Monday 4 October 2021

MYSTERY by Cláudia Camacho

Capturing the essence of a place is one of the hardest inspirations that a perfumer can choose to explore. This is because the scents that surround you in a real-life environment are still subject to personal associations, and so you may not end up capturing a true representation of the location. That’s why we have to trust that the creator has immersed themselves in the flora, fauna, and aromas of their chosen place. This would be a challenge for an experienced perfumer, let alone a newcomer, and so getting the chance to experience the stunning Mystery by Cláudia Camacho is one of the highlights of the year.

Cláudia Camacho is probably not a perfumer that you will have heard of, but she is absolutely one that you should track down immediately. She originally studied Art History at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain before working as a Curator, Art Historian and Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. However, in 2018 a series of personal changes made her realise that she had a perfumery project inside her, and this became her focus. Award winning perfumer Marina Barcenilla became her teacher and the fragrance that would become known as Mystery began to take shape.

The inspiration for the perfume was the Sintra Mountains in Portugal, which is where Cláudia is lucky enough to live. It was described by Lord Byron as “Glorious Eden” and he discovered “beauties of every description”, but Cláudia has a daily connection with these. She has spent seventeen years walking the forest trails, learning how the landscape changes with the seasons, and also how its scents alter as the year moves on. It’s this deep understanding of the feel of the forest floor, the sight of the magnificent pines, and the location of the hidden florals that have been skilfully translated into this debut fragrance.

Mystery takes its name from O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra (The Mystery of the Sintra Road), which was the first novel written by Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz. You will see further references to the writer’s works in Cláudia’s future fragrances, but that’s for another time. Mystery is described as “an enigmatic journey through humidity, through freshness and with an indomitable and sacred character.” Now, the perfume arrives in a hollowed out piece of raw, untreated cork, so you’re already greeted by a physical sensation of nature. This makes a wonderful change to traditional packaging, but does this originality carry through to the fragrance?

There are no notes listed for Mystery, so you're truly left to discover it for yourself, but it feels as if it begins with a beautifully peppered orange. However, almost immediately, you can smell a warm resinous quality coming up from the base. This labdanum and styrax-like blend is then opened up with the aroma of cypress, with its green pine edge, and given an added brightness thanks to a late arriving bergamot. There is a mysterious floral note in the heart, intriguingly persistent yet subtle, and a definite oakmoss and mushroom quality really brings out the idea of the forest humidity. With a final touch of saffron, earthy vetiver and patchouli, Mystery is really making me want to walk those forests and lose myself in its frankincense-like scent.

Mystery is available through Cláudia Camacho’s Facebook or Instagram page, which can be found at, and is priced at €170 for 30ml Extrait de Parfum. It is a limited release of 25 bottles. [Sample provided by Cláudia Camacho]

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