When I approach perfumery, I beg of people to go beyond literal descriptors. What I mean by this is that the process of taking in a scented artwork should transcend into new realms of texture, emotion, and senses beyond the nose. I not only want to describe a scent in a compositional form, but I aim to move towards the internal perspective. This perhaps may explain my affinity for Ellena’s approach and how this projects into his perfumed works – which seem inextricably charged by an internal, creative energy which reads as an emotive philosophy. For instance, in his discussion of his studies of Guy Robert’s Equipage, he describes it as a scent that always escapes him.
“A thousand times I wanted to capture this scent, and a thousand times it escaped me. The element of surprise attracts me. I take this fragrance on holiday to discover it.”
-Jean Claude Ellena
It seems to me that Ellena finds confusion in the non-perfume aspect of the fragrance. The notes are a given, yet the effect is not, and that is what Ellena finds surprising. As a result, Ellena’s minimalistic styling contains strong coherent relevance in consideration of his philosophical approach. It’s a philosophy defined by Occam’s Razor where entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily; the simplest format should be favoured, and this is then projected onto the structural and compositional elements of perfume creation. Ellena as a perfumer can tell a beguiling story even if he were to drop all the articles or vowels, yet still retain a solidity and intricacy to his works. He is a perfumer of few words, but each and every word maintains an important gravity to them; they all matter. It is a minimalist complexity that Ellena achieves, and Eau de Néroli Doré through its simplicity and briefness goes beyond this into a plane of perfumed intricacy and non-perfume intrigue.
Photo by Hermes.
Eau de Néroli Doré is a cologne of great dosage. With great textural crunch, the neroli is luminous and sunny with an herbal breeze. Such a high dosage of neroli reveals a mesmerising greenery, and a bitter counterpoint of piquant herbs and greenery compliments neroli’s naturally soapy bitterness, delivering a unique take on an otherwise classical cologne ingredient. On one level, this reminds me of yellow Chartreuse with its intense green aroma and flavour, and yellow colour due an application of saffron. This is appropriate on two levels: the addition of saffron is found in Eau de Néroli Doré with its bittersweet leatheriness, and the bottle of both fragrance and liqueur maintain a beautiful off-yellow hue.
Eau de Néroli Doré is a nouvelle style – a neoclassicism construction of cologne departing from the standard paradigm. Instead of loading the scent with modern functional musks to create a contemporary take on cologne-turned-substantial, Ellena instead stays true to neoclassicism in vibe and styling. This is a modern take on the citrus and herb scent: bitter, crunchy, tart, and salubrious – but beyond that it has a complexity of its shading, treated lightly here. The yellow orange cologne is intense and energetic: swirled on the olfactory canvas beautifully, then supported with a faux woody base. This dialogue between contrasts doesn’t contain an internal energy – but excitingly Eau de Néroli Doré is the scent of energy released. A blend of refinement and eroticism. Electrical, exciting, and certainly not brash.
Hence the scent is immersive, with its oily citrus slick well balanced with a spiced musk by the way of leather, cumin, and saffron – a quasi amber warmth against the cool bracing citrus. With its vintage vibe and certain arid dustiness (strikingly similar to the dusty quality of Mona di Orio’s fascinating Eau Absolue), this is Ellena’s denouement through cologne: by referencing the beginning, we start to see the end of this chapter in laconic, minimalistic, and transparent styling.
But the question is of evolution, and it is apparent that the Ellena style has not changed. Ellena time and time again delivers vivacity that never blinds, a classicism that never ages, and an intellectual spirit and vigour that will continue to inspire.
Subjective rating : 5/5
Objective rating: 4/5