There are some perfumers who aim not only at making beautiful perfumes but whose work also aims at creating atmospheres, instant clouds of illusions that transport us in different places, situations. Some perfumes are just liquid air from a place bottled. Not many. They are rare. For me Fougère Bengale is one of the most impressive ones of this kind. It was composed to recreate the scent of tiger hunt. I wouldn’t know. I have never been tiger hunting and I wouldn’t even if I could. I have never been to India. Yet it does transport me. Not to India. To a Greek island.
It is a warm summer night. Walking back from the beach through sun dried land. Dried mediterranean bushes lace the path. It is night, too dark to see, only a few meters around. Dried, golden, thorny bushes and grass. The darkness is familiar but still the noises of nature make jump. The night mist is coming from the sea, returning to the tried land the moisture the sun has taken away. And some salt. The dried, thorny busshes soften, they become leathery. The mist seeps into the leaves and twigs and frees the herbal aromas. The burst of scents is thick, concentrated. This is Fougère Bengale to me. The essence of my childhood’s summer nights.
It opens with a mildly sweet balsamic herbal top. There is a hint of wine vinegar in there too. An unusual lavender pokes its head through the herbs, very shyly though. Golden hues of dried herbs form a dense canvas. Aniseed, fennel, tea, sage, thyme, juniper. And above and beyond all, tobacco leaves. Blond, freshly dried tobacco leaves. The overall effect is the smell of thatch soaking in deep night mist. It doesn’t develop much. It just rounds up a bit with some sweet port notes.
Most reviewers smell curry in this. Curry in the perfumer’s cabinet is immortelle. I smell none of this and immortelle is one of my favourite notes. And immortelle is not listed in the official list. Is this massive illusion of India a testament to Marc-Antoine Corticchiato’s magic ability to create olfactory landscapes? Give it a try and decide for yourself.
Notes from official site: assam tea, warm gingerbread, hay, tonka bean, mossy and woody notes, patchouli, vanilla, honeyed blond tobacco accord
Notes from my nose: garigue shrubs, thatch, port wine, tobacco