We fume junkies are all familiar to some degree with “The Classics”. A classic chypre is Guerlain’s Mitsouko, for example, a classic oriental Opium, a classic floral Patou Joy, a classic Fougere Azzaro pour Homme, a classic leather Cuir de Russie, and so on and so forth. And sometimes it seems as if most modern fragrances seek only to replay, tweak, scramble, and otherwise stay within these pigeonholes of the classic categories simply because it’s safe(ish) and generally familiar to the public. When they succeed, like with Jubilation 25 as a new chypre, then it’s glorious. When they don’t, well….we all know examples of abject failures, don’t we?
But what if a brave perfume company wants to break free from this constraint of commercial-driven homage to The Classics? Such risks are relatively rare even these days, but badass/bad-boy-noses “Les Christophes” Hornetz and Laudamiel and their bosses Sebastian Fischenich and Tobias Muekschatat at Humiecki & Graef know no fear!
H&G is considered by many to be one of the most consistently and successfully cutting edge perfume house around. “Difficult” fragrances like Skarb, Candour and Multiple Rouge can really polarize opinion; they smell like virtually nothing else and hence can’t really reference The Classics. They are what might be called “The Weirdos”, fitting into no discernible category and seeming to exist for the singular task of challenging all who smell it. Having been called one once or twice, I feel an affinity for these perfume oddballs. Today we’re going to look at what I consider to be the truly beautiful freak in the H&G line: Blask.
The folks at H&G HQ have made it clear in their ad copy that each of their fragrances is meant to evoke a specific mood or a memory of a mood. The excellent, astringent Askew is meant evoke fury, the calm Bosque contentment, Clemency pride, etc. Blask is meant to be about trust. That’s a bit ironic because when I look at the notes listed for Blask, I don’t trust what I read. They tell me that I’m smelling:
“….pungent bay leaf oil with the full-bodied elegance of rich red wine. A woody, balsamic walnut note….A selection of floral notes…. A distinct new interpretation of an oudh scent…”
This does not jive with what my nose is telling me. In fact, I don’t exactly know what the hell I’m actually smelling!
One reason why I wanted to review this fantastic fragrance was that it is extremely difficult to pin down its constituent parts. So please bear with me while I do my best to convey the experience of Blask in so many words…
My wife refers to Blask as ‘the candy perfume’ when I wear it and it does indeed go on sweet, very sweet in fact, but doesn’t ever cloy. It’s a sweetness that comes from beyond honey, vanilla, benzoin or patchouli, as in The Classics. It’s a sweetness that feels organic and seems to float despite its saccharine intensity. The closest reference I can muster to describe this intense sweetness is a very well-aged sauternes desert wine from the Bordeaux region. But that’s a white wine, not red as stated in the official description. So much for trust! But it’s a sweetness that is affable and warm even on a cloudy, cold Dutch morning. That alone makes it worth wearing at least once. The rest of the scent makes it truly compelling.
I don’t know about the reference to oud because I simply don’t smell any. Nor any By Kilian style oud accord sans oud. Maybe it’s a silent partner that has presence rather than visibility. But I do get wood, but not sure if it’s walnut; could be, could be oak, definitely not the cedar that is seemingly ubiquitous these days. It is a warm, sensuous wood that perfectly integrates with the odeur de sauternes. As time passes, the intense sweetness gives way not just to wood, but to a slight acidic sharpness, as you might encounter as the sauternesis being prepared for bottling at its must stage. Wow, the net effect is to make this combination quite bright. After 15 minutes on skin, Blask is so bright it feels and smells like it is actually glowing!
(Wouldn’t you know, “blask” is actually the Polish word for GLOW. I swear I only discovered that after I wrote this review. Gotta love when that happens J )
What makes Blask so special to me is that this glowing sensation last for about 9 full hours. That’s one impressively wonderful weirdo.
Although Blask remains essentially linear throughout the day, this isn’t the whole story. After about 90 minutes, some wan, shy florals do peek out through this wood-wine sweetness. It feels like violet, perhaps with geranium, but that doesn’t matter. This secondary floral element feeds the all-round positive vibe of Blask, giving the sort of depth that ensures that the wearer never gets fatigued by the experience. Instead of evolving, it shifts the perception of weight in the wine-wood-floral accord, and this is itself a testament to technical and artistic mastery.
While same H&G frags want to push one’s limits of what smells good, Blask is there to lift the mood and keep you centred in the most positive way a fragrance can. There is no category to place this Weirdo, but sometimes the strange and wonderful belongs on its own, glowing uniquely for those who venture past the done and the mundane.