Amidst perfumes with dominant myrrh Myrrhe Ardente makes for sharp contrast. Indeed Myrrhe Ardente (perfervid myrrh) by Annick Goutal had a totally different approach than either Serge Lutens La Myrrhe or Keiko Mecheri Myrrhe et Merveilles. There was no attempt of dressing an apocryphal smell into classic tailoring to render it wearable by a modern sensibility.
On the contrary, the element of myrrh was taken as a significant nod to the sweeping genre of Orientalism that marked the late 19th century and which almost singlehandedly - if we count Guerlain and Houbigant as those influenced by it - gave us modern perfumery.
Camille Goutal then and her perfumer Isabelle Doyen began with a beautiful thesis proposition in 2007: how would oriental bath rituals of the harems (as seen in paintings by Ingres and the rest of the masters of the times) translate into scents? The sensuous Les Orientalistes line was born; initially a line of three fragrances for women or men which included Ambre Fetiche, Myrrhe Ardente and Encens Flamboyant. By the next year, another addition to the line increased the number by one: Musc Nomade; a vegetal musk which I count among my most favorites, built on ambrette seed.
They're all sensual fumes, molding themselves into the idea we have of the Orient and it seems to me (only a casual observation which might be proven wrong) that people seem to prefer either the opulent Ambre or the densely smoky Encens out of the quartet. My own preference lies to the outsiders.
The Goutal fragrance implores us to look upon myrrh with eyes sooted with the blackest black of the lamp which burns lighting up the harem and to adorn our body with oils which speak of a thousand caravans carrying mysterious cargo across the Middle East. It makes me think of Loti; not Plato. The sweet facets brought out by the addition of benzoin and beeswax bring out a sticky "cola" note which is not at all at odds with the natural shade of the essential oil of myrrh. The gentle smokiness rendered by the earthy woody notes of vetiver is a welcome reminder that we're dealing with something that harkens back to the roots of perfumery; "through smoke".