New Perfume Review Bogue LiTA- Exhaustion Never Smelled So Good

There is only a small subset of independent perfumers who have the ability to go their own way. That never happens with mainstream perfumers. Because it is so rare, I cherish them because they always show me something different. One of the members of this group is perfumer Antonio Gardoni. His latest Bogue LiTA is another bold statement.

Antonio Gardoni

One of the things which draws me to Sig. Gardoni’s creations is I am never quite sure where we are going. Over the past year or so he has been collaborating rather extensively with outside creative directors. It has given his perfumes an interesting slant. For LiTA he works with husband-and-wife singers Luke Pritchard and Ellie Rose. Mr. Pritchard is the lead singer of The Kooks, but he and Ms. Rose are making music as DUO. They are where Sig. Gardoni turned for inspiration.

Luke Pritchard (l.) and Ellie Rose aka DUO

LiTA stands for “Love in The Afternoon” which is one of the tracks off the debut album by DUO. After listening to the album it has a catchy melody. What I found interesting was they described the singing as the product of “tired lyrics” which does not mean trite. The words are delivered in vocals which feel exhausted. It provides a lyrical contrast to the melody behind them.

I was wondering if Sig. Gardoni would latch on to that. He does seemingly take up half of it, the concept of exhaustion. LiTA is a perfume without a recognizable top accord. There are things which appear first, but they are the kind of things more traditionally found in the base accords of other perfumes. It is as if he has no interest in the lighter brighter facets of perfumery. Just take your tired nose right to the bottom line.

It begins with sandalwood, gardenia, and coriander. This feels like one of the lighter sandalwood synthetics which combines with a deep gardenia. The coriander finds the green at the heart of any good gardenia and amplifies it. As it moves on champaca is engulfed in a haze of tobacco. It is almost as if it is an odd blend from the tobacconist’s back room. It is here where there is a duet of accords. I wouldn’t hazard to identify one or another as one of the creative directors. It is what is great about a harmony of disparate pieces. It ends with Sig. Gardoni joining as he uses his signature dry herbal base with vetiver. It is this flourish which has had me facetiously calling this his Gardoni-ade. It fits especially well in this case. As it all comes together Sig. Gardoni wraps it in a swirl of smoky incense.

LiTA has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

If there is anything I am walking away from after listening to DUO and wearing LiTA it is that exhaustion is an enhancer of creativity.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue Douleur!2- Risk as Reward

Blessed are the risk takers. The corollary to that is “damned are the risk takers”. If you decide to create a challenging perfume you are putting yourself on a high wire without a net. I always admire the effort. Last year one set of risk takers who were blessed were perfume Antonio Gardoni who collaborated with Freddie Albrighton on Bogue Douleur! It was an edgy homage to the ingredient rose oxide. They are back to further explore that ingredient in Bogue Douleur!2.

Antonio Gardoni

Last year the first release by these two surprised me because it went in different directions than I expected. This time around some of what the two creatives enjoy most find a place in the sequel.

Freddie Albrighton

While Sig. Gardoni and Mr. Albrighton like certain ingredients some of them are problematic for me. a year ago I likened the opening of Douleur! to chewing tin foil. In Douleur!2 the opening is tough for me again. It is a mixture of a watery vegetal ingredient along with mint, tea tree oil, and something which smells like low tide. There is “oyster” listed as a note, so I am guessing this is it. This forms a miasmatic accord that was tough to work through.  This is as if the mint and tea tree oil are camouflage for decaying things. I kept thinking of a bottle of tea tree mint air freshener sprayed over the tidal flats after the sun has decayed what has left behind.

Last time I wanted something to take over from the rose oxide. This time the rose oxide was a lifeline. It is met with a synthetic white floral. Over the final phases Douleur!2 takes on the appearance of a vintage-like base with a mix of animalics and resins. The rose oxide is what keeps this from going fully in that direction. The metallic nature ensures it.

Douleur!2 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

This time around the opening accord was more difficult for me to put behind me. It colors my overall feeling about this. I do think the composition and risks taken make sense given the design. This is a perfume that I believe achieves what these two wanted. Which is why it is a fantastic artistic achievement worthy of praise. Just don’t ask me to wear it again.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue Profumo OOOH- Ten Years Later

One of the greatest things about the vision Michelyn Camen had for CaFleureBon ten years ago was the idea that perfume could also be multimedia. When I worked with her in the early days, she always pushed the boundaries of a what a blog about perfume could be. She believed there was more than just the juice. Her blog was going to cover the people who make and love perfume, shining a spotlight on them. One of the perfumes she creatively directed for the anniversary, Bogue Profumo OOOH, reverses the process with a perfume which represents that credo.

