1/11/12

Frankincense and Myrrh (Czech & Speake)



Knowledgeable noses often opine on how the house of Aramis is grossly undervalued and should someday get its due. Aramis is great, but I'm pulling for Czech & Speake. Of those I've tried, it's one of a precious few purveyors of hi-fidelity perfumery. The notes of C&S scents separate beautifully, are quite realistic, and coalesce into scents that are very non-"perfumey." Frankincense and Myrrh is one of their best, and I'm not even a fan of spicy orientals. If you purchase a bottle, you're getting something that should cost twice as much as it does. This, in my book, is the hallmark of something that is truly undervalued.

With its austere title, the scent promises one thing, and delivers another. I expected a dark, roiling cloud of exotic warmth, full of olfactory smoke and shadow. Instead, Frankincense and Myrrh opens with a very bright and festive orange note, made herbal with a touch of lavender. Greener notes of sage and bay introduce the frankincense, in all its spicy glory. This is soon followed (and softened by) myrrh, and the composition settles on a sandal and cedarwood base. With its remarkable luminosity, Frankincense and Myrrh inhabits a different corner of the oriental hemisphere, tucked away from its extended family of Opiums, Cinnebars, Zagorsks, and Obsessions. This part of the map is where a hybridization of eau de cologne and oriental occurs, creating something that is at once lively and fizzy, while also dry and just a little caliginous.

The caveat is that Frankincense and Myrrh is not, despite its classification, a complex fragrance. Once the citrus/herbal top burns away, the frankincense dominates, with quieter myrrh and wood notes lifting the base into a haze of dry sweetness. I'm left with something subtle and masculine, a pleasant wear for cool autumn days and frigid winter nights. It's sexy without being overt and obvious, and nowadays people tend to ignore the two star notes of this scent, making it unique. The fizziness of the citrus and lavender lends it a unisex air, which makes this scent accessible for women, too. I'm sure there are those who would complain that C&S doesn't invest enough time and imagination into their compositions, and I see their point; Frankincense and Myrrh is a scent that does the bare minimum with what it has, but to maximal effect. My counter-argument would be that brands like Floris, Czech & Speake, and Creed harness natural aromas, arrange and amplify their assets, and stop short of contrived embellishment in the name of elegance. Frankincense and Myrrh is essentially the most elegant oriental I have ever encountered, and one that I hope to eventually own and wear regularly. It's the perfect antidote for the soulless rows of calone-drenched deodorant sprays that pass as perfume in the men's section of your local department store. Seek this one out - you won't regret it.











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