Saffron, clove, black pepper, davana, benzoin, vanilla, patchouli, amber, cedarwood, oud.
Quintessence is a fragrance which was originally made for Manos Gerakinis himself to wear. I actually really love it when brands (and let’s face it, it’s often the smaller, most passionate brands that do this) release a scent which they themselves love. There’s an honesty about it, and regardless of how perfect the scent is. There’s a passion and a belief that goes into releasing a scent originally made as something personal. It strips away – to a degree at least – all the cynicism of a scent which is purely and solely commercial in its reasons for existing. That isn’t to say that Quintessence isn’t a commercially viable scent, it’s just that art, and the love of perfumery conceived it first and foremost. The commerce comes afterwards, and that seems like a rather lovely way to do it in my mind.
Quintessence opens with a rather lovely, slightly powdery, and a touch vintage-leaning feel. Warm, sweet (but not overly so) and friendly, the fragrance surrounds you with a protective, but not obnoxious aura right from the start. Although not listed, I get a fruitiness amongst the warm spices and leathery saffron. It comes across as apple-like to me as it is crisp, a touch green and juicy, and it gives the fragrance a refreshing lift to begin the composition.
There are some notes in Quintessence which have the potential to be bold, heavy hitters, but one of my favourite things about Quintessence is how demure and delicate it manages to be. It’s like a muscle-bound strong man doing ballet. So if notes like saffron, clove and oud scare you, then perhaps try this fragrance because it showcases how those elements can be delicate as well as powerful.
Once Quintessence has opened on the skin, that fruitiness that we noticed at the start melts into a deliciously leathery facet, and this is just a teaser for how many different shades and tones Quintessence contains – it really is a multifaceted scent. Leathery, yes, but also sweet, also resinous, a little piquant from the spices, warm, a touch prickly, woody, and even dark. There is something in here for almost everyone to enjoy. It also smells incredibly classy and elegant, which I consider to be one of the defining features of Manos’ line altogether. If you want to smell like the best, classiest, most chic version of yourself that is possible, then you really need a Manos Gerakinis scent in your life.
An earthiness starts to creep into the composition as the fragrance warms up. It’s loamy and sweet as opposed to dirty and dank. The earthiness throws all the more classically elegant elements into sharp relief, and making sure that the fragrance has both light and shade. Without touches like this Quintessence would have had the danger of becoming trite and forced, but with them it is revealed as rich, balanced and nuanced.
The fruitiness of the davana is also at play here in the heart of the scent, but the types of fruit we can discern within the composition shift and change at any inhale. Sometimes juicier and brighter like apple, sometimes sweeter and fuzzy like apricot or even peach, and sometimes sticky like plum. I suspect that different chemistries and skin types will accentuate different elements of the fruitiness more or less.
In the base of Quintessence, an animalic purr becomes discernible. The oud isn’t skanky or even particularly loud, but it gives that rich, throaty purr that it can impart when used demurely. The vanilla too has a sweet, fur-like quality about it which is reminiscent of the plushest of cat pelts. The earthiness of the patchouli has vanished, to leave a gentle, burnished, ambery sweetness in its wake and the remaining impression is of a scent which is regal, luxurious, and opulent in tone.
Forget obnoxiously loud fragrances, forget shouty fragrances, Quintessence is the standard in what perfumes aiming to convey a sense of “luxury” should smell like. Everything about it screams understated luxurious elegance, and wearing it will simply make you feel like the best put together version of yourself that you can be. And who wouldn’t want that?
The other stuff
Quintessence is a fragrance with character, but it isn’t too loud or obnoxious in the way in which it projects from the body. In testing, we found that it hovered at about handshake distance or just under if you spray less on. Close to the body, the aura it surrounds you with is very detectable, but it doesn’t ping off the skin and go around bothering other people who may be in a room with you.
The longevity of the scent is really solid, lasting a good six to eight hours following application.
Quintessence feels like the sort of fragrance which could suit any day or evening wear, but the special little glint that it has makes me want to save it for special occasions, romantic occasions, and occasions when an air of quiet, calm composure is needed.
The perfumer for Quintessence is unlisted.
Manos Gerakinis is a Greek brand, which specialise in the luxurious end of the sector and which fuse their scents with a love and respect for that Greek heritage, including the beautiful nature found there. The fragrances are all bold, and at times they have a touch of the vintage, old-school elegance about them (Quintessence) or the Roman bacchanal excesses (Immortelle). They’re worth a sniff if you are wanting distinct, elegant and wearable fragrances. Find out more about them on the brand’s story page.
Quintessence is available from the Manos Gerakinis web boutique where it is priced at €290 for 100ml.
Manos very kindly gifted us a bottle of this fragrance in friendship, our thanks to him.
Header image by Marek from Pixabay. Photo of Quintessence by The Sniff.