Michelyn Camen

Ms. Camen assembled a team of perfume communicators who use different mediums. She was the writer and the Editor-in-Chief/ Creative Director. She asked photographer Alex C. Musgrave aka The Silver Fox for an inspiration piece. The perfumer to interpret that was Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo. Lastly artist Massimo Alfaioli would create a piece based on the finished perfume. The full story can be found on CaFleureBon at this link.

Photo by Alex C. Musgrave

The photo above, by Mr. Musgrave, is what Sig. Gardoni used as his focal point. The image of blurred roses would lead him into an idea of dust. He wanted to create a fragrance of “multiple layers of dust, levels of powders that hide and shows reflection of smells.” What he would do is take a multitude of materials to create these levels of powders. Throughout there is a sense of memories past.

Antonio Gardoni

It opens with a distinctive rose scented powder. It has that blurry effect of the inspiration piece. There are other florals vying for ascendancy. Yet the rose holds the center for a while. Then it gives way to a subsequent layer of mimosa. This the idea of the floral puffballs caught on a stiff breeze. He forms an opaque honey accord for it to drift through. Now comes the herbal part which is Sig. Gardoni’s trademark. A set of vetivers form the basis for the crushed dry herbal accord to get caught up in. The last layer of dust is that of resins. Incense has always captured a sense of age within perfumery. Sig. Gardoni folds in a set of resins to form the final pinch of magic dust.

OOOH has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

OOOH feels like the natural extension of last year’s 0.7738 which was completely improvisational. In that perfume Sig. Gardoni kept adding ingredients until he felt he was finished. It taught him how to wrangle a plethora of ingredients into something compelling. OOOH is that technique given intent. To create the most complex yet transparent perfume I have tried. It is a marvelous coming together of creativity.

This could only have happened through the creative insight of Ms. Camen. She chose to represent all that her blog has offered perfume lovers, for ten years and counting, in a perfume as unique as her “scented salon”.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Berceuse Allegretto 7.2- Finding the Rhythm

Perfume lovers find many overlaps with the other arts. Music is a favorite one, especially as inspiration. I have generally found it difficult to find that overlap. The closest I come is thinking of a great perfume evolving in movements like a symphony. That works for me because each phase of a fragrance’s development feels like a combination of many notes as a piece of music uses many instruments to provide different harmonics. Berceuse Allegretto 7.2 is based on a single movement from a great symphonic piece.

Berceuse is the new brand from founder-creative director Will Carius. Mr. Carius wanted to make a perfume based on the second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. It has become one of the most played pieces of Beethoven’s extensive works. Even on the night it was premiered in 1811 it was encored. What is enchanting about it is the way it moves up and down in waves. There is a rhythm throughout its duration which allows for different sections of the symphony to shine. It is the tonal shifting within the classical music I enjoy which makes me listen again and again. The second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh is a good example.

Antonio Gardoni

When faced with a perfume inspired by this piece of music, I realized a great perfume is also about rhythm. The way it moves through its development it can also go up and down only to return. There are a couple of independent perfumers I think of who bring rhythm to their creations. One of them is Antonio Gardoni. Mr. Carius asked Sig. Gardoni to take on this task. In a blog post on the website Sig. Gardoni says it was the rhythm of the music which he thought he could translate to a perfume. and that is what Allegretto 7.2 does.

The technique Sig. Gardoni uses is to employ two different sources of three notes; lavender, vetiver, and benzoin. It is like the difference between two different players of the same instrument in the symphony. On the whole things will be identical. Look closer and the slight differences add a richness of tone because it is not just sterile copies. It is what makes a symphony the experience it is. It is what makes Allegro 7.2 the perfume it is.

The opening is what Sig. Gardoni calls the “group of herbs”. In Allegro 7.2 it is rosemary, thyme, and mint. The first of his dual ingredients, lavender, is the final part of the top accord. This provides an herbal quality from one of the lavenders while the other gently powders things. That powderiness acts as a soft contrast to the boisterousness of the herbs. The heart uses a full ylang-ylang and the two vetivers to form a kind of rondo as the vetivers pull between green and woody with the fleshy flower in between. This sense of rhythm reaches a crescendo in the base as the two benzoins set up between the sweetness of vanilla and the clean lines of cedar. Benzoin has an inherent sweetness that finds a partner in the vanilla. It also has a resinous quality with which the cedar meshes with. At this point Allegretto 7.2 swirls in sections around the vetivers and benzoins moving up and down, in and out.

