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Bombay Duck London

Martin Margiela (Untitled)

Green.  It’s everywhere.  On the trees.  (Anyone else think that unfurling leaves make them look like they’re wearing lime green Agent Provocateur undies on their lithe bodies?)  In (hung) Parliament:  Caroline Lucas just took Brighton.  And – appropriately – there is a distinctly green mood in fragrance, with Martin Margiela Untitled leading the swing away from sheer florals towards more complicated, but nonetheless beautiful, scents.  Don’t go looking for pretty-pretty:  this debut launch from the Belgian designer brand is intended to be unisex.  What first hits you is a tsunami of galbanum – so if you love Chanel No. 19, with its lashings of that intriguingly bitter Iranian gum, you’ll adore this.  And you know that almost metallic hit you get of ‘wet pavement’, when a shower hits a city pavement after a dry spell…?  This definitely moves through a ‘wet pavement’ phase, while other intriguing notes slowly emerge:  boxwood, bitter orange and a subtle but churchy trail of incense and cedar – with a touch of honeyed amber to soften the edges off the woodsiness.  On the skin, after an hour or two, it’s a mix of starched linen sheets, faded 4711 eau de Cologne and an afternoon in Nôtre-Dame Cathedral – albeit much more intriguing and sensual than that sounds…

The striking bottle is by graphic design genius Fabien Baron:  an ‘Olivetti’ typeface on a background that looks like the flacon’s been randomly dipped in Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion.  The cap is an understated play on the French tradition of ‘Baudruchage’ – only the hand-tied thread around the cap is plain old string, not silk.  (And don’t be deceived:  the cap just pulls off to let you access the spray.  I almost destroyed the lid in my frenzy to remove the string, quite unnecessarily.)

My first encounter with Untitled took place in a branch of Sephora in Lille, before it launched in the UK.  I found myself magnetically attracted back to the store to spritz myself several times, over the weekend;  strangers might have been bemused to see a strange Englishwoman almost compulsively and repeatedly sniffing her own skin.   So I’m not surprised that International Flavours and Fragrances’ Catherine Mitchell confessed to me recently that this so-green creation was one fragrance that she wished, somewhat tooth-gnashingly, she’d worked on herself.  It’s sheer genius.



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