Raspberry, Violet, Rhododendron
Cosmétique Accord, Orris, Myrrh, Rose
Amber, Suede, Benzoin, Vanilla.
Let me start by saying that I obtained a sample of Incarnata after reading reviews on Fragrantica that this was the perfect lipstick scent, complete with the scent of powder and wax. Since I am obsessed with those particular types of perfumes, I knew I had to try this. When I put my sample on, it smelled like a big, starchy, powdery orris root. Not waxy, but that's ok. I could smell the raspberry. I was in heaven for literally ten seconds until the scent evaporated entirely and was replaced by an altogether different perfume.
The heart was almost completely green. I was like, Huh?! I was certain that somebody had accidentally poured Anatole Lebreton's green perfume, L'Eau de Merzhin, into the vial by mistake. All I smelled was mint! I scoured the internet for notes, and not only is there no mention of mint anywhere, including Anatole Lebreton's website, but there are no notes in any pyramid anywhere that would indicate that Incarnata could even possibly smell anything like mint. Mint is an awfully distinct scent!
I was so sure that I got the wrong perfume sample that I asked my cousin to bring back a full bottle of Incarnata from the Jovoy boutique in Paris. I was still convinced that Incarnata was my perfect lipstick and powder perfume.
When I opened the box, I was shocked to find what looked like real bird feathers in the box (see photo above). Soft and beautiful as they are, they belong on a bird! Finding real feathers in the box gave me a feeling that I can only describe as unsettling and depressing.
I sprayed from my full bottle, and once again, the starchy orris root was so intense, and I was in heaven, only to, once again, have my hopes and expectations shattered seconds later. The full bottle behaved in an identical manner to the sample. Let me be specific. The heart is totally vegetal. It smells like a mix of ambrette, mint and a just a hint of celery-like angelica. There is absolutely nothing waxy or lipstick-ish about it. I can't even say I like it. It's just weird! It's a green, musky scent with a balsamic undercurrent that smells like benzoin. The heart is far less powdery than the orris bomb that hits you in the first few seconds.
After about two hours, I detect a scent that I can liken to suede, if trying hard to make the notes fit the perfume. But it's very, very subtle.
Incarnata has a lovely, smooth, balsamic base that I enjoy very much. There is not much vanilla in it. The creamy sweetness smells like benzoin. The ten-second opening and the balsamic base are my favorite parts of the perfume.
I don't like to blame the perfumer when things don't turn out the way I expect based on other people's descriptions and reviews. At times like this, I go directly to the perfumer's website to read their own description and see if I can reconcile my expecations with the perfumer's intentions. Here is the decription of Incarnata directly from Anatole Lebreton:
A puff of bright powder on amber and vanilla taffetas. She awakes with a natural blush. A line of rouge on the lips, an iridescent dash of raspberry over the cheeks, a flush of fresh flowers round the neckline and adorned she is. Her make up brings out her elegance she incarnates herself; Now she can play at turning heads all around
If I had seen this description of Incarnata before reading any reviews, my expectations would have been quite different. I would have expected something powdery and floral, with a touch of raspberry. Nowhere does the perfumer claim this to be the scent of waxy lipstick--and it isn't. The only thing I can not reconcile is the vegetal scent of mint and angelica. It just doesn't make sense to me. It doesn't fit in. And actually, I smell nothing floral. I have indeed smelled rhododendrons (or azaleas or whatever they are, exactly), and they do smell floral, perhaps like lily? But not like mint.
One final comment--I love myrrh! I smell opoponax (sweet myrrh) in Incarnata. Opoponax has been used in perfumery for thousands of years because it is much sweeter than the traditional myrrh that is used in church. Just for fun, I pulled out my opoponax essential oil, and Incarnata indeed smells like opoponax.
I feel like I dissected this perfume to death, but it is a good example of what hype can do to people. At the end of the day, who knows, maybe all of these people genuinely don't notice the vegetal, minty, heart, and somehow the top notes last hours and hours on them? I doubt it. I feel like a lot of people just wrote their initial impressions and didn't really take the time to get to know the perfume, as I have done.
I will conclude by saying that I do like Incarnata, but it is an oddball. I can't say for certain that it will become a great love, but I will enjoy it a bit more before potentially swapping or selling it.