Come with us to a carnival. Shiver in delight at the thrills of the ghost train, cram your face full of candyfloss, but beware, something dangerous is lurking just out of sight.
Aldehydes, benzoin, brown sugar, candy floss, cedar, civet, lavender, melon, mint, oak moss, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, seaweed. Notes taken from Bloom Perfumery’s website.
The opening to Bogue’s Douleur is nothing short of explosive and it announces right from inception that this is not your run-of-the-mill composition.
Fairs, carnivals, and travelling circuses exist in a weird cultural memory-cum-imagination for many of us and we found a representation of it here in Douleur. The start of the fragrance feels full of excitement, anticipation, and the heady aromas of a carnival, including candyfloss, sticks of rock and the cool evening air. Sweetness pops from skin following a spray and mingles a juicy melon note with a minty expansiveness and the pleasantly sickly candyfloss. There’s a crunchiness to the combination like the brittle snap of a stick of rock between young teeth. You can readily imagine that crystalline crepitus as you bite down or, in this case, inhale. It’s so easy to imagine one’s younger self hanging out at the fair, daring your friends to go on the rides, to eat another treat, or to snatch a glance or better yet – a kiss – from one’s love interest.
In the background you can pick up hints of the diesel from the trucks that have brought the booths and stands of the carnival to this temporary resting place. A shiver of anticipation crawls up your spine as the mingled scents promise something, but as yet you aren’t quite sure what that will be.
There’s a period in the middle of a wear of this scent which feels almost safe, it feels like that moment in the teenage horror story when the fair is fun, enjoyable, exciting, and all those desires for sugar and for thrills are being slaked. The fruity notes hum in the background, and you can almost imagine fingers sticky from popping sweets into an eager mouth, oblivious to what happens next.
And what happens next is an absolute riot…
Shrieking like a demonic banshee a metallic rose comes screaming from the Ghost Train ride at the carnival. The scent becomes shiny, slippery and bright as if made of some sort of ectoplasmic liquid mercury. The banshee tears around the composition, initially making the friendlier fruity notes feel like they have completely receded, but they haven’t, they’re still there and they come back a little as you grow accustomed to the wailing assault of the banshee-rose.
One imagines teenagers fleeing from the creature, crouching down behind trucks and wagons, dirtying their sticky fingers now with axel grease and muck, the smell of their own fearful sweat mixing with engine oil to create a heady and pungent plume. The sweaty, fleshy, animalic scent of the civet has a soft roundness like plump young bodies, which contrasts against the hard edges of the metallic notes. The two facets chime together and against each other in a rather masterful stroke of perfume plotting. Sometimes the different facets join forces to produce a slightly singed feel as if the metallic rose banshee burns what she touches, and she will touch you if she can. The warm evening has grown chill and cold with the scent of fear.
What started off as a safe and friendly environment, and a safe and friendly perfume, has become something distinctly unsafe. That’s not to say that it is unpleasant or unwearable, not at all, it’s just most definitely not the sort of fragrance you can anticipate. It gave us delicious chills to wear, like reading a Stephen King book, or watching a slasher movie. Thrilling, but not quite safe. Approach this scent with caution, tread carefully as you step into this imagined world.
The other stuff
The longevity of this stuff is brilliant. Easily lasts all day following a 7am application, twelve hours minimum, but more likely sixteen or so – and this was from minimal sprays as well. Douleur really has excellent staying power.
The sillage of Douleur is also very good. It goes to several feet away, definitely beyond handshake distance, and trails beautifully. That said, it didn’t feel like it did so obnoxiously. It’s a definite presence, but not a sledgehammer of a scent.
Douleur is really difficult to slot into any particular gender bracket, and we could see it suiting male, female and anyone else’s skin very well. Wear it if you love it. It is the sort of scent which should be enjoyed with abandon, the sort of scent you have to surrender to in order to fully enjoy it.
Bogue are the brain child of Antonio Gardoni and have been around since about 2012. The brand is enigmatically short on details on its website, but what we can tell you is that their small but perfectly formed line of perfumes are all detailed, complex, and like recreated worlds rather than just scents. Gardoni seems to keep himself very busy with a range of related projects, scented art installations and other creations.
If we had to characterise Bogue, it would be to say that they are very avant guard, but that to us they seem to use familiar materials and notes to construct something futuristic, putting a brand new spin on it in the process. They aren’t a brand whose scents will appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for something unique and quite unlike anything else, you would do well to peruse their line up.
Bloom very kindly supplied us with a no-strings-attached sample of this scent, and we thank them for their generosity.
Image my own, taken at the Yorkshire Balloon festival in 2018.