Perfume Reviews

Reviews of MEM by Bogue Profumo

Total Reviews: 9
MEM leads off with an excellent billowing lavender, the kind that lets in nostril-clearing eucalyptus-like notes and gummier licorice into its usual soap-and-metal charge. This feels like fields upon fields of the stuff and it’s probably the first time it has truly excited me in perfumery (by contrast, lavender for real I find plenty exciting). Walk back into a room where you have been sitting – and there is that lavender, impossibly vital, a touch camphoraceous, fresh as a breeze. The citruses in the opening have been beautifully deployed to pair with the lavender – the bitter peel effects merging perfectly into the medicinal edge of its profile.
Hereafter, MEM diverges somewhat – on paper it had promised brassy, fat and dirty jasmine as the floral entertainment but on my skin the florals were muted subsuming themselves in the development of the lavender main theme. Bubbles of olfactory sensations keep popping – the brightness of something minty, suggestions of caramel and burnt sugar, malty comfort. So, yes, MEM is complex as has often been noted – but it’s a complexity within a clearly articulated theme. As for the animalic elements, nothing really wagged its tail at me – whatever is in here is kept well within the bounds of decency. What I appreciate most about MEM is how it zigzags between field-fresh lavender, medicine chest and grand classical perfumery of layers upon layers without any dizziness.
However, wonders be, much, much later in the day, almost without my noticing it, there was the jasmine, with not a single clean thought on its mind, doing unspeakable things with an ever-so-willing musk. The lavender was now taking a back seat, but enjoying the view, so to speak.

29th November, 2018
Genre: Fougère

Words fail.

Antonio Gardoni has taken what smelled to me like a shot at a fougère before (O/E, to be precise), but this is something else entirely. To say that MEM is about lavender is a bit like saying that Picasso’s Guernica is a picture of a bull. To belabor the metaphor, Gardoni, true architect that he is, deconstructs and reassembles the lavender in MEM to reveal an entirely new, and heretofore unimagined form.

In a pathetically inadequate and incomplete attempt at analysis, I’ll venture that part of Gardoni’s genius here was to pull hard on a couple of lavender’s loose strands. As Vero Kern had once before with her magnificent Kiki, Gardoni accentuates the weird, carmel-like facet that emerges in some lavender materials. Yet at the same time, he also highlights the bitter edge that makes lavender so thoroughly unpalatable when, in the now-fashionable manner, it is baked into shortbread cookies. (Sorry, but I’d rather eat ashes.) This, among many other things, takes place over the kind of deeply saturated medicinal/animalic background that has become a Gardoni trademark (q.v. MAAI, Gardelia, or Aeon 001.)

I will stop now, because I can’t begin to do MEM justice, but know that it’s scents like this that restore my faith in olfactory creativity.
03rd July, 2018
A heavier Jicky minus the vanilla plus the medicine.
02nd April, 2018
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For me this opens double layered...a minty ice cold stark lavender riding on a slab of musky castoreum with a flowery aura floating about...changes constantly...right now it turned into something that I would swear is a Kouros flanker...combines notes and accords in strange and unusual configurations while still maintaining poise and balance...i have to add that I am a huge fan of Bogue and own several fragrances...being a lover of powerhouses, animalics , and good old school fragrances this house pushes all the right buttons for me...this fragance has an intresting balance between being light/fresh and dark/ being in a damp dusty dank dungeon and throwing open a window and having the sunshine and fresh air rush in...this is definitely a fun much as vintage juices are great I do occasionaly run into the issue of damage and being able to tell that a fragrance has not aged well and has turned...I am very happy that there are perfume artists out there creating retro classic fragrances like this to fill the place of bygone fragrances...i like the fact that I can get the satisfaction. of smelling something classic/old school like this but know that the juice is fresh and can sit in my wardrobe for a long time without worry...i get some civet creeping in now giving me even more enjoyment...bottom line - a well crafted and blended musky/flowery/animalic take on various aspects of my eyes, or rather, nose, another masterpiece from Bogue...
15th January, 2018
Bogue seems to make scents that I genuinely admire, but don't want to actually wear. Maai was a bit too bombastic for me and O/E, too synthetic, (although I nearly bought a bottle of Aeon 001). MEM, unfortunately, also fits into to my "interesting, but unwearable" category. When I took my first sniff of this fragrance, I was in heaven; for approximately a minute and a half, MEM smelled very much like the heavenly scent of a horse's mane and/or hide. Unfortunately, this amazing olfactory sensation was gone in a flash, only to be replaced by an amazing array of unidentifiable notes, which were in turn, replaced by other unknown ones. This dizzying swirl finally died down to a sort of civetty, herbally, lavendar. Although I am usually a big fan of civet, here the note lent less of an animalic growl and more of a clean, fresh urine aspect to the progression.

I think a few folks who are naturally inclined to love anything new and avant-garde in perfumery, will find MEM intriguing. It is definitely kaleidoscopic and unusual and will keep you sniffing at your wrists in sheer wonderment.
10th September, 2017
This is the perfume that made me want to start writing again about perfume, if only to spread the word about how brilliant it is and how everyone who invests in perfume as art should buy a bottle. I got a sample from Luckyscent and spent the next few days struggling to understand it enough to write about it.

My basic description would be dirty lavender marmalade: Jicky dragged through the quinoa section of the health food store, covered in earth, incense, and floor wax, and lifted up into the air with the malty fizz of champagne. All of this nestled in a burned-sugar floral accord that smells a bit like tuberose but isn’t tuberose, a complex series of smoke and mirrors designed to lead your nose out of its depth.

