Of the new "Les Orientalistes" trio of Annick Goutal fragrances, Encens Flamboyant is far and away my favorite. It is the least sweetened of the trio, and has that smoky evergreen quality that for some reason I suddenly crave this fall. As usual, my perfume cravings are tied to sensory experiences I can't have. With my recent balsam cravings, I know what I really want is a walk through a Wisconsin evergreen forest, pine needles scenting the air and silencing any sound of my steps, with snow and woodsmoke in the air.
According to the Annick Goutal website, the notes in EF are: three different types of frankincense, balsam fir, roseberry,
cardamom, sage, nutmeg, and mastic.
But as I sat with my nose pressed against my hand, whimpering with happiness, I thought suddenly about the mostly neglected sample vial of Comme des Garcons Kyoto I have in my perfume closet. Of the CdG incense series, I own and love Avignon, but I thought this turnaround on fir scents might mean I'd finally understand the love out there for Kyoto as well. And this was, in fact a revelation for me!
According to LuckyScent, Kyoto's notes are: incense, cypress oil, coffee, teak wood, vetiver, patchouli, amber, everlasting flower, Virginian cedar. The incense is unmistakeably frankincense, but this is a drier and woodier fragrance than EF. Nonetheless, the two fragrances were much more similar than many other pairs I've imagined might be twins.
Now many others have already covered the seemingly magically ethereal yet sustained incense of the CdG fragrances, so I will try not to go on and on, but I wanted to share a comparison of Kyoto with EF (each dabbed on, with K on the left and EF on the right). The remarkable, dry, delicate frankincense smokiness of Kyoto just goes on and on, perfectly balanced with and weaving in and out of the woods. That may sound linear, but the CdG scents achieve that amazing shifting, swirling quality of incense wisps in the air, and it is anything but boring. In EF, which is extraordinarily similar, there is a juicier quality with the balsam, and it turns into more of a fir-tree sap with a hint of spice in the drydown.
Looking at the notes for Kyoto, I think the drier quality is probably due in part to the woods, which are not balsam, but cypress and cedar. In the drydown, EF smells more and more like laying under the Christmas tree when I was kid, or the fir sap that I got it on my hands after climbing evergreens in the woods, but Kyoto gets drier and woodier.
Both have much to love, and as I alternately sniff hands, my preference changes throughout the drydown. Kyoto demands my appreciation with its ascetic beauty, but Encens Flamboyant captures me with nostalgia.
(Image is my own, all rights reserved.)