When one thinks of the differences between classical and modern perfumery I believe we can use the evolution of music formats to understand it better. Modern perfumery is very close to contemporary popular music, often built simply, using samples of familiar songs with few layers of sound. Classic perfumery would be the equivalent of recordings on vinyl records and albums where live studio instrumentation adds a wealth of detail that makes the experience very enjoyable for music fanatics.
Like the vinyl, the classic perfumery did not die, but it became a more selective and independent product. Many independent niche houses have creates perfumes with the quality and richness of the classics and one of them is Victor Wong's Zoologist, whose concept of the personification of animals in scents has yielded a collection very bold and diverse in styles.
To honor one of the most well-known animals of the perfumery Victor chose a perfumer who works with classic structures as if they were part of her existence. Shelley Waddington may not be one of the best known in the indie scenario, but her perfumes for her EnVoyage Perfumes are a journey of luxury and olfactory richness and in Civet the perfumer seems to be in one of her best moments.
Civet is one of the most difficult notes to be worked for a contemporary public, especially since the increase of its concentration within a composition will make the perfume progressively fecal, creating a challenging experience. However, the musk extracted from the Civet glands is an excellent fixative and when used wisely becomes a kind of aura that exalts the composition and adds a carnal aspect, giving a new life to the perfume.
The creation here makes me think of great perfumery classics, recreating perfumes from the glory days of the Civet. The impression I have is as if Shelley had studied the creation style of the great master Roudnitska and understood his creation dynamics. Civet works in a dynamic similar to that of one of the great classics of Roudnitska, Femme de Rochas, also remembering his wonderful Diorama (and also referring to a Guerlain classic that works on a similar dynamic of notes, Parure). All these creations are like a melody that combines spices, flowers, fruity notes and a base with nuances of moss and woods.
Civet opens with the sweet and spicy scent of cinnamon and with an impression of a dry spicy aroma that resembles cloves. In the background, you get a scent of plums and peaches giving a velvety, rich and sensual aura to the opening. Coffee is an interesting element, used for its connection with the civet by the type of coffee Kopi Luwak (made from the undigested grains and excreted by the animal). It is interesting that the roasted aroma of the coffee ends up combining with the elements of the opening and also enriching the chypre texture, compensating the current limitations to some classic materials. And it is as Civet evolves that I remember Roudnitska, able to work the carnal and indolic and contrast with the luminosity, freshness and beauty of the flowers. In civet we also have this juxtaposition in a floral body that refers to a mixture of jasmine, ylang, rose and lily of the valley. Sometimes the composition also appears to have a floral and oily appearance and it refers to the exotic touch of the osmanthus.
At last, Civet arrives at its finest moment and you can perceive the bass tone of the idea, a blend of green earthiness of moss with the dry, animalic aroma of the amber and the more creamy, woody scent of sandalwood. And in the background you can finally feel the warm touch and a tiny bit of civet mingling with the resinous and slightly sweet aroma of opoponax and a light powdery touch of iris. It is one of the most complex parts of the composition and one of the moments that often in contemporary perfumery sounds linear and simple. Civet is a masterpiece that preserves the richest and most beautiful in the past and gives a new generation a chance to experience symphonies that otherwise they would not have access to.