Mayan mysteries, Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur

Despite the fact that I’m not really into history, I find the times that are farthest away from now to be the most interesting, mysterious and worth discovering. The civilization of Maya was one of the oldest ancient societies, also well-known for having their own written language, advanced knowledge in mathematics and astronomy (just think how wise they were to create a calendar). Their art and architecture were also really valued. Even though they achieved so much, they don’t teach us about Maya in Polish schools. Probably because our education system focuses on Europe, we prefer to learn about ancient Greece, Rome rather than notice the history from across the Ocean.

Karl Bradl, one of the founders of Aedes de Venustas boutique in New York City went some time ago on a trip to Tulum. As he was cycling along the coast of Yukatan peninsula, getting closer to Sian Ka’an nature reserve, he noticed that he’s breathing in the air that has a gently smoky, incense aroma intertwined with the salty notes coming from the Ocean. What he smelled in the air was the aroma of copal, an aromatic resin coming from a variety of trees (with leaves or needles) growing in subtropical zone. Interesting note: “copalli” in nahuatl language translates into “incense”. Copal, used in jewellery, to make figurines and for burning as a sacrifice for gods is said to have 10 thousand to 1 million years.

Inspired by that specific yet mysterious scent, guys from Aedes de Venustas wanted to transform that aroma into a bottle of perfume. There were some difficulties, as one cannot use copal resin in perfumery, Robert and Karl together with a nose working on this project decided that they will recreate the smell of copal by adding three different species of frankincense into the composition. And that is how this perfume – featuring Mayan treasure, was born. Its name – Copal Azur.

Copal Azur doesn’t have a specific opening stage in my opinion. The very moment you apply just a drop of perfume to your skin, this fragrance starts to emanate strong, bold and brave aroma of frankincense. It is very dark and smoky, bringing the spiritual and meditative vibe to my mind. At first the incense accord feels light but not in terms of the strength of this perfume but in terms of frankincense being a smoke, a silvery-gray illusion that swirls in the air, rather than having a substance. However after around 30 minutes the immaterial smoke in latest Aedes de Venustas offering turns into something more heavy and balsamic, something you can touch with your hand.

I think that it must be the myrrh that caused that interesting transformation. One moment the frankincense was just a scented cloud, few minutes later it turns into a lump waiting to set it on fire so that it can turn into smoke again. Myrrh adds substance and density, making Copal Azur more balmy, resinous and heavier. Combined with incense it smells a bit churchy but I think that is how this was meant to be. After a while myrrh reveals a warm aroma that also carries a little bit of that “burning plastic” sensation that it tends to give on my skin. Does anyone experience this kind of feeling when they wear myrrh perfumes? That would be interesting to know if I’m alone there or not…

After 2 hours, from the smoky depths of Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur, some cardamom seeds float up to the surface and tickle my nose. It adds some beautiful –¬† warm and spicy values to the perfume at the same turning this blend a bit drier and even kind of woody. LAter on tonka bean joins the composition and it marries with cardamom. Together they smell amazing. Warm and aromatic at the same time. Spicy but creamy as well. At some point tonka starts to dominate so aromatic, slightly dark-vanillic notes do some magic. With still present incense Copal Azur is like a spell.

At some point of the development of Copal Azur, after 4 or 5 hours you will notice that incense and other notes start to turn a little bit salty. No, this is not just your imagination. The new Aedes de Venustas perfume really does contain salty notes. The salty undertone never becomes dominating and it will never to go to the foreground, it will stay in the back row, adding a little bit of mineral qualities. It has the marine smell but in a positive meaning of the word. Last but not least there are hints of bright and resinous amber which is also slightly sweet, very elegant if you ask me.

Copal Azur by Aedes de Venustas is the 2nd perfume launched by the brand in 2014 and their 4th perfume in overall. This is an opulent, spiritual perfume that is bold, makes a statement but at the same time it feels so good to wear. It rarely happens to me to like a frankincense perfume so much. If only Aedes did a mixed travel set with Iris Nazarena, Oeillet Bengale and Copal Azur, I would get one for sure. The fragrance comes in eau de parfum concentration available either in 3 x 10ml travel set or in a 100ml zamak cap bottle, this time it has a deep blue color. Perfumer who developed Copal Azur is Bertrand Duchaufour. If you’re into incense scents or if you’re looking for new extraordinary scent for winter, consider the new Aedes de Venustas release.

