Noël au Balcon (Etat Libre d'Orange)

Somebody at Bond could learn something from Antoine Maisondieu's Noel au Balcon. My main problem with the Bonds I've tried is that they acquire a potpourri or Yankee Candle effect, which is the ultimate hex in niche. Despite the number of expensive aroma chemicals or talented noses you put behind it, a fragrance that resembles potpourri will defy the odds and smell cheap. Why? Because rarely does any one element stand out in potpourri. Its smell is usually quite spineless, a mere assemblage of abstractions, essences of woods and mashed florals converging into a bland miasma, a sort of featureless olfactory cloud. Yes, it may smell rather nice for five minutes, but eventually one of two things happens: your nose tunes it out, or you get a headache and leave the room.

What distances this ELDO scent from that bad association is Maisondieu's balancing act between sugar and spice. The pyramids at Giza come to mind. They are built in two layers, granite and limestone. One is radioactive, and the other insulating. Together they form a mysterious machine. Maisondieu's electrical core is a super-aromatic clutch of patchouli, chili, labdanum, neroli, caraway, and cinnamon. Alone, these materials would likely go well together, but would "bind" into a formless odor of no distinction. The fresh sweetness of neroli, cinnamon, and labdanum would not rise above the vibrating patchouli, chili, and caraway, and the result would be formless energy.

But with an outer insulating layer of animalic sweetness and fresh fruit, suddenly NaB becomes a lovely fragrance. The natural skankiness of honey directs and contains the flow of the spices, while the bright juiciness of peach harnesses the florals. The result is something immediately gratifying and truly timeless, a technical triumph of perfumery. This brand tends to irritate me with their gimmicky and overly-synthetic fragrances, but wearing this one has been a pleasure.

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