Hello friends, Narth here enjoying the Holiday season. Like many of you I plan my holiday fragrances with great glee, though Nuit de Noel in 40c weather was definitely a mistake! This year I was thinking about the Magi gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I have Comme de Garcon’s 888 for the gold, many frankincense choices and I’m sure I have a BPAL somewhere heavy on myrrh. Maybe I’ll try layering them! Today however I am on a frankincense kick. I have three very fine examples of what a treasure frankincense can be when it’s the dominant note in the fragrance.
You may notice that Frankincense pebbles are in the bowl beneath the perfumes! Just in case you’d never seen them before.
But what is frankincense? Also known as olibanum frankincense is a resin from trees in the genus Boswellia, mainly found in Northern Africa. It has been used for its fragrance for 5000 years. When I adorn myself with these perfumes the long relationship of humans to frankincense is always with me for it is truly an ancient scent.
Les Liquides Imaginaires Sancti 2011
Top:Bergamot, Tangerine, Pomelo, Cypress
Middle: Balsam Fir, Lavender, Rosemary, Pink Pepper, Cardamom, Coriander, Nutmeg
Base: Cedar, Ambergris, Patchouli, Olibanum, Myrrh, Benzoin, Labdanum
If you’re looking to festively fragrance for the season in the Northern Hemisphere sense then Sancti is the most Christmassy of these three. It is a beautiful frankincense nestled on a bed of fir. If you’ve ever buried your face in an evergreen in the cold air you’ll know what I mean when I say the fir note here is true, with a lively resinous greenery. I am in a forest! The pomelo and bergamot illuminate the frankincense top notes. There’s a tasty citrus bitterness of the pomelo pith which I found quite special. Sancti is more happy to me than solemn. The cheerful holiday season is alive!
Comme des Garcons Avignon 2002
Notes: Roman Camomile, Cistus Oil, Elemi, Incense, Vanilla, Patchouli, Palisander
Comme des Garcons Incense series made quite an impression on the fragrance world back in 2002. Incense nearly became as ubiquitous as oud is today and everyone wanted to create an incense or include it in their orientals. Comme des Garcons Incense series was a reference point to incense that evoked its namesake rather than being a bit player in an oriental orchestra. I remember when I first smelled Avignon. It absolutely blew me away with its frankincense that smelled like hot stones and timelessness. It’s sweeter than Heeley Cardinal and there is a definite touch of smoke. Overall the lower pitch of these three. If you’re looking for Gothic this is the one. A complex, fascinating frankincense
Heeley Cardinal 2006
Top: White Linen, Bay Rose, Black Pepper
Middle: Labdanum, Frankincense, Myrrh
Base: Vetiver, Ambergris, Patchouli
I’ve heard people say that if you have Cardinal you don’t need Sancti. To my nose they have some serious differences. Heeley Cardinal is much brighter and more minimalist than Sancti. It has none of the bitterness that adds a richness to Sancti. It is a simple and perfect incense. The hot stones of Avignon are in full effect. If you’ve hankered for a pure frankincense this one is stunning. Cardinal has a beautiful airy quality, not airy as in ephemeral, airy as in the scent of the wind. It’s exactly the sort of fragrance you might get a whiff of in the wild and think “if only they could bottle this”. And they have. Of these three I find myself reaching for Cardinal the most.
I hope you all have a fun and scented holidays! What did you wear for your special occasions?
Bye for now, Narth xx
31 thoughts on “Frankincense”
Hey there Narth,
Sancti was my choice for Christmas Eve. Isn’t that uncanny. What a sensational fragrance.
Avignon is another great favourite and I tried Cardinal many years ago but it looks like I need to sniff it again.
Merry everything to you.
That’s a fantastic Christmas eve scent! I think mine was panic and tape.. oh no, actually it was Guerlain Vetiver for a refreshing yet grounding influence.
Merry Christmas to you and Jin. I’m sure you will smell divine XXXX
Narth!!! ( And my autocorrect wants to change your name to Martha lol) you and I click on two!! Cardinal and Avignon. I bet I would adore Sancti.
Have you ever tried frankincense essential oils? There are so many brands and so many varieties but to my nose they all smell sublime. And there are healing properties associated with frankincense for skin cancer, depression and anxiety. The oil works beautiful in a diffuser to create calm and peace in your living space.
Ooo….and Serge Lutens Leau Froide is another beautiful light frankincense…good for warm weather. I shared that bottle with my son.
AND jackieb reminded me that I have a rollerball of Incense Flash. Must dig it out from my stash in the basement.
Brigitte 🙂 I have sniffed some frankincense essential oils in ships but never found one that smells like these fragrances. I do have some BPAL’s that are frankincense dominant, they are resinny incense. If you have any essential oil brands you recommend for the scent let me know! It’s cooler here today so I’m going to wear Avignon for my Boxing day fragrance.
Eden Botanicals makes a sampler pack that you might enjoy.
I love the smell of frankincense, I sometimes chew on a tear of the resin to refresh the mouth, and the oil is great in a skin regenerating cream.
Perfume…Avignon is a great scent and Andy Tauer did an Incense Flash which is similar.
