The very charming Stéphane Humbert Lucas will have to forgive me for the artistic license I'm taking here. The main source of inspiration for his 777 line has been the mystery and opulence of the Arabian Peninsula. But my own cultural background being what it is, and the symphonic iris he uses in Khôl de Bahreïn all sing to me of Renaissance Florence, its palaces, art, and eternal beauty.
Khôl de Bahreïn is probably the sleeper in the Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 line. The heavy hitters: oud, roses, roses plus oud, and the heart-stopping experience of O Hira are sort of expected in this context. But the layers of buttery iris, silk and velvet lit by the kind of sunlight you don't see outside of Tuscany, a fatty smell and texture touched by peach and soft petals over an equally plush musky-balsamic base--- all of that is as addictive as it is unexpected among the other gems of this collection.
The iris-violet got to me from the very first sniff on the very first blotter. It's the kind of iris/orris that reminds you why this is one of the most precious raw materials in perfumery. Layered, complex, almost edible yet undeniably dangerous. I wanted to roll in its damask-like folds, and I still do (spraying myself like it's my job is the closest approximation). As Khôl de Bahreïn opens up and melts on the skin the lush feeling intensifies. It's borderline gourmand (the nougat note, I assume, but I'm thinking of chocolate-dipped almond florentines, with their lacy texture and buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture), and just a bit juicy before entering that treasure room in the palace where priceless oriental rugs, boxes of spice, resins and semi-precious stones from all around the world are heaped on the gilded floor.
In Khôl de Bahreïn Stéphane Humbert Lucas has given us an unapologetic sensual pleasure and a glimpse into a fantasy that has probably never existed. Thus allowing us to indulge in our own version of that coveted world. It feels kind of like the day before the lottery numbers are announced, but at least here we're left with something semi-tangible as our own beautiful sillage.
Notes: violet, nougat, gums, iris powder, sandalwood mixture of benzene, amber, musky balsamic notes.
Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777- Khôl de Bahreïn ($220, 50 ml EDP) is available from OsswaldNYC and Luckyscent.
Art: Raphael, Portrait of Young Woman with Unicorn, c.1506.