London pub inspired scent; but is it worth buying or should you just go to the pub, smoke a couple of cigarettes and not have a shower?
Juniper berry, baies rose, black pepper, narcissus, patchouli, styrax, costus, leather, civet, benzoin, castoreum, oud.
Homo Elegans are a hipster Italian brand founded by Francesco Gini and Maurizio Piazzi to make high quality but contemporary scents. Their perfumes are inspired by individuals who were inspirational in their contribution towards what the brand describes as “the evolution of the human being towards beauty”. We would describe the brand as making perfume as art. Which is to say that they push the envelope, producing formulas which are unconventional in their scent profile, and sometimes challenging to wear.
Quality of Flesh is inspired by Francis Bacon, celebrated existential Irish-British artist.
If the scent were a story it would open like this:
“Rain drummed against the window as Bacon entered the pub. Hot, damp air rose to meet him from the mingled patrons inside. The pub was dark, tobacco smoke shrouding what lighting there was to cast a gloomy fog over the room. Bacon slipped into one of the benches, his trousers sliding over the dark green leather as he inched himself along into a comfortable position. His elbows stuck to old beer spilled on the table. He surveyed the bar. A wall of men, old and young, clustered around the oak counter. A couple of them, notes in hand, were trying to catch the eye of the landlord in the hope they would be next served. Bacon sighed and settled back against the bench. It was going to be a long night.”
And that is what we get in the top of the scent: alcohol, beer, beer spilled and soaked into carpets, sweet and yeasty. There’s tobacco in there too, everything is a bit grimy. The scent has a spicy undertone, like unwashed bodies, and an over-ripeness hangs heavy about the top notes of the scent. In the background there is a floral note, like lilies forgotten on the end of the bar, and the slightly beeswaxy quality of furniture which has been polished for years, so long it has become impregnated with the smell.
As people who have often frequented the archetypal British boozer we can quite categorically say that it is a very good representation of those types of establishment. And let’s be clear, for our international readers; a British pub isn’t a swanky bar that is bright and clean and serves an excellent burger, nor does it sell cocktails or have a wine list. What we are talking about here is a place where working men went after a hard day, their brows dirtied by hard work, to rub elbows against the bar, gossip about their wives and moan about their bosses, sink a couple of pints of beer in thick glasses, smoke, and then go home to a house full of their family. It’s a very specific environment and one which is captured exquisitely by Quality of Flesh.
BUT, pubs aren’t sexy places, they aren’t seductive in their own right, they’re wonderful for so many reasons, but rarely does anyone want to smell of one, especially the way that they smelled prior to the smoking ban.
In the heart of the scent we appear to move with Bacon as he goes back to his studio after the pub. There’s a faint turpentine nuance to the scent here, and an oiliness from the paints he would have used. The scent evokes the feel of a man’s workshop, slightly greasy, a bit grubby, and almost chaotic. Amusingly, when we were testing Quality of Flesh one of the things we wrote for the heart notes was ‘chaotic workshop’. In writing up the article we searched for an image of his studio and lo and behold it was indeed chaotic. The fact that a scent can make you imagine something which you had no idea existed is just sublime.
The base of the scent relaxes into a leathery and animalic concoction. It smells like the body of someone who has had a hard, busy and full day and hasn’t showered before bed. Quality of Flesh goes through a phase where it smells sweet, cosy almost, warm but it never stops being a bit grubby. There’s the faint hint of wood in the base, but the overriding note we were left with was cigarette smoke. This isn’t sexy Havana cigars rolled on the thighs of virgins, this is grimy, rainy London smog cigarette-smoke left in a dirty ashtray.
Quality of Flesh is undoubtedly a clever perfume which skilfully evokes a certain individual and their environment. Homo Elegans have achieved that without a doubt. But is the perfume wearable? Well, if you are into skanky, animalic, dirty perfumes – and we know that many of you are – then you really need to check this one out. If you wear perfume to lift your spirit, make you feel brighter, or even more confident, then this probably isn’t the one for you. Mind you, we can’t help but feel that Bacon himself would be quite pleased with that.
The other stuff
We’d strongly suggest that you try Quality of Flesh on skin if you are considering purchasing it. We found that on skin the scent really opened up compared to the blotter, and the smoke notes were much more noticeable.
The longevity of the scent was really good, lasting all day and into the evening following a morning application. The sillage, or projection, of the scent was also good, extending to around handshake distance or just a bit further.
Quality of Flesh is a scent which will wear best in autumn and winter. In summer it might just come off as a bit too skanky to be pleasant.
We imagine that this scent would wear best towards the more masculine end of the spectrum, but if you don’t want to shell out for the price of a bottle you could easily replicate the scent by having a couple of pints in your local and then smoking a couple of cigarettes on the way home!
You can purchase Quality of Flesh from the Homo Elegans web boutique where it is priced at €140 for 50ml EdP.
The Sniff was kindly gifted a sample of Quality of Flesh by Homo Elegans at Esxence 2018.