Back in the early days of cable when MTV played music there was a series called Unplugged. The concept was to take a music artist and ask them to play music in an acoustic setting. It was an interesting experience to watch musicians slow things down to the bare minimums. It turned songs into different entities. Most of that was due to the softening of the instruments. There was no turning up to 11. What was left was lyrics and musicianship in an intimate setting. I felt like I received a perfume version of Unplugged from one of our greatest perfumers in A Lab on Fire A Blvd. Called Sunset.
Maurice Roucel is the perfumer I am speaking of. M. Roucel has been one of the best perfumers of the last 40 years. He has a list of masterpieces the rival of any of his contemporaries. Unlike many of them he never sought out a position as an in-house perfumer or started his own brand. He has been happy to work within the traditional paradigm of client and perfumer. When I heard he was the perfumer for A Blvd. Called Sunset I thought to myself this is as close as I will get to experiencing a perfume created by M. Roucel without a lot of oversight. The hallmark of A Lab on Fire is creative director Carlos Kusubayashi gives his perfumers the opportunity to go where they desire. What was produced is an intimate fragrance which feels unplugged.
As the name intimates this is based on the famous Los Angeles location of Sunset Boulevard. It is meant to capture a summer day when the Santa Ana winds are blowing their warmth through the city. You are to imagine yourself in a convertible on your way to the end of the street where the Pacific Ocean awaits. M. Roucel interprets this with a suite of dry ingredients to mimic the Santa Ana along with the leather upholstery of the car.
It opens with an astringent bitter almond. This isn’t the comfy toasted version, this has a hint of rawness. Violet reaches out and pulls it into its candied embrace. Adding a sweet floral shell. A fabulous dry leather accord comes next. If you’ve ever got into a car with leather upholstery after it has sat on a hot day you will recognize this. There is an expansiveness as the warm waves of tanned animal hide rise to the violet and almond. One of the very dry sustainable sources of sandalwood forms the base which has some of the severity ameliorated with vanilla and tonka bean. That last ingredient feels as if it closes the circuit with the almond from the beginning.
A Blvd. Called Sunset has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
One thing which occurred to me while I was wearing this was it felt like an updated version of the leather powerhouses of forty years ago. It might be where I got some of my impression of this feeling like a softer version of something. What you will find in A Blvd. Called Sunset is a master perfumer asking you to draw closer so he can tell you a story unplugged.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by A Lab on Fire.