Honore des Pres is a line of natural perfume that was launched in 2008. I was introduced to the range in Hong Kong at Joyce and was happy to find it in Australia later that year. I have noticed some Australian niche boutiques have discontinued carrying the range in recent months, perhaps due to poor sales performance. This is a shame as it is an interesting range, but understandable given today’s competitive retail environment and some of the less than favorable comments the brand attracted online from perfume bloggers who criticize the natural perfumes’ staying power. With the exception of one creation, the nose behind Honore des Pres is Olivia Giacobetti. Looking at my collection of perfumes I have unwittingly collected a number of her works, so it is fair to say I am a fan. Her creations often contain wood and incense, yet they have an airy, light quality to them. I was curious to see how she would maintain this style using 100% natural ingredients (85% are organic) without the use of polycyclic and macrocyclic musk. Her white musk accords are often the shimmering white light behind the denser wood and resin notes her perfumes contain. Chaman’s Party is inspired by a tree-house experience and the idea of being immersed in the heart of the Amazon jungle. It is a scent of moist earth, jungle foliage and roots. Honore des Pres worked with premium raw material producer, Robertet to find suitable materials to create the line. It would be an injustice to think of Honore des Pres perfumes as simply a blend of organic essential oils. There is a lot of interesting work being done with raw materials of natural origin. Among their latest innovations, Robertet have launched a natural cedar compound that has been redistilled and fractionated using Cedarwood Texas essential oil. Using state of the art processing, they reduce the Cedrol content below 0.1% and increase the Thujopsene content significantly resulting in a leathery wood note. Such innovations should continue to stimulate this area of perfumery, washing away the stereotype that all natural perfumers are patchouli-wearing hippies who hang Native American dream wheels from their bathroom mirrors.
The dress code for Chaman’s Party is certainly not black tie or cocktail. If this was a movie it would be some gritty slice of life drama featured in an obscure foreign film festival. If this were a suburb of Sydney it would be Redfern. This is a hard fragrance to love if you believe that perfume should be ‘beautiful’. The fragrance is composed from Haitian vetiver, Egyptian basil, clove flowers from Madagascar and wood of life from Venezuela. It begins with notes of smoke and the scent of dry leaves. Basil paints an herbaceous green line through what is otherwise a plane of brown colour. Within time the vetiver note becomes dominant and the clove flower adds a very subtle hint of spice to the overall composition. The scent is almost linear, after ten minutes it begins its decline into nothing. While some may criticize the shorter life span of these natural fragrances, I quite like their truncated message. They serve as a reminder that all good things come to an end and we must simply enjoy the present moment.
This is the smell of rolling in mud and fallen leaves. As unattractive as this sounds, the result is surprisingly pleasant. I wonder if Sting has this in his list of favourite fragrances? Men who like the actual smell of vetiver oil will be happy to find this fragrance, which is more vetiver than vetiveryl acetate. I enjoy wearing this on days I want to feel grounded.
Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti (Robertet)
Bottle designer: Saverglass
Release date: 2008
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woody Oriental