For Heavens' Sake!
How much of a catholic does one have to be to wear this fragrance? If you didn't get enough in Sunday's service, with a few spritzes of Full Incense you can easily revive the sacred feeling in no time. Montale did not promise too much: Full Incense is a full load of church frankincense!
Decency is not the matter of Pierre Montale. Perfumes like Oud Cuir d'Arabie or Chocolate Greedy show that he is honest about what he does. We may put Full Incence in the same line.
Incense fragrances can differ a lot from each other. Often, they are simply just especially smoky, but they keep a certain warmth which make them good company on cold days – L'Homme Sage by Divine would be one of that kind. But Full Incense is different, and this is best described with an image.
I remember biking trips in midsummer, perhaps France. It is one of those far too hot days that you arrive at a medieval abbey, somewhere in the countryside. Its ancient walls promise a relaxing cool. You enter a dark gothic or romanesque nave, and instantly you sense the cold and stale frankincense leftovers of the last service. It is always cold and damp in those ancient masonries, even with summer heat outside. How beautiful it would be in November, you may think, facing this deathly cold that seems to creep from the undercroft – that strange blend of frankincense, mould, foxing, dust and dampness.
There is only one little thing that modifies this impression in the heart note: there is a distinct resinous note with a somewhat synthetic appeal, probably the elemi. Its quality might direct you towards a hyper-modern Comme des Garçons fragrance. But this short irritation blends in consistently. I remember the strange, synthetic depth of Neil Morris' Vapor, which this note resembles – that pervasive ethereal fragrance that reminds of white clouds on an infinite blue sky.
So, the ashen, gloomy grave's atmosphere contrasts well with the glaring, surreal colours of summer – an enormously deep, suspiciously blue sky with sharply drawn white clouds and the almost unbearable brightness of a midsummer's noon.
Okay, you can blame frankincense to have certain effects – supposedly similar to a runner's high caused by fast biking in the heat. Some things in there may fit together.
For me, it is just this contrast that prevents Full Incense to slide into the kitsch of those Gregorian chant and medieval abbey fashions that come up once in a while. What can be more uncanny than sepulchral cold in midsummer?
Only the drydown is somewhat conventional with its increasing presence of patchouli – but one can reapply.
And so, I would like to recommend Full Incense as a true summer wear – to all friends of dark romanticism who prefer to keep an alternative state of mind amidst all summer's joy.