Launched in 2017 by New York niche house Aedes de Venustas, Pélargonium is centered on pelargonium graveolens - a type of geranium that’s rose-scented with strong smelling leaves.
The inspiration for this fragrance was the still-life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the English term ‘still life’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘stilleven’. The Dutch were obsessed with horticulture during this time, and their floral compositions led to a mania for this type of still life.
Pélargonium opens with bergamot, sweetened with juicy mandarin, spiced up with black pepper that’s heightened with a snap of Sichuan pepper. Clary sage and green cardamom buttress the herbaceous scent of the geranium leaves. The green cardamom is also sweet and resinous, leading to the star attraction: pelargonium graveolens (A/K/A Egyptian geranium). I do smell its rosy aspect, but there is so much more to this fragrance. Nose Nathalie Feisthauer describes pelargonium graveolens as “aromatic, with a crushed-leaf facet, less fruity and more balsamic than rose, almost incense-like” and she deftly displays these facets in a way that makes this EdP a real heart-tugger. The spices at the top warm the pelargonium while orris adds its distinctive violet-like odor that strengthens the rosiness, giving the fragrance a real floral presence. But orris is also woody, warm and sweet, qualities it shares with carrot seed. They bring an irresistible earthiness to the juice. Balsamic, citrusy elemi resin emphasizes the balsamic aspect of the pelargonium. The base is woody from Cedarwood and Guaiac wood, which also gives the base a gorgeous smokiness. Moss, green and earthy, is softened with musk.
The drydown is elegant, and refined but make no mistake; this is a big, not loud, but big spicy, floral, herbaceous, citrusy and woody scent. It’s an exciting fragrance to smell and to wear.
One advantage of the still-life art form is that it gives the artist license to experiment with the way elements in a composition of a painting are arranged. Nathalie Feisthauer has done this with Pélargonium, and I appreciate this art form as much as I would a painting by an Old Dutch Master.
A beautiful fragrance from one of my favourite perfume houses.
Notes: Bergamot, mandarin, clary sage, black pepper, Sichuan pepper, cardamom, Egyptian geranium, orris, carrot seed, elemi resin, Cedarwood, vetiver, guaiac wood, musk, moss.