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Pathétique – Eccentric inspiration – December 5th, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Image - O'Driu Pathétique bottle and packaging - fragrantica.com

I had an aunt, my mother’s older sister, who was labelled eccentric by the family at an early age and lived up to her reputation until the day she died. Dyed red hair, capes, turbans, flashy chunky jewellery, high heels, and too much make-up, I adored her because she was so colourful and funny and passionate, so different from all the rest of us. Pathologically self-centred and outrageously opinionated, Aunt Marge became the automatic focus of every family celebration, fascinating to us kids and but exhausting for the adults. Dad would jokingly ask my mother “Where’s my oxygen mask?” when he learned she would be visiting, because he said she sucked all the air out of the house. She never stopped talking.

Aunt Marge loved theatre, art, movies, books, music, and especially food, so she usually arrived with a new taste sensation that we “just HAD to try, it’s so divinely de-lish”! She discovered truffles after meeting a Milanese aristocrat on one of her Italian sojourns, and hunting for truffles on his estate with him and his Lagotto Romagnolo truffle hunting dog. She brought snapshots she’d taken of that day in the woods, plus a lumpy black truffle and truffle oil so we could share her exotic experience. Aunt Marge, who was scared of dogs and forests, was hilarious that night as she regaled us with her story, but she was right. Truffles were de-lish, earthy, creamy and sweetish, definitely much much more than just an ol’ mushroom.

Fast forward a decade or two to the present…

I’ve been reading about the Italian niche brand O’Driu for the past year or so, started by a perfumer by the name of Angelo Orazio Pregoni, who has the reputation for being somewhat eccentric. Eccentric people fascinate me. Then a couple of months ago, I learn that O’Driu has  launched a new aromatic woody fragrance called Pathétique with a Black truffle accord. I love woody fragrances, and I love truffles, and I’ve never come across truffles used as a perfume note before, so I was intrigued and ordered decant samples of the entire line. Last week I received my bottle of Pathétique – as I suspected, it was the O’Driu fragrance I had to own.

On his website, Pregoni describes Pathétique as a “richly captivating scent meant to evoke the rich natural beauty of the Italian countryside”, a “contemporary artwork” masterpiece created by an mystically talented artist named Gian Clod who uses an imaginary ingredient of the Italian countryside called “goat blackberry”. There’s a strange video and a fragrance description which is poorly-translated hyperbole, ego-driven mumbo-jumbo which has nothing to do with the reality of this lovely fragrance – click here if you have time to kill, or want a chuckle.

Pathétique definitely opens with the scent of the Italian countryside. Sweet lemon, grasses, the woods rich with the aroma of resins and tall junipers, and black truffles hidden on the forest floor. This opening accord is infused with vetiver and smoky incense, alternating with wafts of black pepper. This is a truly extraordinary accord, and becomes moreso as the truffle becomes more pronounced, creamy, earthy from vetiver and just slightly sweet.

After the initial drydown and into the heart, Pathétique begins to soften with a vanilla note merging with the truffle and forest accord, and the smokiness becomes edged with darkest cocoa powder. Through the centre curls a fragrant jasmine floral note, and lemon and vetiver are still in the background to contain the sweetness. I’m captivated by this combination of smoky incense, woods, lemon, truffle-vanilla cream.

In the base, vetiver adds a mossiness, and amyris, known as West Indian sandalwood,lends a balsamic haze to the incense.  The final drydown is soft and smooth as silk velvet, with reminders of dark smoky vanilla. Never sweet, the scent stays close to the skin for hours, so it works for both women and men. None of the notes overpowers the other, and they all play their role in perfect balance, but Pathétique is really a magical combination. It must be the “goat blackberry” note at work.

The French word “pathétique” refers to evoking strong emotion, such as melancholy, sadness, tenderness, or passion. That’s exactly how I feel about this extraordinary fragrance – it has the power to bring those kind of emotions to the surface in me. It brought back long-ago memories of my travels through Italy, of walking in the Italian Alps, of driving in a sportscar through the Umbrian countryside. And I haven’t replayed those memories of dear Aunt Marge for quite a while. As for the truffles, well, I’m looking for recipes.

Pathétique is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $7.00.