Can scent be narcotic? This is the very most hypnotizing my nose has been to date. I’m still learning but this is far beyond my ability to describe. It’s attention grabbing, mysterious, alluring, and bewildering.
Strong recommend for all to at least sample.
The notes say heavy top notes of lavender but I find that baffling. I get whomped by something dark, warm, and sweet like a molasses or anise. That must be the ethyl maltol.
Mid notes of jasmine and ylang are gently coming through at four wear hours. I’m weak though, I was so intoxicated by the top notes I reapplied!
The opening wave encloses me with its floral onslaught - think lots of ylang-ylang with an undertone of a slightly waxy tuberose. There is, however, a brief breakthrough of citrus - ripe oranges and mandarin - but soon a nice mint aroma starts permeating the floral fest, the latter being enforced by a strong and only minimally powdery jasmine. Other florals that unfold with time are a Damascene rose and some champace. Interestingly, the mint is not just transient freshening up the florals, but it linger for quite a while as a significant contributor as a whole.
The next phase adds a benzoin from Thailand, which is smooth but also quite distinct, and develops a camphoric undertone that is as unexpected as it is fitting in well with the rest. A boozy note - a bit like a Kentucky Bourbon - with herbal hints - thyme and laurel - are in the background, with the boozy note the stronger one of the two on me.
The rest is a mix of woods and some restrained animalic components, although the benzoin lingers on quite prominently for a long time. I get a nice rose wood with lots of cedar, and touches of sandalwood way back in the background; the sandal is the weakest of the woodsy triad on me. The animalic offering consists of a gently crisp civet, which is associated with a bit of castoreum as well as a salty aroma of an ambergris. Towards the end, an ambery dark-ish musky component is evident, but a stronger labdanum in particular develops into a late addition that gives the final stages another twist altogether.
I get moderate sillage, excellent projection, and eight hours of longevity on my skin.
This spring scent is an olfactory tour de force, with its citrus, floral, woodsy and more animalic phases, which are not clearly demarcated and show lots of overlaps. Such a vast array of components would usually lead to many of them not being able to develop fully, but here nearly each of them has its moment of prominence in the olfactory limelight, its "minutes of fame", some longer and some shorter, which, although not always sustained, is quite a remarkable feat; some ingredients are more vivid than others though. The quality of the ingredients is excellent, and the blending outstanding. 4.25/5
Superior blending. Perhaps the best from the house at least so far in my humble opinion. Such a Cornucopia of notes which makes ones head spin but it all seems to work like a Grande Symphony.
Magnificent production. Thank you Mr Gardoni!
Opens with medicinal lavendar, orange and grapefruity smell that gives one the impression of a great smelling citronella candle. Theres a yellow ylang, labdanum, and whisper of civet. Its a nice composition, smells like a good quality, blending is good. Unisex, would smell great on anyone. Just not maybe for me.
With its 23 notes, MEM looks daunting on the page and one expects a jumble of olfactory sensations. The reality is quite different.
Initially I detect a beautiful tuberose, though it is not listed as a note. This is perhaps an overdose of Ylang. This is quickly followed in succession by lavender, peppermint and vanilla. So far fresh and uplifting, with that rich creamy ylang/tuberose hovering over all.
Five minutes in the civet appears, a quiet restrained civet, along with the musk and castoreum, thus providing a new, warm, animalic base for the creamy florals and crisp lavender/peppermint to dance upon.
The blending is stellar. One gets the impression of a Guerlain from the 1930s or 1940s. It's that well done.
Into the dry down we are in Jicky territory lavender and vanilla, but the brightness of the peppermint is still present in the background.
MEM is a true surprise in this modern perfume world of chemical and synthetic ingredients. It all smells real and it smells well thought out, both rarities nowadays. Highly recommended for those into vintage scents. The price tag is daunting, but this is one of the very few highly priced items that may just be worth the investment.
Antonio Gardoni is the most talented perfumer on earth and this is his Magnum Opus. An absolute treatise on Lavender. Herbal, sweet, floral, fresh, warm... Bogue makes holographic future florals for the next century.
If I had to choose one fragrance to wear for the rest of my days, it would be MeM. Pure happiness.
