In a line full of engrossing and unusual fragrances, The Unicorn Spell , despite the predisposing to overlyricism name, is perhaps the most arrestingly riveting due to both its unusual treatment of the violet note as well as the juxtaposition of shiny, vegetal leafiness with finespun woodiness.
This unconventional path to violet has been recently reprised by Maurice Roucel for Dans Tes Bras for F.Malle, proving that in a market chokeful of violets lately, there is still some room for wiggling one's toes. The Unicorn Spell forms part of the Les Nez (parfums d'auteurs) line, a niche brand from Klingnau, Switzerland founded by perfume lover René Schifferle. The perfumer Isabelle Doyen, who worked on a similar iris-green (absinthe in that case) theme in Duel for Annick Goutal, envisioned a violet on a cold, frosty morning waiting for the sun to warm it up with its first rays: "If by dawn still linger on your skin mixed scents of leaves, frost and violet blooms, and that relentless yearning for stellar sights, you will know that, at night, you felt the milky breath of a unicorn".
The atypical opening of shelling raw harricots verts in The Unicorn Spell is so transportingly vegetal as to make one become confounded and furtively search for the basket of green beans and the knife of the woman who is peeling them away for an alfresco Friday lunch. (Friday because that's the customary day to prepare a non-meaty dish in Med cultures where this dish is very common). This idiosyncracy of knife cutting onto raw legume is bringing spring in the very heart of winter and invites me closer to inspect the slow unfolding of a delicate floral heart. Comprised of violet leaf (rather than the candied tone of Violets de Toulouse, it is closer related to Goutal's La Violette or Verte Violette by L'artisan) and hazy-toned iris as seen through a gauze, the more it stays on the more it gains in violet-ness and loses in iris-ness. The two merge into a piquant middle in which the borders of green and tart are merged into a fey collage. The images which you might superimpose over this unconventional composition by Les Nez are purely individualistic and left to your own imaginings. The spell distends on ethereal woods, subtle and hushed, so as not to risk scaring away the enchanted creatures that the cool night has invoked.
The Unicorn Spell is available as a 50ml/1.7oz Eau de Parfum, directly from the Les Nez website, through Aus Liebe zum Duft or Luckyscent.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Les Nez fragrances, Violet scents, Iris: how to build one.
In the interests of disclosure I got sent a carded sample of each fragrance from Les Nez as part of their sample giveaway upon launching Manoumalia.
Photo by Chris Borgman courtesy of his site.