Three people opened my eyes to the wonder of real scent: James Craven of independent perfume boutique, Les Senteurs; master perfumer and one of the world’s most famous noses Roja Dove; and Kilian Hennessy, scion of the Hennessy family and creator of some of the world’s the most unique, challenging and ultimately beguiling modern fragrances.
This month, he’s launched a trio of new scents for men, suggestively named Addictive State of Mind. Forget about traditional rose fragrances, or even modern rose fragrances with a twist. These are unforgettable scents, inspired by substances that can, when abused, take us into darker places: tobacco, cannabis and coffee.
I’m sitting at my desk this autumn evening, dark already, enveloped in a smooth fog of Smoke for the Soul, created by Kilian with fellow parfumeur Fabrice Pellegrin. The press release tells me about the fragrance’s unfolding, through blue eucalyptus and grapefruit, through cardamom, thyme, and fir balsam to tobacco and birch, mate tea and tagete.
‘The bitter breath of psychotropic tobacco; a flirtation with the forbidden, an escape into the soothing stupefaction of the sweet-sharp weed,’ it says. But what it actually smells like beautifully – on my skin, but perhaps not on yours – is the inside of an old wooden cabinet. It’s unbelievable; I can’t get enough.
At first hit, Intoxicated is an altogether different proposition: sweet with the tang of caramelized sugar, given the woody edge of strong, strong coffee, spiced with green cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. I am in a Turkish bazaar, a Moroccan souk; I can almost feel the heat and the dust. The final of the trio, Light My Fire, created with Sidonie Lancesseur, is inspired by the smell of a cigar on a Monaccan evening and begins – and this is an unusual beginning to a fragrance – with the spiciness of tobacco evoked by cumin, hay, patchouli and vetiver before melting into vanilla, white heliotrope, Tonka and birchwood. It is, technically, only Light My Fire that is designed for both sexes but it seems to me, drunk with Smoke for the Soul, in particular, an artificial separation. Man or woman, try them all and decide for yourself.