MEM leads off with an excellent billowing lavender, the kind that lets in nostril-clearing eucalyptus-like notes and gummier licorice into its usual soap-and-metal charge. This feels like fields upon fields of the stuff and it's probably the first time it has truly excited me in perfumery (by contrast, lavender for real I find plenty exciting). Walk back into a room where you have been sitting and there is that lavender, impossibly vital, a touch camphoraceous, fresh as a breeze. The citruses in the opening have been beautifully deployed to pair with the lavender the bitter peel effects merging perfectly into the medicinal edge of its profile.
Hereafter, MEM diverges somewhat on paper it had promised brassy, fat and dirty jasmine as the floral entertainment but on my skin the florals were muted subsuming themselves in the development of the lavender main theme. Bubbles of olfactory sensations keep popping the brightness of something minty, suggestions of caramel and burnt sugar, malty comfort. So, yes, MEM is complex as has often been noted but it's a complexity within a clearly articulated theme. As for the animalic elements, nothing really wagged its tail at me whatever is in here is kept well within the bounds of decency. What I appreciate most about MEM is how it zigzags between field-fresh lavender, medicine chest and grand classical perfumery of layers upon layers without any dizziness.
However, wonders be, much, much later in the day, almost without my noticing it, there was the jasmine, with not a single clean thought on its mind, doing unspeakable things with an ever-so-willing musk. The lavender was now taking a back seat, but enjoying the view, so to speak.
What an incredibly interesting critique of chypres, lavender and decay MEM is. I think it is incorrect to associate this fragrance with vintage perfumery, for to me this fragrance exudes an approach that is nothing if not earnestly modern.
When thinking about MEM, I am hard pressed to consider it except as an animallic chypre which has, interestingly enough, replaced it's centerfold icon with that of lavender - the fougere's classic note. What makes this even more interesting, is Antonio Gardoni's focus and theoretical approach to decay, or the fine line which separates that of an over-ripe note, and it's loss of pure character to the maniacal grip of rot.
Gardoni uses a lot of contrasts to illustrate his treatise on lavender, and in ways through which those approaching this perfume won't expect - even from having read the note breakdown. For instance, there is citrus for certain at work here - the sour elements of grapefruit (those that are occasionally called 'body oder'ish) joins with the pretty, powdery and bitter petitgrain to create an unsettling accord straddling sour/bitter divide- yet simultaneously, the mandarin orange here is working very hard to unite as a middle term: fresh, juicy, and endlessly refined.
More immediately, however, is the totalizing effect of the four different dimensions that the lavender takes on - this is the muscular organism surrounding the skeletal structure of animalics hard at work here - the civet and castoreum are putting in overtime - always there is a chewy, slightly urinous and infinitely musky tinge which unites the otherwise realistic and intense animallic accords with the herbal and truly heavy lavender that constantly draw the mind of the wearer to opposite ends of the fragrance spectrum.
And yet - even the elements that seem the most straightforward are contrasted in ways designed to, like a lot of modern arthouse films, put you at peace with that which seems to be antagonistic to 'haute' taste itself, and yet simultaneously cause you to investigate the elements of fragrances that do genuinely draw the most 'immediate' loves throughout time - the floral top for instance which is joyously booming with bright and sweet notes of ylang-ylang, champaca and a wonderfully lush damask rose paired with a bourbon geranium that only enhances the lush and leafy character of the rose is contrasted with cool and crisp mint, a slightly fruity yet still densely herbal and spicy laurels and a flat beer accord coming from the malt. This of course is a reflection of the constant series of contrasts at the core of this fragrance - somewhere between decay, fermentation, and rot - in the notion of that which is stale and still, rather than necessarily aggressive and hostile (there is no notion of death present here.)
Even as the fragrance dies down, with some of the custard, coffee and jammy elements coming from the top to meet with the chewy siam benzoin and smoky/creamy elements coming from the labdanum, amber,vanilla - the animallic notes come back out to play here, and are just as intense and interesting as they were during the start of this elaborate performance, only now they take on entirely different expressions - paired with these balsamic/sweet underpinnings, they now also have a strong woody character coming from the palisander rosewood and the himalayan cedar - although the transition doesn't feel jarring at all - the creamy sandalwood pairs well here with the benzoin and the labdanum as a transitional series of notes that explode with just as much interesting character as one finds at the start of this fragrance.
