There are several heritage perfume brands, now. This effort has seen a mixed record of success. Most of them either concentrate on modern re-formulations of the past or new perfumes inspired by the past. Very few try to do both, although I think it is essential to attempt it. A brand can’t live entirely in the past and a brand can’t choose not to evolve. It has been what has kept many of the heritage brands from flourishing. One which has become one of the leaders in how to do what I’ve described is Jacques Fath under Rania Naim.
Mme Naim has looked back to the past beautifully recreating Green Water and Iris Gris; the great Jacques Fath perfumes of the past. The new versions have been overseen by someone who wants to get it as right as she can. Which I believe she has done. I cherish both new versions as I do the originals. She has also sought out young exciting perfumers on the new perfumes. For the Fath’s Essentials collection she has worked exclusively with Luca Maffei and Cecile Zarokian. They have delivered a series of fragrances which I have found true to the Jacques Fath heritage while also carrying the mark of Mme Naim and the perfumers. For the end of 2018 four new Fath’s Essentials have been released. Two by Sig. Maffei and two by Mme Zarokian. Today I am going to review the ones by Sig. Maffei followed by Mme Zarokian’s tomorrow.
Luca Maffei (l.) and Rania Naim
The two perfumes by Sig. Maffei were inspired by two fabrics used by Jacques Fath in his clothing designs. He takes that concept and creates two textural constructs.
In Le Loden he takes the heavy woolen fabric known for its use in coats and uses three sources of vetiver as his olfactory equivalents to the fabric. He opens with Haitian vetiver in the background of a top accord focused on the energy ginger adds. This makes the Haitian vetiver a bit greener in effect which is kept that way by using baie rose’s herbal quality along with a green mandarin teasing out the citrus quality of this style of vetiver, too. In the heart the traditional Bourbon vetiver steps to the foreground. Some geranium picks out the floral quality. Juniper berry and raspberry leaves find the more obvious citric nature of this kind of vetiver. In the base the earthy Java vetiver uses patchouli to add to that quality while a bit of smoke seeps in around the margins. I found the intelligent use of the “heavy” vetiver ingredients similar to the way M. Fath took the heavy woolen Loden in creating something contemporary.
If there is a fabric M. Fath is known for it is velvet. Many of his iconic evening gowns were made of this material. I’ve always loved the tactile feel of the material it has always felt plush to me. Sig. Maffei, in Velours Boise, wants the same feeling for his “wooden velvet”. The wood he chooses to mimic velvet is one of the newer sustainable sandalwood extracts from New Caledonia. These have always struck me as softer than the original Mysore variety, but velvet-y is not how I would describe them. Sig. Maffei takes the sandalwood and finds a way to turn it into the fabric he’s trying to emulate.
It opens with the sandalwood in the central position. In the top accord Sig. Maffei chooses a couple of ingredients to sharpen the woodier nature with mate tea and davana. The softening process begins with a clever pairing of immortelle and carrot seed. These botanically sweeter ingredients flow across the creamy woody nature of the sandalwood. This is where the velvet effect comes to life. Over the base accord Sig. Maffei adds some whisky for a boozy contrast which retains the warmth. Some amber further deepens that. I have a scarf which I’ve turned into woody velvet by spraying it with a lot of Velours Boise.
Le Loden and Velours Boise have 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I’ll finish tomorrow with the two by Mme Zarokian.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Jacques Fath.