Allegretto 7.2 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I have spent extra time with this perfume because it changes so much on my skin, which seems to be Mr. Carius’ intent. It also has brought to my mind something about Sig. Gardoni. He has an unmistakable signature to the way he designs his perfumes. I’ve heard other perfume lovers refer to it as his Gardoni-ness. After Allegretto 7.2 I think it is more his rhythm which forms that signature just like an elite musician’s technical mastery. Allegretto 7.2 celebrates all phases of creativity; with rhythm.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Berceuse.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue Profumo Douleur!- Synthetic Symphony

Perfume can be a personal statement by the creative team. That’s not most of the world of fragrance but it is truer in the independent community. One of those who looks to create a new boundary seemingly every time he releases a new perfume is Antonio Gardoni. His Bogue Profumo is one of the most creative collections available. Usually Sig. Gardoni has more than enough percolating in his mind he just has to work into translating it into a perfume. For his latest release, Bogue Profumo Douleur!, he had a collaborator; Freddie Albrighton.

Antonio Gardoni

Mr. Albrighton and Sig. Gardoni met through the community of perfume lovers over five years ago in London. Their love of perfume along with their disdain for the commercial functional fragrances created a bond. Mr. Albrighton finally asked Sig. Gardoni if they could work on a perfume together. I heard about this through the various perfume groups I am a member of. One thing I knew about Mr. Albrighton was his love for huge florals. I expected Douleur! to be that style as translated through the lens of Sig. Gardoni. What I didn’t know was both men had a fondness for the synthetic ingredient rose oxide; wanting that to be the keynote in their perfume. Instead of a vintage-style blowsy floral Douleur! is a pedal to the metal synthetic symphony.

Freddie Albrighton

Not sure why this is but the metallic floral of rose oxide is having a moment. This is the fourth new perfume of 2019 to feature it. None of them has as much rose oxide in it as Douleur! does. The transformation into an incredibly outré gourmand is one of the most fascinating transitions of the year.

As I said the opening moments are the metallic rose of rose oxide. This is going to be challenging for many. Even for me, when I was ready for it on successive wearings, it is like chewing tin foil. Pleasant and irritating in almost equal quantity. For one of the rare occasions I welcomed the presence of mint to tone down the rose oxide. I’m glad because the real fun comes in the heart as we go from irritating to the carnival midway. They came up with a fantasy cotton candy accord that is awesome. If you’ve ever seen them making cotton candy in those heated giant aluminum containers as the strings of sugar are captured on a paper spindle. That’s what is here. There is the heated metallic and the classic maltol; what turns this crazy good is the use of a technicolor strawberry ingredient. As a guess I am thinking Aldehyde C-16 or one of its analogs. This is like sticking your nose in the aluminum drum as sugar and strawberry form a crystalline confection. It picks up a chewiness as benzoin appears later to thicken things up.

Douleur! has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Douleur! is like nothing else in the Bogue collection. It is wonderful while also being completely odd. I am appreciative of where Mr. Albrighton got Sig. Gardoni to go with Douleur! This is what great collaborations do; create incredible perfume.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue Profumo I Love YY- I Ylang NY

For as long as I’ve lived on the East Coast there has only been one perfumed thing on the West Coast I have envied. That is the store which is the headquarters for the online perfume sellers Luckyscent called Scent Bar. Adam Eastwood and Franco Wright have been one of the premiere niche and independent perfume purveyors for over fifteen years. One of the reasons for the longevity, and the popularity, is their excellent curation of brands to feature. Many new discoveries by perfume lovers have begun with a package of samples from Scent Bar/Luckyscent.

Scent Bar NYC

At the beginning of this month Scent Bar has expanded to the East Coast, landing on Elizabeth St. in downtown Manhattan. This area of New York City has always been a destination for perfume tourists to the Big Apple. Scent Bar NYC adds a new piece to the itinerary. As part of the grand opening Messrs. Eastwood and Wright asked one of those brands they debuted to make a perfume capturing the energy of the new location. The perfumer they chose is Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo.

Antonio Gardoni

Sig. Gardoni was inspired by the classic “I Love NY” public relations campaign and turned it on a new set of floral initials. This is where Bogue Profumo I Love YY begins. Anyone who enjoys floral perfumes will easily understand that the “YY” is ylang-ylang. I share the same fascination with it as Sig. Gardoni does. When allowed to be featured to its fullest extent it gives a perfumer opportunity to tease out any of the multi-faceted nature to a desired effect. My favorite part of ylang-ylang is a fleshy sensuousness which is not usually featured. I had a feeling Sig. Gardoni might also share my feelings.

