The other week, I bought a custom mix off of Twisted Lily, fragrance boutique and apothecary located online and in Brooklyn. I actually bungled it up a bit since I was supposed to put what I wanted in the order description, and while I had created a list indicating as much in Notepad, I forgot to put the list into the description. I didn’t know I had forgotten either so I delayed the whole process a few days by being a terrible customer, but I did finally reply with my choices, and they sent my choices on over (thanks Stamatis!) In fact, they included two more Tauer samples: Incense Extreme and Incense Rose, and I’m really excited to open those up too!
Now UNUM is an interesting company; the Italian perfumery has a Concept page that talks of living with the Spirit, not just spirituality, The nose for this review’s scents is Filippo Sorcinelli who has created fragrances for the last two Popes’ arraignments and garments and other Catholic Christian items, and this style is very obvious in all three of the perfumes I received.
Rosa Nigra by Unum
- Wet: rose, incense, amber, wood
- Dry: rose, mimosa, amber, wood, apricot, incense
I never really appreciated rose scents before. They always smelled too generic, and too old, because the only people who would wear them were mothers, grandmothers, and the occasional odd patron at the Dunkin Donuts, take-out place, sushi restaurant, and Starbucks that I used to work at. I think they’re lovely now, and highly underrated by those who are in love with other, perhaps less ubiquitous, flowers: tuberose, jasmine, iris, lily-of-the-valley, geranium. Rosa Nigra is sticking your nose in a church proceeding’s bouquet after a service; rich, drinkable, and slightly smoky. I would still like to see this on someone older, who still believes in fairy-tales, a little.
Opus 1144 by Unum
- Wet: baby powder, medicinal, iris
- Dry: vanilla, sandalwood, resin, iris, jasmine, lime, baby powder
Opus starts out bright and sweet, and slightly medicinal. Like a key lime pie filling, heavy on the vanilla whipped cream, and eaten on a thick and humid day that’s starting to melt the plate along with its contents. I can see its similarity to Guerlain’s Shalimar very clearly; powdery resins glazed with icing, but I think I prefer Opus to the modern Shalimar samples I’ve smelled. The citrus is present enough to break up the unending sweetness and keep it from getting too powdery, and it comes off much lighter, eschewing some of Shalimar’s headiness for cheerfulness. If this is a representation of second-century Gothicism, it might be a little too cheerful, but it fits American Gothicism fairly well. Shalimar lovers should not be disappointed to find this scent as a gift, especially with its larger price tag. Opus is as sweet, bodacious, and warm as Shalimar, but more talkative.
L.A.V.S by Unum
- Wet: Resin, patchouli, incense, sage, Catholic guilt
- Dry: Incense, patchouli, sage, cardamom, pepper
My Catholic-raised boyfriend has informed me that this is what church smells like during nativity mass. He will delivering it to his very pious mother so that I can win brownie points. But beyond that, it does smell very intensely of incense and the herbs that are associated with Mass. It reminded me of the last time I visited Baltimore, where a woman carried around a bowl of burning sage to ward off bugs, but the scent of sage only complements the dark, smoky incense. It got stronger within the hour he wore it, and then plateaued. It’s very artistically well-done, if stodgy and a little aging, its sweetness coming in what smells like coumarin synthetics which I personally associate with older people. It’s really interesting though, and I really like it. If a young man happened to have a fairly serious personality to match it, I can see it impressing a hiring manager or two.