LAVS by Unum is the first scent in (chrono)logical order from this line, meant to represent the “roots” of Unum – which are grounded in L.A.V.S. atelier (“Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre”), a successful Italian tailoring workshop that produces vestments and regalia – even for the last two popes (Benedetto and Francesco). This is actually the aspect of Unum that completely got me; despite being myself agnostic, I can’t help but being terribly fascinated by this. In a market segment ruled by copywriters hired to browse Wikipedia to make up stories and heritages for made-up brands, the idea of a line of scent with such solid, consistent and actual real roots in the field they’re inspired by, is mind-blowing for me. Anyway: LAVS was basically produced as a room fragrance the atelier’s staff used to apply gently on the garments before delivering them to clients and sell as a room scent. Once they realised clients liked to wear it too, Sorcinelli and his team thought about starting a line of fragrances. LAVS is that early non-scent just reworked in a “wearable” form. And just to get straight to the point, it’s an incense scent. A majestic one, a “liturgical” one with a subtle exotic vibe, and despite I am not the most enthusiastic fan of this family of scents, one of the greatest around by far for me. What makes it great, besides an undisputable high quality, is that it finally shows some complexity and some classy, clever work with notes; whereas most of other incense scents just rely on a repetitive and overworked couple of molecules (which smell fantastic, like Givaudan’s Mystikal, or just bare play with Iso E), LAVS is built around a more complex evocation of a liturgical ambiance – the garments, the incense, the rituals, the history, the dust, the cold feel of metal and gold, the intimate relation one establishes with all of this. With some facets evoking more distant references, from coriander to spices, that provide a subtle but palpable sort of pagan, exotic feel. The main accord is incense though, which smells dark, grey-ish, with a slight ash aftertaste but also breezy metallic nuances, not overly synthetic; and it’s beautifully and perfectly melted into a really airy and uplifting blend which definitely plays the balsamic-herbal-spicy card – I personally get sharp cloves, pepper, coriander and aromatic woods above all. As hours pass it becomes warmer and quieter, still carrying a powerful, and almost intimidating “ritual” feel; a round, mellow and resinous ladbanum-amber note with a hint of dark fruitiness emerges, defining the frame of LAVS and tightly connecting it to the other two scents of this line which contain a similar accord – like a secret sign of masonic brotherhood. So despite being at first clearly a monolithic incense scent, and to this extent being similar to others, it has definitely so much more. If you compare this to other “liturgical” references like Comme des Garçons’ Avignon or Jovoy’s La Liturgie des Heures, you can easily get what I mean. Mostly because as I said, most of other incense scents stop at a more shallow level of “incense-ness”, just recreating and reiterating that same accord which simulates a cliché of incense. Maybe because LAVS is an extrait de parfum and therefore is also deeper and richer in nuances than Eau de Parfums, or maybe because Sorcinelli and his team know what they’re talking about when they talk “spirituality” ... but LAVS goes just deeper and further than any other, with a passionate, balanced craft work around the nuances of incense. Spices, amber, musk, aromatic woods, flowers, they all discreetly enhance them and they all help to define and deepen incense, like participants in a ritual. Not a thick scent, though, and above all, not “heavy” as you may expect: it’s deep and enveloping, but as regards of its substance, it’s incredibly balanced, really “spacious”. Totally pleasant to wear, even effortless. And well, all that aside since we’re talking about a perfume... the fragrance itself smells great, sophisticated, with a cozy and spiritual mood and a quiet feel of “sacred” austerity. If you’ve a penchant for “meditative” fragrances with a refined look, this may easily sit among your holy grails. Total quality.