Sharing thoughts - Le Labo

Just a round-up of reviews of some fragrances by Le Labo (here I already wrote about Oud 27).



Cuir 28

Easily one the nicest leather scents on the market at the moment, at least for the “straightforward leathers” part of the family. What I enjoy more in Cuir 28 is the perfect, “round” simplicity of the leather accord, which has basically nothing around “disturbing” it: it is indeed a bit tending towards freshness more than “dark harsh heaviness” like other leather scents, but overall it smells really bright, realistic, “purely leathery”. There’s vetiver, cedar, darker woody notes to provide a stout base with also a slight medicinal feel (like oud), then spices (cloves), a subtle veil of warm and dusty vanilla adding the right amount of “softness”, the usual aromachemicals used to build leather accords, a sprinkle of bright citrus, and that’s it. These notes are tightly blended to create “the” leather accord par excellence: a sharp, neat, meticulous “figurative” depiction of leather. A really well-balanced scent which is not too harsh, not too dry, not softly suede-ish, not excessively “smoky”, not “openly” synthetic... yet a bit of all of them: just soft, rich, high-quality finished leather. And ironically, Cuir 28 is so austerely simple, that (for the almighty power of “less is more”) it smells more interesting and fascinating than most of other contemporary leathers which almost always try to “add” something to leather (tobacco, fruits, flowers, oud...). It does not resemble to any leather scent; yet it does a bit to all of them, as if it was “a leather of leathers”, a sort of patchwork of all the leather notes taken from all leather scents (I get I am starting to write nonsense, be patient, it’s almost over). Plus, note that “simple” here doesn’t mean minimalistic or thin: Cuir 28 is rich, complex, fulfilling, almost “materic” in its realistic power: it smells solid and full of nice nuances, all perfectly connected to leather. Literally providing that feel you get by wearing and touching your favourite high-quality leather jacket: that warm, “masculine”, elegant, soft feel. It is obviously a bit dark, but dont’ imagine anything gloomy or dry: it’s dark in a warmer, laid-back, yet sophisticated meaning. Anyway: really good. Two flaws: much linear, and quite costly. But a must try for all leather fans.

7,5-8/10

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Lys 41
You know what this smells like? Sleep. And I mean that both because it’s a terrifically boring scent, but also because it is so yawn-inducing it becomes fascinatingly soporific (that cozy, intimate, and obviously terribly pleasant feeling you have just before falling asleep). So in the end, not a completely negative kind of boring. Almost a creative take on it. Anyway, Lys 41 is basically a really simple, graceful and quite plain white floral scent with a woody-amber base and sweet-dusty nuances, with also something that reminded me of suede, but I guess it must be the musky note. Don’t think of anything too powdery or sweet, it’s rather a delicate haiku played on creamy-woody notes, as much pleasant as a bit dull and plastic. The evolution if basically non-existent, but the persistence is good and the projection is unexpectedly quite sharp. On one side, you can smell here the peculiar way of Le Labo of playing around common accords and notes with a sort of “modern” and kind of suspended, ethereal, aseptic treatment: but also, I think they sort of “crossed the line” a bit with this, meaning that the mild, “lunar lab” discreetness becomes just more plain dullness here. Or well, just this close to it. A synthetic candy worthy a try, but nothing more in my opinion. I completely agree with deadidol’s take on this!

6/10

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Ambrette 9

Ambrette by Le Labo is a cute and graceful scented thingy gently and carelessly revolving around amber, musk, ambrettolide, ambroxan, with something fruity on top and a pleasant anisic-floral breeze providing a watercolour silky touch all over. Cozy, sweet, lively, as much pleasant as completely unsubstantial to me, as it basically smells like the drydown of a whatever floral-fruity feminine scent from the late Nineties. Feeble, nerveless, and short lived. Meh...

