‘Gothic’ translated into a scent. But really not what you might imagine.
Ambergris, benzoin, bergamot, cashmere wood, elemi, iris, jasmine, leather, musk, orchid, sandalwood, tangerine, vanilla.
UNUM is the perfume line of the Filippo Sorchinelli brand which also includes jewellery, photography and clothing. The scents in the UNUM line are highly conceptual, often referencing elements of the Church and the trappings of religion. The brand’s whole vibe centres around the sort of modern-Byronic figure of Sorchinelli himself and in their world everything is monochrome and cool.
The marketing blurb around Opus_1144 talks about how it is inspired by the Gothic. The year 1144 marking the laying of the first stone of the Saint Denis Basilica and the start of the gothic architectural period. This may confer certain expectations of the scent – it certainly did for us – but Opus_1144 steadfastly refuses to meet those expectations.
Opus_1144 opens with a powdery citrus, it reminded us a little of sherbet sweets. It’s soft from the tangerine but has a chalky texture from the iris which brings with it tiny touches of a leafy green here and there. What starts off as feeling crumbly on the nose smooths out gradually as the perfume wears.
There’s a cleanliness about the whole of Opus_1144, but particularly in the top. In this case, cleanliness is reminiscent of a crisp white shirt, ironed and starched, or sheets that have been dried outside on the line. It’s cleanliness undercut with softness and isn’t abrasive or harsh to smell and experience. A kind sort of cleanliness.
From reading just the notes, it might sound as if Opus_1144 is a big, bolshy fragrance but it isn’t. It’s soft, almost tender, and very easy to wear. It doesn’t dominate or overpower, instead feeling wispy and diaphanous as it wafts around you.
As Opus_1144 unfolds, the powdery texture is polished somewhat. The pillowy citrus drops back and a soft leather appears beneath, bolstered by delicately handled jasmine and benzoin.
There isn’t a lot about Opus_1144 which is reminiscent of those things you might expect knowing that the fragrance is inspired by a gothic cathedral. There are distinctly no bats in this belfry, no arched windows with carved stone lintels, and no mouldering phylacteries. There isn’t really any melodrama either. Instead, what you get with this scent is a light floral composition with hints of leather. Particularly in the heart of the fragrance this is more like the flower arrangement in the vestibule of the church rather than the church itself.
We can’t say it often enough: this is a very different interpretation of what gothic typically conjures up in our penny-dreadful fevered minds.
There’s a kind of nuttiness in the base of the scent, but it is coupled and contrasted with a shiny, almost luminous quality. At times it made us think of ground almonds or hazelnuts but beyond that is this vibrance, a luminosity which has hints of greenery in it, touches of leather and a sweet muskiness. The remnants of the iris sing beautifully alongside the beautiful quality vanilla which peeps out from behind the leathery fronds. All together they sing a hymn early in the morning as the sunlight streams through the stained glass windows of the cold church.
We have a lot of time for the UNUM line, they’re all thoughtful, meditative scents and we like their – at times – intensely contemplative nature. Opus_1144 is a very pleasant scent and one which is easy to wear on days when you don’t want to think too hard about your fragrance choices. That said, it feels almost like they have played it a little too safe with this one. Opus_1144 doesn’t appear to have that seam of gleam of debauchery or madness that some of the other fragrances in the line have. It’s not a disappointing scent, because it is really pleasant, but maybe it’s a bit too nice? A little safe when you had expected something slightly more wild. A chaste kiss on the cheek instead of something more.
The other stuff
The longevity of Opus_1144 is good. We got about eight hours wear out of it comfortably, and some days as long as 12 hours. The sillage of the scent isn’t enormous, it seems to stay close to the body and as such we felt that people would probably have to get to within hugging distance to tell you were wearing it.
We felt that Opus_1144 was a really unisex scent which could be comfortably worn by people of all genders. It’s rather gentle softness suggested to us that it would perform well in spring as the air warms a little. This impression was reinforced by the springy feel of the iris and other florals; there’s just something a bit optimistic and new-growth about them all together.
If you’re not already familiar with the presentation of the UNUM scents then they are definitely worth checking out. Opus_1144 is presented in a black bottle with a rectangular cap designed to refer to the laying of the first stones of the cathedral. It’s a thing of a rather brutalist beauty, but a beauty nevertheless.
Opus_1144 is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £186 for 100ml of extrait. Bloom kindly supplied us with a no strings attached sample of this scent.
You can also purchase this fragrance from the Filippo Sorchinelli web boutique.