Sunday, October 04, 2009

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant (Les Orientalistes)

Annick Goutal's Les Orientalistes series is generally regarded as not very Goutal-like, which is mostly true, considering the house's dainty reputation (obviously, this is only true if one has never encountered Goutal's Eau du Fier). Out of the four Les Orientalistes scents, Encens Flamboyant seems the most surprising. It's a study of frankincense in three forms (sap, slightly processed resinoid and burnt incense), enriched with various spices- black and pink pepper, cardamom and nutmeg, and grounded with fir balsam. Nothing frilly here, for sure.

Incense scents tend to walk the line between cold and warm. From church walls and pine needles (CDG Avignon, Heeley Cardinal) to smoke and burnt embers (CDG Zagorsk, L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer). Of course, there's also the alien terrain of Andy Tauer's Incense Extreme, which can be both, depending on your mood, the weather and the magic of skin chemistry. Encense Flamboyant is definitely not the cold kind, despite the fir balsam which can sometimes give that dark pine forest feel. Here it is soft and almost comforting. It whispers more than cracks under your feet, if that makes any sense.

The first time I tried Encens Flamboyant I thought it would be more my husband's type of scent than mine (the bottle is still officially his, but you know how these things work). It took me a while to fully get this beauty. Beyond the spice, beyond the smoke- there's a wonderful softness to this scent. Incense perfumes are often regarded as meditative. This might be the first one I truly feel has that effect on my mind- it's very calming and centering. Compared to other incense fragrances I own, this might be the most tender, which is not what I expected after all the pepper and spice. It has an understated presence. Sometimes I forget I'm wearing it and then it catches me by surprise.

Encens Flamboyant layers beautifully with the other Les Orientalistes, and especially with Ambre Fetiche. Wearing them together can feel like a Middle Eastern party, complete with belly dancers. It's a lot of fun.

Photo: Incense, Buddhist temple by Per-Andre Hoffman


  1. Hi Gaia! I love your blog, which I have just recently discovered- I've been reading archives for days now!

    This perfume has had my attention for some time now, as I love incense. However, I also own the entire CdG incense series- do you think this one offers something different? I mean, does it have a place in a collection if you already have all the CdG's?

  2. Oh you have made me want to try this one. Sounds gorgeous, a perfect incense.

    ps- I read Non-Blonde archives for days too, Jared. Addictively fabulous ;)

  3. I only have Eau D'Hadrien from AG, but this sounds right up my street. I do like incense in winter. I've had a sample of the Armani Prive Bois D'Encens and I'm so tempted but just haven't been able to bring myself to pay that much for a fragrance...yet.

  4. I'm really intrigued you noticed an effect on state of mind. So did I, immediately and markedly, when I tried it yesterday for the first time. I wondered if it was triggering memories of stepping into ancient cathedrals, because that gets me every time too. Or could it be something else? Anyway, it was welcome, as I'd been migraining for weeks. Mon Parfum Cheri has a similar effect though more exhilarating and much more romantic, if that's the polite word for inducing desire. In six short weeks, I have collected nearly all of the Goutal line in one form or another, in bits and bottles. This one will be next.


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