[note] sample provided by Beauty Enterprise, pictures from the press & ThePocketExplorer

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Iris Neverland, Houbigant Iris des Champs

Another one among historical perfume brands established many years ago is the house of Houbigant. Founded in 1774 by Jean Francois Houbigant (aged 23) the maison quickly became very popular among aristocracy and gentility. Famous names who bought their perfumes, powders and scented gloves at Houbigant include Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Adelaide d’Orleans, Queen Victoria of England, Emperor Napoleon III, Tsar of russia Nikolai II. Over the years he business was run by many different people: Jean Francois’s son, Chardin, Magny & Gabillot, Javal & Paul Parquet. Nowadays it’s the Perris family who decided to put back this historic brand to life.

The Perris family acquired the name of Houbigant in 2005 and since then they focus on bringing this maison back to its past glory. Some new perfumes have been introduced over the last couple of years and 2014 marks the launch of another composition, which is named Iris des Champs. This fragrance starts with surprisingly green aroma consisting of aromatic bergamot rind and lily of the valley. Combined scents of these two materials bring the impression of clarity and freshness. The verdancy I can smell here makes me think of huge grass plains covered with droplets of morning dew. Muguet has that slightly aquatic feel and a pear accords adds a bit to this watery facet in the perfume. This stage unveils on my skin slowly and needs around 30 minutes before it passes and allows the other notes to unveil and enchant your day.

After the opening phase has passed, Houbigant Iris des Champs becomes a woody composition. There is a lot of very smooth and shiny sandalwood that is rich and substantial in a nice way. There are also some other woods hidden under the label of “woodsy notes.” I’m just guessing there might be some cedarwood. Anyway this woody aroma is very pleasant and it has a nice intensity that will be noticed for sure, yet it won’t feel overpowering. After a while you might also start to notice that woody notes seem to become more spicy and piquant. It’s the pink pepper that introduces this nice effect of spicing up the composition. At around 1 hour mark it’s the time to experience the main element of this perfume, it appears out of nowhere and without warnings.

Iris note in Iris des Champs is quite different from iris that I know from so many other perfumes themed around rhisomes of this beautiful flower. At first it smells very floral but it’s not iris but lily of the valley that tries to mimic the iris scent. The actual iris appears few minutes later. It is very powdery and dry, instantly making me think of talc powder or some other powdery cosmetic you could find standing at the boudoir of some older lady. Luckily this perfume doesn’t feel old in overall. It might have some older elements but generally I consider it a youthful composition so don’t worry too much.

The fragrant powder transforms later into something thicker and denser. At some points it begins to effuse more rooty, earthy and buttery scented molecules that wrap around the person wearing Iris des Champs just like snake wraps around its prey. I like this aroma more that the combination of muguet and granny-ish powder, still this is not the kind of iris that I favor the most. I don’t deny any beauty of this composition, it’s just that if I were to wear this fragrance, I would wear it only occasionally, once in a while, not every day. Iris butter note turns into more creamy scent of ylang ylang after another hour of having this Houbigant creation on my skin. There are also very subtle and ethereal impressions of pale rose and transparent jasmine, forming a background of the composition, far behind the 1st plan of the composition.

The drydown of Iris des Champs is consistent to earlier parts of the perfume. There is some resinous amber that adds a bit of warmth to the blend and this blend has a cold feeling in my opinion. Thanks to amber there’s also more light and brightness in this fragrance. Generous dose of musk introduces this soft and fluffy sensation, creating this delicate and creamy cloud of clean and pure elements. Few weeks ago I was translating an interview between Serguey Borisov and Gian-Luca Perris for Polish fragrantica – in this interview Mr. Perris said that Iris des Champs is meant to smell like an imaginary meadow full of blooming iris flowers. I think he achieved his goal. The perfume does feel abstract (hence Neverland in the title) and it does feel like a meadow but mostly because the initial impression of dew and fresh greens…

Iris des Champs by Houbigant is a perfume that might not fit all who love iris. I’m glad I gave it a try but I probably won’t go back to this perfume again, but I might be wrong here. It is definitely different from a standard iris perfume. and in my opinion there’s too much muguet in it! This composition was created by young perfumer Mathieu Nardin (Robertet) with the creative direction of Elizabetta Perris. New creation is available in Houbigant signature 100 ml bottle, the same one as was used for Orangers en Fleurs. Iris des Champs also comes in two concentrations: eau de parfum – with a blue label on the bottle and perfume extrait having a label in gold.

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