So after 'B683' and 'Ganymede' now 'B683 Extrait de Parfum'.
Three fragrances, with almost identical DNA: a modern leather accord that develops entirely differently than we know from classic leather concepts, such as a Cuir-de-Russie.
Marc-Antoine Barrois' trio unfolds its leather accord from the dry spiciness of pepper and saffron, which here confronts us in the form of Givaudan's scent 'Safraleine': the bitter-leathery aroma of the tart spice, pimped with nuances of tobacco and rose. Grassy damp violet leaf and the cool woody aspects of a fractionated patchouli, now and then called 'patchouli coeur', or marketed by Givaudan as 'akigalawood' (the perfumer works at the association!), complement the leather accord and form a kind of Barroisian scent framework.
From the olfactory arsenal of Givaudan comes another substance that urgently needs mentioning, because it is especially in the two 'B683' fragrances clearly in the game: 'Ambroxan', or more recently called 'Ambrofix'. It is characterized by a sweetish, again tobacco and slightly salty ozonics, and synthetically represents a small section of the much broader fragrance cosmos of ambergris.
For Ambroxan haters, which I count myself, this is of course an imposition, but I must confess that the beargwöhnte synthetics here surprisingly does not bother me so much.
As cool-smooth as the leather is in the EdP, as if you were entering a chicly styled shoe store; in the extrait, it starts to come to life, softens, suddenly has roughened areas. At times, an implied intimacy replaces the otherwise stylishly sober aloofness, but it quickly fades away, leaving only the flirtation with the daring. The couturier, especially when his name is Marc-Antoine Barrois, always keeps his composure when it comes to leather. Others would probably think of animals: castoreum, for example, already blessed with leathery facets, or even civet and hyraceum, which - God forbid! - which in the end stained the noble footwear with fecal matter, as if one had accidentally stepped into an unattractive legacy. No, such antiquated Ferkeleien have in a modern Ambrox saffron concept of course nothing to look for.
We'll have apple for that, green apple.
When I read that, I thought to myself, oh dear, this is going to be fun.
Anyone who grew up smelling screechy loud apple shampoo, like me, has learned to distrust this scent.
The apple smells here namely pretty good. Somehow not really natural, but still good. That is at all the strange thing about the Barrois fragrances (as in actually all fragrances of Monsieur Bisch): they smell terribly synthetic, as if all the notes contained in it, which read so natural at first, are at best nature-identical, not to say: fake. Still, I like his scents, at least most of them. Apparently Bisch has found a signature that allows him to turn supposedly inferior synthetics into something valuable, artful, even if the source material of those apparent synthetics is of natural origin.
The Extrait of 'B683' is a perfect example of this.
In addition to the apple, the cumin also smells somehow not real, and yet it gives the fragrance in a short phase that certain something: an artfully shimmering erotic physicality, but which, barely flashed, already disintegrates again to the chimera. A chimera, which I sniff enthusiastically after.
Also the oud, supposedly even genuine from Laos: yes, it's there, but strangely de-oudized. Without the appearance of any natural origin and reduced solely to its medicinal nuances and a few shy wisps of smoke. Likewise the patchouli brought in from Indonesia: stripped of any dank, creaky gothicness by fractionation. And even the sandalwood seems to have never really seen the Australian wilderness, too smoothly polished, too sterile it seems.
And yet: it smells great!
Especially the combination of apple, cumin and leather is, despite all artificiality, really apart. For my taste, it could have been worked out even more clearly, because it is unfortunately quite quickly overlaid by the sweetish-woody ozonik of the fund, which spreads visibly like a thick, heavy blanket over the fragrance event.
All these oddly styled notes develop a lush volume and a dense, velvety texture remotely reminiscent of old Guerlain extraits. That's because, unlike the many perfumes and extraits foisted on today's consumers (which are basically just slightly higher-concentration eau de parfums), this is a proper extract, with close to 40 percent perfume oil content.
One actually dabs such a highly concentrated perfume, but even dabbing would seem anachronistic given the radically modern scent language. So it is sprayed. Fortunately, the spray mechanism is designed so that only the smallest amounts are nebulized into the finest droplets.
Unlike 'Ganymede', the extrait of 'B683' remains just so close to its wearer, or wearer, without dragging miles of scent behind him. In terms of persistence, the Extrait surpasses its two predecessors, however, by lengths.
Here, too, the fragrance behaves like comparable high-proof extraits: steady and slow development, instead of space-blasting detonation; clear and long-lasting presence, without knockdown of the counterpart.
Whether I will like this fragrance in the long run, I do not know yet. I admire it because of its artful execution and its modernity. Possibly I am however already too old, in order to let me be kidnapped unreservedly by it.
I still remember well a colleague more than twenty years older, who in 1988, when I wore 'Cool Water' enthusiastically for the first time, gave me to understand that he was definitely too old for such synthetics. It may be that I feel the same way today, although I try not to become conservative. But, I confess, it's increasingly difficult for me to
So, I'll probably work my way around the two 'B683' fragrances for a while yet, with an uncertain outcome.
But you have to hand it to the Barrois/Bisch team: they have created a fragrance logo that congenially captures the work of couturier and menswear designer Barrois. That hasn't been done in a long time. Vincent Roubert achieved a similar feat 90 years ago: he created the legendary 'Knize Ten' for the Viennese men's outfitter Knize. Twenty years later, Edmond Roudnitska composed a comparable signature fragrance for Hermès, the famous manufacturer of horse saddles and leather bags: 'Eau d'Hermès'. Here, as there, leather goods play a central role, here, as there, leather is reflected in the center of the fragrances.
'B683' is, in a sense, the 'Knize Ten' of today. Unlike its famous predecessors, however, it only cryptically refers to its manufacturer in the naming: 'B683' is in fact a homage to 'B612', the planet of Saint-Exupery's 'The Little Prince'. Barrois changed the number sequence according to his birth data: 6/83.
For the time being, 'Ganymede' remains my favorite of the trio, but the Extrait - just behind it - visibly reduces the gap.