It is easy to get disillusioned as a perfume reviewer: trying to keep up with the countless perfumes out there as well as the legions of new releases each year means that for every rose you dip your nose in, four dozen piles of trash make their way to the same olfactory receptors to get your spirits down. After a while you end up having to think twice even for perfumes that are actually worth something. Every once in a while however something comes your way that is so amazingly good that it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Something that electrifies you, something that makes you think "Yes, this is what perfume is all about, God yes, this is why I love smelling perfumes so much, this is why I chase after that high everywhere I go, every chance I get!". Sound familiar? These are the gems, and let's admit it while we're at it, these are the shining slivers of beauty that drive our addiction. Euterpe is one such beacon of beauty and hope for me.
I'd never heard of Herr von Eden, but a little search revealed that it is the brand of Hamburg-based Bent Angelo Jenson, a German who started his business not with perfume, but with clothes - suits in particular. Originally catering to men, his company has now extended to female clientele with modern women's collections, edgy eyewear and jewelry. The brand now includes three different perfumes in simple, chunky, masculine, slate-grey flacons bearing elegant Greek names: Euterpe, the muse of lyrical poetry, literally meaning "the pleasure giver", Eros, the son of Aphrodite and god of sexual love and beauty, and Eclipse, which aside from the obvious astronomical event it refers to, literally means "absence", a ceasing to exist.
Now, will you also, like me, find it thrilling if I tell you that Euterpe, with the delightfully feminine name smells like an archetypical masculine perfume? Yes, on the Essenza Nobile website it is listed as a unisex fragrance, while the Herr von Eden website itself assumes a Sphinx-like silence and refuses to comment on either a gender or scent description of the perfume. The Essenza Nobile website also lists it as a "true fougere". Believe none of it! Euterpe is the paragon of oriental masculinity and not even a modern one at that: it already smells like a classic. And it does a fantastic job of it too. Intensely, yes, intensely virile from the first moment you spray it courtesy of a strong, naughtily dirty animalic undertone that refuses to subside until the moment the perfume fully expires from the skin, Euterpe smells of retro brashness, hunger for sex and power. It smells of a man that'd make you feel like the world would come to an end (but who cares...) if he locked you in an erotic embrace. In other words, it smells totally unfashionable. And so very me.
The listing of the perfume as a fougere, if not correct, becomes comprehendible when one attends to the top notes: bergamot, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, coriander and grapefruit, especially in combination with the patchouli in the basenotes draw a typical chypre canvas (even as there is no moss to be found). Yes, this is a strong impression, but not the only one. Let me explain - this side, the masculine side if you will, provides the sharp toothed, sexy bite of the perfume, something you can appreciate entirely when you consider exactly what the combination of rosemary, pissy coriander, dirty patchouli and animalic base do... They are the aggressive seducers. Add to this the oudh (yes!) which plays both fields from the base and you get a pretty good idea. But that's not all... The other side of Euterpe blossoms and seduces with a mouth drenched in sweetness, using orange blossom (honeyed, tender, in this instance) as a driving engine and carnation (a million kudos for respecting the past), ylang ylang (ditto), rose (again) and cinnamon as catalysts. But as powerful a composition as this already is, it would be nothing without its gooey, warm, nay, smoldering center: Tonka bean, sandalwood, Siam benzoin and vanilla kiss the perfume with soft sweetness from the base. As it dries down the now ambery, vanillic Euterpe smells more and more like a comforting cashmere hug. Imagine Ormonde Jayne's Tolu, but more complex and multifaceted. This comparison should also make clear that the intense masculine edge slowly dies down with the dry-down, even as the animalic edge doesn't. Finally, this amazing oriental gains its wings as a unisex. But who gives a damn about gender distinctions when a perfume is this good?
I know you'll want to have a whiff of this amazing, complex, involved gem so I'm holding a draw! Simply leaving a comment means you automatically enter. Winner will be announced in a week's time, next Friday.
Have a good weekend!
Head: Bergamot, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Coriander, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit
Heart: Rose of Palma, Cinnamon, Rose, Carnation, Ylang Ylang, Clyclamen
Base: Sandalwood, Bezoe Siam, Patchouli, Vetiver grass, Cedar wood, Tonkabean, Vanilla, Oud
Price: 119€ for 100ml or 89€ for 50ml via Essenza Nobile's webshop.