One of the nicest Le Labo fragrances I have ever tried. And basically the first pepper fragrance I’ve ever liked. Rich but simple, realistic, straightforward, clean but dark, bold and unique despite featuring some really common notes ( “the devil is in the details”...).Basically, as the name suggests, it is a peppery fragrance, but an extremely clever, balanced and pleasant one. Pepper is quite tricky in fragrances; some tend to be really loud (Villoresi’s Piper Nigrum), some cheap or screechy, some are just boringly, artificially “woody-peppery”, or sometimes they’re just a monotone pepper litany. Well, Poivre 23 isn’t any of that. It brilliantly manages to keep pepper as the central note, yet with some really pleasant and enjoyable nuances that give some colour, some evolution and some vibrancy to the scent – both “bright” and “dark” nuances (or better say, warm-sweet and cold-balsamic). The palette of “colours” of Poivre 23 is quite nondescript actually, it’s just a really vibrant and shimmering fragrance which doesn’t smell like pretty much anything else. I get a lot of “curry” smell, especially initially; some subtle vanillic amber, maybe even something greenish-floral and slightly resinous.
The evolution gets eventually drier, a bit muskier, earthier, still with a perfectly detectable warm-ambery labdanum note, at the same time slightly more balsamic and green (in a dark, “fougère-like” meaning). And with a really pleasant whiff of crisp laundry musk. It feels like a “pepper soliflore” with distant, light echoes of other fragrances – from Etro Ambra to Le Labo Labdanum to many musk-vanilla scents, to (obviously) pepper fragrances like the abovementioned, and inferior, Piper Nigrum, finally almost reaching some really classic green-floral Chanel or Laroche scents – not sure why but I thought of both vintage Laroche’s Fidji and Chanel’s Cristalle at some point. I am not saying I smell them here, rather that their faint green-musky chypresque ghosts lightly “float” around on the background thanks to some really well-put subtle nuances that seem to recall them. Probably one of the most “dynamic” scents I’ve smelled recently, brilliantly keeping it consistent around pepper and cumin. I can’t explain myself better – it’s just a really catchy, fascinating and refined pepper-resinous-green scent, unique and vibrant, extremely enjoyable to wear. And that’s it. Bravi!