At the beginning of the month in the Under the Radar column I wrote about Providence Perfume Co. Moss Gown. In the last paragraph I mentioned that I found I had missed a new release earlier this year. By the next morning I was contacted and told a sample had been sent but returned to sender. It was quickly dispatched back to me. What greeted me in Providence Perfume Co. Vientiane is another example of why independent perfumer Charna Ethier is among our best.
I visited Ms. Ethier a couple years ago in her home base of Providence, RI. Through her early releases there was a delicacy of certain notes I had noticed. In the ingredient roster there were always lists of tinctures. I knew what they were, but Ms. Ethier schooled me that day on them. For those who would like to learn more than I am about to write I point you to a blog post by Ms. Ethier from 2012 where she goes into greater depth. In short, a tincture is the use of dried fragrant botanical material soaked in perfumer’s alcohol. The material is continually filtered out and replaced every few days. Once it has reached a desired scent profile it can be used.
You can see how this is the ideal ingredient for an independent perfumer. It provides a uniqueness that only comes from a particular creative. For Ms. Ethier these tinctures have provided some of the most fascinating undercurrents to her perfumes. In Vientiane she uses a jasmine rice tincture as the river upon which she floats three different sources of sandalwood.
The name Vientiane comes from the capital city of Laos. The jasmine rice tincture adds a steamy humidity to the sandalwood core reminiscent of sitting on the side of the Mekong in the city itself.
Vientiane opens with an Indiana Jones-like scent of using a machete to cut through vines. It is vegetal and very green. It catches your attention and then as you hack it away you are left looking at a structure of sandalwood as if uncovered for the first time. By the coloration you see there are three types of sandalwood. A typical creamy version, a drier desiccated version, and a lighter version used as modulator. Underneath all of this is the jasmine rice tincture. Ms. Ethier sent me a little vial of it along with my sample of the perfume. Once I had the chance to smell its steamy toasty fragrance I was able to detect it sending its tendrils up through the sandalwood. This is where Vientiane remains with a surprisingly complex sandalwood on display for hours.
Vientiane has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If you are a colognoisseur of sandalwood perfumes Vientiane should be part of your collection. It is an entirely unique take transformed by the magic of the jasmine rice tincture into something very special.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Providence Perfume Co.