5,5-6/10

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Vetyver 46

If a hypothetical “Gucci pour Homme Vetiver” from 2003 existed, it would have smelled exactly like this. Vetiver by Le Labo is literally Gucci pour Homme I (I get this one closer than the CdG) with all its distinctive incense-cedar-pepper structure, just topped with (good) vetiver. A proper “flanker”. Surely nice overall, with also a remarkable persistence, but really too derivative for me.

6/10

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Iris 39

A nice, solid, pleasant iris scent opening with just the right amount of rooty-waxiness and a bold prominent “lipstick” note, well scented with spices, a hint of zesty freshness, woody nuances well blending with the powdery richness of iris petals. I honestly don’t get any civet, at any point, but I do get some slight camphoraceous feel on the very base. Overall a simple, almost mystical scent in its floral-rooty simplicity, as it basically smells like iris with notes enhancing its different facets (woods, spices, other flowers, ginger-carrot for its rooty side). I appreciate in particular the work around the rooty-earthy side of iris, with a beautiful sort of “darkening” that starting from the initial bright freshness slowly takes Iris 39 down to a darker and darker earthy path, dusted with a sophisticated powderiness. Really pleasant, refined, versatile, somehow as “cold” and distant as earthy and rich, as iris often manages to smell – that is part of what makes it a fascinating material. Honestly though, I also get an unpleasant sort of cheap aftertaste here and there, a little metallic perhaps, which is something I wouldn’t expect at this price. I may be not that good in assessing the quality of iris (which is a note I admit I don’t know that well), but frankly and despite being surely pleasant and compelling, this smells a bit overpriced to me (like most of niche scents, though).

7/10

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Patchouli 24

The opening of Patchouli 24 is rough, dry, dark, tar and smoky, an ultra-dry and sour birch woody accord, quite synthetic in a way (a good way: synthetically "post-industrial"), but at the same time rich, thick and realistic, with a nice and almost ghastly nuance of "smoked meat", like alfarom noted below. I also detect the patchouli note but it's quite understated and restrained, hiding behind this exhaust campfire of black woods, yet creating a nice and elegant contrast between its velvety, dusty, slightly cocoa-earthy feel (the patchouli, I mean) and the woody-ashy overall mood. On the very base, just a thin "rounding" layer of vanilla. Much refined and utterly pleasant with its austere and sophisticated look, just a tad artificial, but nice, a contemporary vision of "black" like Bois d'ascèse or CdG Black. After a while it starts to "warm" and open up, becoming softer and gentler, with a smooth and soft yet dark leather note arising - and at this point, while the similarity with the abovementioned scents becomes weaker, the closeness to La troisième heure by Cartier becomes quite evident. It's exactly the same structure: smoky, mellow, dark leather blended with dusty vanilla. Perhaps there's no leather and it's the birch wood, still that's the smell. Pure class and pleasure for sure, although nothing new. Plus, the patchouli (which was barely detectable at the opening) is completely vanished at this point, so bear this in mind in case you came here mostly for patchouli. Nonetheless, the scent is much good even if the main character is missing: it's pleasant, sophisticated, a bit overpriced and not that unique (the Cartier is not the only "reference", basically any other contemporary leather-vanilla scent would work), but "it works" quite well. I enjoyed wearing it and – for what it's worth – I'd wear it happily if I had a bottle. I wouldn't pay for this, but I'll do my best to have someone buy this for me (lucky me, Christmas is not that far).

7,5-8/10

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Labdanum 18

Labdanum opens with a pleasant, warm, dusty ambery accord, with perhaps patchouli on the very base, aldehydes, a subtle and discreet vanillin-tonka accord and a well-executed heart of civet and musk, animalic and camphoraceous. Boozy-sweet breeze all over. Almost geometrical in its simplicity, but bold and clear, a journey among nostalgic souvenirs of dusty chypres, just "deprived" of any notes except patchouli, animalic accords and amber. Modern, mature, elegant, simple and most important, smelling good, clear, high quality. The evolution is quite linear but I guess it is part of the concept, and being so pleasant, it is surely not a minus. Bravi!

7,5-8/10

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