In these uncertain times in which health and own safety have earned the highest priority status, it is a bit difficult to learn about what’s happening in the perfume world. I discover news about new launches on Facebook or Instagram instead of a charming scenery of Milan and Esxence where these scents would normally debut if it wasn’t for the pandemy. It doesn’t happen often but from time to time brands write to me on their own, asking if I would like to try their fragrances. I take it as a privilege and great honor because to me that means that Chemist in the Bottle is a valuable platform in the scented universe. This time I was approeached by Christele Jacquemin.
Meandering Soul has a very smoky beginning but at the same time it can be characterised by an incredible purity and transparency. It’s the kind of smokiness you cannot see as the incense turns into ash, it’s on more spiritual level. Or like old wooden walls that have been permeated with a smoke scent over the years. Hinoki wood gives this perfume a touch of mystery, of something that is thrilling and scaring at the same time. Sweet fennel adds an aromatic layer to this fragrance and once you inhale it, it goes deep inside your nose, leaving a powerful impression behind. After some time Meandering Soul becomes darker and starts to remind a licorice note. Black, sweet but not, very specific. The brand lists ylang-ylang and narcissus among the heart notes but I wasn’t able to detect anything creamy or floral. Instead the scent evolved towards a dry & woody cinnamon facet. Eventually the perfume is dominated by tobacco – it feels dense and more chewy, like a pipe tobacco. Stripped off of its golden elements. It pairs very well with the maltol-like smell of caramel. All in all I find this particular composition to be quite meditative which reflects well in its name.
Impermanence opens with a nicely warm and slightly aromatic wave. At the very beginning the perfume serves a zesty slice of bergamot that has been spiced up by a tangy-lemony scent of blue ginger. These two together create a pleasantly fresh impression that leads the way to something new just a couple of minutes later. Hinoki needle (reminder: hinoki is a type of cypress) adds a green, slightly oily facet that is related to the fougere family in a way. I like the way it changes the perfume character to something more complex. Rosemary continues the verdant element of Impermanence but it’s also making it more herbaceous, a tad more dry and with a hint of sweaty back note. Then there’s Bulgarian rose, not that opulent but pure and blooming gracefully. Palmarosa – a plant somehow related to ginger, adds a bit of that fresh piquancy. The drydown is rooty and slightly earthly thanks to vetiver and mate absolute gives that characteristic green tea tinge to the composition. It’s quite an appealing concoction that I liked the most among the 3 that I tested.
Underworld happens to be the most challenging of the fragrances in Christele Jacquemin range. This composition starts with a blast of black pepper that immediately ‘attacks’ your nose with spicy tones that are dry like a sheet of an old parchment. The spiciness it exudes is vibrant and has a metallic sharpness to it but it disappears after a couple of minutes. Cardamom warms up the composition but when cumin joins I start to feel overpowered by the sweaty vibe this perfume starts to develop because of it. It’s a daring fragrance that ventures into more animalic territories without actually using these ingredients. Heart of Underworld feels to me like digging a hole somewhere in a dark forest. I can smell vetiver roots covered with lumps of brownish soil, patchouli leaves add a facet of a forest litter with hints of rotting plant elements. Carrot seeds bring up a vegetal vibe that goes well with this loomy & earthy sensation but I’m not a fan of this type of olfactive stimulus. Drydown reveals a tuberose note that in its white flower glory feels quite animalic as well. Mimosa in case of this scent is not breezy, watery and pollen-like but unleashes something more meaty vibe a’la fleur de cassie. All this is smoked with a hefty dose of frankincense. Would you dare to wear it?
When you ask Christele Jacquemin about her profession she would probably reply that she’s a photographer-perfumer-traveller. And the order of these 3 passions is not accidental. First of all she’s a photographer. She takes pictures while being away on travels and once she returns home she attempts to translate the mood of a place and of photo taken there into a perfume. In my opinion the 3 fragrances she composed so far are really well-made and they stand out as more unique than 90% of what the market has to offer. If you have a chance give Meandering Soul, Impermanence and Underworld a try. You might not love them but you’ll see the artistry behind them.