I Love YY starts with the YY on display. In the early moments Sig. Gardoni uses the sulfurous citrus of grapefruit and the scalpel-like sharpness of violet leaf to find the softer green threads within ylang-ylang. It transforms again as jasmine and rose provide floral backing vocals. This is where that fleshy sensuousness I enjoy so much is on display. The indoles of the jasmine tune that sensuousness while the rose adds an exclamation point to the floral quality. Through it all the menthol-like nature of ylang-ylang breathes fresh air into the composition. Ylang-ylang has a kind of custard quality to it which Sig. Gardoni sweetens at the end. He uses tonka, vanilla, and benzoin to give I Love YY a gourmand-y base.

I Love YY has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I Love YY is a very Bogue-esque floral as Sig. Gardoni examines his keynote from three different perspectives. It is a fitting representative of one of the great cities of the world as well as one of the great perfume stores as they open their new location.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Luckyscent/Scent Bar NYC.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: The address of Scent Bar NYC is 244 Elizabeth St. It is on the same street as Le Labo and Atelier Cologne. Those of you heading to Sniffapalooza Fall Ball this weekend will be spending part of your Sunday there.

New Perfume Review Bogue 0,7738- Stream of Creativity

One of my maxims on independent perfumery is they can do things the big commercial or niche brands can’t. They can take creative risks in small-batch releases that allow for the use of unique ingredients while opening artistic paths not open to others. Of the group I consider to be the most experimental Antonio Gardoni is at the top of that list.

Sig. Gardoni’s hallmark is to use perfume ingredients to create a space where each component finds its correct orientation. I’ve always remembered Sig. Gardoni explaining the meaning of the word “maai” for one of his earlier creations. He told me it was a term out of the martial art of kendo which roughly translates to “interval/space in between”. Ever since he told me that it is something I think of when trying Sig. Gardoni’s perfumes. Bogue 0,7738 takes this concept to an extreme.

When I heard about 0,7738 I was intrigued. The story I was hearing was it was a perfume where Sig. Gardoni wanted to create freely adding whatever he thought the composition needed. While I was waiting for my sample to arrive, I sent him an e-mail to find out more. After comparing it to perfume improvisation Sig. Gardoni corrected me saying, “I wanted to challenge the process I usually apply to composition that is mainly based in creating some micro-formulas that later are composed together in different scales and proportions. A work made of micro balancing acts in a way very conceptual and extremely time consuming. With a lot of implications like rhythm, symmetry, compression… focus on different notes and materials each treated like a possible finished perfume. Here the idea was to build up with almost no way back option.”

Antonio Gardoni

In the same e-mail he told me the formula began in his “brain” followed by putting it down on paper. Then the experiment began. He started with half-amounts of everything he wrote down. 10 days later he tried what he had; then re-adjusted. Adding more of some of the initial materials while also adding in new ones. 10 more days followed by another adjustment. This process would stretch out almost five months. He wrote, “Knowing I had no chance to go back everything was extremely pondered and experiential. I obviously often applied routes that I’m familiar with….in a way I got back to an attitude similar to the one I used to have in my early experiments.”

After receiving my sample there are clearly moments of Gardoni-esque brushstrokes; especially in the use of one particular ingredient. There is also a clear adventurousness present where there appears to be an evolution taking place throughout 0,7738.

This starts with a vintage-like spiced citrus accord. This is Sig. Gardoni re-interpreting classic perfume tropes of decades ago.  This continues as the florals come forth. Primarily focused on the white flowers I am guessing there are higher amounts of those. It is also interesting to discover during this phase the precise amounts of things like rose, osmanthus, and lavender in this floral space. This is where the concept of maai hits its apex. The flowers find not so much an accord but a swirling kaleidoscope of larger geometric shapes with smaller angular shapes finding room in between. Through this phase it feels like the kind of retro nouveau perfume Sig. Gardoni has become known for. If there can be said to be a keynote in a perfume as densely constructed as 0,7738 I would say it is camphor. Sig. Gardoni used it as part of his collaboration with Bruno Fazzolari; Cadavre Exquis. In 0, 7738 it feels like this was the ingredient he kept slowly upping the concentration every 10 days. This takes that contemporary vintage style and explodes it with an asteroid of camphor and other resins. There is a moment where I am peering over a fragrant crater rimmed with a blizzard of flowers as camphor, benzoin, and galbanum smoke at the bottom. The final stage of 0,7738 is a soothing sweet woodiness which rides underneath the camphor and resins. Sig. Gardoni uses vanilla to smooth out the woods into a comforting base accord.

