would lead to interesting results. Cistus is so rich that even a spare composition using it could have complexity, and cistus can align with so many other materials with beautiful results. Unfortunately, I found Labdanum 18 quite flat and uninteresting. It starts sweet yet without flavor, and travels quickly to a matter-of-fact powdery vanilla amber. I smell a bit of the civet that might add dimension, but it goes nowhere. I can’t say I actively dislike it, but I have no interest in wearing or paying for it.
29th November, 2010 (last edited: 13th January, 2015)
This is a smoother version of Shalimar escpecially in the opening notes- the Barney's fragrance manager agreed with me on this one. There is no sharpness to this scent. It's sexy , subtle and exotic. Quite a broody and dark scent till the drydown .The drydown is pure slightly spicy baby powder on me though.
If you like Shalimar especially the newer formulation, than you will like this one too . Longevity is shorter than I expected - 2 -3 hours on my skin max compared to Patchouli 24 which hummed along nicely for much longer.
Still ,this is great scent if you don't mind the shorter longevity .
I can cover this one in one word - "dainty". You can determine if you might like Labdanum 18/Ciste 18 by your association with the word.
There’s labdanum, all right…very nice! And a civet note that’s rich but not intrusive. Unfortunately for me, Le Labo chose to include birch tar… The birch tar isn’t prevalent in Labdanum 18 but there’s enough to annoy me… and I am particularly annoyed because I love everything else in the fragrance. It’s a nicely designed fragrance: it is balanced and refined; it has some interesting spicy-sweet notes that are correctly proportioned for richness with a light touch; and it has about perfect sillage and longevity as far as I’m concerned. This coulda been a contender were it not for the birch tar.
Musky butter? Well, Le Labo is famous for producing perfumes that only slightly resemble the names they give them. It's a mix of powderiness, sweetness, pepper, musk... very strange and in the league of oriental perfumes suited for the ladies. Decent.
I'm a bit anosmic to musks, but from what I do smell, this perfume is softly sweet and sexy! Very pleasing, close wearing too. Probably my favorite of this house so far!
Oh I love this. It really reminds me of many of the characteristics I love in Musc Ravageur, but without some of the more pungent spices, less animal notes, and a softer amber. It's wonderful when you want a smoother vanilla amber with hints of incense. It's warm and comforting. I wore it once from a sample, and ordered a whole bottle.
Simply put, Le Labo's Labdanum 18 smells like an expensive sweet-ish amber baby powder from top note to base note. It is is similar smell-wise Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs and just as horribly cloying and awful. Le Labo makes so many wonderful, original perfumes and I am perplexed that Labdanum 18 is one of theirs.
From what I can find, here are the notes for Labdanum 18: "labdanum (cistus) with a slightly animalic notes".
Labdanum 18 is a pleasant amber-ish skin scent that is sweet but not overbearingly so. The first two times I skin tested it, I noted a similarity with another fragrance, but for the life of me couldn't place it... it was something about the heart of L-18, at the point where a sweet floral note emerges and melds with the labdanum to create a buttery effect. It struck me tonight... the heart of L18 is very reminiscent of Helmut Lang EdC/EdP, only with the volume turned way down. This buttery floral/woody accord is the thrust of Helmut Lang, front and center. In L18 it is balanced with musk and amber.
Although it stays close to the skin, only a couple sprays are needed for the fragrance to last forever. High quality, but worth purchasing only if money is not a limiting factor. Even discontinued, Helmut Lang can be found for far less money.