Rule number 1 of releasing a niche fragrance: have a fabulous, preferably intensely romantic back-story. French perfume house Lubin delivers, shamelessly, with their Kismet.
It may appear to be a perfume.
It’s a time travelling device, and it’s going to reel you right back to the roaring 20’s in an effervescent shower of sparkling citrus, bitter with petitgrain, to open up a portal to a Parisian basement bar. Take a deep breath, swallow, then swoosh down the rabbit hole you go, to catch a glimpse of the scent’s femme fatale – the doe-eyed, bejewelled Kismet, Ottoman Princess (possibly) and enigmatic mistress of the Parisian party scene – at least until her mysterious disappearance (dah duh). For this darkly-exotic flower, Lubin briefly presents two entwined roses, and these are no dew-covered buds. They’re full blown, oriental blooms – damascene and centifolia – and they’re deeply embedded in the finest patchouli, somehow luminous for all their depth. Musky and velvety soft, these luscious blooms dissolve in a blink into a boozy concoction of bourbon vanilla, leaving behind a mere whisper, like the princess herself. Before long, the fuzzy swoon of Kismet leaves you feeling slightly drunk on scent, a pleasant intoxication that lasts well into the next day on wearing.
So that’s the story, and it’s a doozy. Part of the package is that Kismet presents itself as a floral – oriental but floral nonetheless. Those roses are there but there’s a beautiful study in Kismet that marks the scent as an expert creation, an element that makes it so damn captivating, and that’s the velveteen warmth of opoponax. It’s like candlelight across the whole fantasy tableau of the fragrance, soft and powdery at times, shimmering with amber warmth, as heady and as comforting as a fine cognac (or maybe Kismet drank Chartreuse), but also almost astringent. This is the real hero of Kismet for me, and the intriguing hook beyond the story, that keeps me coming back for more.
Lubin Kismet, $299 from Libertine Parfumerie.