Third edition of our weekly column: “He says, she says”! He: Jakub and She: Aleksandra of Persefume — two people, two genders, two opinions, both valuable, both sincere. Sometimes similar, sometimes contrasting — we test without checking each other’s impressions. Choose what fits you better. Write your own part in comments.

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This time long post dedicated to the truly spectacular brand with unique, strong image: UNUM with three fragrances – two completely debuting ones and one in the new form. UNUM was officially launched during Esxence 2015 and now becomes more widely available.

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Filippo Sorcinelli

Jakub’s intro:
Sometimes there are people who immediately gain your trust, whose creativity convince you to enter their visionary universe, connect with the mind of creator and stay there for a while. This is the case of UNUM, project fronted by Filippo Sorcinelli, real man of Renaissance: artist, photographer, painter, church organist, designer of impressive SAUF jewels and ecclesiastic tailor of renowned LAVS Atelier. I have heard about UNUM weeks before Esxence, due to Mr Sorcinelli kindness been fortunate to test the whole trio before its official launch and my first reaction was: THIS IS IT!
All three scents are unique, so consistent with mysterious, nocturnal, even bit gothic aesthetics of Artist’s black and white world full of nostalgia and smoke. Three fragrances in extract forms, three immediate stand-outs. Simple packaging, high quality ingredients (been told that UNUM collaborated with Tiziana Terenzi while creating this line – well, I adore their creations, so this is perfect combo!). Matching candles are also available and truly artistic interior sprays will be offered in the near future. The visit at UNUM’s stand in Milano confirmed my impressions: this is perfume house to follow! Friendly team (best regards to Rossela Caputo, brand distributor), impressive design and of course amazing Filippo’s tattoos. Such debut definitely does not happen every day!

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SAUF Rings

Aleksandra’s intro:
UNUM was one of the most interesting brands of this year’s Esxence and caught my eye during the first day with the raw and simple design of their stand. Fascinating, thick clay leaf-bowls were particularly interesting, looking as if they were kilned in open fire, coloured with all shades of cinders.
One can roughly divide brands on Esxence to two main categories: those that welcome you with abundance and propose a huge collection to start with, e.g. 12 scents at once, additionally sometimes not including samples, which makes the task utterly impossible; and those more restrained, more on the order side, giving you a moderate number of perfumes, that is one to three. I rather say “thanks, but no, thanks” to the former, UNUM fortunately falls into the latter category. I had a privilege to get to know all three perfumes by UNUM – very good, even outstanding, all three being instant classics.

Music conducted by Filippo Sorcinelli

Now our impressions on:

LAVS

He: I could sum up LAVS in two words: “incense perfection”. I still remember my first holy-grail incense perfume: Avignon by Comme des Garcons. Since then my spectrum became much broader: Incense by Norma Kamali (sadly discontinued), Bois d’Encens by Armani Prive, Moon Dust by MiN New York (review coming soon), Bois d’Ascese by Naomi Goodsir – yes, it would be really long list (not to mention two Esxence launches which I will cover bit later). Anyway, LAVS changed my perception completely. It is breathtaking masterpiece: monolithic incense without any synthetic, or peppery feel plus without instant church associations. LAVS is full of power, glory, almost like the gate between two words: human and… yes, which one? Main accord is perfectly wrapped with spicy, bit metallic and resinous undertones. Study of darkness, but UNUM’s world is in fact not dangerous, just mystic and slightly nostalgic. Do not expect LAVS to change drastically during its evolution, it stays for you for hours like invisible, yet easily detectable guardian. Bravo to UNUM for setting new gold standards for perfect incense… or perhaps I should say black standards?
P.S. LAVS is interesting evolution of former product – room spray used by LAVS (Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre), Studio which designed even for Popes Benedict XVI and Francis. Wearable formula of LAVS continued to further UNUM’s progress with two further scents.

She: I start with the one having the most Latin name, but also reminiscent of the big, four letter word. This word works like a wave: moves the whole body and makes me want to give in. I think I wouldn’t pay attention to this perfume a few years ago, but the stream of incense in niche quieted down or even dried out a bit since then. I really haven’t smelt something so purely and frankly picturing one of the most beautiful scents one can wear for a long time. LAVS oscillates on the verge of a dangerous fault, just by the abyss where the evil cardinal dwells: incensed to white death, ruthless oppressor scorched by sin to ashes, his bony hand rising. It is the place where ice and glow meet and become one, unbearable pain. Luckily LAVS has confident gait, it comes close, looks into the depths but does not fall into it. It remains cool but wistful, saturated but never overwhelming.
Very good longevity, more than 10 hours. Saturation and trail: moderate.

