I’ve been observing and writing about perfume long enough I can recognize a change in aesthetic at a brand. Most of the time this change is due to consumer preferences. That is usually predictably boring. The one which interests me is when a new creative director comes in to oversee things. The result can be a brand which bears watching. Chopard Black Incense Malaki seems to be asking me to pay attention again.
Chopard is a Swiss-based luxury jewelry and watches manufacturer. They got into the fragrance business in 1985 and have intermittently been very active followed by a few gap years. Starting last year I noticed a change with the release of the Chopard Collection. There was a clear change to richer more powerful fragrances. That continued into this spring’s release of Love Chopard which was a very classic rose with gourmand highlights. I wondered about the change and was told Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele was now overseeing the fragrance side as well as the rest of the brand. Based on the recent releases she is not following the current trends. She is working on perfumes which have presence. All the most recent releases have been composed by perfumer Alberto Morillas. Black Incense Malaki is their boldest statement yet. To be clear there is incense here but it is in service of a raw dark leather accord which is the heart of this perfume.
When it comes to leather accords most perfumes go for a refined softer version. Those of you who own a black leather biker jacket will be familiar with the real smell of a new one. A slightly pungent gasoline scent overlays the processed cowhide. This is the accord M. Morillas brings to life in Black Incense Malaki.
In the earliest moments, an herbal lavender is surrounded by a swoosh of cardamom. If you’re drawn to incense, for a fleeting moment it is detectable before the rest of the leather accord assembles around it. Cumin and clary sage provide the herbal component. The ingredients of a medicinal oud accord created from nagarmotha, patchouli, and labdanum form the spine of the leather accord. Amber fleshes it out. when it all comes together this is a leather accord which is what niche perfumery is about. It has a high-octane scent with a bit of burnt rubber. As if my biker jacket is on an actual motorcycle peeling out of the gas station. A bit of cedar provides some woody relief in the end.
Black Incense Malaki has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.
This is a powerfully projecting fragrance with an unusual accord. It feels like it belongs from a few decades ago. But that is a bit unfair of me because this is just the kind of envelope pushing fragrance I plead for. If you like unusual leather accords this should be given a try. What I take from this is it is time for me to pay attention to Chopard again. Especially if the mistress’ hand stays on the creative wheel.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Chopard.