Fille en aiguilles twin sister
As I’ve been trying Neil Morris’s earthy eau de parfum fragrances I’ve found that they have a roundness, warmth and soft focus that puts me in the mind of an idealized, 19th century landscape painting. All the elements of the scene are recognizable but capturing the realism of every last detail is not the intent. Rather, it is to place the viewer in a narrative moment or the atmosphere of the landscape. That sense of narrative seems to be the inspiration behind much of the Neil Morris Fragrance line. Nearly every fragrance on his website has a very specific autobiographical narrative and Dark Season is the most detailed of them all. My family heritage is Scandinavian so the website description spoke to me in a very personal way. I just had to have a sample:
“I lived in Finland for a year in 1977 and... one evening wile visiting my friend... we decided to bundle up and walk through the winter woods not far from her home. ...the silences of the majestic forest and the softly falling snow combined to create an otherworldly dreamscape. We stopped talking and just walked... till the wind told us we’d had enough. We then headed back to their house and we could smell the warm fires and saunas coming from the homes on her street. Her mom had warm glögi ready for us when we got in...”
In Dark Season Neil Morris recreates the narrative by opening the fragrance with a heady, resinous pine accord reminiscent of Serge Lutens Fille en aiguilles. I’ll return to that comparison later. There’s a slight smokiness to the scent -I would like more please!- and then as the overall fragrance develops it begins to sweeten and soften as the fragrance takes you from the pine forest into a warm house with the scent of cinnamon laced glögi (Scandinavian mulled wine). At this point the eau de parfum concentration of the fragrance begins to take on a powdery quality that finally settles on an aromatic woody note that, for a Scandinavian, is definitely the smell of a cedar lined sauna.
As I said earlier, Dark Season and Serge Lutens Fille en aiguilles are very similar in many ways. The similarities begin with the juice itself. Both consist of a dark amber brown liquid that looks like sap tapped from pines and decanted directly into the bottles without any distillation process. Both open as big, pine based fragrances with an element of smokiness, though the smokiness of Dark Season is very mild. But this is where the similarities end. Whereas I spoke of Dark Season as a soft focus landscape painting, Fille en aiguilles is an artist’s detail study of rough pine bark oozing sweet, resinous yet tarry sap.
As much as I like Dark Season -and Neil Morris’s independent, very individual creations generally- I actually prefer Fille en aiguilles. The opening of Dark Season is incredible, every bit the equal of Fille en aiguille. But there is something about the lingering powdery quality (oak moss?) in the development of Dark Season that overwhelms me after a time. With its eau de parfum concentration Dark Season also lingers on my skin for well over a day, even after bathing, becoming stale smelling. Fille en aiguille, on the other hand, is fairly linear and I don't mind that at all. I want to live in the natural detail of its opening and all the memories it evokes of northern forests. And even though I wrote of Fille en aiguille as having a big opening its presence calms after a few minutes and is not so pervasive, whereas I have felt somewhat self conscious about the powdery aura and sillage of Dark Season.