Over the years, I’ve been told I smell like 1.) a Christmas tree, 2.) an ashtray, 3.) a sacristy, and 4.) an “ethnic” gift shop. On each of those “occasions” I was wearing an incense fragrance.
I’ve never reached the saturation point with incense-centered colognes. I love incense (and incense perfume) in all seasons. The aromas of frankincense, sandalwood, halmaddi, agarwood, kyphi, and copal can take me on a sensory journey from chilly European cathedrals to steamy Southeast Asian temples, from ancient North African and Mesoamerican pyramids to the high and dry deserts of the American Southwest. For me, incense evokes rites, festivals and magical landscapes.
Montale Full Incense includes notes of cedar, labdanum, patchouli, elemi, and frankincense. I don’t know if this fragrance is “casting a spell” on me, but I can smell each of those notes, though frankincense and cedar predominate. Full Incense does not smooth out its incense notes with citrus or sweeten them with lots of vanilla: Full Incense is incense pure (resinous with a hint of “cold” ash and residual sweetness — benzoin? — in the extreme dry-down.)
Full Incense reminds me of Cire Trudon’s Spiritus Sancti room spray, which I also enjoy. I layered Full Incense with Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée and it worked beautifully, and I’m betting the woody incense of Full Incense would layer nicely with tobacco, vanilla, rose, musk and spicy fragrances. If you’re familiar with incense blends from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, Full Incense falls into the European, ‘Catholic/Greek Orthodox’ category scent-wise. Full Incense has good lasting power and sillage; it is not, as we say, “wildly original” but it’s not “basic” either — it’s a bold and classic incense fragrance.
I know many people who think incense aromas are best reserved for “ambiance” products (room sprays, candles or actual incense sticks and cones). These folks don’t like incense on skin; they chant: “I don’t want to smell like church (or hippies…or monks…or New Age-y meditation classes”…etc.) Though it often incenses them, I feel it’s my job to point out that many of these same people don’t mind smelling like department stores, florist shops or Laundromats. So, there!
Montale Full Incense is available in 50 or 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $125/$185; for buying information see the listing for Montale under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image via Wikimedia Commons.