You are human; what bees count must be more than parts.
Breathe on them your dream of honey-smeared taste.’
(From ‘30th May: Examining Brood’ in Bee Journal by Sean Borodale
Honey and beeswax are notes I love in scent.
The opulent glow of Honey Oud from Floris, Mamluk from Xerjoff’s Oud Stars, How You Love, the smooth groove sensual lilt of Dana El Masri’s Sade-inspired scent from Parfums Jazmin Seraï and the erotic slutty rush of Séville à l’Aube from L’Artisan Parfumeur are all beautiful oozing, waxen manifestations of animalic bee work.
|Foxy beeswax... ahhh the odour..|
Nothing quite prepared me however for the shuddering plunge of Délivre-Moi, a violent collision of bee-porn and mega-wattage vintage sillage. Even opening the box now seems to release some ghost of a couture-clad dowager sweeping through dust-filled rooms, a mauve dress of wax and pollen-stained satin with live bees frothing at the hem and bodice. It is one of the most powerful and arresting perfumes I own and I find it mesmerising. It is immensely private, compelling you in secret to scorch the atoms in your immediate vicinity, but in reality nothing beats wearing it out and watching people swoon, recoil and flee.
|From 'The Sweetest Thing' editorial for |
Vogue Australia, lensed by Will Davidson,
model Cassi Van Den Dungen
The smell of you oscillates between Versailles trollop, 80s Parisian pissoir and vast ballrooms of fading jasmine. There is a huge sense of decay, dust and anxiety in the mix; the undeniable power of the floral notes counterpointed by the honey and almandine and cherry nostalgia of the admittedly huge overdose of heliotrope. You only have to use very small amounts of heliotropin for a formula to explode with powdered marzipan intensity.
Hardly anyone has heard of Louison Libertin the Belgian nose and creative director behind this niche de niche house Technique Indiscrète; I mention the name, the line, and the fragrances and I’m met with puzzlement and shrugs. Only Michelyn at Cafleurebon knew of him and the wonderful Christos at Memory of Scent has reviewed the fragrances, nominating Safran Nobile as his favourite. I was doing research on beeswax scents for a piece on Séville à l’Aube by L’Artisan Parfumer when his name and Délivre-Moi popped up.
|Foxy bee books & |
Séville à L'Aube by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Those that know me well know I harbour a secret bee obsession and if I lived in the country I would be surrounded by hives and live on honey, royal jelly and propolis, casting things I loved in beeswax and building dead beehouses into my pollen-saturated walls. I think somewhere lost in time I wandered apian fields, lost in puffs of smoke, dressed in bee smocks, gauntlets and veiled hoods listening for the clicks and squeaks of queens holding court and her doomed attendants. This obsession extends to my ink as well, my body thrums with bees, wasps and other mutated cyberpunk insects made with cogs, dice, antlers and wing mirrors. I have bees on my knees. Knee bees and a quote from Candyman twined around my right leg, one of my favourite movies where the terrifyingly sensual bass-voiced antihero Tony Todd is originally killed by being smeared in honey and stung to death by bees.
|Candyman (1992) directed by Bernard Rose|
'I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things I am nothing.' Candyman.
I am always drawn to perfumes with beeswax or honey as keynotes; I hope to smell a certain mucky, balsamic daubed animalism in the mix. It’s like cooking with honey, drizzling it over chicken, adding lemon and herbs, as it cooks, it imparts a caramalised, ambered sweetness but also an odd yeasted woodiness. Louison Libertin, the perfumer has hives in his garden and the inspiration for Délivre-Moi is apparently him opening one of his hives and finding a queen stuck in the wax, hence the title, Délivre-Moi or Deliver or Free Me. His senses were flooded with hive-aroma, the wax, bee-heat, wood of the hive, honey, jelly and bee history. If you have been near traditional hives and spent time with bees, you will be aware how seductive and strange the aromas of beekeeping can be.
|Foxy beeswax & paper bees...|
Beeswax (cera alba) is produced by the honeybees in the form of scales the size of pinheads from glands on their little furry abdomens. They mob together to raise the collective temperature, so prompting the production of clear pure beeswax from their bodies. This is turn is manipulated by their busy mandibles to various uses like cellular architecture and hive maintenance. The yellow, amber colour we associate with beeswax comes from the wax’s contact with pollen, propolis and honey in the hive as it is moulded and inhabited, absorbed the daily lives of the bee colony. It is magical, radiant stuff; raw beeswax has a reek of winged, emotive buzzing life like nothing else. You could wear it on it own and be happy forever. My friend Erika gave a small glass vial once packed of dark, caramel-toned beeswax absolute; ahhhh the scent was divine. I wore it as solid scent, smeared on my throat and wrists. It had the most delicious aroma of clover honey and butter on toasted spelt bread.
|Ned & Chuck resurrecting bees...|
One of my favourite television series was the short-lived Pushing Daisies with the deliciously ambiguous Lee Pace as Pieman Ned who can bring the dead back to life and pretty Anna Friel as the resurrected Chuck, the love of Ned’s life. Bees swarm all over the series, Ned sets up bee hives on top on the Pie Hole diner for his love and in one episode ‘Bzzzzzzzzzz’ from season 2, Chuck goes undercover as a Bee Girl at a cosmetics company to solve a murder. The bee and honey imagery is exquisitely rendered, ghost houses dripping in honey and décor and costumes obsessively bee-detailed. There is an episode where all of Chuck’s bees die from pesticide poisoning and in one beautiful scene she pours the dead bees over a half naked Ned who resurrects them with his special resurrection powers. The bees sparkle like honey golden stars.
Délivre-Moi suggests manifold things and delivers quite the olfactory punch. The box and accompanying postcard inside are already stained and powerfully redolent with musky, honeyed animal traces of the perfumes sojourn inside. It is one of the most potent and distinctive scents I haver in my collection. I would like to say I have to be in the right mood to wear it, but’s not strictly true; it’s a perfume that suddenly suggests itself and I obey, lured to the box and pungent contents.
The heliotrope note is huge, like a Velasquez pope on drugs amid a thousand hives. Powder, crushed bitter almonds, a hint of dried cherry and an ocean of feral honey flowing like lave, studded with glassy wings, chewed wax, larvae, splinters of hive an dust. There is an overall vintage arc to Délivre-Moi, an undeniable sepia filter laid down over proceedings by Louison Libertin to echo eroded perfume beauties of old, not at their peak, but in their twilight years, traces left clinging to the insides of forgotten bottles, syrupy with age. It is a powerful and imaginative work of olfaction, demanding a lot form both skin and senses, the impact on both is considerable; but the reward is commensurate and then some.
Délivre-Moi is not a perfume for the faint-hearted or something you casually spritz on for a wander, it is an odour of expansive, sensual disturbance. The bee thing, all-molten, waxen and warmly animalic is so beautifully rendered I feel gilded and dangerous in it. Interestingly my bottle has matured since acquiring it, the honey/beeswax note has deepened, the almond note softened and become milkier. It has become more intense if anything, the heliotrope more vicious and unforgiving. I like this bitterness though, it feels defiant; like that ghostly couture-clad dowager I mentioned earlier bowing to no-one as she crosses the ballroom, a red lipstick like blood as bees swarm the air around her.
If you would like more information on Technique Indiscrète, please follow the link below:
*From February 2017 Technique Indiscrete will invest 5% of its profits toward the safeguarding of bees.
©TheSilverFox July 2017
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