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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Jorge de Burgos Would Approve: Messe de Minuit by Etro


My inner Goth craves incense perfumes and I feel I owe it to her to try them, after all, I keep her suppressed and never let her out. Some of the reviews of Messe de Minuit described the scent as scary. That is something I simply cannot resist. The sample was acquired and I braced myself, fully prepared to be terrified by the images too horrible to mention coming out of the vial in a puff of pungent smoke…Perhaps teenage and not-so-teenage years spent reading horror books and watching horror movies raised my fear threshold, Messe de Minuit failed to scare me. Instead it made me sad.

According to Etro, Messe de Minuit has “a luminous quality that seems to sit comfortably with its darker undertones.” What on earth are they talking about? Nothing remotely luminous here, this is a very dark dense opaque woody incense. The image I get (and I am tragically unoriginal here) is that of a church, old, dusty, moldy church, with the incense smell forever being absorbed by the walls along with the prayers and tears of the people who come here…an unhappy place somehow, perhaps it is a desecrated church…or perhaps this is how the monastery from Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose would smell like, a stale sorrowful odor of a place where humorless monks live, obsessed with the fact that Jesus never laughed.

Messe de Minuit could never possibly be wearable for me, but I couldn’t praise it enough for the originality and the evocativeness. For me this is one of the “haute couture scents”, something to be admired and maybe even bought, but never really worn in real everyday life.

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16 Comments:

Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Wonderful review, Marinochka! I feel the same way about Messe de Minuit as you do. It makes me sad, with its moldy pillars imagery and cold stones. I do enjoy smelling it once in a while, but it is not something I can wear on my skin.

2:13 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you, Vikochka! I think Etro is a such an interesting diverse line, always consistently good quality perfumes, but all scents are so different. I mean, Heliotrope and this...I wonder who is their nose...

8:13 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I would love to know the nose for MdM too...it is such an interesting scent, although like you, I don't really feel comfortable wearing it. But few scents are so extraordinarily evocative...

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Exactly, and , related to the discussion on Bois de Jasmin, I actually would go as far as to say that Messe de Minuit is a work of art, if only just because it is so very evocative.

12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

According to the article I read a long time ago in Zhenskii Zhurnal, the nose for almost all of the fragrances is Jacques Flori. I have not been able to find more information. I will try to see if that magazine is still around, or perhaps my mom still has it. She tends to keep everything.

12:21 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ooh, exciting. Off to google Flori. You are a gem and a kladez' of information, Vikochka!
PS ( wearing CdG Rose today and loving it! (((V))) )

12:22 PM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

My scent to be admired and bought but never worn is Amarige. I really think it's a wonder of a work - and I cannot wear it at all. It's a beautiful creation to sniff and enjoy, though. Some might say Poison, too, but I wear it around the house (never out of the house) for my own enjoyment.

I love the comparsion to Eco's book: it really drives home the character of MdM for me. Thank you.

2:14 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you, K.! I like Amarige too and also in a theoretical kind of way. I had a friend who used to wear it and it suited her so well. I used to wear Poison in my teenage-ish days and it was never *that* strong on me...I should re-visit it, I have very fond memories :-)

2:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

Hello Columbina,

Wonderful review. I agree with you totally. I could never wear Messe either. It reminds me of Angleique by Creed. I would not feel "myself" in them, but I can appreciate them for what they are.

Have a wonderful day!

Jen

5:13 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you, Jen! OMG, now you said Angelique Encens, I can totally "see" the similarity. I could wear AE, it is sort of tranquil and serene on me where MdeM is somber and serious, but you are so right, they *are* similar!
Marina

5:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think you are all taking Messe de Minuit a little too seriously. yes it is rathey gothicky but definitely not gloomy. i wear this marvellous fragrance quite often and find it deliciously decadent. i've worn it in some of europe's best known cathedrals (in london, paris, rome) while i've been wandering around - it adds to the atmosphere...

8:49 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this perfume; it is my favorite. On my skin it goes spicy, dark, a bit wild, reminds me of fall leaves and dark places. Decadent is right.

It doesn't remind me of monks, or sadness, at all. To me this is a witchy scent...the layer below the mass, so to speak...barely controlled pagan impulses, dark mysterious spices, old and forgotten places.

5:42 AM EST  
Blogger William H. said...

A fine review. Messe de Minuit (along with Avignon and a few others) is often experienced as a sad scent or at least a very somber one. To me, it is comforting, consoling, eternal; a reminder that there really is stability at the center of this wildly oscillating world.

Thanks for hosting a great blog!

10:22 AM EDT  
Blogger katrina said...

Marina, after reading this, and other reviews, I think you and I might be scent twins. I'm just getting started here, so I'm so happy to have found someone who likes what I like.

I tried messe de minuit without any preconceptions--it came in the intermediate sampler from the perfumed court. I find it to be immensely comforting, and WARM. I want to snuggle into it, and maybe even lick it, at the end of a long, luxurious inhale. The smell of honeycomb-the waxy part, not the honey, strikes me similarly.

Thank you for this review, and so many others.

7:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous juliet said...

I´m surprised to read that many seem to associate messe de minuit with something cold. I suppose it either has to do with skin chemistry or with widely differing personal associations. In any case all seem to agree it is a very special scent.
My perception is that of deep, warm darkness. Like the inner of your soul... a place that is a shelter and a mystery at once. Wonderful...

ot: Great blog!

11:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous PolarBear2 said...

Smells like a dark, airless, musty cathedral in Europe ! Very intriguing, but cant be worn to work. If ever you wish to wear it, wear it when you have to walk fast in dark winter.

1:12 PM EST  

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