le Labo Vetiver 46 (2006) and Oud 27 (2009)

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(image source AP)

I had a bad introduction to le Labo with the uneventful Labdanum 18. Also, I’m fairly allergic to hipness, so le Labo as a brand is tough. I popped in to the le Labo on 3rd St. in LA today, sniffed, and am encouraged. Two of the various that I sampled were Vetiver 46 & Oud 27. They have some common threads, so I’ll compare them head-to-head in a quick overview:

Vetiver 46. Perfumer Mark Buxton.

The topnotes of Vetiver make the connection between vetiver and incense by burning them both and letting you smell the smoke. It’s cool, pine-like, and while extremely rich, isn’t loud in the least. You might not have suspected it at the outset, but the fragrance grows sweeter as time passes. It is a pleasant sweetness that leans more toward the incense than the vetiver. It’s sweet in the way Miller Harris l’Air de Rien is sweet.

What was resinous at the start of the perfume solidifies into a sweet, waxy feel by drydown. Lived in and comfortable, but never warm. The fraternal twin of Comme des Garçons 2 Man also by Buxton.

Oud 27. Perfumer Vincent Schaller.

Oud? What? Where? The le Labo method is to name a perfume after its principal material. Of course, le Labo have also long been called out for citing the ‘wrong’ lead material (labdanum, neroli, patchouli, rose).

In this case, the perfume smells chiefly like incense. Cold, sweet incense. Misplaced notes aside, Oud 27 is one of the more complex and interesting le Labo fragrances. It has a similar resinous quality to Vetiver, but it moves in a different direction. Oud 27 sheds sweetness as time passes, unlike Vetiver 46, which becomes slightly candied in drydown. The incense settles in to a waxy tone not far from that of shoe polish.

Odd but endearing. I’d be interested to meet the person who chooses to wear this.

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