Being back to Athens after an amazing holiday is not easy… I spent the first days of August in Leros, one of the least known Greek Islands. Not many tourists do the 10 hour boat trip from Piraeus to the small island. Alternatively one can get there with a much shorter trip from the much more popular island of Rhodes. It was my first time there so I didn’t know what to expect from the island although I knew I was with good company. Leros is a tiny island, 7 or 8 kilometers being the longest distance one has to drive to get from one point to the other, but it is packed with history, beauty and summer delights. When I stood by the castle at the highest point I could actually see the shape of the island as it appears on the map. You can see some of the photos I took and hopefully get an idea of the beauty of the place here.
The architecture of the island is a mixture of between-the-wars urban architecture in the port of Lakki, some refurbished, most collapsing, built by the Italians who were the rulers of Leros from 1918 till 1948 with brief interruptions of British occupation after the Second World War. The rest of the island is more typical of what you would expect from a Greek island, although houses are bigger, more ornate than the usual cubic white-washed island houses. In the centre of Leros, the village Platanos is an organically built settlement with narrow streets that wind through beautiful houses and lead to the small square of the village.
Near this square was the barber shop, forgotten by time. And as usual people like to do silly things during their holidays and the men of the party decided to get a proper shave in a classic barbershop. I have too silly confessions to make: I have not shaved fully for more than 10 years as I keep a very short beard and I was really nervous about letting someone run a straight edge razor on my neck. To put it mildly, I was nervous. But I thought shaving was a good idea to clear my skin and this was an experience I would like to have. Well, I am still here, writing abut it so everything went smoothly with the razor blade. It was the closest shave that I have had and after some mind controlling from my side it started feeling relaxing.
The ritualistic shaving made me think of Lalique Hommage à l’Homme, a fragrance with an equally ritualistic name. I like the way Lalique sees perfume in its ventures. Although the company is totally unrelated to perfume they have managed to create elegant, understated fragrances without making a lot of noise. They did make a bang of course in 2006 with Encre Noire, an unexpected urban take on vetiver that has become a modern classic. Lalique perfumes are certainly not niche but this is exactly their merit: they sit next to the other popular fragrances, but probably in a corner in the back, where someone has to go on purpose to try them. Hommage à l’Homme has not resisted the temptation of closing oud in another bottle. But it does so in a way that makes sense: instead of using one of the classic oriental combinations with rose or saffron it pairs it with violet. And it works.
Hommage à l”Homme opens with clear intentions, with a semi-sweet violet accord. It is mostly violet flowers but violet leaves are also there giving a green hue to the composition. I smell something that reminds me of dill. Then things turn a little strange with an acerbic woody heart. It does not contain the sticky sweet oud rendition of the latest run-of-the-mill orientalist scents. It is not pungent like the Montale version. This one has hints of petroleum and the deep, dark, husky voice of Le Labo Oud 27. I get the same feeling of humidity as if drops of rain fell on hot asphalt or as if someone is breathing in front of my face. The combination of hot oud and cool violet keeps a constant dialogue, making it a little indecisive, pulsating. As it progresses in the development those two polar opposites reconcile in a general woody atmosphere that smells lacquered and sleek.
From the first moment I tried this it reminded me of Fahrenheit. The original release, not the current watery version. But Hommage à l’Homme has less citrus in the opening. And although Fahrenheit Absolute claims to also pair violet and oud there are marked differences: Fahrenheit Absolue is sweeter and uses a generic base of woods, patchouli and sweetness. Hommage à l’Homme is a very good alternative for those who miss the original Fahrenheit but is also great for anybody looking for a classy scent that can be easily identifiable.
As is customary for Lalique the bottle is beautiful. As usual there is a different, crystal limited edition bottle which costs 1200 euros. But what I like is that they made an effort to connect the two bottles: it actually looks as if what was carved out to create the sides of the crystal bottle was used to create the front and back side of the glass bottle. It seems as if two glass bottles can hug the crystal one. Nice touch! The perfumers who created Hommage à l’Homme are Christine Nagel (of Etat Libre d’Orange Arcives 69 among other things) and Mathilde Bijaoui (of Etat Libre d’Orange Like This and others). Needless to say that despite its über masculine name it can easily be worn by women.
Notes from Fragrantica: saffron, bergamot, violet leaf, tonka bean, violet flower, pepper, musk, labdanum, oud
Notes from my nose: violet, bergamot, dill, petrol, halitosis, white woods
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