Overall, loving one fragrance from this house does not entail that you will love any other by necessity - this house is one which takes the core notion of theory and love of art in-and-for-itself as its highest virtue, and if you are ready and willing to continue down this road after smelling any of the other magnum opus fragrances from this house, MEM is certainly a wonderful place to progress towards.
A very challenging fragrance to rate, but ultimately I have to give it a lower score due to the fact that I spend more time analyzing than I do enjoying this one - but don't let that mislead you - MEM is absolutely astounding - my personal preference might not be at this point just yet, but I certainly could find myself absolutely needing a bottle of this genius work down the line.
Antonio Gardoni has taken what smelled to me like a shot at a fougère before (O/E, to be precise), but this is something else entirely. To say that MEM is about lavender is a bit like saying that Picasso's Guernica is a picture of a bull. To belabor the metaphor, Gardoni, true architect that he is, deconstructs and reassembles the lavender in MEM to reveal an entirely new, and heretofore unimagined form.
In a pathetically inadequate and incomplete attempt at analysis, I'll venture that part of Gardoni's genius here was to pull hard on a couple of lavender's loose strands. As Vero Kern had once before with her magnificent Kiki, Gardoni accentuates the weird, carmel-like facet that emerges in some lavender materials. Yet at the same time, he also highlights the bitter edge that makes lavender so thoroughly unpalatable when, in the now-fashionable manner, it is baked into shortbread cookies. (Sorry, but I'd rather eat ashes.) This, among many other things, takes place over the kind of deeply saturated medicinal/animalic background that has become a Gardoni trademark (q.v. MAAI, Gardelia, or Aeon 001.)
I will stop now, because I can't begin to do MEM justice, but know that it's scents like this that restore my faith in olfactory creativity.
For me this opens double layered...a minty ice cold stark lavender riding on a slab of musky castoreum with a flowery aura floating about...changes constantly...right now it turned into something that I would swear is a Kouros flanker...combines notes and accords in strange and unusual configurations while still maintaining poise and balance...i have to add that I am a huge fan of Bogue and own several fragrances...being a lover of powerhouses, animalics , and good old school fragrances this house pushes all the right buttons for me...this fragance has an intresting balance between being light/fresh and dark/musty...like being in a damp dusty dank dungeon and throwing open a window and having the sunshine and fresh air rush in...this is definitely a fun ride...as much as vintage juices are great I do occasionaly run into the issue of damage and being able to tell that a fragrance has not aged well and has turned...I am very happy that there are perfume artists out there creating retro classic fragrances like this to fill the place of bygone fragrances...i like the fact that I can get the satisfaction. of smelling something classic/old school like this but know that the juice is fresh and can sit in my wardrobe for a long time without worry...i get some civet creeping in now giving me even more enjoyment...bottom line - a well crafted and blended musky/flowery/animalic take on various aspects of lavender...in my eyes, or rather, nose, another masterpiece from Bogue...
This is the perfume that made me want to start writing again about perfume, if only to spread the word about how brilliant it is and how everyone who invests in perfume as art should buy a bottle. I got a sample from Luckyscent and spent the next few days struggling to understand it enough to write about it.
My basic description would be dirty lavender marmalade: Jicky dragged through the quinoa section of the health food store, covered in earth, incense, and floor wax, and lifted up into the air with the malty fizz of champagne. All of this nestled in a burned-sugar floral accord that smells a bit like tuberose but isn't tuberose, a complex series of smoke and mirrors designed to lead your nose out of its depth.
Unusually for a modern perfume although this isn't really a modern perfume MEM reveals its true complexity in the base, where a silty, musky ambergris lights up all the other elements like a blowtorch. Antonio used real animalics for the base, and it shows. The perfume is complex, beautiful, and abstract, far more so than even Maai. By far one of the most exciting perfumes I've put on my skin lately.
MEM covers a lot of ground and it covers it quickly. When first sprayed it moves too fast for precise description and feels more like slam poetry than anything olfactory. It's a 'Tomato-Jasmine Waxed-Sultry-Jam Malted Milk-Tuned Rubber Gasoline-Flame, Drop-The-Mic-And-Howl' sort of perfume. It's a rush.
