Aedes de Venustas Signature EDP: Perfume Review

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by Suzanna

Aedes de Venustas is the hip West Village fragrance boutique that since 1995 has been a Mecca for the connoisseur of niche perfumes.  The Aedes brand roster includes both the popular and the polarizing; there are scents that smell of flower stalls and scents that smell of olives and damp cobblestones.  The shop also carries bath and body products, home fragrance, and candles like the ultra-covetable Mizensir Sapin de Noël.

The boutique now has its own house fragrance, the eponymous Aedes de Venustas Signature eau de parfum authored by Bertrand Duchaufour, he of the upcoming L’Artisan Séville à l’aube and the nose behind the wildly creative Eau d’Italie Sienne l’Hiver and cult favorites Avignon and Kyoto for Comme des Garçons. Aedes de Venustas signature is Duchaufour’s second scent for the boutique; the first was released under the L’Artisan brand and has no relation to the new Signature scent.

Signature is a linear fragrance–there is no build, no symphonic high note, no low rumblings. It’s a vetiver scent that has been rinsed, repeatedly, in a tangy rhubarb wash. Rhubarb is a tough note to describe. Although likened to grapefruit, in its sour and defiant pucker it is closer to lemon. Duchaufour has worked with rhubarb before, in the excellent Comme des Garçons series 5 Sherbert: Rhubarb.  In Signature, he pairs it with an earthy, slightly dry vetiver and a tomato leaf note that smells mildly and briefly of pine needle.

Everything else (honeysuckle, red berries, green apple, hazelnut) disappears into the vetiver, including the incense, which lends a very mild peat-like smoke to the vetiver root.  It’s a modern chypre, meaning here that rhubarb stands in for more traditional citrus notes and that there is no oakmoss or patchouli in the base. The rhubarb and vetiver are a surprise hit together, with the honeysuckle and red berries indistinguishable except for a mild sweetening so that the scent isn’t ragged or sour.

Signature is a downtown-hip scent that can easily by worn by either men or women.  It’s an abstract of earth and fruit that smells like an imaginary artsy outdoors but which is probably going to be worn mostly indoors. It’s unobtrusive, un-perfume-y, and, despite the boutique’s rather grand interior, it fits Aedes de Venustas perfectly in its elegant discretion.  It’s how you want to smell when you don’t want to bother about “perfume” and would eschew anything that smelled dated. I can see putting it on in the morning like a brisk cologne and then forgetting about it until midnight, when you encounter the vetiver’s earthbound ghost making itself known in small, persistent breaths.

Aedes de Venustas Signature eau de parfum is available at aedes.com or at the Aedes boutique at 9 Christopher Street, NYC (West Village).

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29 Comments

  • Amer: I have a sample of this that I have Denyse to thank for! I agree with your impression 99%. To me the best aspect of this is the rhubarb accord. The tomato leaf you mention is very enjoyable and to me also registers like a mild celery. I also feel like there is angelica in there. Incense is barely noticeable on me too but others say it is very intense so maybe it is a skin chemistry thing. The scent is not incredibly tenacious on me (5 hours tops) and is really quiet after the 1st hour but when applying from a tiny sample one can’t be sure. The vetiver drydown is kind of smoky-dirty, not green. My main objection is that to my nose it seems very feminine due to the background notes so I don’t see me wearing it. I wish the refreshing green phase lasted longer but I still appreciate it as it is May 29, 2012 at 8:06am Reply

    • Suzanna: Amer, thanks for your impressions! The vetiver lasted on me throughout the day but was very quiet (I liked that). I think it would be fabulous on a man; or at least I’d love to smell it on a man! May 29, 2012 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Amer, Suzanna, I’ve asked my husband to try it the other day, and it smelled very good on him. Of course, everyone’s skin brings out different notes, but I have to say that I’m enjoying it even more on him. I don’t get a lot of incense, but I notice the mineral-sharp note that I’ve smelled in other Duchaufour’s fragrances, and I like it. May 29, 2012 at 9:23am Reply

      • Suzanna: V., I’m glad you mention how good it smells on your husband. I think it’s a great example of a genderless scent and I always find vetiver on me extremely attractive!

        Interesting that you mention the metallic feeling. I associate that with piquant citruses like grapefruit and rhubarb, but that is just an impression rather than a fact! May 29, 2012 at 9:31am Reply

        • Suzanna: That’s vetiver on men, not on me (although it is lovely on me as well!). May 29, 2012 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Jesus: I think it’s the first time I comment on this great blog (very useful for me as I feel I agree with a lot of the impressions found here).
    In this case what I can say about this “Signature” is not that good. It’s a good perfume of course, but I think Douchafour is getting too busy lately releasing too many perfumes.
    Most of them have a lot in common, you can find traces of other Douchafour’ works in every new fragrance he releases. Now he is a top perfumer but some of the new releases feel reiterative (IMO). Maybe he should take some time for creativity. May 29, 2012 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Jesus, I really enjoyed the Aedes signature scent and found it great to wear in the summer heat. I’ve always loved what M. Douchaufour does with citrus notes and I think that shows very well here and is something people might enjoy. May 29, 2012 at 5:25pm Reply

  • Masha: I’ve enjoyed my sample of this. I like rhubarb very much, and it’s underused in perfumery. I also get “celery” from the tomato leaf, but it’s not strong. Definitely a Duchaufour trademark, that celery! Lasts about 2 hours on me (in the tropics) and is a very refreshing cologne. Then there’s a very soft and quiet vetiver in the background for a few more hours. May 29, 2012 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Masha, the rhubarb held for me for a good long time, and even after it was mostly gone there was still a bit of piquancy left.

