Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Possets: Allen Ginsberg--Howl

I took several steps away from writing recently, and I found (again) that not writing ends up making me feel like my soul has been sucked into a black hole. Being candid: sometimes I already feel like I've been sucked into a black hole, which leads to the not writing, but the not writing black hole is infinitely worse than the black hole I feel when I am writing. Each day away made me more miserable and cranky. I finally decided that if I couldn't write about perfume (something that is so deeply embedded in my core) then I have serious problems. After struggling to peep over the edge of the black hole for a few weeks, I finally popped my head out completely (I can't talk about the rest of me, but I suppose that's neither here nor there), and I decided to come back to the blog with a Possets perfume from the summer release.

So, onward to the review (and thank you for my moment of catharsis).

A little bit of back story: The Possets summer release focuses on poets and their poems (link to the main page for the summer release is here: Possets Summer of 2013 Release ). I write poetry (some can be found on my "serious" blog here: Maya's Poety Stuff ) so I was determined to be allll over this release. I've found some hits, some misses, but one that keeps calling me back again and again is the perfume inspired by Allen Ginsberg's Howl.

The Possets description: "Perhaps the iconic poem of the Beat Generation, Howl needed to be cast as a perfume. By "cast" I mean to make a mold of it, as in the lost wax process, so that you can feel the time it portrays with your mind through scent. This was a time of big perfumes, the discovery of patchouli, cigarette smoke, chypre with a wild touch of something from the east. There was sweat and sex, the world was discovered for the first time.

Possets' interpretation of Howl is unabashedly sexy, driven mad by welling passions. Black, red and amber musks wrestle furiously with sandalwood and opium tar resin. There is nothing light, sweet, or gentle about this scent. A burning incense backs it up, black patchouli stands in the forefront. Dark, musky, resinous.

Tremendously savage, dark and sweet like molasses rather than sugar.

...and yet, there is something innocent about it all."

In the bottle: I have been (since day one) unsure about this fragrance while it sits in the bottle. I get a little bit of dryer-sheet-aisle waft and that always makes me do a squinty face. However, wrapped around that is a really deep and dark hint of something that wants to come out to play, a rough edge (and oh do I love those rough edges), and a drop of sandalwood (very light drop), threaded through with a shot of something that makes me think of very dark brown sugar with some of the sweetness cut out.

On my skin: Oh my. Deep, perfume-y, and rich, this goes on with almost a chocolate vibe (cocoa chocolate, not milk nor mild) with a hint of smoke, a touch of Fabienne's chypre (I cannot get enough of her chypre blends), and a deep dark musk that seems threaded through with a faint touch of something that feels like caramel without all of the sweetness. I also get a faint touch of spiced incense.

As it begins to dry down: the smoke roughs this up a bit, which I love. It's not a heavy smoke because the other notes are stronger, but the undernote of smoke gives this a gritty edge that makes this intriguing and compelling, and adds a lot of depth. I have to admit that I (so far) haven't fallen in love with most red musks I've tried, so I was nervous about this perfume. I can get some of the red musk vibe, but it's whipped into shape by the black and amber musks so that makes me happy. The rest of this is a little bit sweet, but not sugared in its sweetness. This comes across as a very dark perfume without feeling too heavy or oppressive.

As it dries further: The black musk (sweet and velvety) comes out to play some. It gives this warmth and body, and plays beautifully with the opium tar resin. I think some of the smoke that I'm getting is from the opium tar resin, but the opium tar also adds a note of sweetness to this and a bit of the grit to round out the edges. The amber musk adds a touch of powder to this, helping to keep this from being too heavy and overwhelming. The faint incense note fades down even more to give support to the base.

Final dry down: this has staying power and decent throw. Despite the heavy-hitting notes, it ends up being deep and dark without being overwhelming or smothering. That dark cocoa note rides along for a while then merges into the smoke and the grit. I keep coming back to the word gritty for this one. It's not gritty as in dirty, but gritty as in having teeth and edge and fortitude. I think of gravel, but despite that rough edge, this has a lot of smoothness to it. It's lush, velvety even, and rich. I think the patchouli helps to add to the grit in this, but this is no head-shoppy patchouli. It's dark and growly and plays beautifully with the other notes.

At first sniff, I wasn't sure about this one. And, I have to admit, that there's something about this that for the first five minutes makes me wonder if I'm going to want to scrub it off. It feels...unresolved...(for lack of a better term) for those opening minutes. But when it begins to pull together it becomes a thing of beauty.

This is a deeply satisfying perfume for someone who likes contrasts and balance and dark but not too-heavy fragrances. It has some sweetness, but it's not so sweet that you feel like falling into a sugar coma. It has depth. It has teeth, but those teeth only nibble, and there is something about it that is definitely worth a nibble or two (or five, or more--whew!). It feels velvety and lush, but it has a prim backbone that keeps it from going overboard. It's perfumy and makes me think of some of the dark heavy-hitters from the 1980's, but this doesn't have that nose-clogging sneezability like those did. I feel powerful and strong while wearing it, but hours later when it's completely resolved and faintly riding the skin all I want to do is snuggle up somewhere with my favorite book and a nice fire because of how comforting and soft it feels. I love perfumes with nuances and edges, and this one definitely has that for me.

In short, the name says it all: Howl. When I put it on I want to prowl, I want to stalk, I want to wait for the darkest night with the faintest light, put this on, and yell at the moon, then find someone to drag back to my lair to...well, you can fill in the rest. I'm pretty sure I'll be voting for this one to become permanent. :D


  1. This sounds fantastic. A beautiful review.

    1. Thank you, Dr. M. It is pretty fantastic. I'm hoping that it will be made permanent so I can send samples out to friends. :D