There is always something a little off-balance to me in Naomi Goodsir’s fragrances. Not artistically off-balance – but something sticking out like a sore thumb and throwing the whole thing off.
While I admire the daring of Bois d’Ascese, I find the crackling dry woodsmoke to be overwhelming. It drowns out the creamy, spiky elemi in thick billows of black soot, and makes it very difficult to perceive anything else that’s going on with the scent until the far drydown, when it becomes a 50-50 mix of great-quality frankincense and woodsmoke. Then I can enjoy its mysterious, austere smokiness on my scarf for days afterwards. But up until the dry down, I am choking through a fog of unremittingly bleak, black smoke.
Or du Serail has a beautiful, honeyed tobacco leaf at its core. But unfortunately, it gets drowned in a fruity, sticky mess of mango, rum, coconut, and ylang, giving somewhat of an impression of a day-old tropical fruit cocktail left out in the sun to develop a ‘bloom’. It is also unbearably sweet. Ambre Narguile does the fruit-cake-and-honey tobacco thing so much better that I wonder why anybody felt this was necessary. And to be honest, if I wanted a complex, syrupy tobacco fragrance then Histoires de Parfums’ masterpiece 1740 satisfies me on all levels.
Or du Serail is an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ kind of scent where everything is thrown at tobacco in the hope that something sticks. Don’t get me wrong – it is pleasant to wear and technically ‘yummy’ in that round, sweet, bland way of another of Duchaufour’s misses, Havana Vanille. But as in Havana Vanille, Or du Serail contains unpleasantly sour, discordant off-notes like mould on a piece of bread, or rot beginning to set in on a piece of fruit. Or du Serail makes a lunge for that fine line between edible and inedible, and just misses the mark.
Somehow, I had high hopes for Cuir Velours. I love fruit-suede fragrances like Visa and Daim Blonde, and am slowly coming around to the idea of Traversee du Bosphore. Indeed, there is something in the fruity, syrupy heart of Cuir Velours that reminds me of the cherry-pomegranate-apple syrup in Traversee du Bosphore, and also something of that pink-grey powdered suede with a thick dusting of icing sugar on top. To say that Cuir Velours has something of a lokum feel to it would perhaps be going too far. But there’s a familial connection, and it’s interesting to me.
Maybe 75% of Cuir Velours is attractive to me – in particular that hushed, plushy suede and spiced fruit compote note. The immortelle is nicely folded in, and I can only pick up that strange, savory syrup note in the heart of the fragrance, where it adds a necessary point of interest.
But two things throw Cuir Velours way off track – the overwhelming sweetness and the burnt-woods aromachemical lurking underneath, which is most definitely Norlimbanol. Believe me, I know my enemy well. And it is he. To me, it sticks out like a sore thumb and I don’t understand why a perfumer would think it necessary to use such a brutal material in what is essentially a plush-toy sort of fragrance. Another Naomi Goodsir fragrance written off for the sake of one element that just doesn’t work for me.