Merry scented Christmas to you!
Merry Christmas! I haven’t tried Tauer’s Incense Flash but would love to. His fragrances are always so potent. One thing that upset me with the CdG incense series was Kyoto was incredibly light. Can’t smell any of it after a short time and it’s a wonderful scent! I’d like to get some potent japanese incense perfume!
You did inspire me yesterday. I wore Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant with BPAL Implaccable Beautiful Tyrant hair gloss. I was an incense bomb. Today for Christmas, I am not sure what yet. Maybe I will pull out Myrrh Ardente or something else in the line. I’m still in bed and not feeling it yet. I sort of am leaning toward something plum spice.
Encens Flamboyant is a beautiful incense, it was the first in my collection.
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Encens Flamboyant is a true work of art. I had a decant years ago but I don’t seem to have it now. I looked up Implacable Tyrant, I bet you truly were an incense wonder 😀 I wonder when BPAL started using oudh, when I was in my BPAL heyday I don’t think it was a thing.
Calling All Angels is my favourite incense. Yesterday I was in a hurry so sprayed the first scent in sight, Hiram’s Lustre, which has the softest incense in the dry down. Today in Songes.
You’ve reminded me to bust out the Songes this year. I think it’s an oddly christmassy tuberose. I’ve not tried Calling all Angels but my goodness the bottle is beautiful.
Hi Narth, I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. I really do need to get my hands on some Sancti and Cardinal to try. I adore Calling All Angels and Trayee for incense. For Christmas Eve I wore Spiriteuse Double Vanille and today I wore Mohur. Wishing you a restful and joyful rest of the year.
Oh another Calling All Angels.. how strong is the amber? I am not a big amber fan though I have no idea why. I enjoy an incense when amber is invisible! You’re in some very royal perfumes for the season 🙂
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I do not find it strong at all. On my skin it is more the vanilla that becomes subtly present. But it still remains an incense perfume. Wishing you a wonderful New Years Eve. Xo
Oh thanks for that 🙂 I hope to try it some time.
Hi Narth! My favorite incense perfumes are Comme des Garcons Avignon that I wore yesterday for Christmas Eve. I also love Donna Kara Black Cashmere, which I am wearing today and Tom Ford Sahara Noir. Unfortunately both perfumes are discontinued. I also love Sonoma Scent Studio Pure Incense, Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur, Comme des Garcons Kyoto and Iunx L’Eau Sento. Myrrh, Frankincense and Benzoin essential oils are amazing and I wear them straight on my skin pretty often.
Oh I had Black Cashmere but for some reason swapped it away years ago. Kicking myself now. I have Cashmere Woods by SSS and it’s a beauty, but more sandalwood than not. If only the Kyoto was more lasting on me I think I would have gone through multiple bottles by now. But I’m thinking I would like to have it just as a reading scent, where it doesn’t matter if I can’t smell it after a while.
I can’t believe that you have Cashmere Woods! That’s a very old SSS long discontinued and not even in the fragrantica database.
For some reason I swapped away my Black Cashmere years ago and am kicking myself now. I do love SSS but my real wish is for Kyoto to be a bit stronger. But I’m thinking I will get some as a reading scent, where I just sit and read and smell myself and don’t worry that it disappears 🙂 I love the particular combo of incense in Kyoto very much.
Love all three of those, incense is a huge favourite of mine and I have a whole shelf dedicated to my incense frags. Monday I wore PdE Wazamba. Latest addition is Arte Profumi Samharam.
Wazamba is powerful stuff! And quite unique I think. I wear it in the evening in winter a lot. It would make a fantastic winter Christmas scent!
I’m not particularly fond of incense and smoky notes unless they are a subtle and in the background, but I like Heeley perfumes and may add Cardinal to a sample order. It sounds good and I’m always up for new perfume ideas and smells.
Wishing everyone a lovely and happy holiday and a wonderful new year!
Heeley would be your best bet, no smoke and airy and inspiring. I’m pretty picky about my smoke preferences, any touch of meat and I’m out! But Avignon’s smoke is subtle 🙂
I wore Sonoma Scent Studio’s Amber Incense to Christmas Ever service and post-church family dinner yesterday; lots of frankincense in it! Nuit de Noel came out later in the evening. Today I wore ELDO’s Like This, Tilda Swinton’s fragrance that has gingerbread notes. All different, all lovely. I hope everyone at APJ had a very happy Christmas!
Eve, not Ever!
I wore Montale Full Incense for Christmas eve, a very realistic catholic incense.
Hope you are enjoying your festive season.
Incense is one of my favourite notes and I have a bottle of Avignon. And as per Tanja’s mention of Full Incense it is one I feel has similar feel to Avignon… really need to test them side by side.
I love reading everyone’s reference incense perfumes and I’d also like to mention the first three of AG’s Les Orientalist collection, Bond’s Chinatown and Silver (Factory) (now DC’ed), Kyoto, Dzongkha and Timbuktu (I know the last two are not incense forward….) and many amouage’s men’s offerings.
For Xmas I wore jubilation XXV which I thought is very appropriate (especially the XXV bit)
Thank you for your contribution to the APJ community.
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