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Getting Lost in the Labyrinth

posted Saturday, 27 January 2007
Dutch fashion label People of the Labyrinths released their long-awaited second perfume, A Maze, on January 20th. Their first fragrance, Luctor et Emergo, apparently named after a Dutch football (soccer) team, has had a cultish following since its release in 1997. Not having experienced the earlier scent, I took advantage of LuckyScent's great sample program and ordered myself one of each to test.

Luctor et Emergo
Notes: precious woods, vanilla, fresh grasses, white florals, almond, cherry

This starts off as a warm fuzzy slightly woodsy vanilla with hints of cherry or almond, like an ice cream float made with Suburban Almond Smash (regional Baltimore soda of the past) and vanilla ice cream, all wafting over a gentle white floral. Some people claim there's a Play-Doh quality, but I smell only baby powder and marzipan. A sweet, but not cloying, and gentle fragrance.

A Maze
Notes: henna, saffron, taif rose, orange blossom, wardia rose, agarwood, sandalwood, musk, civet

The distinctive astringent smell of saffron is my first impression, with a rose undertone. The beginning of the drydown is slightly woodsy and slightly musky, and then quite a while later, it's all about sandalwood. I'm not smelling the civet though.

Marketing material states that A Maze "strikes a somewhat lighter note." I've read reviews that have wondered, "lighter than what? surely not the soft and comforting Luctor et Emergo!" I've also seen comparisons to Montale Oud fragrances (having never smelled any, I can't confirm or deny this), but I understand they are powerfully fragrant concoctions. But wearing the two fragrances side by side on the same arm, I can agree that yes, A Maze is indeed lighter than L et E. The saffron becomes softer in the drydown, the roses are a faint whisper, and the whole composition, if rated on a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the strongest, would be about a 4.5, whereas the powdery marzipan of L et E might score a 6. A subtle difference yes, but that's the way I see it.

I rather like both fragrances and will have to test them a few more times to decide whether they are full bottle-worthy, as they are on the pricey side (EDP $165 for 90ml.)

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