MEM is Antonio Gardoni's discourse on lavender and it is packed with lavender. Lavender is never hidden, but you might give a double-take on recognizing it. MEM combines identifiable clues and completely new shapes and never settles for one definition of lavender. It knocks lavender from its comfortable perch in the pantheon of perfume materials and makes it sing for its supper. Working with a material like lavender has two specific risks. The first is that it is one of the most well-known material in fragrance and is consequently predictable. Trying to make it say anything new is difficult. The second is that changing the rules will always threaten a percentage of people. Dismantling an olfactory baseline' is like pulling out the rug. MEM might very well find a good portion of its audience in a state of distress or disorientation.
MEM is also something new for Gardoni. His previous perfumes for Bogue were an out-and-out interrogation of 20th century perfumery. (*) MEM doesn't look to the past as these other perfumes did. It does however share their sense of provocation. These perfumes were conceptual and they were daring. Their success was made more meaningful in large part because they risked failure so unwaveringly. MEM's risk of failure is just as great. The challenge is not just how to make a novel lavender perfume, it's how to win people over to The New Lavender.' Anyone remember New Coke?
As an olfactory object, lavender is weighted down by associations. It's floral, herbal, medicinal, antiseptic. It's grand-dad's aftershave, it's the grocery store wipes, it's the pastry from the bakery. It's everywhere. Gardoni confronts lavender's dual tragic flaw: familiarity and predictability. Rather than try to reinvent' lavender per se, Gardoni's trick is to make it unexpected.
A set of almost tropical floral tones steers clear of typical depictions and frees lavender from associations with aromatherapy, cleaning products and the barbershop. The perfume sidesteps the top-heart-base pyramid without settling for a linear model and the progression of the perfume has a deceptively wandering feel. An expressive collection of woods braces the perfume and a pack of animalic notes come and go as if prowling through the perfume. MEM meticulously avoids lavender's clichés and none of the old chestnuts (leafy greens, sudsy soap, chilly mothballs, shaving cream) find their way into the mix. By peeling away lavender's expected characteristics and altering its momentum, Gardoni renders it abstract and bends it to his purposes.
At times the perfume seems to create a broad olfactory milieu and has a striding, environmental scale. But even when it's impressionistic (sap, soil, metal and sunlight–-oh, an afternoon working in a garden) it's remarkably specific. The accords pass by steadily, giving the feeling of being taken on a guided tour of the objects in an imagined olfactory Cornell Box. A waxed grapefruit. Carmelized tomatoes. Flowers, champagne, cats and brackish water. A bizarre collection of images? Sure, but also elegant and logical.
The success of the perfume hangs on building new chains of association–-constructing a new lavender. I don't get the impression that Gardoni is making an emotional appeal or trying to woo you. Rather, what he gives the audience is a richness, and more important, a clarity of ideas to play with as they care to. Whether or not the odd olfactory images–- coconut woods, grape-soda white flowers, doggedness, clay-rich soil, rubber citrus bark, dappled markings, orange jam, flat beer, leather-soled shoes–-speak to you or not, they have a precision that lets you string together the pieces to suit your own inclinations. I feel like I've been handed an extraordinary coloring-book and some crayons in gorgeous hues that I've never seen before. There's no need to worry too much about creating an image–-the lines are drawn. I'm just having a blast discovering these new colors.
The coloring-book analogy might sound ridiculous, but I've found a playful mindset is an effective line of approach to MEM. For all the specificity of the perfume, I'm reminded how scrupulously Gardoni avoided getting caught in a single definition of lavender. Lavender enters this discussion as possibly the most overdetermined note in perfumery and Gardoni's role was to free it. There is an appealing modesty to the way Gardoni helps you find your own lavender rather than convince you of his.
MEM is a bold, positive and necessary progression for Bogue. the billowing layers of lavender manage to sidestep obvious fougere associations, which is no mean feat. MEM plunges into uncharted gourmand oriental while retaining a lurking civet card that only reveals itself in the long drydown, showing crucial restraint. this is an extremely complex and ever-shifting frag that will retain its interest for a long time. another home run but with a different bat from Signor Gardoni!