      I live in the heat, too, and this scent was particularly refreshing. May 29, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Undina: I haven’t had a chance to test this perfume on skin (by that time I ran out of useable skin RE) but on paper it smelled very nice. Not $225 nice but nice.

    On a separate note, I have some prejudice against boutique perfumes. In my mind it’s just one step away from a celebrity perfume. Why a perfume boutique needs their signature scent is completely beyond my understanding. May 29, 2012 at 3:18pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Undina, thanks for your thoughts! You should try this one on skin. The rhubarb note is special. May 29, 2012 at 3:29pm Reply

      • Amer: I too find it very pricey for what it delivers. It is well composed but not really rare materials in there. I think the high price is the consequence of hiring a star perfumer to design a very limited distribution product that’s bottled in what seems to be very high quality glass. May 29, 2012 at 6:10pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Amer, I always price things by my enjoyment of them and whether I think I will use up the whole bottle! There’s no doubt that this and other fragrances are a luxury product, and part of that as you point out is the bottle. May 29, 2012 at 8:08pm Reply

          • Amer: I agree with you that when it comes to personal choices enjoyment is a primary factor. However to establish a way of evaluation that would make a review viable as a genre one strives to find principles that instill a certain amount of objectivity in his personal view.
            For me the concept of luxury is quite dated to be honnest and I am not attracted to a product by the luxury factor. I appreciate perfume as art but when it comes to investing money I think one realises that every perfume is ultimately a product. In every product there is a quality/cost ratio that needs to be maintained as high as possible. If cost was not an issue we would all bathe in sandalwood oil and be happy as trees (and there is no availability issue either, all the hundreds of molecules of the best quality material can be synthesized if money is not an issue).
            I am saying the above not to bash down on the Aedes Signature frag but for the sake of conversation. It just so happens that for me, the aforemantioned ratio in this product is not high enough to justify a purchase. In other words, I like the perfume but not at that price May 30, 2012 at 9:37am Reply

            • Suzanna: Amer, thanks for your thoughts. Everyone buys or discusses fragrance from different perspectives, and merit based on price point in just another part of it, as would be bottle design, particular type of aromachemical, etc. In other words, reviews (or thoughts) can take many different tangents and address any number of things. May 30, 2012 at 10:37am Reply

    • annemariec: Yes, I guess the boutique is treating itself as a ‘brand’, and not just a retailer. The release of its own perfume is a way of enhancing the exclusivity and desirability of the ‘brand’. Maybe we will see more of this kind of thing? In an internet age, when you can buy almost anything anywhere, niche brands may start going in the other direction and offering products that only a dedicated few can obtain. May 29, 2012 at 8:59pm Reply

      • Suzanna: annemariec, sometimes I think that the “dedicated few” already exists among us frag connoisseurs relative to the perfume-shopping habits of most consumers. May 29, 2012 at 9:16pm Reply

  • Sara: Thanks for a beautiful review! I sniffed it at Aedes during the Sniffa event and found it very nice and crisp. It reminded me of Cristalle Eau Verte (I went through 2 bottles of it), but less feminine. Reading your review makes me want to give this another try and I’m about to go searching for my sample. May 30, 2012 at 8:14am Reply

    • Suzanna: Sara, I have finished up my samples! That rhubarb hits just the right note with me on these muggy, steamy mornings. Also, I like that AeV is a skin scent.

      Cristalle (all versions) is a summer favorite of mine. I usually break it out on the first of June, but I might cheat and bring it out a couple of days early! May 30, 2012 at 9:44am Reply

  • Flora: I look forward to trying this one; I really enjoy rhubarb and I did not know that Mr. Duchaufour also did the CDG Sherbert one – I love that juice! I also like tomato leaf so this sounds like the perfect summer cooler to me. May 30, 2012 at 4:15pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Flora, perhaps a post about the tomato leaf note might be in order! I love it! YSL In Love Again has it, and Nina Ricci Liberte Acidulee–and many more! May 30, 2012 at 4:55pm Reply

      • Amer: Please do! Sisley eau de Campagne is one of my personal favorites. I never imagined that this note could exist in a perfume before that May 30, 2012 at 5:47pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Amer, I will start compiling a list of fragrances with this note. If you have any other suggestions to add to the list, please let me know! Thanks! May 30, 2012 at 6:17pm Reply

  • marsi: I love your reviews, Suzanna! Like V, you make me want to try everything you’re writing about. Your description had my mouth watering. My favorite perfumes are citrus colognes, so this might be perfect for me. How long does it last on you? May 31, 2012 at 1:04pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Marsi, thanks for dropping in! I’m glad you enjoy my reviews.

      I found the rhubarb note to last several hours at least. Then, the drydown of vetiver I could still smell that evening. A caveat, though: I live in Florida, and I find that I can notice scents much longer here than I would notice them in a cooler, less humid climate. May 31, 2012 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Michelle Krell Kydd: Great review…love the last sentence; totally embrace that sentiment. May 31, 2012 at 11:08pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Michelle, glad you enjoyed the review. I’ve been a fan of your writing, so it’s nice to hear from you. June 1, 2012 at 8:10am Reply

  • hajusuuri: Thanks for the review. I tried my sample a week ago and the citrusy note I got was Guava. I really don’t know what rhubarb smells like but have had fresh guava and this scent reminded me of it. As to FB-worthy, I am very tempted – the bottle is gorgeous (and I’ve bought FBs just for the bottle) and I know I can wear the scent. June 2, 2012 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Hajusuuri, how interesting your guava comment is! I will now think of guava when I wear Signature again . Glad to learn you are another fan of Signature; I love it! June 3, 2012 at 1:55pm Reply

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