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).