It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in Berkeley, and it’s making me long for consistently warm weather. Although I have many other oriental, floriental and heavy chypre perfumes I’m going to talk about at some point, there’s a desire to slough them off like so many sweaters and coats.
I’m breaking out the bracing green* Weil de Weil for some California dreaming. Like a grapefruit sorbet at the end of a heavy meal (with sage or some dusky herb to complexify it), Weil is cutting through the richness of my recent olfactory diet and clearing my palate.
This is a truly stunning perfume! You know how gross perfumes are referred to as “scrubbers,” as in, “I can’t scrub this thing off fast enough!”? I propose a new category — the Huffer — as in “I can’t stop huffing this stuff!” I’m at a café and getting strange looks as I maniacally sniff my wrists. (Smelling yourself in public is never really acceptable, is it?)
Released the same year as the green chypre masterpiece Chanel No. 19, Weil, I would argue, should get as much attention as No. 19. It starts off with a wonderfully bitter green accord — galbanum, leafy green notes, and facets from neroli and narcissus. Just as these tart, minor key notes sing out, Weil subtly evolves into something softer and dreamier, thanks to a plump gardenia note and a powdery — and almost rotten-sweet — hyacinth note.
By the time you reach Weil’s drydown, and don’t think it could get anymore beautiful, you’re already drowning in it, a goner like a bug in the Venus Flytrap’s narcotic and deadly nectar. (Yes, I'm drowning in my own purple prose — always a sign I love what I'm sniffin'!)
I love bright green perfumes that evolve into leather chypres. That’s really what happens to Weil if you give it some time. Its animalic and woody base notes (I didn’t include civet but I’ve seen it mentioned) turn the perfume’s spring time coolness into a hot, languid summer. The combination of the almost too-strong hyacinth and leafy green note (coriander?) mixed with musk, amber, sandalwood and leather creates a momentary note of perspiration (of the non-stinky teenage variety given off in Paco Rabanne's Calandre.)
I am truly blown away by Weil’s beauty. It manages to evoke the transformation of spring to summer, of freshness to ripeness, of innocence to the first stirring of erotic desire. Or, more accurately, it deconstructs those oppositions and suggests that spring already contains the last days of summer; that innocence always contains experience; and that every beginning has the seeds of its ending.
If Weil de Weil were a movie, it would be Peter Weir’s 1975 masterpiece, Picnic at Hanging Rock, a haunting film about a group of Victorian schoolgirls who go on a hike that changes them forever.
* Haarmann & Reimer's Duftatlas lists Weil de Weil as a green fragrance, akin to Jacomo's Silences (check out the Duftatlas image there). What this doesn't take into account is Weil's leather-chypre drydown, which Silences doesn't have...