Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to celebrate than with a review of a perfume housed within a bottle shaped like a pink heart, eh?
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that when I first became aware of the Australian niche brand Map of the Heart a few years back, I didn’t feel particularly enthused. Here’s just another gimmicky niche brand, I thought – all bottle and no substance. But as we all know, one should not be so judgemental when it comes to perfume because there is always the potential to be surprised! Anyway, Map of the Heart is based on the premise that our hearts are the centre of all we are – as the brand says “our heart is everything pure, good and evil. It aches, it desires, it is who we are.” Map of the Heart is a journey exploration of humankind through the medium olfaction, with six fragrances to date, each one representing a different aspect of humanity (freedom, valour, passion, peace, darkness etc.). Each fragrance is housed within a bottle that takes the anatomical form of the human heart – a flacon designed by the legendary bottle designer Pierre Dinard, no less – the man behind the vessels for Opium, Obsession, Cheap & Chic, and Rive Gauche!
Map of the Heart’s latest fragrances is Pink Heart v.6 and it represents the heart of ecstasy. The brand describes it as “a scent of the imagination and is at once hallucinogenic and hypnotic”. Pink Heart centres on the note of narcissus, presenting an experience that is “narcotic” and “hyper-real”. Having sniffed all of the scents in the collection, Pink Heart strikes me as the boldest and most vivid, but also the most fun. It’s an opulent, excessive fragrance that takes a note so usually associated with glamour and darkness, and spray paints it in the cutest shade of baby pink. So without further ado, lets get to the heart of the matter (bad pun – sorry) and give Pink Heart a big old sniff.
Top: Shiso Leaf Accord, Neroli Oil and Base Oil
Heart: Narcissus Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Broom Absolute and Orris Butter
Base: Sumac Accord, Pipe Tobacco Accord, Cistus Absolute and Australian Sandalwood
Jacques Huclier & Nisrine Bouazzaoui Grillie
How Does it Smell?
Pink Heart opens with one of the most distinctive opening accords I’ve sniffed in some time. It’s initially very tart, with a sharp, blackcurrant-like fruitiness (or it could be cherry) that has a syrupy richness to it. Contrasting this purple tone is a thorny, green quality that gives a juicy impression of verdant leaves, similar in style to the intense, jungle-esque greenery of Olfactive Studio’s Panorama. Oh and I should mention the dark current of black liquorice that brings a lovely anise-like sweetness, because that’s in there too. Then to top all of that off, Pink Heart brings a fizzy, powdery texture into play, adding effervescence and softness. It all certainly makes a statement and it’s safe to say that Pink Heart draws one in with its intriguing, off-centre opening, leading one to want to explore further.
Hidden beneath the purples and the greens, and the pinks, Pink Heart is actually a stealthy narcissus at heart. But this is not some dark, vampish narcissus (a la Caron’s Narcisse Noir), nor is it a fresh, springlike narcissus (like the much missed Ostara from Penhaligon’s), no, Pink Heart is something altogether different – an undefinable narcissus. The floral note here is fresh and cool, but it also has an richness to it, with green accents, indole and bitterness to give it a multi-faceted nature. A touch of iris links the powder of the top to the floral hedonism of the heart, making for an incredibly smooth transition.
In the base Pink Heart moves away from the domain of florals and becomes an interplay between tobacco and sandalwood. The tobacco, with its sweet cherry and fresh green facets draws the opening accord of fruits into the base, whilst the sandalwood evokes the plush textures. By having a base that accents the accords that come before it, as opposed to contrasting them, Pink Heart maintains a strong identity throughout its development. It’s not linear per se, but it does showcase a few key themes (with lots of nuance, of course) throughout the entirety of its time on the skin – and what beautiful, bold themes they are!
Sometimes a fragrance comes along and challenges one’s nose by simply not smelling like anything else. Pink Heart is one such fragrance and whilst I get hints of other, familiar things, the composition in its entirety feels very new, with lots of fascinating contrast and texture. It’s a perfume of layers, built on tiers of bold colours – stripes of olfactory nuance that come together to create something wonderful and beguiling. I think you should absolutely sniff it and I’m very happy to concede that I was completely wrong about Map of the Heart, and if Pink Heart is anything to go by, they are a fascinating brand with heaps of substance.
Pink Heart v.6 is available in 90ml Eau de Parfum for £150.
Sample, notes and quotes via Map of the Heart. Images are my own. Prices correct at time of publishing.