For many, 2020 felt like a lost year. But in the case of an ERIS Mxxx. review written in January of 2020 that I only recently discovered, let’s make that a lost year and a half! It was worth the wait. What an absolutely glowing and beautiful review. Thank you, Matvey Yudov and Fragrantica Russia. In the original Russian, here.
Eris Mxxx.: Where's the Whale and Where's the Cat?
By Matvey Yudov , Fragrantica Russia
Eris Parfums is the brainchild of Barbara Herman, familiar to perfume connoisseurs primarily from her excellent book Scent and Subversion: Decoding A Century of Provocative Perfume, and perfumer Antoine Lie, a hitmaker and composer of many best-sellers. Inside Antoine Lie, however, hides his own Mr. Hyde, who often initiates the subversion and troublemaking.
The first three fragrances of the brand, Belle de Jour, Ma Bête and Night Flower, were an obvious nod towards the classics that included very generous doses of animalics. With all their undoubted animality (of course, "Bête" has much more wool and wildness than "Belle"), these are very romantic and dreamy, elegant and harmonious fragrances.
Formally, the first three fragrances have no gender identity, but the fourth work of the brand, which appeared in 2017, declared it loudly and out loud. The fragrance, called Mx., declares freedom from all gender restrictions (the gender-neutral address Mx. can replace the existing Mr., Ms. and Mrs.). The main statement of Antoine Lie in this composition is that "genderless" compositions do not have to be fresh and clean; they can use bright, rich, dense ingredients.
In Mx. the woody line, which serves as a kind of ribbing, is formed by vetiver, cedar, sandalwood and patchouli. Spices, primarily black pepper and saffron, add sharpness to the fragrance. On the other side of the scale there are gourmand balsamic materials: cacao, benzoin, frankincense. And, of course, there’s an animalic: castoreum, strengthened with birch tar.
A lot has changed over the past two years. Lie has finally decided to leave the big corporations to devote himself to creativity. Previously, after his studies at Roure, he worked at IFF, for a long time at Givaudan, a little at Takasago, and now he has founded his own company ALOE (Antoine Lie Olfactive Experience).
This year, Mx. underwent a radical revision, the result of which the creators marked with the label for 18+ / Adults Only. The XXX version takes the sensuality and corporeality of the original fragrance to the limit: the limited edition Mxxx. fragrance is in Extrait de Parfum concentration.
Since his independence, Lie has spoken many times in interviews about how he is now extremely interested in working with high-quality natural materials. The fact that Lie feels at ease with such complicated and complex materials can be judged, for example, by the fragrances he created for Les Indémodables - in Rose de Jamal a crazy 5% dose of rose absolute is surrounded by natural Atlas cedar, geranium and mint.
In his work on Mxxx., Lie was able to use ingredients that could not even be thought of seriously in the case of a more or less large-scale project at a major company. He had at his disposal unique and innovative materials, which are obtained in very small quantities and which simply would not be enough for a "serious" commercial fragrance.
Natural ingredients in a fragrance are not something out of the ordinary; we are likely to find something “natural” even in most mass-market fragrances. The combination of large amounts of natural materials in a composition is very similar to a "wolf, goat and cabbage" puzzle: the addition of each new ingredient radically increases the complexity of the task. So all the talk about "an unprecedented amount of precious materials" usually rather frightens me, but in the case of a perfumer of Antoine Lie's level, the result turned out to be very impressive indeed.
Rémi Pulvérail [of L’Atelier Français des Matières / Les Indémodables] ] previously worked for a long time in large perfume companies (at Givaudan, where he worked for almost 15 years, he was engaged in the development of new natural ingredients), but he decided to establish his own production and now produces perfumes of the highest, I would even say - unparalleled, quality in very small quantities. Some of them go to create Les Indémodables perfumes, and some are bought by other small manufacturers.
Natural ambergris is one of the most noticeable parts of Mxxx. Those who have encountered natural ambergris tincture will never confuse this smell with anything else. It is a very complex and nuanced scent, and none of the existing synthetic bases are able to reproduce the multi-faceted and deep aroma of natural ambergris; some animalic aspects of ambergris are studiously ignored by most perfumers. But not Antoine Lie, of course! He brings out the animalic character of the fragrance to the maximum by adding Hyraceum (African stone, "Pierre d'Afrique") - one of the most complex and difficult materials to handle, which has a pungent, but warm animalic-phenolic smell.
The Hyraceum for this fragrance is also harvested by [Stéphane Piquart’s] company Behave. Note that to create the animalic accord in Mxxx., it was important to all involved in the creation of this fragrance that no animals were harmed.
It is immediately apparent with what enthusiasm and sincere pride all ingredient manufacturers and fragrance creators talk about their work, and it is not surprising: before our eyes a completely new variety of perfumery is born.
Every second, an official press release declares to us that unique natural ingredients from all over the world were used in the creation of a fragrance, and that it was all compiled by one of the most sought-after perfumers in the world. That’s actually the reality here: Mxxx.is one of the pioneers.
Many have claimed that their fragrance contains natural ambergris, but if you remember a recent story, the search for at least traces of it with gas chromatography / mass spectrometry has been unsuccessful. With the exception of vintage perfumes, Mxxx.is practically the first industrially produced fragrance with natural ambergris in its composition, or at least - in such a crazy amount. [Editor’s note: Another Antoine Lie composition for Anthologie de Grands Crus, Ambre Stone, released the same year as Mxxx., has a 5% dosage of the same ambregris tinctured by Rémi’s lab.]
One of Mxxx.’s main and most important components is cacao absolute. In Mxxx., the intensity of the cacao and chocolate notes is brought out to the maximum, thanks to the use of a completely new material. Lie worked with an artisanal French chocolatier to select a rather specific variety of cocoa grown in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and L'Atelier Français des Matières produced an ultrasound extract from these cocoa beans. The result is a unique material that is used in perfumery for the first time in Mxxx.
The list of exotic natural ingredients and all sorts of perfumery artifacts does not end here: in the top notes, for example, you can spot the essential oil of Madagascar blue ginger - the root of this plant gradually turns blue on breaking, hence the name. Botanically, this is the "usual" Apothecary Ginger, Zingiber officinalis Roscoe, but it is a unique endemic subspecies cultivated 150 km from Antananarivo - it has a very beautiful pink facet in addition to its usual spicy citrus-verb profile, making it especially attractive to perfumers.
Even the vanilla in this blend is somehow fantastic: Usually, ripe vanilla pods (which are actually green in color) are first blanched with boiling water and only then left to ferment. In Mxxx.’s case, the pods were frozen (!) before extraction - the resulting material is much creamier and fruitier than that obtained in the usual way.
If you are already lost in the ingredient descriptions and left trying to figure out how it all smells in total, never fear: I can safely recommend Mxxx.to connoisseurs of rich, vanilla and animalic ambers in the spirit of Serge Lutens classics (Ambre Sultan, Arabie, Fumerie Turque, Five O'Clock Au Gingembre, Borneo 1834). This is definitely the perfume for you if you're looking for a rich and luxurious chocolate scent that doesn't remind you of kindergarten cocoa. You'll also probably like Mxxx. if you like rich, slightly "vintage" animalics.
But most of all, I want to recommend this fragrance to lovers of everything unusual and to the many fans of Antoine Lie: what he has done in Mxxx. you have definitely not tried before - neither in Lie’s mass-produced works, nor in other numerous amateur "natural" fragrances.
—Matvey Yudov, a chemist, an expert in fragrances, an evaluator, a columnist for Glamour magazine, and the creator of the popular science perfume blog Hyperboloid of the Cat Leopold.