Perfumer Liz Moores: 

The seventh fragrance released in Papillon’s seventh year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. In ancient Egypt, the number 7 was considered a number of the Gods, and it is these deep esoteric connections thread together the inspiration and composition for Spell 125. Everything about this perfume is entwined with magic, history and ancient mystery. I loved the cyclical nature of creating Spell 125; I began the Papillon collection with Anubis, a perfume inspired by ancient Egypt, and it has been a pleasure to revisit this source and to close the circle from my first perfume to this, the seventh.

Spell 125 fragrance notes

    • white ambergris, siberian pine, black hemlock, green sacra frankincense, ylang ylang, indian sandalwood

Where to buy

Latest Reviews of Spell 125

Liz Moores digs into ancient Egyptian mysticism to describe Spell 125. Not being terribly familiar with the smells of ancient Egypt, I couldn't tell you how closely the product hews to its inspiration, but I'm guessing the Egyptians of yore didn't have a whole lot of Siberian pine around. TRNP's Fruit of the Moon explores this theme with greater exoticism, which, if not authentic, at least strongly suggests an era far removed from our own. (I thought it too bizarre to be any living person's signature fragrance. Then I bought a bottle.) Dawn Spencer Hurwitz reconstructed ancient Egyptian perfume recipes, so I gather that's the gold standard. I have yet to explore her vast catalog, but I do have a boatload of samples waiting in the wings, which makes it inevitable that I'll devote a month to her, whether next year or the year after.

Meanwhile, Spell 125 delivers on the pine and frankincense, which makes me a happy fellow. My wife picked up on the incense and ylang, reminding her of her beloved Opium. The ambergris strikes me as subtle, probably well integrated into the mix of camphor and smoke from the main notes. I wouldn't know black hemlock if it sued me for child support, but if it helps to lend this its animalic cast, I'll take it.

The range of reviews paints Spell 125 as a divisive scent, and I can see that. It's working in an odd olfactory space, and within that framework it's by no means obsequious. It takes familiar notes and presents them in an unfamiliar way. That's what I like about it. Whatever it takes for Moores to get into a head beyond the great perfumes of the early 20th century, let's have more of that. When she imagines the inaccessible rather than honoring the canon, her voice emerges. Dare ever more daringly!
8th October 2022
Surprisingly, Spell 125 smells a lot like drying paint and a bit like a nail polish remover to me.
I could get that effect for much less.

17th September 2022

The first impression of Spell 125 is zoomed in – the nose up close to the cracked bark of a pine tree, sniffing out hints of pine sap, bitter woody tones, dried, chalky mosses with a touch of something aquatic to them and all around the ringing green of pine needles. But that’s not quite complete: incense smoke seems to pervade every nuance and detail, lifting the greens, offering depth to the more shadowy side of the palette. I can see why Liz Moores chose to call it a spell – it has the feel of a cleansing ritual taking place in the deep, cold forest, every sentient thing alert, sense heightened, with scented smoke rising to the skies as a cry of the soul.
Despite the detailing, I found Spell 125 a touch single-minded, almost too focussed on what it sets out to do. I longed for a little something else, some slight distraction, from this journey into the pines and sacred smoke.
8th January 2022
Imagine the first day of fall,you are getting in one last sailing trip before it gets unbearably's nighttime, you prefer sailing at night,the mood is more ethereal.before down you drop anchor and cozy into your wood laned cabin.this is what Spell 125 smells is cool that it feels so contradictory, trying to think of it as " fresh incense".it is nice scent but doesn't have "wow" factor.

