A gourmand that isn’t really a gourmand that references a nut that isn’t really a nut. How wonderfully postmodern can you get?
Almond, cedar, frankincense, gurjum resin, vetiver, benzoin, copahu balm, gaiac wood, lemon, ylang-ylang.
Phaedon Paris are, in perfume terms, a really good, solid brand. They’re not particularly challenging – they won’t make you smell of blood, or semen, or death – but they do produce great quality, classic scents that are more likely to stand the test of time and fashions than some of these Johnny-come-lately lines. Does that make them boring? Only if you think elegance is dull.
We’ve previously reviewed several of their line including the wonderfully summery Pluie de Soleil, the spicy, figgy, honeyed Pure Azure, and the gloriously refreshing L’Eau de Phaedon. It’s worth noting that all these scents have earned a place on our Managing Editor’s shelves already, or are on her buy list, so you can draw your own conclusions as to their quality (and her taste) from that.
So let us dive right into the scent itself…
Ilanguara is a new scent to the Phaedon stable, having been released in 2017. The scent starts off with a dry, crumbly nuttiness that rises from the skin very soon after application. You can practically see brown, wrinkled husks baking in the sunshine when you smell it. It has a really textural quality about it, which is a bit of a strange thing to say about a scent, but it’s true.
The nuttiness is definitely the first thing you notice at the start of the scent and it really fills the top notes so that very little else has chance to peep through. Now and again, we got hints of waxy, resinous notes from the various woods and resins, but it almost smelled like an unburnt beeswax candle to us – and it was really very nice, if a little pedestrian.
The thing we liked most about the nuttiness in the top was that, although clearly gourmand in style (by that we mean a perfume that has notes that smell, or take their inspiration from, edible things) the nut notes don’t smell altogether that edible – they smell more like a wood than something you would want to eat. It’s a small shift, but an important one, because it really stopped the perfume being a dull simulation of a bakewell tart or something along those lines. And that was a real selling point for us as it made it suddenly much more interesting; the gourmand that isn’t totally gourmandy.
In all honesty though, the perfume doesn’t really get going until the heart notes have had chance to warm up and rev their engines. Suddenly the perfume blossoms. It’s almost like that moment in springtime when the twigs suddenly burst into bud. The strongly floral ylang-ylang comes to play in the heart, making itself known, but managing to not overpower the almond. The result is an interesting balance of sweet florals which really try and make the perfume airy and floaty and feminine, and this sort of oily, woody nuttiness that really tries to hold the perfume to a more manly, brown woodiness. There’s nothing more beautiful than a really interesting harmonious meeting of opposites in a perfume, and that is what is captured here.
There’s definitely something reminiscent of a warm, tropical breeze after the heat of the sun has gone down in this scent. The radiant, residual heat of the nut and the gentle waft of ylang really reminded us of holidays in warm places. It’s sitting at a bar in the Florida Keys with the heat from the paving stones radiating from the sidewalk and baking the husks that have fallen from a nearby tree. It’s catching the scent of some tropical blossom as the air stirs gently and raising your face to try and catch some more of the scent. It’s a pleasant, and very easy to wear combination.
If we were to characterise the base of this perfume in two words it would be this: gentle woods.
Sometimes, wood in perfume can be really quite harsh and astringent, but not here. The wood is most definitely present in the base, but it doesn’t feel the need to smack you over the head to announce it’s arrival. Instead, it’s like the warm, comforting hug of a tree (if the tree were quite fluffy and smelled a bit of ylang-ylang as well!). There is definitely a gentle touch at work here, as the woody notes are soft and comforting, bringing us full circle back to the woody almonds that started the scent off. There’s a thread of sweetness that runs throughout the perfume and which itself is echoed in the wood we find in the base, nothing is jarring or discordant.
The notes listed in this scent don’t particularly evoke a sort of cleanliness, but at times we felt like there really was the suggestion of warm, freshly laundered cotton about this perfume too. Indeed, it’s very difficult to find something to object to in it.
The base of the scent is very powdery and has a dry delicacy which it is very easy to like and extremely easy to wear. This isn’t for you if you like bold woods, extreme florals, sticky gourmand sweetness, but, if you like all those components but toned down a bit, then it could be your perfect wear. It doesn’t feel like a perfume that is going to change the world when you wear it, but at the same time that gets rather tiring. What Ilanguara has instead is the ability to make your day just that little bit sweeter. And that’s a fine thing indeed.
The other stuff
The longevity of this scent was really good – it lasted right through to dinnertime after being applied in the morning.
The projection was good as well. Throughout the days we tested it it was possible to catch a whiff of it right through until late afternoon and other people seemed to notice we were wearing it as well. It’s not a particularly loud or shouty perfume, just one that keeps going at a moderate level throughout the day.
To us this seemed like the sort of scent that you could wear every day, especially those days when you might get to have a mimosa in the park after work.
Ilanguara is available from Bloom Perfumery London, priced at £112 for 100ml EdP. Bloom very kindly provided us with a sample of this scent.
You can also buy Ilanguara direct from the Phaedon website, where it is priced at €125 for a bottle of the same size.