In today’s state of perfumery it’s quite obvious that a vast number of brands use synthetic aromachemicals to produce their fragrance. They are cheap, easily available and average consumer won’t tell a difference. More frequent use of natural essences is what kind of differentiates niche (or at least it used to). But when you think of brands that only use 100% natural ingredients most probably envision a small independent house where every step from idea, through formulation, to packing lies in the hand of the owner-perfumer (April Aromatics for instance). Abel (or Abel Odor), a new to me brand (but not new) values quality over quantity – just like any natural creator.
Cobalt Amber is a beautifully composed fragrance that gradually unveils its personality during the day. The opening is unexpectedly warm, soft and has a little bit of sweetness mingling in the back. Tonka bean in the lead gives this perfume an aromatic feeling and this sensation surrounds the wearer like a cocoon made out of the softest plush. It feels fuzzy, playful and very huggable. After a couple of minutes a gentle spiciness emerges. Pink peppercorns add a subtle tingle to the scent while cardamom introduces a crunchy and kind of nutty vibe. Then comes the main protagonist of Cobalt Amber. This particular amber is bright and captures light and its different reflexes. The smell it gives is creamy thanks to tonka but later there is a moment when it becomes more resinous, balsamic. It creates a sensual, intimate aura on the skin. I would describe this scent as a soft oriental composition. As Cobalt Amber develops it becomes sweeter but never too sweet. Cocoa gives it a specific aroma – kind of earthy, kind of powdery and with a sugary finish. I think this phase makes the perfume a very charming one. Peru balsam gives a benzoin-like scent to the late stage. Once it evolves to this form it will remain more or less linear for the rest of time. Cobalt Amber stays close to the skin but I don’t think it’s a flaw – it’s meant to comfort you, not the others. It lasts for a decent number of hours as well.
Red Santal is a bit off an oddball in Abel collection if we’re playing an honesty game here. It’s a bit weird but at the same time there’s something intriguing about it. As soon as you spray some on your skin you’ll be surrounded by a clove-smelling cloud. That’s what opens this perfume – a straightforward smell of a winter spice. It brings up the spiciness of an actual clove very realistically and there’s even a little bit of cinnamon sweetness at the tip of the tongue. But after a while it also develops that medicinal edge that makes you think of the dentist. The thing is that this one note is very persistent and I could smell it for a couple of hours until it eventually gave up and unlocked other elements of Red Santal. If you fast forward that time you’ll be able to smell a mix of black & pink peppers and their metallic, spicy facet. You will probably also notice ginger and thyme. The first one gives off a fresh and spiced aroma while the latter one adds a herbal aspect and a bit of sweat. Actual sandalwood of Red Santal doesn’t appear earlier than in the base. The brand sourced 3 different types of this precious woodsy material. I’m not sure if my nose can differentiate between them but I assure you that the smell is very woody, raw, with a nice heft and substance to it. If you don’t mind smelling like a gingerbread for a while you probably will be interested in Red Santal.
Grey Labdanum is by far my favorite fragrance from Abel line and if I can compare perfume to sports this one would have crossed the finishing line of the race way ahead of the others. Grapefruit and bitter orange at the very opening of the scent give it a sour zing that is so momentary that you could as well consider that it doesn’t exist. Disappearing in a blink of an eye it makes place for a big clary sage accord. As soon as I smell it I feel transported to an alternative dimension. Aromatic qualities of the note draw different images in my head. At first I feel as if I were in a magical forest, a wide and spacious area full of unknown trees where fog would hum at a knee-height above the ground. It smells distant, there’s something herbal and reminiscent of eucalyptus about it. Later it gets incredibly clear, transparent but the smell becomes more damp with noticeable earth and roots nuances in the air. This part feels like walking through a dark, stone-carved tunnel with lichen and other stuff on its walls. That’s what patchouli gives to Grey Labdanum. This perfume feels incredibly deep and creates an eerie world that draws you in. Labdanum raises the temperature by few degrees by effusing its balsamic and resinous scent. The smell of incense gives this fragrance a spiritual level. I find some calming properties in it. This perfume is like a moment just for yourself. An undisturbed moment to connect with inner self.
All of these Abel fragrances are really well made and each has something interesting to offer. Not to mention that each of them has a unique fingerprint as well. The brand was founded in the Netherlands by Frances Shoemack (from New Zealand, former winemaker) and works exclusively with Isaac Sinclair as a perfumer. Abel Odor uses a very simple and minimalistic bottle design. A clean-looking column bottle has a name printed directly on a glass surface. Extra thing that makes me like this brand even more is the fact that each of their eau de parfum comes not only in 50 ml but also in a 15 ml bottle. Fragrances have nice longevity and moderate sillage.