Hello November! Yesterday we celebrated All Saints’ Day while today it’s All Souls’ Day. Despite the fact 1st of November is a happy day, meant to commemorate those who are in Heaven, in Polish culture it’s still considered more sad and pensive. It’s on that day when we all visit graves of our passed relatives, light torches for them and pray. Such thoughtful atmosphere of these days encouraged me to wear more resinous, incense-themed fragrances as my own way to pay respects.
My first choice is Labdanum 18 from Le Labo. It starts bold and powerful yet at the same time it’s full of grace. The opening is richly resinous and dense. Cistus labdanum blends with castoreum and a little bit of civet. Such combination creates a whirl of incense smokiness that also has something animalic to it. But on my skin I don’t consider the animalic part as dirty. It’s more sensual, carnal. There’s also a lot of vanilla that beautifully sweetens the composition and make it very smooth and mellow. Labdanum and vanilla are both present in perfect proportions and they enhance each other. It’s the feeling of gently sweet, resinous smokiness that gives me a dreamy mood when I wear Labdanum 18. Cinnamon with its warm & spicy tingle makes the perfume more interesting and also gives it a delightful spark that feels slightly caramelized. Gurjun balsam introduces another faced to overall balmy vibe of this Le Labo fragrance, but this one has a slight green tinge. Tonka bean which appears after some time makes the perfume more creamy, also introducing something roasty. Patchouli wasn’t very much pronounced on my skin, but the perfume had depth and longevity, so it was also a fixative. Additional notes include hawthorn and birch tar. Le Labo Labdanum 18 starts like a bomb but in the end it becomes a furry cat, purring loud with content. It’s a cuddlefluff.
As a second perfume for this double review I decided to go with Maasai Mara, one of the most recent releases from Berdoues. This perfume opens much lighter compared to the previous one but it’s not even a bit less interesting. At first there is a Spanish labdanum note that gives a transparent, fog-like smokiness that wears very nicely on the skin. It’s a bit balmy and resinous but it doesn’t feel heavy nor overwhelming. Shortly it’s followed by a juicy plum note that has a bit of smokiness to it. You could say that it’s a fruit at the beginning of a smoking process. Some other dried fruit join later on but plum remains the most significant one. Maasai Mara also features quite a generous dose of cinnamon – it makes the perfume feel kind of powdery, kind of dusty, with that tingly spiciness that tickles inside your nose. Chamomile and buchu appear after a while. They introduce a herbal-like, aromatic facet. It combines very nicely with a labdanum aroma. It’s also worth noticing that this herbal-aromatic effect is strong enough to notice it, but not stronger than the resinous part. It always remains peripheral. Benzoin introduces this slightly gooey, sweet & balsamic feeling that smells to my nose like a melting toffee that’s burning a bit. Vanilla adds a nice flavor to this scent, making it a close relative to Labdanum 18. There is also hints of rose in Maasai Mara – they add a lovely rouge hue here and there. Such floral touch really suits here. Patchouli makes it overally feel more earthy and dirty. There’s something playful about this scent. And it’s a cuddlefluff too!
Both Labdanum 18 and Maasai Mara are beautiful cistus-centered fragrances. They share many similarities, like being balsamic, mild and a tad sweet too. The biggest differences is that they are placed at completely opposite price levels, Le Labo one being much, much more spendy than Berdoues, which is very affordable. These two perfumes are very round and sensual and they’ll make a great choice for the time of autumn and winter. I’m happy I have decants of both of them. I’m sure I will be using them more often soon. Do you like labdanum? Did any of these 2 appeal to you?