Like another mysterious perfume at the same price point, JAR "Bolt Of Lightning", Ô Hira by Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 has no official note list or a pyramid. All Mr. Lucas has to say about Ô Hira is that it's "fossilized amber", which is interesting, because amber-- as in the fossily thing found on the shores of the Baltic Sea and used in jewelry-- has absolutely no scent or connection to either ambergris or amber accord as we know them in perfumery. But anyone who'd smell even a quick whiff of Ô Hira would recognize it as an "amber".
Fragrantica lists the note as ambergris, but I'm willing to bet the cap of a Roja Dove perfume bottle that this is not true (both in the sense of the raw material itself and in the approximation of a perfume note). While Ô Hira does smell animalic somewhere in the course of its relationship with my skin, this is not that kind of an animal. It's a land animal, like everything else about this fragrance that comes from the earth. O Hira moves between two extremes: a black, red, and gold lava erupting and burning everything in its path, but also ancient and cold-- that fossilized thing again, a piece of jewelry combining amber and obsidian in a heavy gold frame found in a king's tomb.
The warmth of this Stéphane Humbert Lucas perfume comes from several sources: charred resins, leather, cinnamon, and as Kafkaesque explains in her meticulous analysis of O Hira, labdanum. Lots and lots of labdanum used in such amounts that you get each and every nuance of this material and note: from unburnt incense to unwashed hair. But there's also a stony facet, a black crystal that lies in the heart of the perfume and keeps it together. It absorbs all the light and draws your attention, yet feels oddly cool against the skin.
O Hira has no powder to speak of, nor is it vanillic. The slight sweetness appears after quite a while and is more honeyed than sugared, and barely even that. This is a marvelously dry amber, free of gender cliches or other references. I know that everyone's first instinct is to start comparing and contrasting. After all, an amber "soliflore" is not exactly a novel concept. But as I look at my list of favorite amber perfumes, examine my personal collection and browse through my own reviews throughout the years I fail to find the right reference points. I can't say that the burning sensation is like the one in Ambre Fetiche or that the dryness is similar to Ambre di Carthage. It just doesn't work this way. Something about Ô Hira is so unique despite all the familiar ideas and undertones that fall under the amber label that you have to respect Stéphane Humbert Lucas for insisting on doing it his own way.
Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777- Ô Hira ($825, 1.7 oz) is available from Osswald.
Art: Afternoon at the Jewelry Shop by Ettore Forti, 19th century.