Post by Chairman Meow
I like me a good gourmand, and from my many readings about this scent, this was meant to be a good gourmand, so I went about sniffing Fils de Dieu with high hopes. Its billing as the New Skool Shalimar did nothing to lower expectations.
Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes
by Ralf Schwieger for Etat Libre D’Orange 2012
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica lists the following accords:
Top: Ginger, coriander, lime, shiso
Heart: Coconut, cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon, rose
Base: Tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather, castoreum
And indeed the first nanosecond of its performance, with that recognisable dusty vanillic citrus intro, is familiar. But thenceforth Shalimar and Fils de Dieu (FdD) set out on quite different trajectories. Shalimar, animalic and belching plumes of smoky opoponax, flounces off in one direction, loudly crying “dahling!” to all and sundry. FdD, on the other hand, has eased into a pair of Birkenstocks and has gone backpacking around Thailand, and before I could wheeze “for shaaaaaaame”, I died in ecstasy and face planted into a bowl of steaming coconut rice.
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
From first huff to its expiration a lamentably short period later, FdD is an ode to the fluffy cooked grain. Its moniker is quite apt (Son of God, Rice and Citrus). The notes read like an ingredient list for a laksa, yet it remarkably it smells quite restrained, spartan almost, with the muted, powdery qualities of rice being showcased by the other elements. Bemusingly, rice itself not listed above, illustrating yet again what a load of twaddle this notes business is, and how we should all just make of things What We Will. Rather than being overtly tart or astringent, the lime lends a certain buoyancy, with much the same role as lemongrass or kaffir lime leaf in a dish, and with a little imagination I can just detect the soapy zing of coriander leaf/cilantro right at those first few seconds. Tonka is also evident, tinting everything with a little of its caramel hue.
But all this sounds too gourmand, too literal a take on cooking, which is it most assuredly not. It’s as if Heston Blumenthal has come along with his lab gear, extracted the qi or life force out of south east Asian cuisine and infused the distillate into a perfume for the global citizen. Just to remind you that you are perfumed, and have not just finished a double shift in the kitchen of your local Thai eatery, there is a soupcon of musk and castoreum, endowing the composition with that unctuous, slightly vomitous twang. With time, FdD remains rice-y, but becomes more rosy, and is the sweeter for it.
It is a short ride (on me at least), requiring a top-up spritz or three ere I’d finished writing a paragraph of this review. Ordinarily, I would find this pretty irksome, but in this case I’m content to reapply because it is so terrifically evocative: sweat, gods, ruby-skinned tourists, anarchic markets, decay. It’s witty yet eminently accessible. Consider me a fan.
C M x