The opening is sweet pine forest with bitter is like being on the old ship that is sinking to the depth of the deep,murky has nostalgic feel,almost fantasy-like.the combination of ambergris and olibanum accords make it very interestingand there is a underlying sweetness that carries through from the benzoin.the darkness in the dry down reminds me of some woody darkness they have in some vintage feminine perfumes.moderate and noticeable projection but not offensive.
29th December 2021
I blind bought Spell 125 based on the notes. I love pine, black hemlock, incense, white ambergris, ylang, frankincense, sandalwood, but alas, this smells very discordant to me so far. I don’t get the joy from these notes like I normally do. The blending here is not to my liking so far. The opening has a very small touch of conifer, but the white ambergris brings the halitosis soon after the opening and unfortunately it’s not balanced by anything so it really sticks out. I was hoping the ylang ylang might balance the ambergris with it’s sweet touch. This is a very sheer smelling fragrance, like sheets of clear colored liquid with no opaqueness. There is a unique note that dominated through most of the wear today that smells like the burning smell made by the long metal pole that slides along the ceiling in the bumper car ride. It’s a strange smell of burning mixed with electrical current. Anyway, that’s what I’ve been reminded of all day today by S125. I’ll keep testing it, but I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it yet…we’ll see.
26th December 2021
Well, finally got my bottle, and it's as amazing as I hoped it would be! There's a lot going on here. I love the dark inky incense, it's almost like Lampblack with incense added. And the piney soapiness is what I get in the random wafts. It's so 80's classic type to me, clean and masculine and green, but nothing sharp or edgy about it.
Worth every cent!
12th September 2021
A wonderful cool forest incense: natural, astringent, mulchy, and finally airy and calming. There's a strong sour/bitter layer in the opening that smells vaguely poisonous, very dark, and a lot like decomposing when you lift up a big old pine log in a damp forest and there's bunch of damp forest matter and bugs and stuff underneath. This is alongside the ambient smell of living forest. In the opening, the darkness is dominant, and smelled up close, it can be a little offputting. But smelled as sillage, it works like the scent equivalent of a peaceful, cool, shadowy nook in the accord. It really reminds me of a realistic damp cool living forest.

Heading through the heart and base, Spell evolves into a natural, weightless incense that seems grounded in earthy forest tones, or perhaps burning in a cool forest. I'm no expert in incense, but this take seems uncommonly free of sharp edges or anything chemical. It warms up a bit, but always remains a little aloof and cool. The weight and airy/meditative feel is something like what Douchafour did with scents like Timbuktu or Dzongkha, but basically just superior in every way I can think of. Excellent, and easy to wear.
10th September 2021
Spell 125 opens with a fine, radiant frankincense with underlying coniferous green pine before quickly transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart the frankincense remains, first in support of the pine now coupled with slightly sweet leathery green coniferous black hemlock , then taking the fore again after about 30 minutes, as a faint, near-transparent doughy floral accord and a hint of the slightly sweet, smooth sandalwood rising from the base join the conifers in latent support. During the late dry-down the coniferous aspects gradually recede, leaving the frankincense and sandalwood tandem to dominate through the lengthy finish. Projection is good and longevity outstanding at nearly 24 hours on skin.

Spell 125's note list is just about as compelling as possible... frankincense, multiple coniferous greens, florals and sandalwood. I went into trying my sample prepared to love it, and certainly it has a lot of merit. Alas, while the radiant frankincense open is heavenly smelling, it somehow doesn't quite mesh with the coniferous green elements in the heart as much as I would have expected. There also is the dough-like aspect resembling yeast that is just a tad off-putting that takes you out of the spell 125 is trying to cast on the wearer. Then the perfume shifts gears to the sandalwood and the incense again during the late dry-down that seemingly lasts forever and smells great. On the whole, one has to call the perfume a success, but with a little more tinkering of the key heart accord it could have been really special, and that is a bit of a shame. The bottom line is the $215 per 50ml bottle Spell 125 captures the wearer in its captivating frankincense driven web, but the spell dissipates when the conifers and florals join-in, still yielding a "good" to "very good" 3 to 3.5 stars out of 5 rated moderately successful effort and a modest recommendation.
25th July 2021
After hearing about this and reading Claire V's review, I expected to be bewitched by Spell 125, but instead feel merely bothered (sorry!). There's something about the opening combination of the animalic and the high pitched frankincense here that smells a bit discordant and off-putting to me. Plus, I had already smelled Prin's Mriga and find it a much more sensual and intriguing iteration of the same sort of idea.

I think others will feel differently, especially those hankering for something both skin-like and environmental, a highly unusual combination. In fact, Spell 125 smells a lot like I had imagined Guerlain's Djedi would: dry and mineral-y, with a slightly dusty and "dirty" incense note--something from an ancient catacomb only recently opened.

There's also something here that reminds me of Francesca Bianchi's oeuvre, so if you're hankering for that kind of slightly sweetly dirtied incense and skin duo, be sure to try this out. You're sure to find it unusual and somewhat intriguing.
19th July 2021