I enjoy all forms of music. There is one I enjoy but I can’t say I understand it; jazz. I know the basics of variations on themes circling around. If I focus, I can hear it. Unlike almost any other music I listen to I tend to let jazz flow through me. Because of that it is one of the reasons I am not as experienced an enthusiast as I am at other things. I have been fortunate to have seen most of the jazz greats in concert including Miles Davis. No this isn’t a column on jazz, but it does lead to a new perfume.
I became acquainted with a new independent brand earlier this year, Chatillon Lux. The creative force behind it, Shawn Maher, sent me Lamplight Penance. I was impressed with his ability to take his sense of place in Saint Louis and fuse it into perfume. I was so interested I requested a set of samples which Mr. Maher sent to me. I found as I worked my way through what was sent a perfumer who exemplifies his locale with beautifully constructed accords to achieve a well-thought out effect. If you have not discovered this line yet it is one of the best of the young independent perfume lines I have experienced in the last couple of years. Mr. Maher is the real deal. His latest Chatillon Lux Nefertiti confirms that.
Most of the samples have easy to see connections to Saint Louis. As I looked at the one labeled “Nefertiti” I was thinking, “How does that connect to Saint Louis?” Thankfully Mr. Maher is a throwback to the kind of perfumer who takes us inside his creative process through “Scent Notes” posted on his website. As soon as I saw this the connection was made clear; jazz. Specifically the jazz piece named “Nefertiti” by Miles Davis. As he points out in his article this was one of the foremost jazz innovators at the beginning of a new way of doing things.
Of course Nefertiti also refers to the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti who reigned over one of the golden ages of ancient Egypt with her husband, Akhenaten. Their years in charge saw the revolution of moving to a form of monotheism with the worship of the sun god Aten. Mr. Maher wanted to capture these two envelope pushers with a perfume worthy of all that.
The way this is achieved is by looking into the history of Ancient Egyptian perfumery and fusing it with a set of jazz beat accords. That is what Nefertiti becomes.
Where this all begins as a perfume is Mr. Maher found out Queen Nefertiti was said to wear a perfume of honey and orchid leaf. Nefertiti opens on that. The honey comes from beeswax absolute. This gives it a restrained sweetness. To up that quality he uses an indolic jasmine. This is the call back to the jazz as it slides across the beeswax in a glissade-like effect. The orchid leaf accord is constructed of citrus and floral pieces. It provides contrapuntal percussion to the honey while also calling back to the Queen. The heart is an interpretation of the ancient Kyphi incense. Mr. Maher came up with his own idea of what ancient resins should smell like. This produces a kind of rough trade incense. It pushes up against the smooth top accord with an improvisational verve. It meshes with the jasmine and honey as they form a potent trio in the middle of the development. For the final movements we return to a smoky Saint Louis jazz bar. Mr. Maher wants to capture the smoke hanging in the air as the spotlight captures it swirling around the players. He creates an abstract cannabis accord by focusing on the terpenes within cannabis. This becomes complementary to the orchid leaf accord as it draws it through into the latter stages. The final part is to take that honey of the top accord and transform it into a sweetly animalic base accord of Cambodioan oud and immortelle. This is a cruder honey effect given vibrancy by adding in the animal musks of castoreum and civet.
Nefertiti has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage. It is at extrait strength.
Jazz can be described as thoughtful improvisation. Mr. Maher can be described as a thoughtful perfume maker. The improvisation is achieved by making Nefertiti a perfume of Ancient jazz.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Chatillon Lux.