The wonderful depth of Au Delà, one of five perfumes by San Francisco-based artist Bruno Fazzolari, is not surprising. Deriving inspiration from art, theology, and music (you can read about it in Fazzolari's blog), there are some very complex idea that lead to the creation of Au Delà. In the blog post I linked above you can get a glimpse of the visual art (by Bernini), read a passage by St. Teresa of Avila, and listen to the music that gave Au Delà its name and character, the fifth movement of Éclairs sur L'Au Delà ("Flashes of the Beyond") by composer Olivier Messiaen, called Demeurer dans l'Amour, ("To Dwell in Love"). It's quite a bit to take in, and not completely necessary if one just wants to smell and enjoy the fragrance; but there are some keywords worth noting about the backstory: ecstasy, surrender, and immanence. The latter is actually a fantasy note in Au Delà (every one of Bruno Fazzolari's perfumes has one). It's a Catholic concept but also a philosophical theory of divine presence in which the divine is seen to be manifested in the material world (thank you, Wikipedia).
How does all of that translates into a perfume? As a chypre, naturally.
Au Delà is a floral chypre that takes delicate white flowers (neroli, jasmine, orange blossom) and uses hints of their carnal indolic nature while stretching the dreamy abstract quality of these note to the max. The smell of seductive nocturnal flowers carried in the warm air of a summer night fills the soul with a deep longing. The beauty is otherworldly, but the aching heart is personal. Au Delà is also grounded in reality, showing a green streak, an earthy spiciness, and of course-- oakmoss to rule them all (and in the darkness bind them).
Have I mentioned that Au Delà is nothing short of gorgeous? It is. There's a wonderful balance there of flowers and earth/spice, there's sin and grace, and most of all it has a rare form of elegance. I wish the perfume came in an extrait or at least an EDP; I've depleted my sample in order to get a better longevity (about five hours), but at least the fragrance lingers beautifully on my summer scarves. Despite the connection to chypre perfumes of yore, Au Delà smells and feels modern. It has an open space between the heart and the base notes that allows the contemporary perfume lover to live inside them and make this fantasy her or his own.
Notes:Coriander,Neroli, Jasmine, Oakmoss, Orange Flower, Amber. Fantasy note: Immanence.
Bruno Fazzolari- Au Delà ($65, 30ml EDT) is available from brunofazzolari.com. The sample for this review was sent for my consideration by the perfumer.