New Perfume Reviews Ex Nihilo Fleur Narcotique & Venenum Kiss- Searching for Quentin Bisch

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In everything that I am passionate about I am always looking for the next new talent. In perfumery one of those who has caught my eye, and many others, is Quentin Bisch. I think like most people I became aware of him through the three part BBC Perfume documentary. (If you want to see his introduction here is the link to the episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz3_tY6Ld5I M. Bisch’s introduction happens at the 11:20 mark) What came through on the screen was this was a person who wore his passion for perfume openly. There was not a calculating bone in his body when it comes to perfume. Ever since that documentary I have waited for M. Bisch to start to produce his body of work. As a result I keep track of what he releases. Late last year I found out he had done a perfume for a new perfume brand in Paris, Ex Nihilo. At the time they did not have samples and I could only impatiently wait. Now the decant site Surrender to Chance offered five samples and two of them were the ones signed by M. Bisch, Fleur Narcotique and Venenum Kiss.

Ex-Nihilo-Team

Ex Nihilo Team (l. to r.) Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, Benoit Verdier

Ex Nihilo from the latin for “out of nothing” is owned and creatively directed by Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, and Benoit Verdier. Their backgrounds are not from classically trained beauty backgrounds. In a quote from their website they acknowledge this, “Our references come as much from perfumery as from design or architecture.” This belief allows them to take in a precocious young talent like M. Bisch and turn him loose. For his first two efforts for Ex Nihilo he has produced a fruity floral and a woody oriental.

Fleur Narcotique is described on the website as a “floral overdose” and while it is aggressively floral I am not sure if I ever felt close to an OD. I found it to be a study in subtlety as very often just when I thought I had a handle on things something new would change that opinion. Fleur Narcotique had an appealing olfactory restlessness which makes it fascinating to wear.

In the opening moments you are greeted with bergamot and peach; pretty standard fruity floral territory. Except for two things. First the fruit is not amped up to bludgeoning levels it is kept much more transparent than the typical fruity openings. The second is M. Bisch’s use of lychee to add an exotic twist to the mundane. Great lychee has a syrupy kind of musty quality. Paired with the peach, especially, it makes for an opening to a fruity floral which had me wanting to see what floral was coming. The answer was peony bolstered by orange blossom and jasmine. The fresh quality of the peony was an excellent foil to the peach and lychee. Most of the time while wearing a fruity floral I can pretty much ignore it after an hour or so because besides a few woods or musks that will be it. Fleur Narcotique has those woods and musks, along with some moss. M. Bisch brings them forward so they interact with the fruit and the florals instead of waiting for them to disappear before emerging. These base notes provide a languid transformation over the last few hours that I wore Fleur Narcotique. Fleur Narcotique has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Quentin Bisch

Quentin Bisch

Venenum Kiss is described as “opulent and poisonous” which I found appropriate. M. Bisch works the classic spicy sandalwood rose axis of Oriental perfumes and gives his own interpretation. If Fleur Narcotique was restless, Venenum Kiss is indolent. It carries a relaxed comfortable vibe which makes one just want to stay in and enjoy the smell.

M. Bisch chooses nutmeg and saffron as the spices. I like the way these two spices interact with each other as the familiarity of the nutmeg is crossed with the exoticness of saffron. The heart is rose which is partnered with neroli. The neroli is really the bridging note between the spices on top and the rose in the heart. Sandalwood comes to the fore and it is joined by davana which picks up the rose and carries it down into the base. A bit of styrax and vanilla add a bit of sweetness to the late stages. Venenum kiss has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

These two perfumes show two different sides of M. Bisch’s style and what I can see and smell makes me want more.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples I purchased from Surrender to Chance.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Leonard Nimoy

When I give career day talks about my job as a chemist I always lead with a picture of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock from “Star Trek”. The idea to become a scientist was sparked by the man who played the Science Officer on the USS Enterprise as they would “boldly go where no man has gone before”. As kids we would climb into the branches of the big gumbo limbo tree and pretend it was the bridge of the Enterprise. I always wanted to play Mr. Spock and only very rarely was I not pretending to be analyzing the alien threat. In the late 1960’s as the US was nearing the first man on the moon Star Trek made us believe those were more than small steps for man but that they were huge steps for mankind. The entire cast of Star Trek were ambassadors to generations of kids who dreamed of the final frontier.

I_Am_Not_Spock

Like many of those kids it would lead me to a career in science although much more earthbound as a chemist. Whenever I speak about it with people of a similar age I often find the story to be similar. Mr. Nimoy struggled with being so identified with a character that held so much importance to a group of fans. He would go so far as to write a book in 1975 called “I Am Not Spock”. It would take him twenty years to reverse that with a book entitled “I Am Spock”. I met Mr. Nimoy twice and both times mentioned to him that his character was the inspiration for my career in science. He gave me a large smile both times we had this conversation which were closer to the “I Am Spock” years then when he was trying to shed the image.

I_Am_Spock

I only realized how much I considered him my mentor when I watched his final scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I was sobbing loudly as I watched him impart a lesson that logic and friendship can co-exist. Of course in the movies Mr. Spock would cheat death many times but Mr. Nimoy will not be so fortunate. He will live on in every one of us who was inspired by his portrayal of Mr. Spock for almost fifty years. Which is its own form of immortality.  

Mark Behnke