Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before...
In late 2014, niche line Frapin launched Nevermore, a new fragrance inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven." I love any reference to Poe, and Frapin's characterization of Nevermore as a "spicy woody metallic rose" appealed to me, so I looked forward to trying it and writing about it here.
Nevermore was developed for Frapin by perfumer Anne-Sophie Behaghel, and its composition includes notes of black pepper, nutmeg, floralozone and aldehydes; rose oxide, rose de mai, rose damascena and "bonded wine"; saffron, Atlas cedar and amber wood. Its concept is inspired by the legendary "Poe toaster," a mysterious figure who for several decades visited Poe's Baltimore resting place annually on the writer's birthday (January 19) and left a bottle of Cognac and three roses. (You can read a history of the grave and this occurrence here.)
Frapin (primarily known as a producer of fine Cognac, hence the tie-in to the Poe story!) describes Nevermore this way: "Dark and metallic, rose oxide opens the door to the garden of the soul. Pale flowers of the air, aldehydes veil the stones and their epitaphs with an icy vapour connecting earth and sky. With its thorns, the rose keeps visitor at bay, and yet its wine-coloured petals streaked with saffron sparks invite them close." That's a fairly purple description, yet it's appropriate for Poe and "The Raven" and this particular fragrance. Nevermore might include some rose notes, but it's certainly not one of the clean, fresh soliflores that I've been smelling and reviewing this spring.
I always enjoy fragrances that unfold like narratives, and Nevermore is one of them: it's dusky and evocative, and it can easily be matched with the idea of visiting Poe's grave on a winter night. It opens with a sharp cedar note and a touch of pepper. Keeping the description of Nevermore in mind, the rest of the fragrance's "landscape" really can be imagined as a combination of graveyard and garden: there's a mineral note that suggests gravestones, an airiness from the aldehydes and ozonic notes (don't worry, the ozones feel chilly and green rather than beachy!), and the oak-y note that appears in several Frapin fragrances. The rose at Nevermore's heart is a deep, wine-y rose, and in the fragrance's dry down it turns muskier and is supported by a shadowy amber base.
Overall, Nevermore has an intriguing balance of coolness and warmth — coolness from the notes of air and stone and damp soil, and warmth from the underlying woods. It may appeal to anyone who loves earthy, wine-y rose fragrances like L'Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses or Sonoma Scent Studio Vintage Rose, and it has excellent staying power.
Nevermore leans more masculine than the fragrances I typically wear, but it feels more androgynous as it dries down, and I think I could carry it off in cool weather. I only wish it were available in a smaller bottle, but I'm enjoying it, and throughout the day I find it "still beguiling all my fancy into smiling," as Poe wrote in his famous poem.
Frapin Nevermore is available as 100 ml ($195) Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Frapin under Perfume Houses.
Note: top left image is Poe Grave at Westminster via Wikimedia Commons.