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Eau de Vertu (Aggelos Balamis for Angelos Creations Olfactives)

This article was written for, and first published in CaFleureBon.


Vertu lovable. Photo, creative direction, and digital editing by a_nose_knows for Angelos Creations Olfactives Eau de Vertu



Mossy and wet and forever glistening en plein air, gargoyles carry the heavy burden of the grotesque and the collective history of the evil, the dirty, the uncouth; rained on and laughed at and pointed to by engrossed fingers and camera lenses alike, they’ve been decaying at the corners of famous buildings, tongue out, for centuries and a day.


Vertu apotropaic. Photo, creative direction, and digital editing by a_nose_knows for Angelos Creations Olfactives Eau de Vertu


Poor little uglies, they are indeed; for sculptors worldwide seem to be everso more resourceful depicting misery than bliss (why is that, I wonder? Is it the freedom of imagination vs. the strict rules of virtue that make a baddie SO much more interesting and colorful than a goodie?). In any case, stone carvers uglified gargoyles with abandon, reserving restraint for the more saintly statues and the dignified blooms on tombs. The result is fantasmagorical and inducer-of-thoughts, totally pitiful, and incredibly necessary: from Egyptian temples to Gothic churches, there’s no public house without a resident gargoyle. So bear with me, then, while I dig out the goodie in the baddie.



Vertu indispensable. Photo, creative direction, and digital editing by a_nose_knows for Angelos Creations Olfactives Eau de Vertu


Reason No°1 gargoyles are obligatory: they are, in fact, rain spouts. To keep water away from the masonry and the mortar on the surface of buildings, architects everywhere made a habit to add, in corners, these elongated gullets that take the flow from above and spill it out. In the case of gargoyles, the water comes from the gutters into an opening on their back, and is being spat out through the mouth so appropriately that, in fact, gargoyle and gurgle / gargolla (It.) / gargariser (Fr.) share the same etymological root.


Reason No°2 gargoyles are crucial: they increase the contrast to the good; they point it out, and, by bearing the brunt of the discarded, they highlight the long path, from the low point for one’s visual comparisons, to the zenith. They were also something to scare little children with in times when that was still considered appropriate parenting- nasty job, but someone’s always got to do it.


Reason No°3 gargoyles are love-worthy: they are apotropaic. Just like lucky charms, but for buildings, these bigger amulets have been scaring away baddies all over the word and provided, when times were rough, a mere semblance of protection.



Vertu apotropaic. Photo, creative direction, and digital editing by a_nose_knows for Angelos Creations Olfactives Eau de Vertu


Not entirely sure what in Eau de Vertu by Angelos Créations Olfactives took me flying to the gargoyles; it may be its rainy freshness, the altitude of its air, the atemporal legerity with which it seems to correspond to a style (The Greens), but misconforms with both its criteria and its current niche manifestation. It may also be that, in a set of 9 fragrances constituting, in my opinion, a sure-handed, fantastic indie launch*, it is the most surprising: smells like a chypre, moods like a fougere, and wears like a soapy aldehydic wonder, with not a speck of dissonance, overbearingness, or amateurship. This is a complex composition and a green for the books (or at least my books, nerdy as they are); presented modestly due to pan-everything Covid delays, it may look like a baddie… until the rainy days.



The darling side. Photo, creative direction and digital editing by a_nose_knows for Angelos Creations Olfactives


Official notes: galbanum, sage, ginger, rose petals, mimosa absolute, tuberose absolute, muguet, jasmin, oakmoss, musk, mineral accord, hinoki


Other perceived smell: tin/ ozone/ alabaster, wax, tagetes, slight mentholation, salt, gardenia, herbal tea, soap


Disclaimer: sample set provided for testing by perfumer Aggelos Balamis. Much appreciated. And well done.

*(For those looking for more impressions: Grace d’Orient, Dance Lascive and Tabac Libre are also a must to look into)


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