When it comes to perfume inspirations, designer Naomi Goodsir had an original one: bakelite — one of the first plastics. I admit to laughing as I read Nuit de Bakélite1 PR materials (Goodsir collects bakelite objects). But who am I to laugh? I'd happily work with perfumer Isabelle Doyen myself if she'd help me turn some favorite things into gorgeous perfume. Isabelle, let's create Jour d'Essence de Térébenthine2or La Grotte des Boules de Mites3. Just this week Angela here at NST reviewed a perfume made with concrete in mind!
Bakelite is, in fact, an honored substance; it was given the designation National Historic Chemical Landmark in 1993. Browse online shopping sites and you'll find jewelry (expensive jewelry) made with bakelite by the likes of Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. My grandmother, who never wore jewelry, did have a bakelite checker set: the checkers were a creamy amber color with white dots. (Does my evil sister have these still?)
The most interesting thing I read about bakelite concerns its smell: "When rubbed or burnt, Bakelite has a distinctive, acrid, sickly-sweet or fishy odor."4 I don't have any bakelite items around the house to rub or set on fire so I'll let my imagination take it from there.
Apparently, in Doyen's search to create a "bakelite" aroma for Goodsir, she came upon the scent of "green tuberose" — Nuit de Bakélite was born.
Upon application, Nuit de Bakélite smells of sturdy, fresh herbs: furred, tough, torn and pounded; the aromas are dense and 'emerald-green' — not fresh (angelica stands out). Suddenly, a smokiness appears, mixing with the heady, volatile vegetal fumes. Next up is a potent mix of violet leaf, leather and tobacco. In mid-development, a "jungle" flower note emerges: spicy, sweet, with a tinge of rich loam mixed in, and this note takes us to 'dark' tuberose mixing with a brighter-hued resin-y smell (the "bakelite accord?") The experience of wearing Nuit de Bakélite is rousing: it's as if I had sprayed (all at once...and lavishly) different parts of my body with L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu, a scent by issey miyake, Olfactive Studio Ombre Indigo and Naomi Goodsir's own Iris Cendré. I am wowed — in a good way.
No doubt about it: a bottle of Nuit de Bakélite will be mine VERY soon.
Naomi Goodsir Nuit de Bakélite Eau de Parfum is unisex and has great lasting power; it's $187 for 50 ml.
1. Perfumer Isabelle Doyen; listed notes of galbanum, angelica, violet leaf, orris, karo karounde, tuberose, leather, davana, styrax, tobacco, labdanum, gaiac wood.
2. Turpentine Day
3. Mothball Cave