0,7738 has 24-hour longevity and average sillage.

Sig. Gardoni created his earliest Bogue perfumes after experimenting with a circa 1940 perfumer’s set he discovered. 0,7738 feels like his return to that experimental design. It is a perfume which I have enjoyed studying and attempting to understand. It is also bittersweet because every spray I use to learn more also removes one more away from the day when I will run out. This is important because 0,7738 will not be reproduced after these 33 bottles are gone. I wouldn’t worry about missing out though. I believe 0,7738 are the headwaters of a new stream of creativity that will culminate in the next Bogue release.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex- Force Multipliers

When two creative people you admire team-up you probably expect to find something that is more than the sum of its parts. It has been one of the characteristics of the creative direction Victor Wong has produced for his Zoologist Perfumes brand. I think he has helped the independent perfumers he collaborates with to produce some of their best perfumes ever. In the perfume whisper stream, I had heard that one of the most creative independent perfumers, Antonio Gardoni, and Mr. Wong were trying to find a way to team-up on a perfume. The rumors have been realized as Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex has been released.

There are a few independent perfumers who have quite as distinctive a signature as Sig. Gardoni. He was the unnamed perfumer for a different brand and the aesthetic nearly screamed his name when you tried it. Until he was revealed as the perfumer he must have become bored with being asked if he was. Sig. Gardoni has excelled at opening phases which are compelling. If there has been a consistent drawback it is the rest of the perfumes sometimes suffer from a clutter of ingredients heading off in many directions. My hope was that Mr. Wong could be the kind of traffic cop who could keep the perfume flowing without jamming up. For the most part I think this is what takes place.

Victor Wong (l.) and Antonio Gardoni

It begins with the bold opening I expected as twin pillars of smoke via cade oil and frankincense. This is amplified with notes of fir, and black pepper. This is acrid smoke the kind that makes you cough if you get too much. Sig. Gardoni captures the violence of air on fire. What twists it all is you also smell the flowers that are burning as champaca, jasmine, neroli, and ylang-ylang capture a primordial tropical milieu. It is a completely Gardoni style opening. Now the question was would this burn to the ground or soar. Mr. Wong does oversee a much more concise trip to the finish by concentrating on a set of woods and animalic ingredients to produce the giant dinosaur in the name erupting from the forest. It starts as cedar and sandalwood begin to push back at the smoke. A classically constructed birch tar leather accord joins in with civet to make the animalic accord. This is far less complicated than the typical Gardoni finish and much better for it.

Tyrannosaurus Rex has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is by far the most avant-garde release from Zoologist. It is not going to be a crowd pleasing easy-to-wear style of perfume. It is also another example of how Mr. Wong can accentuate the positives of the perfumers he works with. Tyrranosaurus Rex is a show of creative force multipliers producing something amazing.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue NOUN- Navigating Traffic

When I write my pieces, there are times when the final thoughts come together so easily. Then there are times like it seems like I can’t string two coherent sentences together to form a concluding paragraph. Mary Poppins “well begun is half done” is an axiom which still means the remaining half might require some effort. I think there are several independent perfumers who are serial good beginners but have difficulty on the path to the finish. The latest release from Bogue, NOUN, is an example of this.

Bogue is the brand of independent perfumer Antonio Gardoni. He has approached perfume from a self-taught mixture of analysis and inspiration. When it comes together in releases like MAAI or Aeon 001 all the concepts flow together in a compelling current of creativity. Last year with the release of MEM the lavender beginning was brilliant only to get caught up in a floral traffic jam on the way to the finish. NOUN suffers from some of the finishing problems evident in MEM but it navigates the traffic more smoothly.

Antonio Gardoni

Sig. Gardoni has been redefining the thought of gourmand being a sweet perfume ever since his collaboration with Bruno Fazzolari on Cadavre Exquis. He is working diligently to show that the savory notes existent in perfume are also edible and can also be delightful.

