Der Duft Monopteros fragrance review, first published in Cafleurebon
“I strive finding abstraction, beauty and fantasy deep within our vivid and challenging reality. It inspires and motivates me to push boundaries and create insight into stories worth telling!”
— Anselm Skogstad, creator of Der Duft
The idea of an outside threat for humanity (aliens, meteors, various natural disasters) has some sort of heroic romanticism about it, and – at least in fiction – a silver lining, a sense of unity, and a push for collective salvation and optimistic resolve. On the opposite spectrum, we have the non-climactic, slow-motion dragged down “end of days” feeling of the pandemic and the homeopathic daily pill of impending doom constantly numbing our senses, fogging up the colors of the days and drawing rifts between individuals and even ourselves (the “still-needs-a-name” BC/AD demarcation of our lives before and after the pandemic). Andrew Solomon wrote in “The Noonday Demon”: “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality and my life, as I write this, is vital even when sad.” Considering this essential “loss of vitality” this year has brought upon us, I often found myself superimposing onto reality scenes from one of my favorite movies – Lars von Trier’s Melancholia.
In Melancholia, we watch the life of Justine, separated into chapters – before and after the news of the planet coming in collision with Earth. In the “before” life Justine suffers from depression, and we witness the endless struggle with the emptiness of everyday rituals and her falling-apart relationships. In the second part of the movie, as humanity gets closer to doomsday, and all the tragic elements begin to unfold, Justine seems to be the only one able to function and be “normal” in the chaos surrounding her – as she has been preparing for the inexplicable unknown “worst” her whole life, battling depression. The worst possible scenario has now arrived, but it’s external, thus easier to explain, process, and accept for her, as opposed to everyone else. In the last scenes of the movie, we see Justine, together with her sister and her kid, the three of them huddled in an open tepee made of branches (the “magical tunnel” the child requested the two sisters to build) with the planet, named Melancholia, that fills up the horizon, before the imminent collision with Earth.
Morphing a tent to a more complicated architectural building – a monopteros (Ancient Greek:ὁ μονόπτερος : μόνος, only, single, alone, and τὸ πτερόν, wing) which is a wall-less circular colonnade supporting a roof. Some were dedicated to gods or deified mortals (like Hercules) or served more mundane roles as pavilions in markets or others housed tombs. Nowadays we most often find them in parks, as the gathering place of all the modern demigods a.k.a. the cool kids of the cities. I treasure the memories of youth, freedom, long talks, first heartaches, cigarette ashes, red sunsets, in the monopteros that guarded the entrance to the park, in my hometown (if I think about it, the first SMS I have ever received was (“meet me at the Rotonda”).
Der Duft’s fragrances have simple messages attached to them: “each scent will create their own story and association for the person wearing it. It all begins with a good sniff while understanding the name of the particular perfume” You can say Der Duft has an artistically irreverent minimalism approach to their marketing, but their fragrances are far from being austere high-brow experiments.
This stripped-down, no rabbits coming out of royal hats, no props, no “special marketing effects” style of Der Duft pushed me further the association rabbit hole, to Trier’s “Dogme 95 Manifesto”- a set of rules made to create films based on the traditional values of story, acting, and theme, and excluding the use of elaborate special effects or technology, rules created as an attempt to “take back power for the directors as artists”, as opposed to the studio.
Monopteros is a conceptual perfume done without the over-conceptualization stiff-upper-lip aura about it. Notes are scary, I must admit, but FUN (for it reads like a movie in which you would find the fragrant equivalent of Yoda (coconut- FEAR it – I do), mixed in with the camera works of a nature documentary (a wet cucumber note), the rapid cut-scenes of a horror (adrenalized coffee) and the classical vertigo of a Hitchcockian aldehyde.
The fragrance evolution is difficult to pinpoint, as it shifts and morphs and tricks the nose, in all its adrenalized spiced-up green-ness. It opens up with a smoked coconut accord that quickly morphs into a bitter ristretto, then veers to an unexpected wet cucumber note, surrounded by zesty raspberry. The high pitched notes of the lift-off are mirrored back by aldehydic airy reinterpretations in the dry down, like actors wearing different costumes, taking their turns coming in the headlights, each one easily singled out, but all in tune with the play. I had the feeling of watching an intricate electric panel with different rapid note switches in its maze, making it hum and crackle on the skin. If I were to name its genre it would be a high-voltage spicy green that feels like touching a plasma globe.
Confusing? For sure!
Polarising? You bet!
But it works. The result is a sheer joy that tingles on the skin, bouning between sweet and spicy, airy and deep, keeping your senses on edge and veering away from conventional. It’s unusual, free, fun, and charged with vitality. Yeah, pretty much like a monopteros with all the legends woven around it (both the ancient and the modern, urban ones).
Monopteros by Der Duft was launched in 2020, and the nose is Anselm Skogstad. Notes: Coconut, Aldehyde, Coffee, Neroli, Raspberry, Cucumber, Rose, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Cardamom
Disclosure: Sample kindly provided by Der Duft, via Cafleurebon
If you loved Monopteros, also try Cinematic