Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Les Nez L'Antimatière

L'Antimatière by Les Nez is described as a perfume without top notes, which is almost like saying it's a fragrance composition without a "hook" (because they say most people can smell only top notes when they smell a perfume, and therefore decide on a perfume purchase based solely on the smell of those top notes which evaporate quickest). So, would that make L'Antimatière a badly written song or just a groove without a melody? Actually, it's a brilliant perfume and it has a hook, but a different type of hook than the ones we're familiar with. The hook is the unique concept of a perfume that some people are anosmic to--yes, a perfume some people can't even smell--thus, the name L'Antimatière, meaning anti-matter, fits.

Some people are anosmic to certain types of musk--this much, I know. So, my first guess as to what the notes are (they aren't listed on the Les Nez website) starts with musk. This is not a heavy, musky scent per se, since its scent (to me, anyway) is very faint; however, there is a deep, penetrating, slightly gustative sweet base note accompanied by wintergreen (salicylate) and hawthorn, something sharp and spicy, and some muted soft fruit and floral heart notes hovering in space that I can pick up. It's a little like Kenzo Flower--maybe closest to it. Some sites mention ambergris, and I think that would account for the faintly animalic aspect of the scent. However, I get, especially on dry down, moss. Is it oakmoss, tree moss or a headspace mossy note used in modern Aldehydic Chypre Florals such as Paco Rabanne Calandre (especially the newer version that's musky-powdery sweet, slightly floral, lily-like and sharp) and Yves-Saint Laurent Rive Gauche? These are the familiar perfumes, as well as the mossy part of Guerlain Mitsouko, that I'm reminded of. I'm not even sure it's moss I smell but the impression I get is that of a mossy fragrance. It could be pure ozone for all I know.

Woodsy mossiness is something I'm just now getting accustomed to wearing. I used to find it dirty-smelling and bothersome, which is why I'd described L'Antimatière once on a forum as smelling of a dirty scarf that's been worn without washing for a month. There is something about L'Antimatière to me that smells like the dry down overload of many different perfumes, the base notes in particular, building up on fabric over time, like the smell that can't be washed out and can only permeate other scents that are applied on top of it, a fragrance cacophany (this is why I don't put perfumes on clothes). However, L'Antimatière proves a masterful composition and makes even this impression of the mishmash-in-fabric smell a work of art. Somehow, the cacophany begs to be worn again, like reliving the memories of how the smell got to be what it is, like wanting to trace its footsteps, figuring out just what on earth is really in here, and counting just how many lovers it has known.

If it's not moss in here, I apologize for my faulty nose. I can only go by my lasting impression, and this perfume says this is the skin scent of a wood nymph in the forest, not too long after the sun has dried up all the rain. The subtly delicious, cool and prickly yet soft and sweet sensation I find in it is elegant, interesting and simply outstanding. It is a very, very delicate blend built with heavy notes--an original concept of fine fragrance, experimental art and sculptural art that translates well into the real world of wearable scent. If you're one of the people who can't smell it, I say go for Kenzo Flower. I'm not sure I'd buy L'Antimatiere because it disappears so fast...into anti-matter.

(Image:, sculpture bottle "On the Wind" by Gillian White (9 x 8 x 8 cm) In wooden box • Numbered 1 - 120)