Kemi Blending Magic is Sergio Momo*’s most conceptual fragrant adventure to date, inspired by alchemy and focused on high-quality raw ingredients from the Middle East, converted into the perfect fragrant potions.
To put it painfully simple – alchemy is the belief that non-precious metals can be transmuted into gold. However, besides the tip of the iceberg that is the practical side of the alchemy (gold transmutations, finding the elixir of immortality, the philosopher’s stone, etc), the “speculative” alchemy uses allegory, symbolism, and wisdom to speak of spiritual truths and draw a path to inner light. The alchemists believed the material world was based on prime chaotic matter, that could be shaped into existence if impressed by “form” (earth, water, fire, and air). Thus, the varieties of life were created out of the mixing of the elements in particular proportions – each element having the possibility to be transmuted into the next through the quality that they held in common. **For example, fire can become air through the medium of heat, just as air can become water through the medium of fluidity.
The magnum-opus or Great Work of Alchemy is often described as a series of four stages represented by colors: black, white, yellow, red. The fragrance that spoke to me the most, out of the Kemi line is the seductive, mysterious, and shadowy ambery gourmand called Layla (meaning night in Arabic).
Nigredo “Blacker than the blackest black”, the alchemical first step to obtaining the philosopher’s stone calls for all the alchemical ingredients to be cleansed by scorching and “cooking” them into a uniform black matter. In psychology, the term “nigredo” is used as a symbol for the catharsis that leads to self-knowledge, and the first step into “the dark night of the soul, when an individual confronts the shadow within.”
Symbol: the raven.
Time frame: the dark night
Scented freeze frames: A large cauldron, filled with sweet, iridescent nectar. Submerging your hand into a bag filled with condiments, reach out with fists filled with spices, more precious than gold. Throw handfuls of them into the potion until it becomes viscous, darkens, and the scented ghosts of cloves and nutmeg lure you deeper into the night, whispering tales of blood spilled on the ancient spice routes.
Albedo or ablutiois the second step, which tries to regain the original purity and wash away the impurities. Albedo is a metaphor for the awakening of the consciousness; anima and animus; illuminating the impulses, bringing them into the conscious, and shedding light on the trajectory and intentions of the unconscious psyche.
Symbol: the dove, the moon, silver
Time frame: the pale morning
Scented freeze frames: A scratched out, old wood box slowly opens its lid, and outcome pouring, like a swarm of bees, thousands upon thousands of petals, floating away and fading in the milky white light of the morning. You close the lid, trapping hope in its wooden prison.
Citrinitas In alchemical philosophy, citrinitas or “the yellowing” stood for the movement of silver to gold. The solar light transformed the shadowy and fearful subconscious into consciousness.
Symbol: the wise old man
Time frame: the sun rises yellow
Scented freeze frames: Honey pours down from branches of the trees, and drips and crawls dragging along leaves, small branches, specks of dust, and crystallizes them into small, bite-size time capsule amber M&M-s, fit for the hungry gods of the Sun.
Rubedo The end quests of the alchemical work: gold and the philosopher’s stone were both associated with the color red. Red is the self archetype that has achieved wholeness.
Symbol: red flowers, the red king
Time frame: the culmination of the day, the red sun
Scented freeze frames: Rising big, moss-covered rocks from the ground in the woods, inhaling deeply the raw, uncovered ground, lungs filled with the darkness they hid. “The musk of the earth”, the deep and unnervingly familiar scent of patchouli. New frame, zoomed-in: Back in the cave, the fire dying out, slip under the covers made out of fur, inhale the back of her neck, sweet musk, sweet sugar, sweet desire.
*Sergio Momo is the founder, owner, and creative force behind Xerjoff and Casamorati 1888 lines of perfumes.
**Pieces of alchemical texts selected from https://alchemywebsite.com/
Layla by Kemi Blending Magic was launched in 2014, and the nose is Chris Maurice.
Notes: Clove& Nutmeg; Middle notes Ylang-Ylang, Cedar Wood; Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Vanilla, Sugar
If you like Kemi Blending Magic Layla also check out Xerjoff Alexandria
*This article first appeared in Cafleurebon