Tacit is Aesop’s new fragrance for 2015. It follows the brand’s recently adopted method of working with leading perfumers on new olfactory product design. In 2014 Aesop collaborated with Mane perfumer Barnabe Fillon to create Marrakech Intense, and perfumer Celine Barel, one of IFF’s rising stars, created the formula for Tacit. Barel has been acquainted with Aesop for a decade and Tacit’s concept was first discussed almost three years ago, a testimony to Aesop’s careful approach to all new product launches. At the heart of every Aesop product is a love of nature, travel, the arts and the tacit knowledge those experiences yield. Australian generative artist Jonathan McCabe also collaborated on the project providing a visual element for the new fragrance. His artwork for Tacit consists of molten digital patterns that feel to me as though they are abstract forms born from the mind of Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempika. These forms are displayed inside Tacit’s box and McCabe’s work with Aesop is being exhibited at Sydney Contemporary on 10-13 September.
The formula of this new eau de parfum came from two key inspirations, the freshness of Eau de Cologne and the Mediterranean Coast, its culture, topography and perfumed vegetation. The Mediterranean is often used as a point of reference when perfumes are talking about freshness, citrus fruit and aromatic herbs. Fans of Aesop who enjoyed the quirky uniqueness of Marrakech and Mystra may think that Tacit’s inspirations are rudimentary but the fragrance is undeniably well made. As an IFF employee, Barel has access to exquisite natural raw materials produced by IFF’s naturals division, Grasse’s Laboratoire Monique Remy and Tacit showcases a number of them very nicely.
Smelling Tacit, it is immediately recognisable. The fragrance is a rush of fresh citrus cut with aromatic herbs and hints of sea air and sun. The first thought I had when I smelled Tacit was what a good cocktail it would make. Effervescent citrus oils are muddled with Yuzu, an exotic Japanese citrus fruit, which modernizes the classic and refreshing eau de cologne accord. A touch of mandarin also lends a sweeter citrus bite to the bitter accord. Tacit’s star is undoubtedly Basil Grand Vert. This complex aroma is simultaneously spicy, fresh and aromatic. I pick up hints of mint and clove, which are placed on either side of Basil Grand Vert’s evolution from the head into the heart of the fragrance where it gradually disappears. Once the acidity of citrus fruit retreats, Tacit develops a salty facet reminiscent of fresh coastal air, which continues into the dry down. Eau de Cologne was originally designed with little or no base note and Tacit does not evolve much further beyond the head and heart notes. The base of the fragrance leads wearers on a subtle trail of salty vetiver and transparent woods which binds the fragrance to skin. Barel is said to have utilized IFFs Vetiver Heart ex Haiti, a fractional distillation that renders a cleaner vetiver note, with subtle grapefruit notes. Aesop’s mandate has always been to use fewer ingredients but more qualitative natural ones and Tacit lives up to this mandate. This could have easily turned into a sun-drenched Hedione fragrance or it could have been boosted with airy marine notes whilst still remaining true to the inspiration of the fragrance. Instead, Barel uses restraint. She picks out a handful of natural raw materials in order to successfully execute her mission.
One of the great qualities of an eau de cologne is the crisp floral heart of neroli oil distilled from bitter orange flowers. Tacit steers clear of almost any floral references, which makes this a viable option for anyone wanting a floral-free cologne-style fragrance. I posted some initial perceptions of Tacit on my Facebook page and one of my readers picked up on the many food references. He commented that my description sounded “yummy.” The term gourmand is generally used to describe fragrances that contain notes of chocolate, vanilla and sweet spices so Tacit is more of a savoury gourmand fragrance with a splash of aperitif. It’s the perfect refreshment on a long summer day.
Alternatives: Francis Kurkdjian Acqua Vitae, Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Foglio di Basilic, Diptyque Virgilio
Perfumer: Celine Barel
Release Date: 2015
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Citrus