Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Le Labo Gaiac 10: fragrance review

Perfumer Annick Ménardo does a Marc Buxton on us with Le Labo Gaiac 10; a sensual, diaphanous and creamy season-less woody fragrance with just the barest hint of soft, sweet musks and comforting, meditative incense in the drydown. Why so? Because Annick shares the beloved mixture of Ambroxan and Iso-E Super of Buxton's famous woody incenses and fluffies his somber yet clean style with the infusion of a hint of sweetness that lends come hither charm to the proceedings.: a delicate balance fit for an experienced trapeze artist.

Gaïac is a very hard greenish wood that isn’t as dry as cedar and that is subtle, profound, and stable. Le Labo’s GAIAC 10, a perfume extract that has been developed in partnership with cult perfumer Annick Ménardo (Bulgari Black, Lolita Lempicka, Patchouli 24) in 2008, is a tense formula built on gaïac wood and surrounded by muscs (4 different synthetic musk types in all), with hints of cedar and olibanum (incense). If you like the meditative, cool Eastern incense vibe of Kyoto by Comme de Garçons, you have good chances to appreciate that element in the Le Labo offering. The musks are the "clean" variety, lightly sweet with a faintly fruity tonality, with no funk or sweat involved. The woody background with a light peppery nuance is reminiscent of the base notes treatment in Poivre Samarkande for Hermessences and Bang by Marc Jacobs. (So we know it's Iso E Super that's doing the trick). And of course there's incense. Subtle, coolish, lightly smoky incense, contemplative and serene.

Essentially monochromatic, entirely linear but pleasurably so, I find that Gaiac 10 projects as a secret aura more than a fragrance: It's the type of scent to wear when you desire people to spontaneously exclaim "you smell good" instead of "your fragrance smells good".

The lasting power of Le Labo Gaiac 10 is amazingly good, about 12 hours and going on my skin, while the perfume wears close to the body, yet still enough to be noticeable at all times during a hug or a kiss. Marketed as a masculine, I believe it is in reality a shared fragrance and it would be ultra neat for lovers to share; just imagine the possibilities, assuming that the steep price point is not a deterrent! It is available in the standard basic apothecary style bottle and label of Le Labo, customized per customer and only available in Tokyo; unless you get the opportunity to catch this in the course of Japan Relief while supplies last online for a limited time only (find out more on the link).

Still from the film Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) by Wim Wenders (1987).


  1. Hi E!

    This reminds me of how much my fragrance tastes have widened and changed. Only little more than a year ago, something like this would never have appealed to me. But now I am on my second sample (thanks to a very sweet perfumista friend) and I absolutely love it. Loved your review of it, too!

  2. Suzanne,

    thank you so much for stopping by and for your interesting comment too!
    It's rather fetching in its own style and I think a large decant/small bottle of it would run out quickly at my place. :-)
    Glad to see you liking this one as well, we need to make them make this non exclusive ;-)

  3. Well silly me, I posted my comment on the earlier short review of this fragrance! I was saying, lol, I really enjoy the Annick Menardo fragrances I have smelled and the ones I own. They are all very different form the vintage chypres I typically am drawn to that's for sure! Now I have Bulgari Black, Lolita Lempicka and the two flankers, Midnight and Minuit Noir. I am not sure she did the last two. I think so? I also have tested Hypnotic Poison and how could I not like it, but I don't have a bottle of it!

  4. Yes, I love Gaiac 10 (but not the price tag!) Kyoto, Bang -- they're all nice, but not quite Gaiac 10. What else out there comes close?

  5. Anonymous11:53

    Lucky you, it only lasts not more than 30 min on my skin...
    I like the scent, but not lasting is really put me off.

  6. Stelma,

    hi there, only now have I seen you comment. Sorry for being so late!!

    Re: LL Midnight and Minuit Noir: not sure who did them. She did compose several others but then that's not proof.

  7. Laurahead,

    sorry for being so very late in coming here to reply, but here I am at last.

    In my opinion, alas, nothing comes really close (close but no cigar, as they say). This is why I finally broke down and got my own bottle.

  8. Anon,

    really eh? Darn! I do get hours and hours of wafting deliciousness. Could you perhaps spray your clothes? It last a long time that way. Also tucking a soaked cotton ball somewhere on your person (hollowed pendant would be totally cool!) would also mean slower evaporation, more lasting power to the fume.


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