LAVS Notes: jasmine, cardamom and black pepper; middle notes are elemi, coriander, cloves and labdanum; base notes are opoponax, palisander rosewood, amber, oakmoss and tonka bean.

ROSA NIGRA

rosa nigra

He: Do not expect this rose to be that dark (if you are looking for such an effect, check Dark Rose by Czech and Speake, Amouage Lyric, or eventually MFK Lumiere Noire duos).
In fact, Rosa Nigra has some sun incorporated in its formula. Greenish rose combined with woody, fruity, even peachy elements. Definitely unisex and full of hope and goodness. It stays relatively close to the skin, but longevity is more than good.

She: Rosa Nigra suggests darkness and rough ride on thorny roads – and leads up the garden path. It is quite far from bright, pearly roses like the recent Kurkdjian’s perfume, but if you look for gloom and sorrow, you won’t find it here. There is an essence instead, a rose drug, a thick sap pressed out of slowly maturing preserve. Plenty of sun! Plenty of light hidden in shadows, bends and hollows. This rose is fantastically undertoned, drawn out into a thousand colours of tea. Rather warming up, rather with sugar and lemon, but not candy-like: a magical healing potion for hangovers and sleepless nights.
Very good longevity, more than 10 hours, moderate saturation and trail.

Rosa Nigra Notes: anise and artemisia; middle notes are freesia, sandalwood and peach; base notes are cashmere wood, amber, musk and vanilla.

OPUS 1144

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He: Scent of transformation. Tribute to art and architecture which develops and changes itself with time. Its beginning might be challenging: bergamot, raw amber, vanilla, the overall effect reminds me even of some Gorilla by LUSH. But do not be afraid, the pure magic begins some minutes later, Opus 1144 becomes much more mature, complicated and structured. Sweet, but far from being gourmand, slightly animalic and powdery in touching, emotional way. This base lingers on my skin for the whole day, impressive. Can not wait to order both Opus1144 and LAVS for me and some friends taken by beauty of these scents – planning to do so for several weeks, time to act soon.

She: I left Opus 1144 for the very end because that’s the one touching genius. Nobody makes things like that. I won’t add: “any more”, because I cannot speak of times before I got interested in perfumes, which was… 25 years ago? I’ve just realized it’s been a quarter of a century… So I have no idea what was really done earlier, because either old perfumes are at least 25 and don’t necessarily smell as they used to, or they are used to the last drop, so they don’t exist anymore; finally those that are produced now can have, and probably actually have their formulas drastically changed. And suddenly I am hit in the nose by the heavy matter of Opus 1144, which is completely out of this world. These citruses in the head, not ephemeral creatures I am accustomed to, but big, fat folks sitting in precipitous armchairs, unable to stand up for the rest of the piece! This fine iris powder, the flowery pollen floating as a golden pillar. All this based upon raw, kind of cracked ambery note – the fracture is pure but random, with this most beautiful randomness that only happens in nature.
Is this perfume reminiscent of middle ages? Only as much as gothic is great. But Opus 1144 does not have much in common with spaciousness of the cathedral interior or slenderness of towers. I rather see the hugeness and gentle, circular arches of Hagia Sophia, with its colourful multicultural combination. There is too much of orient in this “gothic”. I can only agree to the concept of gothic, if Opus 1144 is an olfactory historic report from the past that never happened, where collarbones and ribs of gothic rose under big hot sun of Africa and Middle East.
Outstanding longevity, more than 12 hours, great saturation and trail.

Opus 1144 Notes: elemi, jasmine, bergamot and mandarin orange; middle notes are iris, orchid and cashmere wood; base notes are white musk, ambergris, vanilla, leather, sandalwood and benzoin.

We encourage you to follow Facebook channels of UNUM, SAUF, LAVS projects and page of Filippo Sorcinelli himself as their photos are truly impressive (all pictures taken from below mentioned sites)

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UNUM is now available at Neos 1911 (great shop with very helpful Silvia Perricone and Roberto Attianese), MCOLLECTIVE – truly unique space in Milano and in the US from Twisted Lily.


Jakub (apparently left) and Aleksandra (right)- photo edit by Jakub Grabarczyk Photo+Retouch
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