The newest perfume from Aedes de Venustas is perhaps the most abstract in the line. It might also be my favorite, and that's not even because it's technically centered around vanilla. I don't think of Cierge de Lune as a vanilla concoction at all, but as a representation of light and its absence, and as a quest to find the light during a long pitch-dark night.
Nighttime in the desert has inspired more than one perfumer and creative director (how many can you think of?), and my enjoyment of these dry amber-incense perfumes is second only my general dislike of actual desert landscapes, especially if I have to deal with them in person. Nevertheless, I fall again and again for the sensation of an infinite black sky over a land that stretches endlessly. Midnight in the desert is very cold. The sand dunes have long let go of the last bit of warmth they'd absorbed during the day and are now standing stark and eerie in the clear white moonlight. That's the first impression Cierge de Lune gives: a piercing almost unnatural light. It's not exactly a classic aldehydic floral, yet there's a similar effect. The press release and Karl Bradl of Aedes who created the concept of this perfume both say that perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin had used hedione, a radiant molecule that conjures the image of white flowers and cold transparent air (I highly recommend reading more about hedione in perfumery on Perfume Shrine).
As the night grows darker other scents invade the air around you. You keep walking as if summoned, noticing whiffs from a faraway campsite, light barely-there incense, a fata morgana of a shelter where soft smoky and warm air is ready to welcome you. On my skin this stage is sweeter and smells surprisingly like pipe tobacco before mellowing down back into a soft suede-colored sand that blows in the wind like ambery dust.
Just then when the starless night seems the most impenetrable a faraway light starts to glimmer. Is it another illusion caused by fatigue? Has the pale moon finally emerged to guide you the rest of the way? You keep walking, sweet hope taking over, warmth spreading to your tired limbs. There is something there, the reason you started this journey. The you see it: a beautiful and rare flower blooms on the vicious thorny cactus. It seems to give its own milky light, eclipsing the moon itself. You stand there mesmerized, taking it in, smelling the sweet creamy and slightly intoxicating aroma, the dessert is now your friend, comforting and safe.
In your little tent you pull the covers tightly. It's warm inside, and you can smell the clean desert air on your skin, sweet and slightly musky. You take one last look at the magical flower outside. You can finally get some rest.
Notes: crystalline accord, vanilla, pink pepper, black pepper, ylang ylang, suede accord, incense, amber, musk.
Aedes de Venustas- Cierge de Lune ($245, 100ml eau de parfum) is available directly from aedes.com. It will eventually arrive at the the other stockists around the world (it's already in Jovoy Paris), and a travel spray version will also be released in a month or so. The sample for this review was supplied by Aedes.
Art: Cactus Grandiflorus or Night-Blowing Cereus by Robert John Thornton, The Temple of Flora, 1807 (I'd love to get my paws on a copy of this magnificent book of poetry and flowers).