One of the things I like so much about the independent perfume community is when a perfumer is working from a very personal inspiration something interesting follows. It is among the advantages of being on your own. You don’t have to live by the lowest common denominator as you design the releases for your brand. You generally can’t have a brand full of challenging perfumes; but when the mood strikes you it can allow for a freedom more mainstream brands aren’t allowed to have. The downside is when a perfume is this personal the circle of those who also share the desire to share that vision is most likely smaller than something safer. It is certainly never going to be described as boring. It is going to present itself in defiant terms forcing the wearer to embrace it or to turn away. While I was at Pitti Fragranze 2015 I discovered the new Maria Candida Gentile Elephant & Roses is one of these kind of perfumes.
When I sat down with Sig.ra Gentile she told me the story of how this perfume came to be. She was working on an animal accord; attempting to capture the smell of an elephant. While she was concentrating on her task she had a strong vision of a fuchsia pachyderm tattooed with roses trampling a full field of roses. This was her brief for Elephant & Roses.
Maria Candida Gentile
Over the last few years as I have come to know Sig.ra Gentile I have learned the care she takes in constructing her accords. It is one of the things which sets her brand apart as when she uses them as the foundation for her perfumes it provides a signature quality to them. The animal accord used in Elephant & Roses is that closed in smell of a circus tent or even a horse barn. It is the smell of a living thing in motion leaving its personal sillage in its wake. The roses are provided by two different Turkish rose formulas.
Elephant & Roses opens with a very herbal accord on top dominated by thyme. That thyme is going to be an early deciding point for manty if you want to continue this safari or not. Usually thyme is used in more measured doses. In this perfume Sig.ra Gentile does not want measured she wants power and the thyme delivers it. Instead of trying to ameliorate it she twists it on a bed of costus and osmanthus. As with the thyme the amount of costus used is more than you would usually find. When costus is used in this quantity it takes on an animalic character. This is the bellwether for the elephant’s arrival. Before that we find the field of roses growing on the savannah as the Turkish rose accord sets itself up in the heart. The thyme and costus are still there but the roses are ascendant through the middle part of the development. Then from out of the brush comes the fuchsia protagonist of this perfume as the animal accord crashes like a wave over the roses. The mix of thyme, costus, rose, and the elephant accord is where Elephant & Roses stays on my skin for many hours. It eventually dries down to vetiver and sandalwood much later.
Elephant & Roses has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Elephant & Roses is going to be a fragrance of divided opinions. For many the thyme, costus, and elephant accord are not going to please. I think there will be many, like me, who will willingly place themselves in the path of this rose covered elephant. Even though it might rough you up a little more than the typical fragrance I think the trip is worth it.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Maria Candida Gentile at Pitti Fragranze 2015.