What color is the scent of a red bird?

It’s been a challenging two weeks for me, mostly to do with the “people” aspect of work, and in many ways I feel inadequate. And now, tired. So perhaps I should be trying to go to bed early instead of writing with no strong inspiration, but writing is good for my mental health and feels akin to tying up some loose ends.

I managed to go 70 days in a row this year wearing a unique perfume each day, up until this past Saturday. Probably could have gone five days longer if I really wanted to, but I didn’t really want to.

Ormonde Jayne Montabaco and Tom Ford Ombré Leather Parfum were my olfactory leather jackets that I wore on a last-minute work trip—they are the ones I usually bring on work trips for this reason, as well as the fact that they are travel sprays in my collection. OL is quite literally a cool, green, violet leather; Montabaco has a suede note but it is also woody with tea and tobacco notes that don’t translate as soapy or tarry, respectively.

Nez 1+1 Adorem is one that I had actually smelled in a preview (pre-sniff) before its official release, at ScentXplore. I didn’t remember forming any impressions of it, but by then I’d smelled a lot of things and was mainly focused on petitioning the folks at the Nez table to bring back Hongkong Oolong. However, I then saw part of a video in which Persolaise reacted to Adorem with such high praise that I felt I had to get it—and I am pretty sure this is the first time that I have been moved to buy a perfume because of what someone said on YouTube!

It turned out to be just what I needed on the particular day that I wore it, a day when burnt incense seemed appropriate. Adorem features the ingredient “Vulcain Incense,” which is darker and smokier than frankincense essential oil, which can be quite bright and even lemony. In combination with cocoa absolute, it reminds me of the sticky amalgam of resin at the bottom of a vessel after burning. It’s also foody at times, perhaps deliberately to convey the char of cooking. A roasted pepper with blackened skin is a beautiful thing. The darkness is kept in check by frankincense, elemi, and pink pepper. Adorem didn’t last long on me, although a smoky, woody shadow remained.

Zoologist Cardinal was very interesting. It opened lush green and rosy, and I thought it could be love—I had also just seen the day before, clearly in person for the first time, a cardinal, perched in a tree: so I figured it must be a sign! Surely, with notes of bergamot, rose, leather, oakmoss, and patchouli-vanilla-musk, this would be a winner. And that red bottle!

Cardinal was indeed refreshing and had the effect of opening new channels in my nostrils through which I could smell citrusy and herbal scents as in an olfactory kaleidoscope. The leather is in the drydown. The rose is lovely and stays through most of the phases. However, that green—that persistent, linear green… by the end of the perfume’s development, it felt like some kind of uncanny valley, as though the leaves and grass in the red bird’s habitat were suddenly revealed to be synthetic. It’s interesting, but I think I’ll pass.

Green is the color of you
and the meadow after the rain

—”Red Red Red” by Kraked Unit featuring Piers Faccini

14 thoughts on “What color is the scent of a red bird?

  1. Coming late to a non-party: has it got better already? Or if not, do you still feel the same, or were you able to find your peace with the situation?
    I’m sorry you had to go through whatever it was. Please try to get to the place where it bothers you less: loved ones, friends and relatives are people who really matter. Five years from now with a high probability none of the people involved in today’s events that made you feel inadequate will be in your life.

    I like Ombré Leather Parfum very much but not for me: I gave it as a gift to my vSO last year. I can’t remember if I tried Montabaco, but I heard so many great mentions of it that I feel like I should do it. And Zoologist is one of the brands that I don’t follow.


    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Some true wisdom there! I feel I may have misrepresented the situation as it wasn’t that people were giving me a hard time; it was that I was overwhelmed by a situation which probably amplified my stress in other interactions. Things have settled now.

      It’s great that you can enjoy some fragrances on your vSO. My other half doesn’t wear fragrance except occasionally one spritz on the wrist to share a sample. I’ve noticed that some spicy fragrances smell better on his wrist than on me, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having some difficulties at work. When I read Cardinal I instantly thought of Heeleys Cardinal .. just thunked my decant which also happens to be an incense. I wasn’t aware that Zooliogist has one with the same name.


    1. It looks like the Heeley one is about the person rather than the bird! I’m not generally a fan of incense in perfumes (I certainly couldn’t wear Adorem every day), so I’d still choose the bird.


      1. You might actually like Cardinal . There’s a clean starchy quality to it. And frankincense which is traditionally in incense fragrances can have a light airy quality to my nose when paired with citrus. L’ Eau Froide, by Serge Lutens, comes to mind.


  3. Hope the people at work realise the difficulty they’re causing soon & everything settles for you. People fall into two categories, soul suckers & soul clouds.
    The Cardinal sounds right up my street! Adorem less so. Many incense fragrances give me a headache so I’m a bit nervous of trying them.


    1. Thanks, although no one is causing difficulty – it is more my emotional response to situations for which I feel ill equipped. I enjoyed Cardinal for the first half to two-thirds of the day both days that I tried it ‐ at the end, though, I craved a more traditional drydown.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you have a mentor to liaise with? I do hope so. Such a valuable asset to the workplace for both employer & employee.
        There are times when the traditional is the only thing that will hit the spot. Especially at times if stress


        1. I do have supportive leaders, for which I’m grateful. I try to build “informal” mentor relationships, which have worked out better for me than a formal arrangement in the past.

          Agree about traditional being the best thing sometimes. With Cardinal, I think it was that the persistence of the green note after other notes had faded made it feel like a hollow shell!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes to informal mentorship.
            What a brilliant description of that green note outstaying it’s welcome. I wonder if the perfumer, Rosendo Mateu, was aiming to create exactly that illusion?


  4. Hopefully, the situation at work settles down. As an incense lover, I was intrigued by Adorem too. Certainly, one I want to get my nose on. Your description of Cardinal, even though it wasn’t for you, piqued my interest as I enjoy green perfumes. Harvest Mouse is another from the brand that has some intriguing notes, though may end up leaning a little too gourmand for my taste.


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