Monday, March 30, 2009
Keiko Mecheri Oliban
Keiko Mecheri Oliban is named for its most prominent scent note, olibanum. Olibanum is the proper name for frankincense which is a fragrant gum resin from Boswellia trees mostly commonly identified as the scent of incense.
Very often I review fragrances that are considered the Greats, such as Guerlain, Chanel, Serge Lutens, Comme des Garcons etc. But just as often I find myself writing about perfumes that are equally as great, but not as often discussed or perhaps disparaged on the perfume forums – the underdogs if you will. Perfumes like Ivoire, Safari, Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, Alien, Lalique Le Parfum (which Turin calls ‘rock bottom’ for Ropion), Angel, Angel Innocent, Youth Dew, Trouble, LouLou and Amarige are all perfumes I love and have written about. The reason I write about these underdogs is threefold, (1) to balance a fragrances’ reputation, particularly if I read mostly negative reviews about a scent that I happen to think is wonderful (*clears throat* Amarige and Angel are definitely on my mind for this point); (2) to point out that there are so many fragrances available at drugstores and department stores that are fabulous – one does not need to shop at Luckyscent to find good perfume or spend over $200 per bottle; and (3) to shed light on an excellent perfume that seems hardly discussed/undiscovered.
I believe Oliban falls into category #3. It’s a fabulously well crafted incense fragrance with gorgeous whiffs of blond tobacco, woods, rose and honey. The initial burst of incense and cedar are refreshingly spiritual (don’t most incense frags seem rather churchy to you?). Oliban, especially at the start, seems soothing, calming, centering and cleansing. When I feel harried, rattled or just tired, Oliban serves as a meditative pick me up. Most frankincense type frags seem decidedly unisex to me (well, all frags, in essence, are unisex but you understand I’m referencing cultural norms here) but Oliban introduces a soft rose note that causes it to lean towards the feminine, just slightly. The middle phase of Oliban is a delicate incense, tobacco and rose aroma – very subtle, a little mysterious, and with just a teaspoon of sweet honey. Oliban is not strictly an incense fragrance like anything from the Comme des Garcons Incense Series – I love Avignon and Zagorsk – but, for me, these are not for wearing to the office – these are ultra dry, seriously hardcore, virtually unadorned by anything but incense and woods fragrances. Oliban, on the other hand, is a perfume that I can wear to the office. Once dried down, some vanilla appears in the base, so for the longest duration Oliban smells like a softly spiced rose draped over a bed of woods and frankincense. Others have mentioned leather – I just don’t smell the leather myself.
I think Oliban would be a nice surprise for those who like incense, but not austere Catholic mass incense. Oliban is similar in style to YSL Nu edp (not edt), sans the pepper.
Longevity: Soft but excellent 5+ hours
Sillage: Soft but present
Listed notes: atlas cedar wood, olibanum, blonde tobacco, damascene rose and honey