My family has suffered this week, as on Monday, my wonderful auntie Ellen unexpectedly passed away in her sleep.
Perfume, as crazy as it sounds to people not as passionate as we are, is a huge emotional release for me, and I have been wearing fragrances of absolute beauty for comfort these last couple of days.
It seems like a perfect time to write about Bolt Of Lightning – whilst it is not my favourite in the line, I’ve wanted to explore it further since my video on tuberose fragrances. It is beautiful, and complex enough to lose myself in for a little while.
Bolt Of Lightning opens extremely vegetal, a potent ylang ylang? throws off a gigantic banana-skin accord, paired with an overwhelming blast of narcotic floral notes. The medicinal, feijoa aroma of methyl benzoate (a natural aspect of tuberose) pierces through the top notes: a green, astringent, powerful tropical fruit stench. It is this feijoa aroma which I initially mistook for green pepper – they smell nothing alike, but they have the same green, juicy quality – but with far different personalities.
After a couple of minutes, the almost mentholated opening has tamed to a level that smells like the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle… yes, it is THAT powerful before it even settles. The tuberose that begins to emerge from underneath is a cross between the sharper, orange blossom and jasmine heavy tuberose of the Lutens’, and the green, creamy, more tropical tuberose of Carnal Flower. The sweetness of both of those fragrances is missing entirely though, with the intense vegetal opening here, staining the flower with a bitter, raw earthiness.
The sharp intensity of the natural narcotics has a drug like effect to me, it is flourescent and literally dizzying. The tuberose is damp and dewy, there is no syrupy sweetness here; the smooth edges of the florals only begin to emerge as time goes on and the initial intensity of the opening has thoroughly evaporated. It’s at this point that I pick up on a whiff of jasmine and the merest hint of orange blossom, which similarly to Tableau De Parfums’ Loretta, gives off that kind of grape soda/bubblegum vibe, only here it is completely overwhelmed by the tuberose, unlike Loretta where the roles are reversed. There also seems to be a drop of Jar’s Jardenia in here, a delicate, mushroom-heavy white floral (gardenia) – which I initially mistook for the tuberose until they began to seperate slightly. This gardenia once recognized becomes almost on par in its intensity with the tuberose - and leads the fragrance to a relatively linear drydown.
Bolt Of Lightning has the humidity of Un Matin D’Orage’s opening: the scent of fresh dew - true to life – sitting on the leading floral’s petals. Bolt Of Lightning’s drydown also reminds me of Un Matin D’Orage’s clever sense of space… On first spritz, my nose is squished right against the soiled and overtly intense flower, but as it settles, the scent of BoL is that of a whole bunch of tuberose plants (and gardenias) from a distance. A hot, humid, greenhouse air surrounds them, only here it is, and smells, completely natural (unlike the stemone-heavy ozonic overload in the Annick Goutal). The subtlety of Bolt Of Lightning is hugely unexpected as it dries, lasting a few more hours as a damp, but heady floral reside before the late drydown of rich vanilla leads it to a soft finale.
Bolt Of Lightning is a beautiful, beautiful tuberose perfume, but undoubtably the most challenging there is out there. Tubereuse Criminelle is as light and as delicate as a friggin’ meringue in comparison. Having said that, I don’t understand the repulsion often described towards the opening – because it keeps my nose glued to hand (before the headache kicks in…) in fascination – it’s gorgeous. A must sniff for tuberose lovers, and those interested in avant-garde perfumery, but the balanced simplicity of the heart is enough to capture anyone. Another brilliant fragrance in the JAR lineup.
Bolt Of Lightning 30ml JAR – $$$$ (500+ euros)