Sig. Gardoni has developed a near-signature set of accords which populate NOUN. Early on a mixture of citrus of which yuzu sticks out the most is coated in benzoin to create a trapped in resin effect to the fruit. It creates a barrier between the citrus which also attenuates it. Then Sig. Gardoni layers in herbs, a lot of them. According to the description on Luckyscent it as a proprietary blend of Sig. Gardoni’s. In the early moments as it builds in the foodie notes of rosemary, basil, and mint form a fascinating counterpoint to the benzoin. Then the herbal traffic starts to build and there is the beginning of the same effect which I was not fond of in MEM. Just as I am on the verge of wanting to look for an exit to get off this freeway NOUN finally shifts gears with a bit of a clunk as patchouli and incense build in to take this into a different less crowded direction. The herbs get moving with more support and it becomes like a great spice mélange. It all comes to an end on a set of complimentary woods focused on sandalwood.

NOUN has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

NOUN is not as seamless as the best of the perfumes Sig. Gardoni has made. Especially throughout the middle part of the development there are times the gears never mesh, and you can hear the grinding of the effort Sig. Gardoni is going through to get to the next phase. I think it is worth the effort to stay with Sig. Gardoni as when he finally gets NOUN up to speed he finds the right conclusion.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Bogue Profumo MEM- Words Fail Me


Occasionally, I am exposed to a perfume which questions what I believe about fragrance. It comes around and taxes my ability to describe it in words. I also know that others are having very different experiences with the same fragrance. There are some reasons which I think this is happening and I wonder whether it is deliberate or indicative of something else. I have spent a lot of time with Bogue Profumo MEM and I will try to describe my experience with it.

The independent perfumer behind Bogue Profumo is Antonio Gardoni. Sig. Gardoni has come to perfumery from a self-taught perspective. It has allowed him to make his own set of principles of composition which hew only to his artistic vision. Maai was his most successful fragrance because he started with a vintage aesthetic which he transformed into something dramatically different. One of the things that is different about MEM is it seems he started with a well-known ingredient, lavender, and again wanted to transform the recognizable into something unique. Sig. Gardoni was also going to feature uncommon sources of lavender from different isolates and species. He says in the description of MEM there are four lavenders in MEM. The one that appears first is the most interesting and is part of the most fascinating part of the development of MEM. The others end up becoming foils for other stronger statements but more in support than as the focal point. I’m going to describe my experience with MEM and then follow that with some mentions of other reviews and what I think it says about MEM when taken together.

Antonio Gardoni

I like lavender but as I have smelled it more and more I really enjoy a source of lavender which accentuates the herbal nature over the air freshener character. The source of lavender at the beginning of MEM is wonderful as it is not only herbal but also earthy. It conjures up a vision of sprigs of purple covered in dark topsoil. Then fascinatingly Sig. Gardoni decides to give it a beer as it becomes malted which matches the earthiness of the lavender. I kept thinking during these early stages this was some kind of craft lavender summer ale. There are hints of citrus on the periphery of the early moments but it is this unique lavender which carries the day. Which makes the transition into the floral heart so disappointing is it becomes an overwhelming bouquet of everything but lavender. If there was something about the lavender used here it was subsumed by rose, muguet, jasmine, and ylang-ylang. Then it switches to a truly animalic base of civet and musk which again swamps the lavender. It was frustrating for me because I could detect it but it was like it was banging on the glass trying to get in.

MEM has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

I recommend two other reviews to read and I am going to mention some of what they wrote to make a larger point about MEM. In Kafkaesque’s review Kafka also mentions the early going reminding Kafka of a summer ale. Kafka also gets a much subtler development throughout the hours. Kafka corresponded with Sig. Gardoni and he claimed there are 86 ingredients in MEM.

Lauryn Beer reviewed MEM for CaFleureBon she experienced all the nuance of the different lavenders Sig. Gardoni employed comparing it favorably to one of the baseline lavenders, Guerlain Jicky. These are two reviewers in whom I respect their views. So why the difference? I have a hypothesis.

Also in the Kafkaesque review, it was mentioned Sig. Gardoni sent out an early version of MEM to some. Kafka thought its evolution into the current version was for the better. Based on Kafka’s words it sounded like it was a simpler version which set out to display the different lavenders more distinctly. There is a habit of the most artistic independent perfumers not to know when to stop tinkering. There can be a moment when they keep adding to the basic concept until they hit 86 ingredients. For me, in the case of MEM, that was probably fifty or sixty too many. Especially because the early moments are amazing only to get lost as the olfactory traffic jam builds up.

I think MEM is an almost fascinating Rohrshach test of a perfume because in all of the online reviews no two people have described it the same way with the only overlap happening in the early stages. In the end, I want to embrace MEM but at this moment my admiration and my words fail me.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke