It isn’t my policy to engage in naked displays of affection for perfume X or Y. It’s strange public intimacy, like kissing someone you love overwhelmingly in an airport. But the Untitled Series can handle some PDA. S01E04 is among a handful of scents that give me, every time, without fail, the purest joy and a feeling of gratitude that I can own something this perfect.
The artist who created E04 is one I’d never heard of before this work. I’ve only smelled one other piece by this perfumer, and while very well made it would in no way prepare you. There is a particular expression we use to describe (one example) the special status of John le Carré, whose books in lesser hands would be relegated to a mere type, the spy novel, but in his become literature. He transcends the genre, people say.
E04 should be firmly imprisoned in a genre, and I wonder how many marquee olfactory artists’ hands that would include (a fair number, I think). The citrus eau fraîche is ubiquitous and clichéd. But you jump to that category due simply to the brain’s urgent need to place the things it encounters. After an instant, the genre collapses, and you are blissfully disoriented. E04 is masterfully spun, of olfactory filaments the weight of spiders’ webs, its surfaces like the fire gilding of a Medieval mirror with its micro-pitted patina of toxic, silvery mercury lying under glass.
The fact is that E04 transcends anything you might throw at it—citrus, green, floral—while remaining, and how I don’t know, absolutely anchored in the natural world, which is limited. E04 is green, though a very specific water-washed green, and it is certainly citrus, while not being citrus in any obvious way, and it is floral in an almost metaphysical style (perhaps simply by being so elegantly lovely that we are forced to resort to the thought of the curve of a petal to deal intellectually with the thing).
One fact: The work’s title names a natural raw material that is, I think, along with shiso CO2 [editor’s note: drop the 2 in “CO2,” as it would be written in a chemical formula] extraction and ginger essence, perhaps the most inexplicably overlooked natural scent raw material in the palette. The work’s creative director has told me that this material does indeed play a crucial role, so the beauty was there to be built on, but it took a masterful touch to turn it into this scented mercurial filament.