Unusually for a modern perfume – although this isn’t really a modern perfume – MEM reveals its true complexity in the base, where a silty, musky ambergris lights up all the other elements like a blowtorch. Antonio used real animalics for the base, and it shows. The perfume is complex, beautiful, and abstract, far more so than even Maai. By far one of the most exciting perfumes I’ve put on my skin lately.

29th August, 2017
I'm probably not politically correct enough to enjoy MEM. Instant revulsion on my part when I put this on. I left it on to see if it would morph into something I would ever consider wearing, but no. MEM smells to me like the hand lotion Aunt Bessie bought at Woolworth's Drug Store back in 1974. This has an old lady smell to my nose. I could detect some woods lurking under the surface, but they were so overcome by the florals and old lady vibe, that there was no way for me to get any enjoyment out of this frag. I also picked up some funk, and I see now why, as civet is a listed note. This is a busy mess, and reads like a case of fragrance by blender. There is some movement during the course of the wear,and MEM eventually lightens just a tiny bit on the old lady floral funk, but not nearly enough for me.
24th August, 2017
MEM covers a lot of ground and it covers it quickly. When first sprayed it moves too fast for precise description and feels more like slam poetry than anything olfactory. It’s a 'Tomato-Jasmine Waxed-Sultry-Jam Malted Milk-Tuned Rubber Gasoline-Flame, Drop-The-Mic-And-Howl' sort of perfume. It’s a rush.

MEM is Antonio Gardoni’s discourse on lavender and it is packed with lavender. Lavender is never hidden, but you might give a double-take on recognizing it. MEM combines identifiable clues and completely new shapes and never settles for one definition of lavender. It knocks lavender from its comfortable perch in the pantheon of perfume materials and makes it sing for its supper. Working with a material like lavender has two specific risks. The first is that it is one of the most well-known material in fragrance and is consequently predictable. Trying to make it say anything new is difficult. The second is that changing the rules will always threaten a percentage of people. Dismantling an olfactory ‘baseline’ is like pulling out the rug. MEM might very well find a good portion of its audience in a state of distress or disorientation.

MEM is also something new for Gardoni. His previous perfumes for Bogue were an out-and-out interrogation of 20th century perfumery. (*) MEM doesn’t look to the past as these other perfumes did. It does however share their sense of provocation. These perfumes were conceptual and they were daring. Their success was made more meaningful in large part because they risked failure so unwaveringly. MEM’s risk of failure is just as great. The challenge is not just how to make a novel lavender perfume, it’s how to win people over to ‘The New Lavender.’ Anyone remember New Coke?

As an olfactory object, lavender is weighted down by associations. It’s floral, herbal, medicinal, antiseptic. It’s grand-dad’s aftershave, it’s the grocery store wipes, it’s the pastry from the bakery. It’s everywhere. Gardoni confronts lavender’s dual tragic flaw: familiarity and predictability. Rather than try to ‘reinvent’ lavender per se, Gardoni’s trick is to make it unexpected.

A set of almost tropical floral tones steers clear of typical depictions and frees lavender from associations with aromatherapy, cleaning products and the barbershop. The perfume sidesteps the top-heart-base pyramid without settling for a linear model and the progression of the perfume has a deceptively wandering feel. An expressive collection of woods braces the perfume and a pack of animalic notes come and go as if prowling through the perfume. MEM meticulously avoids lavender’s clichés and none of the old chestnuts (leafy greens, sudsy soap, chilly mothballs, shaving cream) find their way into the mix. By peeling away lavender’s expected characteristics and altering its momentum, Gardoni renders it abstract and bends it to his purposes.

At times the perfume seems to create a broad olfactory milieu and has a striding, environmental scale. But even when it’s impressionistic (sap, soil, metal and sunlight—-oh, an afternoon working in a garden) it’s remarkably specific. The accords pass by steadily, giving the feeling of being taken on a guided tour of the objects in an imagined olfactory Cornell Box. A waxed grapefruit. Carmelized tomatoes. Flowers, champagne, cats and brackish water. A bizarre collection of images? Sure, but also elegant and logical. 

The success of the perfume hangs on building new chains of association—-constructing a new lavender. I don’t get the impression that Gardoni is making an emotional appeal or trying to woo you. Rather, what he gives the audience is a richness, and more important, a clarity of ideas to play with as they care to. Whether or not the odd olfactory images—- coconut woods, grape-soda white flowers, doggedness, clay-rich soil, rubber citrus bark, dappled markings, orange jam, flat beer, leather-soled shoes—-speak to you or not, they have a precision that lets you string together the pieces to suit your own inclinations. I feel like I’ve been handed an extraordinary coloring-book and some crayons in gorgeous hues that I’ve never seen before. There’s no need to worry too much about creating an image—-the lines are drawn. I’m just having a blast discovering these new colors.

The coloring-book analogy might sound ridiculous, but I’ve found a playful mindset is an effective line of approach to MEM. For all the specificity of the perfume, I’m reminded how scrupulously Gardoni avoided getting caught in a single definition of lavender. Lavender enters this discussion as possibly the most overdetermined note in perfumery and Gardoni’s role was to free it. There is an appealing modesty to the way Gardoni helps you find your own lavender rather than convince you of his.

20th July, 2017
MEM is a bold, positive and necessary progression for Bogue. the billowing layers of lavender manage to sidestep obvious fougere associations, which is no mean feat. MEM plunges into uncharted gourmand oriental while retaining a lurking civet card that only reveals itself in the long drydown, showing crucial restraint. this is an extremely complex and ever-shifting frag that will retain its interest for a long time. another home run but with a different bat from Signor Gardoni!
07th July, 2017