“The world of men is dreaming, it has gone mad in its sleep and a snake it strangling it but it cannot wake up”
– DH Lawrence
If going mad in your sleep smells like Naja then we will soon all be rushing to do it.
Honey, linden, melon, osmanthus, tobacco.
Vero Kern of Vero Profumo is the Swiss grande dame of artistic perfumery. The line on her website isn’t the widest in the world, nor is it the most commercial; it’s not meant to be. Here is a perfumer and her brand doing exactly what she wants and what appeals to her. And if Naja is the product of that singularity then the project is a roaring success.
Naja is a limited edition scent, only a few hundred bottles have been released. It was produced to celebrate 10 years of Vero Profumo.
We could spend ages talking about the concept and mythology surrounding, influencing and inspiring the scent – all the references to shamans and snakes and hidden wisdom, death and rebirth – but none of that really matters. What matters most is not the inspiration behind the art, instead it’s how the art works itself and how it moves us. And Naja is a piece of the most beautiful artistic perfumery that we have seen in some time.
One of the most incredible things about this scent is the fact that it is incredibly wearable whilst being artistic. Many perfumes which carry the ‘artistic’ label are challenging to wear, even though they might be very clever. This is not the case here. Naja is extremely beautiful and very much the sort of perfume you can wear. Even more so if you are judicious with how you pick the occasion.
The opening notes to Naja are incredibly dense, thick, honeyed. The scent doesn’t so much spritz as ooze on to your skin. It is sweet, warm, pure smelling. The tobacco comes through heavily as do the honeyed blossom notes, and there is something, fleetingly, like anise just spiking the scent a little bit and sharpening the focus.
Naja goes through a moment or two in the top notes where it smells sweet and hay-like but it’s whole vibe is something much denser and more languid than mere grass. It’s a cat stretching out in a patch of sunshine, it’s the effortless sway of a snake as it slithers, it’s a droplet of honey slowly oozing down the edge of a glass. It’s immediately very beautiful and incredibly sexy. A slow seduction of a perfume that will have you take it as you find it or not at all.
The tobacco, which makes up a significant part of the Naja scent, is extremely vibrant in nature. It’s leathery, warm, rich, opulent and has a slightly green edge to it. Faintly smoked but nothing like cigarette ash, more like something seasoned than burned. This rounds everything out and whist it is a sweet perfume, it’s never sickly or cloying.
The heart of the scent is even calmer and smoother than the top, and that’s quite some feat given how unctuous and languid the opening is. The picture it evoked for us was of flopping down in the long grass at the height of summer, beside someone you are utterly intoxicated with and feeding each other sticky Mediterranean baklava while a lazy river slowly wends its way to the sea, taking your cares away with it.
In some aspects that makes Naja sound flighty and transient but there is something deep and substantial here as well. Perhaps it’s the density and complexity of the notes that makes us feel that way, but Naja is definitely one of those fragrances which appears, at first sniff, to be easy to understand, but the more you smell it the deeper and deeper it draws you in, down the rabbit hole. This is in part due to the exquisite nature of the materials used. There’s good quality and then there is exceptional quality and in the production of Naja, Vero Profumo has gone for the latter.
If leather and tobacco are the mainstays of the heart of the scent, then the base is given over to a fruity, honeyed, blossomy concoction. It’s fruitcake rich, almost boozy in it’s decadence, certainly intoxicating. It’s smooth and warm and really inviting.
For most of the wear, Naja feels thick and unctuous, very much like honey, but towards the base it does become more powdery and soft, now and again it smelled a little like that old fashioned talcum powder one had to apply with a puff of faux fur.
Naja has this quality about it that made us think of Dionysus or Bacchus, the god of wine, theatre, revelry and fertility. It’s excessive, decadent, heady but impossible to resist. Intoxicating and entrancing, definitely a scent that you need to try once in your lifetime. It’s a scent that makes you think anything could happen, and probably will…
The other stuff
The longevity of Naja is excellent. It happily lasts all day when applied in the morning. The sillage, or projection, of the scent is solid too. When wearing it, it’s discernible to just further than handshake distance and it trails beautifully. That said, it never felt like an obtrusive perfume to wear because when you are still it settles around you like a cashmere stole, much closer to the body.
In terms of which genders this would appeal to most, we felt that it was on the more feminine end of the spectrum, but in a dominatrix kind of way. We imagine this scent appealing to someone very much at home in their own skin, and very attuned to what she, or he, wants.
We felt that Naja would wear best when saved for evenings out in the summer. It has that sexy, sultry, relaxing vibe about it and it will definitely be able to stand up to the warmth of an evening. It’s one of those perfumes that should carry a warning label though: “Use with caution: you’ll be seriously sexy wearing this scent”.
Naja is currently back in stock at Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £212 for 50ml EdP. We would seriously suggest trying this sooner rather than later though because it is bound to fly off the shelves.
Bloom Perfumery kindly supplied us with a sample of this scent.