Is it the future we are smelling, or the past, with this enigmatic blend from mysterious Rundholz Parfums?
Pepper, strawberry, parsley, saffron, cinnamon, lily-of-the-valley, rose, jasmine, olibanum, cypriol oil (nagarmotha), labdanum, cedar, hay, amber, vetiver, patchouli, castoreum, tonka bean, civet, sandalwood, vanilla and musk.
Rundholz Parfums offer next to no information about 20 Mars 2022 on their website, but when it was released in 2017, this dark, purple juice was representative of the future – five years hence (before covid, before the world went totally mad). But is it the future we can smell in this bold and evocative creation, or is it the past? And perhaps, if it is the past we smell, that’s the very point the brand is making: history repeats until we remember it well enough to move on and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
20 Mars 2022 is, as noted, a dark, purple juice. It is what I would imagine the colour of a tincture of nightshade would look like. The darkness of the liquid immediately starts to set up a malevolent feel to the composition which is dense, strange and fascinating.
A spritz on skin reveals a tenacious, smoky peppery incense undercut with warm hay tones and an animalic thrum. The first beat is pepper and strawberry – a strange combination but one which works when coupled with the smoke-like facets. There’s sweetness and a warmly vigorous and dry lift from the pepper which are both interesting and set the brand’s direction out for the scent from the offset.
20 Mars moves quickly and no sooner has the opening impression been registered when it starts to change, the scent becoming almost reminiscent of a stable being set on fire: the blistering hay, and fleeing small animals scurrying around in fragrantly smoky strands of straw. There’s even a touch of an ammonia-like, animalic feel in 20 Mars 2022, which compounds this impression further. The scent has just a touch of barnyard about it at times, from the castoreum and civit, but it is such a complicated fragrance that this doesn’t dominate, and the composition soon moves on to other tones and impressions.
There are floral elements in the scent, but they are mainly supporting players, not ever really dominating in their own right, but acting as the threads which support and bind together the more vigorous smoke, hay, amber and other facets.
The fruity elements are an interesting part of the 20 Mars 2022 DNA. There is a luminous sweetness from the patchouli and when this appears with the fruitier elements, and indeed the amber, it has an almost caramelised effect on the scent. It smells sticky and sweet but burned too, some way between caramel and toffee. At times this tips so far that it feels like there may be some form of coffee note in there as well.
When considering this in the context of the fragrance’s futuristic notions, it makes me imagine a time traveller, gone back to the past to watch a wooden medieval town burn, the fire taking the thatched roofs first, before consuming the fruits of the market stalls, and all the while the traveller sits sipping a coffee in a travel mug, and eating a bar of modern caramel.
There’s a distinctly historical or perhaps nostalgic vein to me in this fragrance. This can perhaps most easily be attributed to the incense, but it has something to do with the animalic facets too and the aromatic hay. The fragrance doesn’t smell as polite and demure as one might imagine something referencing what was the future (and what is now the near-past) would do. There’s even a slightly booze-soaked-wood which creeps through at times and makes me wonder if there is a wine cellar burning somewhere in this imaginary conflagration.
Perhaps the main thing to take away from this is that 20 Mars 2022 is a complex scent with multiple impressions and faces, changing almost as often and as quickly as each fleeting moment does.
The base of 20 Mars 2022 is a sweet hum of vanilla, smooth woodiness and lingering wafts of smoke. The fire may have gone out, but tendrils of its touch remain. The hay facet is tenacious and accompanies us to the final bars of the scent with a comforting, aromatic familiarity, stopping the smokiness being too aggressive or harsh. The hay is perfection in and of itself, having both texture and heft, you can almost smell the different aromatic strands of different plants which form it’s wholeness, sometimes grassy, sometimes honeyed, sometimes dried-but-floral. It’s quite beautiful.
Compared to the earlier phases of the fragrance, the last chapter feels more stable and less changeable than the phases coming before but again, this sort of nostalgic historical vibe does continue. The warm hay cut the previous summer stacked high in a barn, a cosy sweetness, and a chilled out sort of vibe round off the scent’s wear and leave us feeling both comforted, satisfied and almost optimistic.
Perhaps 20 Mars 2022 is telling us that to understand the future we should look to the past. Perhaps it is telling us that nothing really changes. Or perhaps it is telling us that from ashes and smoke, sweetness can arise. Let’s hope that it is a little of all these things. What we can be sure of, however, is that this is a delectable and interesting scent which will delight and amuse lovers of incense perfumes, lovers of complicated perfumes, and those who want to wear friendly scents with a touch of the animalic without that going too far.
The other stuff
The perfumer for 20 Mars 2022 was Arturetto Landi.
The projection of the scent is good, but not aggressive, perhaps to just further than handshake distance or thereabouts.
The longevity of the fragrance is also very solid, lasting around eight hours or so following application.
Given the numerous different facets that can be found in 20 Mars 2022, it’s the sort of scent which will wear year round. The hay element will shine beautifully in the summer, whilst the smoke and sweetness will work perfectly in the winter.
The presentation from the Rundholz line is fabulous too – long slim bottles which look like skinny rolling pins, or magic wands, both elegant and unique.
Enigmatic or skant on details, there isn’t much to tell about Rundholz because they are another brand who go light on details on their website. They’re Germany based and do clothing as well as scents, which is about as far as the details go. Again, no information that we could find on ethics, sustainability, animal testing or vegan status of their products.
20 Mars 2022 is available from Lucky Scent/Scent Bar where it is priced at $140 USD for 50ml of EdP.
I was gifted a sample of 20 Mars 2022 when I tried it in store at Lucky Scent/Scent Bar NYC and made a purchase there.
Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash.