~by Mike Perez
As a lover of spice prominent fragrances, I find it extremely easy to enjoy the newest Monocle x Comme des Garcons collaboration, Scent Two: Laurel. I remember focusing on the laurel (bay leaf) accord in two other fragrances and being slightly disappointed: Aqua Allegoria Laurier Reglisse by Guerlain and Acqua Della Macchia Mediterranea by Borsari – the former being almost all licorice and no spice; and the latter being a wonderful fougere in it’s own right (in the vein of the fantastic [but discontinued] Calvin by Calvin Klein) but a bit too simple.
With Scent Two: Laurel I have found what I always hoped for in a laurel prominent scent. Realism, pungency and complexity.
The laurel note smells sundried, almost roasted in texture - with a bit of that oregano and/or thyme tickle and then starts off immediately blending with a strong and persistent ground peppercorn accord – all swirling underneath a sharp cedar note. It is this definitive sharpness that lasts for the first hour – a trademark of the Monocle x CdG fragrances that that showed up in Scent One: Hinoki, as eucalyptus and fresh cut wood. But this new release is much more aromatic. Fans of Lorenzo Villoresi’s heavy-handed aromatic fragrances (Spezie, Uomo) know exactly what I mean, because many of the LV scents typically smell raw, almost shockingly intense, and it is a style of perfumery that polarizes colognoisseurs. You either enjoy it or you don’t.
Hidden among the intensity of the spices, is a fresh-turned-earth accord: dirt, moss, and branches of trees on the ground. Certain types of vetiver conjure up that feeling for me, and yet STL has no vetiver at all. It’s more a feeling of natural, rugged earth. The spices smell like they have a bit of dirt still left on them – they are not in the kitchen to be used for food…they’re still being harvested in their raw, dry state.
If I smell my skin up close during the final dry down, I can make out a quite wonderful patchouli note and a tiny hint of crisp, salty amber. Pulling my nose away, the scent shifts back to its spices. Later on, I’m able to smell the incense, hovering in the background. I think it’s what Antoine Maisondieu (the perfumer) added that gives it an aura of calmness & tranquility. Supposedly the scent is based upon the scent of a vacation to Lebanon and that regions handmade, laurel scented soaps. I have not smelled these soaps but I do know the feeling a hot, soapy bath give me…especially one that leaves traces of fragrance on skin: refreshment, relaxation and simplicity. The same feelings evoked by this wonderful scent.
Scent Two: Laurel comes in a 50 ml atomizer. It can be purchased online at Luckyscent, The Perfume Shoppe and at the magazine’s online shop ($135).