“…the sound of latex when several stalks of tuberose tangle…” – Naomi Goodsir website
Notes: Angelica, Violet Leaf, Galbanum, Orris, Karo Karounde, Tuberose, Leather, Davana, Styrax, Tobacco, Labdanum and Gaiac Wood
When I attended the Art & Olfaction Awards last spring, I was really pleased when Naomi Goodsir won an award for Best Indie Perfume with Nuit de Bakelite. I admire her whole line which is full of modern, striking perfumes that stand out in a sea of niche mediocrity.
All the Naomi Goodsir fragrances are inspired by materials and textures. The wonderful Iris Cendré is orris ashes, Cuir Velours is a leather glove, while Bois d’Ascese was inspired by a wooden church in a blazing forest.
The Aussie designer collects objects made of Bakelite, the first man-made plastic. When she tasked perfumer Isabelle Doyen with creating a perfume inspired by it, the result (released in 2017) was compelling and extremely clever. It’s taken me forever to corral my thoughts about it.
First things first, Nuit de Bakelite is primarily a green perfume with tuberose lurking in in the dark heart of its foliage. So if you haven’t tried it already, kindly forget any ideas of creamy, blousy concoctions like Fracas.
Perhaps galbanum with its powerful, sharp scent of chlorophyll, is one of the few materials that could push tuberose into a supporting role. It wraps huge, rubbery leaves around that fleshy flower, emphasising its green and gummy facets to the nth degree. There are whiffs of earthiness, tobacco and vinyl fumes. This is where the natural world and the synthetic collide.
It has a kinship with the green chypres of the past – only catapulted into a futuristic urban jungle. It certainly shares their fearless nature, but it’s also lush and exotic in a photoreal, exaggerated way. Everything is bigger and brighter than usual. It feels alive and buzzing with intensity.
There is only a subtle shifting in emphasis as it develops. The tuberose comes more to light as the fierce green opening recedes a little and then, after a number of hours, the presence of tobacco is much more noticeable.
Nuit de Bakelite fascinates me even if it’s not something I would wear myself. There is a hypnotic, addictive quality to it but no indoles to my nose. It possesses nuclear longevity and has exceptional throw. Portia once gave me a card sprayed with it and the next day I could smell it the moment walked into the room where I’d left it.
It is a uniquely arresting fragrance but never anything less than supremely stylish.
Have you tried this most memorable of fragrances?