RATIO; Seductive Poisons

By Melusine Estebe-Bruault

Fragrances are usually made with flowers and ingredients we can smell and touch whenever we want. But what if there were fragrances made with deadly poison flowers? Six Scents’ and PARFUMS QUARTANA founder, Joseph Quartana, proved it was possible to make gorgeous and seductive perfumes with it in 2016 when he launched Les Potions Fatales fragrance line, in collaboration with German Symrise and several perfumers from all around the world. The line is composed of nine fragrances, all created with the finest precious ingredients in order to make you feel like a femme or homme fatale. Apart from the amazing scents released with this collection, PARFUMS QUARTANA also gave an amount of the sales of the perfumes to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. What a brilliant and lovely idea!  In June 2017, with the Poppy Soma scent, the brand won the Fragrance Foundation Parfum Extraordinaire of the Year award, a great reward for such a visionary idea.

Poppy Soma, one of the nine fragrances of the collection
Poppy Soma, one of the nine fragrances of the collection

The first fragrance of the collection, Venetian Belladonna, was created with perfumer Pierre-Constantin Gueros. Belladonna is a dangerous flower that was used as a poison during the Ancient Rome era, but also as an ingredient of seduction for women, that finally just gave them hallucinations. With this delicious fragrance, Belladonna just keeps its seductive power with the deep and green scents of ambery, honeyed beeswax, and drunken tuberose, that become darker and spicier with the sueded musk and the accord styrax pyrogene. A woman has always a soft and sweet aspect, and a dangerous one. Just like the Belladonna flower.

The second fragrance, Bloodflower, was created with perfumer Alexandra Carlin. Bloodflower, like a vampire drinking your blood or the feeling of having a sharp blade cutting our veins, is a majestic and bloody flower. To represent it, the fragrance starts in a gourmand way with Italian Licorice and Anise, gently stabbed by a Blood Accord that gives the sharp blade feeling.  It quickly becomes warmer and spicier with Clover, Orris, Amber, and Patchouli, and then Dark Rose is the final note, finishing the story of this perfume made with a mortal flower. It is a dark and sensual romance.

The third fragrance, Midnight Datura, was created with Lisa Fleischmann. Datura, also called “moonflower”, is a deadly flower known for its use in love potions, its aphrodisiac effects, and for the fact that it blooms only at night. You might think it is lovely and beautiful? No, because the people who will drink something made with this flower will have hallucinations and will be put in a trance state. In Ancient Greece, this flower was used a lot in the cult of the Goddess Artemis. That is why the fragrance has flowery and green scents of Green Leaf, Mandarin, Jasmine, Tuberose, Magnolia, Lavender, Muguet, Rose, Heliotrope, Violet, Bergamot, Jasmine, Datura and Davana, but also woody scents of Clove, Nutmeg, Pepper, Balsam, Patchouli, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Amber, Musk reminding hunting, the field of action of Artemis. Finally, the deep scent of Rum finishes to plunge us into the woods. It is a walk at night, admiring the beauty of the moon.

The fourth fragrance was created on the Digitalis flower. Created with perfumer David Apel, this delicate fragrance honours a fantasy flower that has been used since the Ancient times to invoke fairies and elves in Northern Europe. To give this fairytale atmosphere, the ingredients used were Galbanum, Silver Iris, Cucumber, Basil, Pepper, Ozone, Coriander, Florozone, Drenched Violet, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Gentiane, Incense, Fern, Wet Moss, and Violet Leaf. It gives the composition a green sparkling and fresh scent, that makes us go back to our childhood when all we wanted was to run in fields with fairies, which existence wasn’t even to be questioned for us.

The fifth fragrance is called Hemlock and was created with Christelle Laprade. Hemlock is a really small but poisonous flower that was used to execute prisoners in Ancient Greece. The fragrance has to beautiful contrasts in it: green and natural scents of Martinique Rum, Pink Pepper, Calabrian Bergamot, Crushed Leaves, Glossy White Floral, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Buds, Jasmine Sambac, Vanilla Bean, Suede, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Tonka Bean, Musk, and Masculine Amber Woods, and then synthetic and darker scents of Styrax Pyrogene, Black Vinyl Accord, Black Magnolia, Cyclamen, Salt and Benzoin. The green elements lead us to the beautiful fields where the flower blooms, while the dark ones transport us to the executioner room, with a strong black-vinyl accord reminding of a leather whip. This fragrance was made to be seductive, bringing its owner into a seductive S&M world, where she or he has the power over everything.

