Before I get into this perfume, let’s start with the name — “theorem.” What a strangely dry and intellectual name for such a sexy, spicy scent.
I actually got Theorema because so many people have raved about this (inexplicably) discontinued perfume, and after seeing it in so many favorites lists, I had to give it a try.
Top Notes: Citrus, orange blossom, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, rosewood, rose hips *
Heart Notes: Jasmine, rose, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, spices
Base Notes: Benzoin, guaiac wood, sandalwood, amber, patchouli
(Perfumer: Christine Nagel)
Mmmmm. This gourmand-ish woody-spicy oriental has a peppery, smoky character that cloaks the florals (rose, jasmine, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, orange blossom) in a garment of dark mystery. The blast of pepper and spices (cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon) coincides with the earthy, smoky character of guaiac wood and patchouli in the base, giving the perfume a dirty edge that distinguishes it from other, more eager-to-please oriental perfumes.
I don’t know much about rosewood, but I did find out something interesting about it: it has a high concentration of linalool, a substance that imparts a spicy, rosy, balsamic quality to perfume and that, in its natural state, works to bring out the best in accompanying florals.
Several times in Theorema's dry down, I smelled what seemed like smokey leather or earth combined with the comforting gourmand notes of amber and benzoin. (The balance of disquiet and comfort is part of what makes Theorem so exciting and actually untheoretical/cerebral.) Benzoin can impart a creamy vanilla or chocolate note to perfumes, and in Theorema’s case, it combines with the orange note to create in my olfactory imagination the image of one of those Terry’s Orange Chocolate candies. (The orange in Theorema has a dried/candied fruit character, which is why I think I imagine it embedded in chocolate.)
As many have said elsewhere, Theorema is a wonderfully comforting winter scent – smoky, spicy, creamy, sweet (but not cloying) and peppery. Hours later on my skin, it smells like milky, spiced rose. So beautiful. (The rose, pepper, amber, guaiac wood combo is also in Issey Miyake’s gorgeous Le Feu d’Issey and, interestingly, they remind me of each other. They were both also released in 1998 — and they're both discontinued! Do perfumers hear through the grape vine rose bushes what rival perfumers are up to, or is this just a strange coincidence?)
Also, anyone have any theories on why Theorema has its name?
* "Rose hips are the casings or pods that hold rosebush seeds. They are usually what’s left after rose petals have fallen off or been picked. Pure rose hip oil, called rose mosqueta, is very expensive to produce as it must be cold-pressed from a large quantity of rose hips."