Sunday, September 25, 2011

Le Labo - Labdanum 18

Some time ago I read Tarleisio review of Neil Morris Rumi. She wrote how she, in general, didn't like ambers as they are "so obvious", Rumi being one of the exceptions. I must say I didn't really understand what she was getting at. Amber is one of those notes I haven't given much thought. I don't reach out for them but I don't avoid them either. When a sample comes my way I dutifully try it on and think "this was nice" and then forget all about it.

But then I tried Le Labos Labdanum 18. My first thought was, "I can't believe I'm smelling like this. It's like 8 o'clock in the morning. On a weekday. I have to do lots of errands and meet people I barely know. And I smell so ... [eyes rolling] .... obvious."

I went on, thinking, who'd wear this? At first I pictured a young girl going out on the town, spraying on some Labdanum 18 in order to seem older and more "experienced". But a while later I thought, no, that's not it, there is just way too much skank in it. This is a middle aged mama going out and after a few drinks she thinks it's a good idea to rip open that leopard print blouse, tie it around under generous boobs, baring her midriff and dance like Britney in One More Time. When even this does not get her enough attention she starts rubbing herself up against everyone on the premises.

So what does it smell like? All the way through there are two sides of Labdanum 18. There is a soft and clean side, featuring lots of baby powder, chocolate, resins and creamy vanilla. That side does not change very much as the scents wears. Then there is another, utterly dirty, side. At first the dirtyness manifests itself as a small bitter harshness, a harshness that smells like unwashed hair. It's faint compared to the powder but it gives that eyebrow lifting "Did I just smell what I think I was smelling..." thing.

A while later civet enters the stage. Now Labdanum 18 smells like someone who has had a big workout but is to lazy to shower and tries to conceal this fact by  caking herself in vanilla baby powder. It's almost working. (And, I can see how this question might be arising at this point: I do take daily showers that include a hair wash, just so everybody knows...)

During the drydown there is that musk note that is somewhere between piss and pipe tobacco, the same one you get in Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Kahn or Bois et Musc. I'm intrigued about the fact that it feels so intensely perverse but I can't put my finger on exactly why.

So, what is my final verdict of Labdanum 18? After all, I do like it. But keeping some around the house worries me. Because I can very well imagine the following scenario. At some time me and my girlfriends manage to get babysitters on the same night and decide to have a grand night out. First we have some drinks at my place and when it's time to leave I just make that last trip to the bathroom and start thinking, oh, I really need some more perfume. Wasn't there this scent I reviewed that was such a smashing party scent, Labdööööch.... something? Oh yes, here it is, lets put some on, and then things are just going downhill in a straight like towards that bare midriff Britney scenario....



  1. LOL! Now you get the 'so obvious' reference! Well, I can't say anything about Le Labo in general nor Labdanum in particular, but I can well imagine the overall impact! I love and adore labdanum as a note - in its unadulterated, non-mixed state it's an entire perfume in itself with only a hint - but it's a definite hint - of 'obvious'.

    Lutens' Muscs Kublai Khan is another perfume Kryptonite for me (well, it's musk, actually - can't stand it at all), but it's quite obvious indeed...and therefore, unsuitable for a single, middle-aged woman who rarely drinks for the precise reason you mentioned! I may not dance like Britney Spears, but everything else I'm fully capable of! ;)

    I might try this if I ever encounter it. What the hey, right? You only live once...;)

  2. I wish I knew how unadulterated labdanum smells like. As I'm a newbie I'm all in the dark about that. I need to get some kind of sample kit with pure substances and just sit down and study :)

    If you find Labdanum 18, by all means, go for it! Le Labo do sell samples on their home page, 4 Euro a piece, shipping included, if I recall things correctly. I wouldn't say their frags are all easy to wear, but the ones I've tried are all, at least, interesting.

  3. Ha! Thanks for the funny review. Honestly, I couldn't be less interested in this fragrance. :)

  4. Haha, it's not for everyday wear, that's for sure. But, I did look around the net for reviews before I ordered it and it does seem to be a bit of a chameleon. Several reviewers did not mention anything dirty at all, just baby powder, and one (if I remember correctly) even called it "dainty"!

  5. Well, dainty is not the word I would reach for, but I really like Labdanum 18 and feel I must rush to its rescue here. ;)
    For me it is a very comforting and comfortable perfume. It is soft and cuddly and while sensual, I don't find it obvious at all. And I hate MKK with a passion!
    Also I wouldn't dream of wearing a leopard print blouse! ;)
    But as they say: to each their own!
    B on behalf of Labdanum Lovers Anonymous

  6. B, I love to hear your opinion! I've really been wondering if I have a different skin chemistry than those other reviewers, or if my sample came from the very dregs at the bottom of the tank, where all those heavy musk molecules end up... I don't know, but what I do know is that I must try more oriental ambers like L18 :)

  7. LOL- fun review, Sigrun! Now you have me curious though- I must get my hands on a sample..:). Amber is a tricky note for me. In theory i should love amber but there is a very thin line between ' Oh my God I love this' and 'This is too strongly amber- take this off me please" :) for example, I think TF amber absolute is too cloyingly amber for me- even though I can appreciate it's beauty- I can't wear it really, while Puredistance M is just perfection.

    To be honest, I don't think I have smelled Labdanum absolute by itself either. I really should. (just an fyi- I have gotten a lot of eos and absolutes from eden botanicals and liberty naturals. Both online sites. Eden sells tiny samples as well).

  8. Lavanya, thank you so much for those links! As I live in Sweden there are so many flowers that I've never had a chance to smell in real life, so I can't pick them out in perfume either. Getting some absolutes or essential oils for those would be great :)

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  10. I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer going to follow your blog. We have such different skin chemistry and our likes must vary tremendously. Your comments and reviews are polarizing.

  11. I do understand that skin chemistry and general preferences on scent vary a lot between people and I do hope you'll find what you're looking for.

  12. I have to say WOW. Not because of the perfume (that I will comment on later) but because of the previous comment. I can't believe a real person actually wrote that! Funny.

    My perception of L18 is much closer to what Olfactoria described. I wore my sample only twice but both times I thought about it being nice and pleasant. The word "dirty" hasn't even crossed my mind. It's really interesting how different our noses are. (but I will still be reading your blog ;) )

  13. Yes, I was a bit surprised as well. After all an evil scent twin is a very useful thing, but well, maybe not everyone thinks so :)

    I'm glad you're still reading my blog. It's a bit busy here at the moment but I hope I'll have time to write more soon now.