Rule the world – change metals into gold, Olivier Durbano Lapis Philosophorum

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.

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24 thoughts on “Rule the world – change metals into gold, Olivier Durbano Lapis Philosophorum

  1. hajusuuri says:

    Another beautifully-written review, dear Lucas and perhaps, dare I say it? … another lemming? I am curious about the orange dye you mentioned – what exactly is it and did you check to see if it could stain clothes or skin? As for longevity, I hear you about the show

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you my dear friend!
      Oh, another lemming? What am I doing to you?
      If you have any trouble finding a sample – let me know, I have two!
      Dyes in all Olivier Durbano scents can stain the clothes. You should apply them few minutes before putting your clothes on.
      Plus, those dyes are unstable, they change colors after a period of time.
      At Quality Missala I’ve seen Black Tourmaline that was colorless and used to be black earlier.

  2. hajusuuri says:

    Eeek my comments got cut off!

    So I had experienced the shower bit extending the life of a perfume and enveloping the bathroom with a nice fragrance!


    • lucasai says:

      For me the case of Lapis Philosophorum was the 1st time when a perfume got so strong again after it got some moist. That happened to me earlier but the scent in the shower was very subtle.

  3. patriciaC says:

    Sounds very interesting, im going to have to get my paws on a sample. Thanks for the review sounds worth investigation!

  4. Juraj says:

    I love it! Yes, the wine accord is not usual.. it’s interesting! I love the musk behind…


    • lucasai says:

      Glad you find it so well that you “love it!”
      I don’t favor orientals or incense scents in general so I find Lapis Philosophorum great but absolutely don’t feel a need for FB since I wouldn’t wear it that often.

  5. Lilybelle says:

    I love Mr. Durbano’s fragrances. I haven’t tried them all, but each one I’ve sampled was interesting, beautiful, or affective in some way. Olfactory journeys. He has a magic touch, I believe. 🙂 How lovely that you got to meet him! The Philospher’s Stone is an interesting subject. Once you set off in search of it, you are led to many places, only to come back home to your self, transformed. I *think* that is where the Philosopher’s Stone is to be found. I enjoyed your review very much.

    • lucasai says:

      It’s great that you like them, do you have a favorite one? His fragrances are definitely influential in some special kind of way.
      You know, seeking something this powerful like Philosopher’s Stone changes people for good, no matter if they failed or succeed.
      Thank you! I’m happy you liked the read.

      • Lilybelle says:

        I think you’re right about the search changing people for good, whether or not they find what they *thought* they were looking for. I can’t remember the names, but I liked Balsam de Mecca (is that right?) and a Rose de Mai scent. And there was one that smelled like lying in the grass on a summer’s day beside a lake…but I can’t remember what it was called. I have notes in my old desktop computer, which is in storage.

      • Lilybelle says:

        Also…I think an interview with Mr. Durbano would be an interesting read. Perhaps there is one out there somewhere. I’ll have to check.

  6. Tara says:

    I love oriental and incense scents, so I am looking forward to trying this one. I have Rock Crystal, Black Tourmaline and Heliotrope. Thanks for the nice review!

  7. Barbara says:

    Loved your review, you know I had been looking forward to it. I also love oriental and incense scents so i will try this, but not sure about the mint note!

  8. Wonderful review. It sounds like it took you on a journey. This is one fragrance line that has not intrigued me, as I really just don’t like their bottles. I know that seems shallow, but aesthetics and first impressions can make an impact!

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks Houndie! It was nice to hear all about Olivier’s concept for Lapis Philosophorum.
      I’m not an incense fan so his line is not something I will love but I want to explore. Too bad you don’t feel the same. We can’t win them all 😉

  9. Undina says:

    I’m with Mr. Hound on not liking the bottles but I really like the name of this perfume so if I get a chance I will try this one.

    It’s an interesting experience with the scent returning with added water. I had a couple of cases of the returned sillage while doing bikram yoga in a hot and humid room but never with the shower.

    • lucasai says:

      I’m not after those bottles either and I hate that there’s no perfume name on them. You have to recognize by the juice color.

      It happened to me few times while taking a shower but the perfume never got so strong again.

      As for Lapis, I’m curious to read your thoughts when you try it

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