The hardest reviews to write are about the perfumes that touch you the deepest. They're only the ones you love the most, but they feel so intertwined with your heart, which doesn't leave much room for words. I've been waiting for over a year for the right words to come and describe Maai from Bogue Profumo. I could have probably waited another year with no big bang of inspiration, so sometimes it's better to just spritz and type.
Antonio Gardoni is the perfumer behind Bogue Profumo. I don't know why he chose the name (which means 'bug') and the emblem that comes with it, but I think it's actually a good idea. It lets you know right from the start that you won't be getting anything standard. Or shower fresh. Maai belongs on the same shelf with perfume creatures such as several of DSH perfumes (including the just-released Rendezvous), MKK, Roja Diaghilev, Papillon Salome, Montecristo, Onda, and at least two full drawers of my vintage perfume dresser, from Bal a Versailles back to the early perfumes of the 20th century. All of that spells two words: Good and Skank.
Maai is a classic animalic chypre. It's one of those civet bombs that are decorated very elaborately with rich floral notes, mostly jasmine and rose of the kind that once upon a time made Joy de Patou the "costliest perfume in the world". Once again I am reminded that this is what perfume is all about, and that's how it's supposed to make me feel: extravagant, dangerous, powerful, beautiful. A a whole world is constructed when I spray Maai. It's my world, full of my own lights and shadows, emotions and memories. It can be so crowded, overwhelming even, leaving little room for anything or anyone else. Which is interesting considering the word 'maai' in Japanese refers to the space between two opponents in combat (Wikipedia is my friend). It's a danger zone, a short distance full of tension.
The many contradiction within Maai include its appeal to all genders. When the husband (who owns the bottle in theory) wears it, the perfume is like a mossy cave that's the habitat of a wild animal. It's an almost straight up masculine, the like that haven't been seen since vintage YSL Kourus. I wear it either as an intimate secret or a bold femme fatale scent, like my treasured Zibeline extrait.
As much as I like encapsulating myself in this Bogue perfume, I find that wearing one little spray is usually more enjoyable than my typical way of fumigating the entire metro area. In small amounts I get the elegant and complex composition that surrounds the lush floral heart with oakmoss and various furry creatures. Dare I say it's more fun this way? Longevity doesn't suffer from a minimalist application. Maai is still there the day after, and is often hard to wash from clothes and linens. Not that I want to. I like my secret beast to stay with me forever.
Bogue Profumo- Maai ($180, 30ml eau de parfum) is available from Luckyscent.
Photo by Tim Walker for LOVE magazine, 2013. The model is Karen Elson and beauty nerds probably recognize the work of makeup artist Lisa Eldridge. The lion is very much real and alive (though shot separately from Karen).