Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.
You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific. Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.
Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.
Turkish Rose, Jasmine, Oakmoss, Orange Blossom, Castoreum, Africa Stone, Carnation, Patchouli, Bitter Orange and Styrax
How Does it Smell?
Right from the outset, Salome makes a vintage impression. She channels classics such as Schiaparelli’s Shocking, Jean Desprez’s Bal A Versailles and the classic Guerlains. That said, Salome simply channels the spirit of these fragrances rather than replicates them, and she presents a unique signature that is refreshingly fearless in a day and age where sanitised scents are both the majority, and the norm. Salome dares to be raunchy. She dares to be gutsy. She dares to be beautiful, and most importantly, she dares not to be too preoccupied with other people’s opinion of her. Salome is fearless.
Salome opens with orange blossom and rose. Initially, things are sparkly and iridescent, dancing gleefully with flecks of golden light. The opening is bright, with a velvety and plush texture that can only be attributed to rich florals. Soon, the animalic core that makes Salome so distinct, comes forth. In the initial moments, this animalic aspect is soft, sour and indolic, hinting at hot, breathy jasmine flowers at dusk. Things spiral quickly as Salome twirls her veils and as she moves more frantically, the heat of her body comes through in waves.
At the heart of Salome sits, what I like to call a ‘trifecta of filth’; Castoreum (beaver butt), which adds a leathery tone; africa stone (a.k.a. hyraceum, the fossilised excrement of the rock badger) which provides a sour musky, and scalp-like tone, as well as a tobacco-like facet, giving the impression of warm bodies and cigarette smoke; and jasmine blooms forth with breathy indolic beauty. This may make Salome sound unpalatable, dirty and disgusting, but the reality is actually something much more compelling than that. Disgusting is easy, but taking rich animalics and weaving them into something beautiful that inspires further sniffs is quite an achievement. In reality, Salome smells hot, smoky and leathery, evoking unwashed clothes and naked bodies.
Salome’s dance winds down and her movements become slower but more defined. With each sweep of her arms she creates big wafts of patchouli and leather, leaving a velvety veil that is hot, spicy and subtly animalic. The sour, golden inflections of the opening pepper the base ever so slightly, ensuring that those big sweeping motions of patchouli and leather have some contrast and sparkle, preventing them from being too heavy or too funky. The balance is very nicely done.
Salome is certainly on par with Papillon’s initial trio of fragrances. She looks back to the past for inspiration but at no point does she feel out of place or old fashioned, and whilst this style isn’t exactly current, Salome manages to present a classic animalic floral in a modern style. Those that have a thirst or hunger for rich, heady and dirty fragrances will have a field day in Salome. As for me, I’ll definitely be rocking it, but where I may wear Tobacco Rose regularly (whenever I feel the need to bathe in burgundy red roses, which is quite often, to be honest), I may just reserve Salome for more intimate moments. She is pure filth, after all.
Salome launches in August 2015 and will be available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £98.
Sample, notes, quotes and image 2 via Papillon Artisan Perfumes. Image 1 via njbellydancing.com.