Thursday 11 December 2008


I have always loved the smell of incense, specifically proper high church incense.

A church at Christmas with the bells and smells is very nice but what I really want is the smell of these great buildings when they are unoocupied except for echoes and occasional whispering visitors.

Whenever I step into a church, particularly in Europe where they seem to wave the incense around with wild abandon, I am literally hypnotised. I wander around in a state of absolute happiness but also wondering why that exact smell of frankincense, cold, slight damp and the burning of candles can't be reproduced on my skin.

I have, of course, tried and do love Commes Des Garcon's Avignon. However it is just not as good on my skin as it is in the bottle and I have come to accept that to work at it's best it either needs to go on a scarf on me or be a candle.

The other fragrance I wear that has an incense note is Santa Maria Novella Melograno which I absolutely love but isn't really as churchey as I'm craving at the moment.

So I begin a new quest for the perfect incense on me.

Candidates I am interested in are Heeley Cardinal and Tauer Incense Extreme. I'm also interested in giving L'Artisan Passage D'Enfer another try, it didn't work for me the first time but I think my tastes have changed since then and I do LOVE the name.

If you have any thoughts on these scents or recommendations of scents to try I would be very grateful!

Picture of Temple church (London) courtesy of:


Anonymous said...

I think one of the main reasons I go with my mother to her church sometimes is the fact that for a C of E church they are mighty generous about flinging the incense around :-) Absolutely love it. Avignon is one of the truest incenses and I do admire it greatly but it's chilly. I prefer to wear Kyoto but I have recently found my now favourite incense - Profumum's Olibanum. There is something human about it. Very wearable. (I found it through an MUA swap but it is sold in Roja Dove's emporium.) Before Olibanum my favourite was Amouage Jubilation XXV. I'm being very careful with my sample! donanicola

Rose said...

Hi Donanicola,
Thank you so much for your recommendations- I am really obsessing about incense! The Profumum sounds fantastic and needs to be tried.
I really want to go to the emporium soon but I fear for my credit card balance!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hmmm- do not have any fragrance recommendations as I am still in search of the perfect incense scent- so I will be eager to hear what other people say.

I love incense and probably burn about 6 sticks a day... I can't go wrong with my nag champa...

And I LOVE sandalwood...

Rose said...

Hi Daily, it's tricky isn't it! I think I need to do a big samples order. The one I'm most excited about is Cardinal which I hear rumour might be available in one shop in London.
I will post if/ when I find beauties!

Mary said...

Rose, I've tried Heeley Cardinal and I can happily report to you that it is indeed fab. It's very similar to Avignon (my holy grail perfume by the way), but perhaps not as 'stripped down' as that scent. It's rounder, less sharp and not as strong as Avignon. Do try it if you can, I think you'll really like it!

Perhaps the ultimate incense fragrance, the one that tests the true incense perfume lover, is Norma Kamali Incense perfume. One tiny...and I do mean literally TINY...dab will last you all day and then some. It's very, very potent but truly wonderful.

Unknown said...

I love the smell of incense although if I am honest I actually have a hard time wearing it, the incense I know the best is Nag Champa (my hippish childhood).

Rose said...

Hi Mary,
Thank you so much for your comment, you sound like an expert. Avignon is divine, it's just better off me than on me I find, very sadly.
It now seems essential I get some Cardinal asap!
The Norma Kamali sounds incredible. My skin turns the most innocent fragrances heavy so I wonder how it would be on me but would be very excited to try it. Will add it to the list to track down!

Rose said...

Ah Nag Champa is lovely too, warmer than the churchy cold incense I'm thinking of but wonderful. Doesn't Ormonde Jayne do a Nag Champa, perhaps that needs to go on the list too!

ScentScelf said...

A while ago, I thought that incense was only something I wanted to smell smouldering from a distance, and even then, was ambivalent about it. This was painfully emphasize by a Diptyque incense, which made me feel like I was burying my nose in a ground cone. (Not happy for me...understand it could be another's cup of tea.)

Then, I discovered YSL Nu...and DK Black Cashmere, which has an incensey vibe...and realized I just needed my incense warmed up a bit. (Members of the audience are invited to laugh at the idea of Nu being "warm," but this a relative observation...) Am very happy with those two.

Nonetheless, "incense" is never going to be a scent family I feel the need to rush to explore...

Rose said...

Hi Scentscelf, I used to feel like that too and I still think it might not be something I would wear around everyone. Still at the moment I am really really craving these scents.

ScentScelf said... need to dismiss cravings! I'm more thinking along the lines of friends out to lunch, who agree that one would like the cinnamon cookie and the other the orange.

Given my love for BC, I have a feeling that at some point I'll have a little incense corner in my fragrance collection... :)

Perfumeshrine said...

Dear K,

a woman after my own soul...I ADORE incense, exactly the ecclesiastical kind fumigated with wild abandon. ;-)
(not that I am that pious, but you know)
I think this Series would be to your enjoyment, if you haven't caught it yet.
Haven't tried the Heeley yet, but I am looking forward to!

Rose said...

Dear E, I hadn't read this no so I most certainly will! If I get to try the Heeley I will definitely write about it. I did try the new Penhaligon's Elixir yesterday and it's quite incense-y which I wasn't expecting. I rather liked it!

heidi said...

Hello! Well, this is an old post, but I discovered your blog today, I've been enjoying my visit and it so happens that, also today, I've tried what seems to me to be quite a lovely incense perfume: Wazamba, by Parfum d'Empire (it made me think of churches indeed and it has a sublte apple note that gives it a soft and descreet caramelized apple pie twist somewhere in the background) ... But maybe you know it already and anyway I'm only a beginner in the perfume world!
Cheers from France!