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Monday, January 14, 2008

Perfume Review: Humiecki & Graef Skarb

Let me preface the post by saying that I feel I should be fully qualified to understand and appreciate Humiecki & Graef’s olfactory effort, Skarb. I am Slavic, in more ways than one. I have made seen Slavic men cry. I love practically everything Christophe Laudamiel has ever created. I am fairly broad-minded and can relate to the creators’ desire to break free from the conceptual confines of perfume-about-love, perfume-about-sex, perfume-about-travels-to-exotic-lands. Having said that, I do have my reservations about bringing politics or any sort of agenda into perfume. That I feel the horrors of National Socialism and Perfume just don’t “go”. And that I find the idea of a scent about crying rather depressing. To put the long story short, this concept doesn’t rock my boat.

Perfume itself, on the other hand, does. I will not engage in the game of guessing which notes of the “star-shaped” composition were meant to represent which sides of the mysterious and sensitive Slavic soul and of the sacred rite that is men’s crying. The presence of some of the notes I could have guessed before smelling Skarb or reading its description. A Slavic-inspired perfume must have incense. And you can’t make perfume inspired by crying without a watery accord. By the way, predictable or rather unavoidable as it is in this case, that accord is what makes the perfume so recognizably Laudamiel for me. The raw, salty, leathery-animalic feel of it reminds me of S-Perfume S-ex, and, dare I say it, it is the “watery accord” that makes Skarb smell interesting, that sets it apart from the ubiquitous spicy-incensey offerings one can now find in dozens at any store specializing in niche perfumes. I also love the pungent greenness of the scent, the meaty earthiness, the unexpected piquant sweetness. It has the kind of oddness that I think should be the only one allowed in perfumery- the wearable kind. Again, that is something unique to Laudamiel’s creations, as is the quirky sort of elegance and unexpected versatility that Skarb has. You could put it on to reconnect with your Slavic soul and to brood about the tumultuous history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. Or you could easily wear it to your down-to-materialistic-earth and politically correct office and it would feel quite natural there too. And by You I mean a man or a woman, because, despite the man-oriented premise, Skarb is resolutely unisex.

Available at Luckyscent, for the price that, in the spirit of the scent, was probably meant to make you cry, $210.00 for 100ml.

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30 Comments:

Blogger tmp00 said...

I tried this at ScentBar and it didn't do anything on me at all. Angela raved about it, saying that one of the owners smelled so great wearing it. We spritzed, we sniffed, we moved on. The mysteries of body chemistry..

9:37 PM EST  
Blogger elle said...

I absolutely need to sample this again. The lovage, barley and carrot seed notes were dominant on my skin when I tried it and at the time I just wasn't in the mood for them. Still, I remember thinking it was interesting enough to merit further testing, but it somehow disappeared into my sample hell drawer. Will go retrieve it tomorrow.

10:12 PM EST  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

Wow, this sounds like a really interesting one. I think that I will have to find a sample. Something about it sounds refreshing to me, a bit like something that I could wear to the barn on a cold gray windy winters day. Having a thoroughly Russian soul I can completely enjoy the passion:)

10:44 PM EST  
Anonymous dinazad said...

I really, really wanted to love this. I've lived in Poland as an exchange student for some time (besides having Slavic roots), and a perfume with a Polish name ("skarb" means "treasure") was something I fervently desired. Alas, Skarb smells of lovage pure and simple on me. I had no idea it had any connection to the Slavic soul. I don't object to lovage, but I prefer cooking with it. Besides, I could just rub a sprig behind my ears to smell of it, no need to draw the plastic! So no treasure for me in this bottle, but I'm glad to hear that other Slavic souls feel the connection! ;-)

3:23 AM EST  
Anonymous leopoldo said...

Like Elle, it disappeared into my sample drawer, probably because I was put off the cod-philosophical and offensive historical blather of the marketers. I will resniff, like the dutiful addict.

Star shaped indeed.

3:29 AM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Hmmmm. . . reading your review and then the other comments pulls my head back and forth. I don't get the political stuff, but the perfume (per you) sounds fabulous. But then reading the others makes it clear that this is one of those "YMMV" things. I guess I just need to try it myself!

6:59 AM EST  
Anonymous divalano said...

I do have Slavic roots of a sort. Mine are Jewish, my old Yiddish bubbelah. Unfortunately grandma smelled like chicken soup, dill & Mentos; not sure this works dabbed behind each ear. Meaty earthiness sounds good but I think between the green & the watery accord & my often love/hate relationship with incense this scent & I probably wouldn't get along. And no, I don't want my perfume to induce contemplation of East European political history or for that matter, tears. And ... barley essence? Does barely smell?

