Christopher Marlowe would opine of Helen of Troy, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?” In 1882 the synthesis of a single molecule was the scent which launched modern perfumery. The molecule was coumarin which had been identified as the primary molecule in the isolation of tonka bean. Because of the synthetic source, it freed perfumer Paul Parquet to use as much as he wanted for a specific effect. It created the abstraction of nature that was the first of its kind, Fougere Royale. Ever since the art of perfume has been closely intertwined with the chemistry behind the ingredients. The perfume brand Nomenclature has featured those molecules ever since its inception. Now it is time to focus on that alpha-molecule in Nomenclature Psy_Cou.
Carlos Quintero (l.) and Karl Bradl
The most common synthetics are usually prized for their consistency of profile. Coumarin has a sweet hay-like scent. A perfumer can choose to surround it with a choir of ingredients which can go towards the sweet or the hay-like. Under the creative direction of Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero perfumer Frank Voelkl chooses the latter for this version of coumarin perfume.
If you’ve ever smelled hay just as it is being baled the early moments of Psy_Cou will remind you of that. Mr. Voelkl uses cardamom to capture the slight green of fresh harvested hay which has a little of that quality before completely drying out. Psy_Cou moves into modern perfumery abstraction with the introduction of a high-low combo of juniper berry and palo santo wood. The acerbic bite of juniper berry finds the soothing tones of palo santo in contrast as the coumarin acts as a fulcrum in between. It is a contemporary riff on coumarin. As the palo santo tilts the see-saw to its side, saffron adds a golden glow. A bit of oud adds a last bit of modern to Psy_Cou.
Psy_Cou has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Coumarin is the “Helen of Perfume” molecule, having launched thousands of perfumes. Psy_Cou shows that 138-years later it still retains its ability to define the current state of modern perfumery.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Nomenclature.