Perfume Review: Czech & Speake No 88
Czech & Speake of London are a luxury brand specializing in bathroom & kitchen fittings and accessories. Their concept extends to a range of exclusive “aromatic fragrances”, eaux de cologne and after shaves. The scents are complex, rich, truly superb. I haven’t tried all of them (I would dearly love to get my hands on some Oxford & Cambridge, for example), but of those I have tried, No 88 is my absolute favorite.
Allegedly based on an original Elizabethan recipe, No 88 has notes of bergamot, geranium, rose, cassie (acacia farnesiana), frangipani and sandalwood. Dark, deep and honeyed, the scent is stunning. It starts with a burst of sharp bergamot, which dissipates within seconds. Its dry piquancy is promptly replaced by the warmer spiciness of geranium. Simultaneously, sandalwood and rose become apparent. To me, the blend of these two notes is a union made in olfactory heaven. The warm, velvety wood and the dark-red roses of No 88 compliment and enrich each other wonderfully; the former bringing a smoky, vaguely incensey feel to the aroma of flowers, the latter infusing the sandalwood with mellifluous sweetness. The blend has the kind of disparity for which I invariably fall head over heels: it juxtaposes the austere elegance with the honeyed, exhilarating boozyness. It is dark and warm and enveloping. The nocturnal, opulent composition of No 88 has certain indefinable oddness about it that, for me, makes it reminiscent of the best Lutens creations. No 88 is a cologne, however, it has the lasting power and “the body” of a very lush eau de toilette if not an eau de parfum. It is marketed as a masculine scent, but there is no doubt in my mind that women who favor dark, woody florals, would adore No 88.
No 88 is available directly from Czech & Speake, £61.00 for 100ml, or from Apothia, $162 for 100ml. If my test-checkout is to be trusted, it is actually cheaper to order from Czech & Speake, since the final cost comes to about $158, including VAT and shipping to the States.
The image is from czechspeake.com.