I hate the smell of incense burning. I've been over that new age scene since 1994. In perfumery, however, incense is an entirely different experience. The incense fragrances I own and love are YSL Nu (edp only, never, ever (ever!) bother with the edt), Parfum d'Empire Wazamba, Bond No. 9's Silver Factory and Etro Shaal Nur. I also have the Comme des Garcon's incense series but over time have grown bored with them. The CdG incense scents seem too realistic, too austere and too 'religious ceremony' for my own personal use.
If you've been reading me, you know that I'm a huge Sonoma Scent Studio fan-girl. I think everything Ms. Erickson creates is exceptional. I don't mean "exceptional for a small independent perfumer," I mean exceptional in the grand scheme of all perfume houses. I often think that if one were to slap some Serge Lutens labels on Ms. Erickson's work the entire perfume-fanatic world would be aflutter and her bottles would sell so fast, far and wide she'd never be able to keep up with production needs. Oh, and include some of that vaguely mysterious, must-try-to-decipher the hidden meaning Lutens pre-release marketing copy and Erickson would have to hire throngs of help otherwise her business would implode from success.
Incense Pure is another one of Erickson's brilliant creations. In fact, I think it's within my top 3 favorites from Sonoma Scent Studio (please don't ask me to list my top 3 favorites because this list of 3 is surely 6 in reality). OK, but now it feels like a dare so let me try:
1. Tabac Aurea
2. Vintage Rose
3. Winter Woods
4. Voile de Violette
5. Ambre Noir
6. Champagne de Bois (speaking of which reminds me of Chanel Bois de Iles but better. There's more sandalwood in CdB and zero turpentine. Apologies to BdI fans, and I do love BdI myself, it's just that Champagne de Bois is beautiful from the start while BdI takes at least an hour to warm up from turpentine to nice sandalwood on me).
And now I must insert Incense Pure into this list - I guess I'd wedge it between Winter Woods and Vintage Rose so it's within the top 3 as I suggested.
Anyway, I have the pleasure of occasionally sniffing Erickson's work while it's still in progress. With Incense Pure, I found the final perfume to be strikingly and beautifully different from the last in-progress vial I sniffed. Sometimes I'm not so sure Erickson is able to incorporate the various comments she receives from her in-progress sniff team. What does one do when the comments are all over the place? For the same perfume, she surely receives this set of feedback: "too sweet," "not sweet enough," "too dry," "too peppery," "not spicy enough..." and so on. Somehow Erickson manages to take all of these oftentimes opposing points of view and craft a final fragrance that knocks everyone off their feet. Maybe she casts a spell over us, I dunno.
Incense Pure is a clean, dry, refreshing, relaxing and natural world fragrance. It is all about incense yet it is not musty, smoky, dusty or dirty at all. Incense Pure (IP) makes me feel refreshed, as if I'm hiking in a nearby state park smelling fresh air, coniferous trees, bark, and the fresh smells of nature. Like I wrote about Wazamba, there is an inherently peaceful, meditative and self renewing feeling from smelling IP. While IP seems chock-full of dry, resinous incense and woods, I need to impress upon you how utterly airy and wearable it is. Somehow IP does not form a scent "wall" but an impression of airy permanence. Erickson definitely included dashes of vanilla and labdanum for a teensy amount of sweetness which gives IP a comforting and approachability factor. But if I didn't know vanilla was there, I can't say I smell it. I mostly smell frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood (and other woods) and a fresh coniferous quality. There are elements of IP that remind me of two of my favorite fragrances; the myrrh is reminiscent of the gorgeously dry yet sweet myrrh in Diptyque L'eau Trois and the frankincense reminds me of the drop dead gorgeous Amouage Lyric.
The notes for Incense Pure include frankincense, myrrh, cistus oil, labdanum absolute, sandalwood, natural oakmoss absolute, aged Indian patchouli, cedar, ambergris, orris, angelica root absolute, elemi oil, and vanilla absolute.