Aedes de Venustas is a niche’s niche. A brand developed by Karl Bradl and Robert Gerstner, the owners of the eponymous New York artisanal perfume boutique. In collaboration with several renowned perfumers, they’ve released Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Copal Azur, Iris Nazarena, and Oeillet Bengale, all four standing out in the crowded niche field. The fifth launch, Palissandre d’Or, likewise has much to recommend itself.
The concept is a new take on woods. Palisander, rosewood, is a precious variety, with a bright, crisp aroma that doesn’t resemble a wood as much as a flower. At the same time, it has sharpness and vigor, ideal qualities to weave into woody and oriental perfumes. Rosewood, on its own, is not a common theme, however, so Aedes’s decision to let it strike out solo is brave. Even more so is the request to perfumer Alberto Morillas to make it new and modern.
Morillas is the perfect choice for this task because he is a technical genius, and even in his most commercial projects—Valentino Valentina, Marc Jacobs Daisy, Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium—you can notice his sensual touch. Few other perfumers are able to finesse musks and woods into a suave, second skin effect, and this is exactly what makes Palissandre d’Or distinctive.
At first, the fragrance feels bright and radiant, with soft-focus citrus and coriander creating an uplifting sensation. The spicy freshness is an ideal counterpoint to the rich woody-musky backdrop, and even though I keep expecting it to fade, it never does. Instead, it hovers like gentle mist, lightening and softening the edges. The woody layer of Palissandre d’Or is reminiscent of pencil shavings soaked in black tea. Inhale deeper, and you will notice the mineral scent of moss and snow covered stones. Keep all of this in mind—soft incense, wet woods and cold moss, and imagine a tender layer of floral musk. The woods shimmer, but the musk keeps the effect subtle. Palissandre d’Or lasts for hours and leaves a distinctive trail, so you will have plenty of time to notice all of its details.
Palissandre d’Or, which by the way is completely unisex, is a good choice if you like the scent of woods and yet don’t wish to smell like a carpenter’s shop. (I do, but I imagine that I might be in the minority.) I broke it down to give you a layer by layer impression, but in wear, it’s a classical Morillas composition—seamlessly blended and impeccably elegant. The refinement and subtle sensuality notwithstanding, Palissandre d’Or is atmospheric. On these cold spring days, I find echoes of it in the smells of wet timber covered with apricot petals, freshly ploughed earth and melting snow near our violet patch. In the fall, on the other hand, I will surely recognize a wisp of distant bonfires and iced branches. Palissandre d’Or is a mood, a place, a fantasy.
The downside is the price. It’s high by any standard. As much as I adore the heavy glass packaging and all of the thoughtful elements, I would love Aedes perfumes just as much in simple bottles with fewer frills. At the end of the day, it’s what’s inside the bottle that matters the most, and luckily for us, Palissandre d’Or is fabulous.
Aedes de Venustas Palissandre d’Or Eau de Parfum will be available in 100 ml/$245. Also sold in a purse spray ($110) with three 10 ml refills ($195).