The sixth fragrance of the collection is Lily Of The Valley, made with perfumer Nathalie Benareau. The Lily Of The Valley flower is a delicate white flower that is known as a purity symbol, but that is also really poisonous. The concept behind the fragrance was to break its purity and innocence side smelled with Bergamot, Neroli, Dewy Petals, Orange Blossom Absolute, Dark Rose Absolute, Jasmine Petals,  Labdanum Extract, Vetiver Bourbon, Vanilla Absolute, Sandalwood and reveal its true mortal one with the scents of Cassis Buds, Muguet des Bois, and Black Leather Glove Accord. The Virgin Mary, who is said to create Lily Of The Valley from her tears suddenly becomes de-virginized and impure, she becomes poisonous, as much as the flower. A hint of this fragrance will reveal our darkest and more erotic secrets, for the best.

The seventh fragrance of the collection is called Mandrake. It was made in collaboration with perfumer Carlos J.Vinals and is a celebration of the Mandrake flower, also sometimes called “the love plant”. The Mandrake flower was said to boost masculine fertility if it was taken in a small dosage and it has a smell of ripe apple. That’s why this lovely fragrance has a fruity smell of apple with Crisp Apple, but also Pomegranate and Rhubarb to give it a real gourmand scent. Since there was an Ancient legend saying that the Mandrake was releasing a deadly fatal scream when its roots were dug out, the smell of its roots was recreated with Birch Leaf, Birch Root, Bergamot, Mandrake Flower Accord, Cardamom, and Sueded Leather.  Finally, to represent the fact that it is a flower growing in the woods, there are woody accords of Deadly Addiction Accord (a woody, creamy and gourmand scent developed specifically for this fragrance), Patchouli, Madagascar Vanilla, Sandalwood and Tonka. With this fragrance, you can smell the fruity scent of Mandrake flower, feel its scream and then touch its roots, but all in a safe way.

The 8th perfume of the collection is the one that won the blindfolded Fragrance Foundation Parfum Extraordinaire of the Year award, the Poppy Soma perfume. This fragrance created with perfumer Emilie Coppermann is an ode to the Red Poppy, also called “the joy plant” by the Ancient Sumerians. For Pre-Christians, this red and delicate flower was the symbol of sleep, night and death, while the rest of the world always used its sap to make opium gum to smoke. Chinese people in Ancient times used the Poppy flower as an aphrodisiac since it could give them a hallucinogenic but really sensual fever. This wonderful fragrance was made to tell the stories of all uses of the flower in Ancient Times and to create a new one that would be as seductive as the original flower, without giving any hallucinations or being used as a drug. The Sichuan Pepper, cultivated in China in the Sichuan province is the first ingredient of the fragrance, quickly followed by Curry Leaf, Red Pepper, Black Gardenia, Jasmine Sambac, Red Rose, Old Church Incense, Labdanum, Tuberose, Styrax, and Musk Tonquin. All these accords are a part of the stories, they make us travel all around the world and enter into a new one. Its award is definitely not surprising.

Finally, the 9th fragrance of the collection, made with perfumer Philippe Paparella-Paris,  is a celebration of the poisonous Wolfsbane flower. This animalic and woody scent was rewarded best fragrance of the year in 2017 by UK olfactory blog Persolaise. Originally, the Wolfsbane flower was used as a poison that people in the West used to exterminate wolves and that people in the East put on their arrow tips for hunting and warfare. The fragrance was created to give the scent of the past of this flower, but also to be the first proper masculine perfume of the Potions Fatales collection. In order to give this virile dimension, the fragrance is composed of Cedarwood, Tuberose, Tobacco Flower, Castoreum, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Prunol (spicy black plum), Vetiver, Deer Tongue (a type of medicinal tobacco) and Luxurious Black Truffles. It is bestial but elegant. This animalic scent is then reinforced with the spicy accords of Angelica Root, Fig Leaf, Cumin Seed, Ginger Root, and Patchouli, and then the hallucinogenic fever always delivered by poisons is recreated here with Absinthe as the heart accord. With this perfume, we feel the hunt in the woods, the dangerous wolves and the warriors of the past, something really manly and so seductive.

 If you want to join the mysterious but really sensual world of deadly poisonous flowers, you can find them at Roullier White in the UK, or on the Six Scents website: six-scents.com/

Image Jason Yates.


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