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Bogue Maai – Beauty and the Beasts, bottle #374 – October 23, 2015

Image - - Maai packaging

I’m under the spell of independent perfumers, or “indie” perfumers as they’re called in the perfume world. British, American, Canadian, Swiss, French, Italian, these artists are rekindling my love affair with fragrance. All of these artists come at perfumery from a different perspective than traditional perfumery. Mostly self-taught with little or no classical training, their creations spring from their extremely personal visions and passions – rules and trends be damned!  My newest infatuation is with Italian perfumer, Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo, and his third fragrance, Maai. Released in 2014, Maai s a superb example of  this renaissance in olfactory art which has been slowly blooming in perfumeland over the past couple of years.

Antonio is an architect and designer, a professor of industrial and interior design in Brescia, Italy and co-founder of Jump Studios in London, England. He’s definitely busy with day jobs, but he has also spent many years experimenting with creating smells.  In an interview, he says he prefers the smells of nature, trees, woods, herbs, rather than perfume sold in stores and his approach to perfumery is more of a hobby than as a career or business. More concerned with his creative freedom, Antonio has no real marketing plan, and works on a small scale with mostly natural  materials, making his fragrances in small batches – each bottle is hand-packaged and numbered. On his website he says he  “creates contemporary fragrances with ancient techniques and modern intuitions … ….and describes his scents as “rooms to discover with their mood, texture, light and color.”

Maai is, in a word, spectacular. Past and future,  romantic and raw, beauty and beast, Maai comes out of the bottle in a full frontal assault of  green mossiness and fizzy soapy aldehydes , just like the vintage chypres I know and love so well. Magie Noire, La Nuit, Mystère, Cialenga, Ma Griffe, all retro glamour at its best, red lips, red nails and inky-green shadowed eyes. The sweaty moss notes shift into green tuberose stripped of its heavy waft, plus a rose and jasmine  and ylang-ylang accord of spicy-sweet indolic florals, deeply feminine and intoxicating.

And then the beasts appear. Civet, castoreum, hyraceum – animalic, raunchy, skanky, and gloriously dirty - animalic notes smelling of body parts and sex that will move any fragrance to a different olfactory level. As Maai moves into the heart, musk, sweat, and leather melt into the florals sending Maai into sensual overdrive. The elegant chypre now reeks of desire, the curtain pulled back to reveal the passionate pulse at its centre. Female or male, Maai comes alive on skin.

In the base, creamy sandalwood softens this bold heart with a light waft of resinous smoke, unexpected dried fruit notes add hints of honeyed ambery sweetness, and then layers of oakmoss luxuriously roll Maai up in a blanket of soft earthiness, taming its sensual core yet leaving it velvety smooth and satisfyingly rich, dark and softly sweetly earthy. It  lasts for  hours and hours on skin, with perfect  sillage when applied moderately.

Bogue Maai has vintage bones with a new soul. By current standards, it’s animalic heart is likely too bold for most, but this fragrance begs to be worn by those who seek the unconventional, or “the road not taken” in their scent journey. When it comes to perfumes, I prefer some beast with my beauty so this outstanding fragrance by Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo has now been added to my Favourites Shelf.

Maai is  listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.