In a very interesting interview with Antonio Gardoni by Youtubers Sebastian of 'Smelling great fragrance reviews', he talks in detail about his fragrances 'Maai', 'O/E' and 'Mem'.
"Maai" refers to Gardoni as "actually a battle between me and an idea I used to have about tuberose. The scent of tuberose fascinated him early on, but also disturbed him.
I can absolutely understand that, I feel the same way about tuberose.
The perfumer evaluates the finished fragrance, which was initially conceived as an incense fragrance, but after Gardoni discovered a special green tuberose extract, which mutated into a tuberose fragrance (with some incense in the background), as follows: "...I don't find it easy, still now, and still for me, I find it a bit of a conflictual one."
I can understand that, too.
Yes, 'Maai' is really not 'easy' and is indeed full of conflicts, inner tensions and dramatic contrasts.
But above all, 'Maai' is a pretty daring ride across all gender boundaries: from 'butch' to 'girlie' and back again.
The prelude unfolds a tuberose chord that hardly seems more masculine: many green and mossy, but also smoky and almost camphor-like facets support the dominant and currently trumpet-like piercing white bloomer.
This first phase of the fragrance is my favourite. Here this flower, which is so narcotically good but also smells so feminine, gets exactly the masculine frame I always wanted. But unfortunately Gordoni makes a drastic change of scene and in the second phase of the fragrance turns towards a very girlish tuberose, accompanied by some hairspray and bubblegum nuances that remind me of Dior's infamous 'Poison' on the one hand, but also of Duchaufour's 'Nuit de Tubereuse' on the other. Probably it is the interplay with other flowers like ylang-ylang, jasmine and rose, as well as sweet fruit chords that suddenly make 'Maai' look so very feminine here.
But Gordoni soon prepares the next, almost more drastic change of scene: from girlie tuberose to macho leather chypre.
Yeah, it's hard to believe, but he can do it!
First, the hairspray and bubblegum sprinklers fade away and the fruits become riper and riper. The candyfloss sweetness becomes the heavy, complex sweetness of dried fruits, while in the stock a hearty castoreum base begins to take command, becoming increasingly clearer.
This Castoreum base, with all its animal and leathery nuances, is the longest lasting phase. If the first, the clearly masculine, is already over after about one hour, the second, the girlie phase after about one and a half hours, the last phase of the fragrance remains present for many hours.
Castoreum, Castoreum and again Castoreum, a hint of civet, light woody aspects and a good amount of oakmoss form the never ending finale.
Now 'Maai' reminds me especially of another scent, also dominated by Castoreum in the background: Van Cleef & Arpel's 'Pour Homme' - a leather chypre par excellence.
The many comparisons with 'Kouros', on the other hand, I cannot understand at all. Kouros' is an animal-aromatic fougère characterised by sage, honey and civet - a completely different direction from the one taken by 'Maai'. Only the animal presence in the base refers to 'Kouros' in a certain way, but only to the extent that both fragrances clearly display their animal nuances instead of shamefacingly integrating them. But Kouros' Animalik is clearly dominated by Zibet or a perfume base called 'Animalis' (which is clearly also found in Dior's 'Leather Oud'), while the animal component of 'Maai' is no less clearly denied by Castoreum (Bibergeil). Bibergeil is now often part of many leather chypres from the 70/80s, and so 'Maai' quotes much more fragrances like the already mentioned VC&A pour Homme, Jil Sanders 'Man Pure' or Chanels Antaeus, which had at least in its vintage version an equally clear Castoreum-dominated base (today unfortunately hardly recognizable...).
Because of these unexpected and at times abrupt scene changes, 'Maai' remains for me an exciting, but also rather disparate scent, which I can only enjoy partially.
The first phase I find, as I said, great, while the second I feel rather uncomfortable, olfactory put into a girl costume. The third phase, on the other hand, is for me a kind of throwback into my youth, when I couldn't get enough of Castoreum scents and bathed in them myself. Today that's a bit too much of a good thing for me, but I can live with it.
What I find wonderful, however, is the seemingly unlimited use of oak moss - I haven't smelled that much in a long time. Great Apparently Gordoni uses here in addition to the limited usable oak moss a fully valid oak moss replacement, or the new oak moss freed from allergens, with which Thierry Wasser and others have been working for some time and the fragrances like 'Mitsouko' after a long time again wonderfully (oak) mossy smell let.
Anyway, this aspect of the fragrance is fantastic!
What I also like about 'Maai' is that, unlike 'Mem', the fragrance is not so over-instrumented. The variety of notes is reasonably manageable, the fragrance is not excessively laden and has a pleasant, non overwhelming texture (mem).
Whether Gordoni, however, with his much-praised fragrances can succeed the unfortunately deceased Vero Kern, as was to be read many times, I dare to doubt.
As interesting and as fragrant as his creations may sometimes be, I don't think he can achieve the artistry of the Swiss woman.
Maybe not yet, let's see...