8:44 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Slav here.
Enjoying all the comments of my friends-in-blogland.

If this should walk across the parapet, like my Lee, I will dutifully sniff.

[I'm enjoying your wordplay more !]

9:11 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Those are the mysteries that keep the blogs and forums alive :-)

10:56 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
I am imagining a Dante-esque journey into the sample hell drawer :-) This would make an interesting post, no? What scents inhabit which of the circles :-)

10:59 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
It IS cooling and refreshing. And you do have Russian soul :-)

11:00 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Dina,
I lived in Poland too, miss it so much :-(

11:01 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
See, or rather sniff, beyond the blah-de-la-blah. :-) Which I find increasingly harder to do...

11:02 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Judith,
Everyting is YMMV, right? I don't think you'd hate this one, but I sort of don't think you'd love it either.

11:03 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M,
If someone makes a scent with chicken soup and dill, preferably in a room spray, I'd buy it, this is how home-sick I am. :-)

11:04 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ida,
Let me hug you, my fellow Slav! :-)

11:05 AM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

I liked this one as well, as long as I ignored the marketing materials. It's understandable why a niche perfumer now has to try and say/do something to make a splash and get some notice, with more and more niche perfumes showing up, so I'm probably a lot more forgiving of excess.

11:06 AM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Patty,
I'll forgive a lot too, but not 1)polical, 2)"revolutionary"/world-saving, 3)pornografic, 4)pretentiously eclectic to the point of absurdity (Balzac + Snoop Dogg kinda thing), 5) only-available-on-the-moon exclusive or 6)guided-by-the-higher-power.

:-)

11:11 AM EST  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Hm, no tears please, I had had them enough, when living in Czechoslovakia (aka slavic...) for 25 years - although myself being Hungarian... As a proper Hungarian I take a sip of (any) alcohol and break out in tears, about the last 2000 something years of our history, all the lost battles, and basically about anything else on this earth...

So, all I want from my parfume is JOY, PLEASURE & HAPPYNESS (& LOVE!)

12:03 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Melinda,
Exactly. That's what I want too. :-)

12:04 PM EST  
Blogger Solander said...

Hmm, I haven't tried S-ex, but that saltwatery accord, know what it reminds me of? Secretions Magnifique! Which made me giggle a bit about the "man's tears" bit (How is a man's tears different from anyone else's? Is it really a euphemism...?) To me, Skarb is pretty much Secretions Magnifiques with vetiver. I don't shudder and wretch from it, like from SM, but the accord is definitely there.

12:17 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

S,
It didn't remind me of SM at all, luckily for me. :-)
And no, Their precious tears ain't no different from Our apparently much less interesting ones.
Heh re: the euphemism.

12:29 PM EST  
Anonymous Andy said...

Wow! brooding about Europe's history of the last century: It must last for days ....

2:21 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Andy,
It is fairly longlasting :-)

2:22 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Well, I am filled with aporia reading this, because I keep seeing such conflicting reviews!

2:26 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

March,
We are pleased to hear that. PST always tries to think outside of the box.

2:29 PM EST  
Anonymous leopoldo said...

Miaow, pussy cats!

3:00 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lee,
Your comment puts us in a state of utter wonderment. Truly we don't know what it is you mean. :-)

3:02 PM EST  
Anonymous joe805 said...

I've made a resolution to read you more often, and reviews like this are why! Being half-Polish, I just had to rush to order a sample of this a couple of months ago soon after its launch on these shores. After a quick, unimpressive sniff upon receiving my parcel, I haven't pulled my vial out again, but after reading this review, I am absolutely going to give Skarb a more thorough testing this weekend.

I think I initially thought it was too blandly herbaceous and watery -- my Polish peasant subconscious wants instead some kind of mélange of cherry brandy, the spices of kielbasa, earthy poppyseeds and beet greens, fir forests, maybe the warm, slightly musty, camphory, comforting smell of babchi's living room, the old overstuffed furniture permeated with just a vague memory of tobacco smoke.

Fortunately, Zagorsk excites the Slavic region of my brain in a very deep way. I'm looking forward to trying Skarb again in hopes that it will reach some of those same nerve centers!

3:22 PM EST  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

joe805,
My Russian peasant subconscious (plus I lived in Poland for a year, and miss it SO much) wants the same things :-)
But, taken on its own, without any "Slavic men crying" stuff, this scent is actually a very interesting take on incense theme.

7:14 PM EST  

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