Monday, 21 January 2019

ENCENS MYTHIQUE by Guerlain

One of the challenges faced by companies when introducing a new fragrance is ensuring that it doesn’t conflict with an existing release. One way around this is to create “capsule collections” and one of the masters of this is undoubtedly Guerlain, but even they occasionally have to reposition their fragrances. This happened with their Les Déserts d’Orient and Les Absolus d’Orient collections because both exhibited similar styles. When Les Déserts d’Orient was retired it was also thought that its fragrances had also gone, but they have just been rereleased in the Absolus series. So, it’s time to rediscover Encens Mythique.

When Guerlain launched Les Déserts d’Orient in 2012 it was their attempt to tap into the demand for Middle Eastern inspired fragrances. Guerlain had never shied away from rich resins and exotic ingredients, but the depth that was being asked for couldn’t be accommodated in their existing collection. Rose Nacrée du Désert, Encens Mythique d’Orient, and Songe d’Un Bois d’Été were released as “a tribute to enchanting Arabia” and were said to represent “the Orient in all its original splendour.” Created by Thierry Wasser, the range never increased and was strictly limited in its distribution.

Jump forward to 2014 and Guerlain coincided the launch of Harrods’ Salon de Parfums with the release of Santal Royal. Originally a single launch, it was joined two years later by Ambre Eternel and the duo became Les Absolus d’Orient. They were described as “Born out of a quest to find the finest raw materials,” and signalled the end of the original trio. However, Encens Mythique and Songe d’Un Bois d’Été have now been rereleased in the new series and presented in beautifully lacquered 125ml bottles. Originally described as “an enigmatic opus,” it was always Encens that captivated me, and nothing has changed.

Encens Mythique opens with a wonderfully piercing brightness, thanks to an aldehyde that almost fizzes from the bottle, but the aroma of saffron adds a luxurious mystery to the first impression of the fragrance. Even though this perfume is all about the qualities that come in the later stages, Thierry Wasser still gives a glorious hit of rose on the way, adding to the opulence on the skin, but perfectly tempers it with a touch of heat from the pink pepper. This whole opening seems to be washed with orange blossom, but the best is definitely yet to come.

The star ingredient in Encens Mythique is the resinous frankincense and it’s this that is truly amplified by the remaining ingredients. The combined earthiness and woodiness that you get from the vetiver and patchouli is given a further “forest floor” quality from the evocative treemoss, but it’s the ambergris that really shines through. In this fragrance, Thierry blended a selection of samples at various strengths to get its full characteristics of animalic and marine, but still managed to retain the gloriously skin-soft delicacy so often associated with this ingredient. Encens Mythique feels identical to its first incarnation, and is a very welcome return.

Encens Mythique is available from selected Guerlain stockists worldwide and is priced at £139 for 125ml.

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