It’s been 9 years since a French jewellery maker, Olivier Durbano entered the scene of perfume creators. His attitude towards the mysticism of semi-precious stones resulted in creating fine and innovative perfumes in which incense plays the main role. When on September 28th Olivier Durbano visited Poland I got a quick chance to meet him and exchange couple of words.
He shared with us the story that 9 as a number means the end of one story. It’s the last one of basic Arabic numbers. But he also said that each ending also means a new beginning. At the same time he stressed that it’s the end of one chapter for him and it doesn’t mean he won’t create perfume anymore. We should just expect something totally different next time. Oliver wanted his 9th fragrance to be something special and different that’s why he decided on creating a fragrance inspired not by an actual gemstone, but by a mythical, nonexistent one, Lapis Philosophorum.
Olivier Durbano Lapis Philosophorum reveals its presence on my skin with balsamic notes. First comes the opoponax. It’s warm and resinous, slightly reminding me of dried grapes, raisins and maybe even nuts. The power of the opening stage is strong but I think it’s weaker than most of the previous 8 fragrances made by Mister Durbano. Opoponax stands alone for around 15 minutes, after that time passes I start to smell myrrh that gets more intensive within a couple of minutes. This note adds a little bit of a salty and sticky quality to the scent. I was also surprised that it didn’t put me off, since myrrh doesn’t belong to my favorite notes. Maybe this is why this perfume is so different and special?
At 30 minutes mark the entire composition of Lapis Philosophorum got colder for a while. I blame it on juniper berries that introduced a shot of cold to the perfume. There’s a lot of aromatic molecules about this accord and unlike some other perfumes, there’s no metallic vibe to it. The chilly sensation disappeared completely after another 15 minutes, just in time to bring another note to the front.
Wine accord in perfumery isn’t something you find in a portfolio of every perfume brand. It’s rare to see it mentioned in the olfactive pyramid of the composition. In Lapis, the wine is red. You can smell the ripe grapes, the juice they give. You can also catch a little bit of aroma from the vine. There’s also lots of tannins and uplifting fizzy quality of the bubbles. This accord makes the perfume dry, consummate. Some time later I start to smell molecules of incense – olibanum. It’s not very smoky or dark. It’s a rather floating cloud of incense, burning quietly. After this note gets weaker I noticed hints of lovely and green mint. Refreshing and aromatic.
After a few hours of wearing the newest Oliver Durbano scent I noticed that it goes in a weird direction. Calamus (also known as Sweet Flag) changed the character of the perfume into something that highly reminds me of oriental cuisine. To me it smells powdery, but I don’t mean the powdery feeling I like a lot. It smells more like a powdered spice that could be put in the jug to make an oriental stew. Funny, but also weird at the same time.
Luckily the calamus accord dissipated within less than 30 minutes. For another 2 hours the notes have been replacing themselves and I got some more incense, wine and mint. Then Lapis Philosophorum decided to proceed to the drydown. To me it smelled very smooth, mineral, slightly animalic. It contains ambergris, a precious and expensive material that makes it for a real amber accord. Here it was warm, slightly spicy and also sensual. Musk continues the discrete animalic wave but there was also something calm and flossy about it.
The day I was testing Lapis Philosophorum an interesting thing happened to me. After many hours it smelled to me of a fruit syrup made of peaches. But when I took a shower and my body was hit by the first drops of water, the entire bathroom filled with the aroma of this perfume and it smelled like it was just applied. It got a new life! After 12 hours I could smell the traces of Olivier Durbano 9th perfume. Just a tiny bit of water gave a new power to this perfume. That’s interesting!
Philosopher’s Stone was said to grant immortality, unbound knowledge and to turn base metals into gold. That’s why the juice is tinged with gold-ish orange dye. Nobody never managed to synthesize this mythical stone (not counting Nicolas Flamel from Harry Potter series). It never existed – that explains why there are no stones inside the flacon, as they were always present in previous creations. One could later destroy the flacon and turn the stones into jewellery piece.
Lapis Philosophorum by Olivier Durbano is concentrated at eau de parfum level and it comes only in one size, that is 100ml. It’s an interesting perfume with a nice background story. It’s definitely worth exploring if you’re looking for something unusual or if you’re after mild oriental scents.
[note] sample was a courtesy of Quality Missala. Pictures 2 & 3 come from Fragrantica.