August 03, 2016
Continuing my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales collection with Digitalis and Hemlock.
Digitalis is well known to me in my day job in drug discovery. It is used to treat heart arrhythmias. Although patients have to be careful not to take too much or the toxic nature can overwhelm the therapeutic one. Creative director Joseph Quartana, working with perfumer David Apel, were focused on the lore around the more colloquial name for digitalis, foxglove. Foxglove is an attractant for faeries in folklore. Mr. Apel composed a perfume which captured the glittery trails left by the fairies as they flit among the trumpet-shaped blooms. When I think of fairies I think of silver winged sprites trailing fairy dust in a sparkling trail behind them. Mr. Apel pulls together a group of ozonic and metallic trending notes to create a perfume which evokes this sparkling flight.
Digitalis starts with the aromachemical floralozone as the linchpin of the ozonic accord on top. All of these notes provide lift. Matched to them is the metallic nature of violet leaf and silver iris. These provide an austere floral nature. These combine to form the wings full of dust. A very green phase comes next with galbanum, basil, cucumber, and coriander. It grounds the high flying sprites as they alight on the foxglove. The smell of the flowers are represented by a mixture of violet, rose, neroli, and jasmine. Mr. Apel lets the florals provide a contrast to the more strident ozonic and green accords which came prior to this. The base becomes a little more like damp soil as incense, fern, and moss provide that accord.
Digitalis has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
While Digitalis didn’t necessarily set my heart a-flutter it is an excellent interpretation of the brief by Mr. Apel.
If I asked you to name a poisonous flower chances are Hemlock would be one of the ones you named. Famous for being the method of execution of Socrates for corrupting the young men of Athens. The perfume Mr. Quartana collaborated on with perfumer Christelle Laprade is meant to carry a bit of that corruption the philosopher was imparting so long ago. Mme Laprade starts with an accord which reminded me very strongly of when I used to open a new vinyl record and the smell of the fresh-pressed plastic would arise from the sleeve. Other corrupting influences like leather and rum show up as well.
Hemlock opens with that fantastic fresh vinyl accord. I was enchanted by this from the first time I smelled it through to every time I wear it. Mme Laprade then adds a coterie of spices with clove, cinnamon, and pink pepper transforming it from synthetic plastic to something more vital. A rum accord is next which is melded with a synthetic white floral accord. There is nothing natural about the florals at the heart of Hemlock. It is an appropriate progression from the vinyl to in essence synthetic flowers. This heads into a leather and patchouli base sweetened a bit by vanilla and benzoin.
Hemlock has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Hemlock is one of my favorites in this collection, The embrace of the unnatural carries a large amount of appeal for me.