(from left: Tam Dao from Diptyque, Royal Out from Creed and Ambrette 9 from Le Labo)
There are screechy, loud, overpowering fragrances. Then there are subtle masterpieces that have a quiet elegance, coy yet effortless. Silence, like the realm of scents, is ephemeral and hard to grasp. It can be characterised by its stillness, its absence, yet at times, it can also evoke much grandeur like an old abandoned house. Musing on its multi-faceted nature, we explored the many notes ascribed to silence by the world’s leading Noses. It appears that there is more musicality to the notions of silence than we had expected.
Creed Royal Oud: The Grandeur of Silence
Creed’s Royal Oud differs from all the other oud-based scents flooding the mainstream market in that the oud note stays prominent without overpowering the other notes. Offering an ode to oud, the resin of agarwood, it brings to mind the royal palace and the stateliness of the royal lifestyle. It conjures images of a light-flooded palace with marble, gold, wood, and the faint smell of leather: regal but not pretentious.
Diptyque Tam Dao: The Stillness of Silence
Diptyque’s Tam Dao is woody. But unlike Creed’s Royal Oud, it is restrained and serene. Influenced by freshness of the mountains of Tam Dao in Vietnam, it references the mystical Goa sandalwood and the tranquil quality of a misty forest in the early dawn. It is an oriental, spicy, and emanates nobility. Tam Dao opens dry and woody with the cedar top note, but fades into creamy sandalwood with a resinous edge. It evokes the interior of a rough, hand crafted wooden box – an intricate piece of precious wood with a distinctively human touch and effortful time. The Zen-like quality of it captures the stillness of silence.
The Different Company Oriental Lounge: The Ambiguity of Silence
As the name suggests, Oriental Lounge takes references from the traditional heavy oriental fragrances, but with a twist. Creator Celine Ellena has almost inverted the typical Oriental structure in this fragrance, placing the theme in the overture as opposed to the third act. Ellena described it as “a piece of clothing that suggests, but doesn’t reveal anything…[an] amber for women and men searching for… gentleness, sensuality, and a lot of character”. Oriental Lounge has flesh and texture, like jacquard and silk. It is modern, but not minimalist nor excessive. Caloupilé gives it a slight green and metallic vibe that clearly separates it from most traditional orientals. Imagine a Shanghai Tang burlesque lounge circa 1930s with hazy lights and exquisite costumes, complete with a slight suspense hovering in the air. The sensuality of skin mixes with the sharpness of spices. Time and space seem to blend together into a viscous texture, leaving the amber somewhat diffident, halfway between fluid and form. This dark, uncertain, brooding character gives this scent a film noir persona that is quiet but burning with latent eroticism.
Le Labo Bergamote 22 & Ambrette 9: The Simplicity of Silence
Le Labo’s philosophy is based on the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, the art of imperfection. Each of their unisex fragrances is titled with a single note and a number, representing the centrepiece note and the number of notes in it respectively. Bergamote 22 is decidedly dry, but also sweet. It has an unapologetic linear presence, like a simple cup of Earl Grey in the crisp morning air. Floral, bitter, sweet, and virile, it is a blend that manages to be strong and simple in a sea of shrilly fruity-florals. Ambrette 9 has fewer notes, but is special nonetheless; it is a fragrance designed for babies. Centred on the ambrette seed, it is not overpowering like typical oriental amber fragrances, but rather very tender. The musky accord is tender like a mother’s love for her child. There is no need to announce this kind of delicate and warm affection from the rooftops; instead, we seek comfort in its ever-lasting presence.
Words by Qianwen Z. | Photography by Brian Buchard | Art Direction by Mandy Rep