The latest release from Italian brand, Mendittorosa, tells legends of gallivanting through the sylvan groves; it’s a heady mix of nostalgic, dangerous and beautiful.
Cassis, saffron, sulphur, cypriol, incense, orris, smoke, amber, cashmeran, guaiac wood, vetiver.
To spray Athanor by Mendittorosa on skin is to immerse yourself in a story, but it’s a story full of power and secret knowledge, a story with the gravitas of a legend. It starts pine-needle green, a little leathery, slightly salty with a warm, sweet undertow that is by turns a little bready and a little parchment-like. There is a dry, fuzziness to the scent – like celery seed or similar – which manages to be quite comforting, and the balance of the fragrance isn’t upset or unsettled by the sulphur traces which actually come across as mineral-like and warm.
That’s only half the story though, Athanor is too romantic and emotional a fragrance to be captured in mere lists of notes alone. This is a story in fragrance form, and it is a story of change, perhaps even metamorphosis.
If Athanor were to be part of a novel, it would begin as a magical book, a leather bound tome that was worn smooth and burnished by the touches of hands over hundreds of years. Open the thick, heavy pages with reverent fingers to reveal illuminated letters and images captured from the past. There is the weight of history here, heavy and silent, and the promise of knowledge being imparted and revealed.
Turn the parchment page again and a sappy, green quality develops. The scent of the wood surrounds you, barky trunks, splashes of dappled greenery and light, but also something darker and more dangerous. By turns it both entices and thrills. The fragrance of sunlight heating the canopy above intoxicates you, the heat slowly filtering down through dusty air. This feels like a real forest, aromatic, a little loamy, warm, sweet. It contains the elements you can see and touch, but also secret things hidden beneath the surface.
Camouflaged by leaves and trunks, grasses and stems, you notice a movement from within the book. Are you still looking at the book though or are you in the forest now? It gets harder and harder to tell. As you peer through the dappled light it resolves into a human form. The air becomes sweet and leathery, there is a trace of something almost feral and yet the feeling of being soothed and cocooned persists. Hints of smoke waft from this creature that stands before you and although the fragrance takes on a more human-like quality there is something ethereal and strange here too. Do you reach out to grasp the shadowy creature that emerges from the thicket, or do you turn tail and run for your life?
What stands before you as you peer into the past is the soul of the forest personified, or perhaps it is a sprite sent from a sulphurous nether realm to make mischief in the world of the humans, it could even be the Green Man, or Herne the Hunter, or perhaps it is a part of them all. Either way the fragrance is rich, evocative and wonderfully nuanced, friendly rather than austere, sophisticated rather than challenging, but beautiful, bright and full of life and liveliness. It has the rooty, secretiveness of the forest floor, the shiny sappy quality of fragile stems, plenty of sunlight and even faint traces of a honeyed sweetness as it progresses. Towards the latter part of a wear it even has traces of the book overheating, starting to smoulder as the magic contained within is released and the bonds and linkages that form the object start to break down and overheat. Magic is dangerous stuff, destroying as much as it creates, and the book that has brought us Athanor the creature feels, as we reach the end of the wear, as if it is starting to come apart at the seams.
Perhaps Athanor the fragrance is taking us on a journey to show us our ancestral habitat and the change it highlights is how far we have come, perhaps it is the change from tree to book to knowledge, perhaps instead it is the metamorphosis of the forest and what it means to reconnect, either way, it is a marvel of a fragrance, triumphant and strong in character. The alchemy that has been wrought here is the convergence of so many different facets into a very cohesive whole, and a whole which shines so brightly too.
Athanor takes a long time to show all its different elements and it has required multiple wears and observations to get even this far with it. Clearly it has a significant price tag attached, but this is very much the sort of scent that people will attach to, covet, and which will become a statement wear. It is hypnotic and beguiling. Perhaps it really has indeed been conjured by a sprite from a sulphurous realm come to wreak havoc on the world of humans?
The other stuff
The longevity of Athanor is excellent, lasting anything from 12 to 24 hours following application, easily going all day and well into the evening following an early morning spritz.
The projection of this fragrance is also fairly robust, going to around handshake distance or perhaps a little further. It’s a scent that changes on skin depending on the time of year, ambient temperatures and the skin of the person wearing it, so definitely worth testing before you splash out on a full bottle.
The perfumer for this fragrance was Luca Maffei.
Mendittorosa are a high-concept, luxury Italian brand. They work with a variety of different noses to craft incredibly complex and storied compositions which all feel very strong on the storytelling element of perfumery. It’s hard to find a Mendittorosa scent which isn’t bold and characterful with woods and spices being perhaps the most memorable elements of their line up.
The Mendittorosa bottles all sport different, hand crafted caps. The cap of Athanor bears two Atlas-type characters holding up a cauldron (the alchemists athanor). Inside the bottle is a tiny gold-plated bronze nugget. Athanor forms part of the Talismans line of scents from the brand.
Athanor is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £430 for 100ml extrait de parfum.
You can also buy Athanor from the Mendittorosa web boutique.
We were kindly supplied with a no-strings attached sample of this perfume by Bloom Perfumery, and we thank them for their kindness.