April 22, 2014
San Francisco based perfumer Michael (Mik) Coyle has released a line of scents inspired by “graffiti artists, daredevils and ninjas” reflecting the five Chinese elements Ki, Sui, Kin, Do, and Ka, in a portable solid form. Each scent represents an aromatic energy relating to what ancients believed made up the entire universe (wood, water, metal, earth & fire) fused into a firm base of beeswax and jojoba. Presented in solid cologne sticks, melt proof, at EDP concentrations, and composed of 95% natural materials, Element of Escape allows us to transcend limitations and apply fragrance whenever or wherever we are. Mik’s debut line won best product line and People’s Choice at the SF Artisan Fragrance Salon in March 2013 and Vesper EDP was nominated in the first annual Art & Olfaction Awards for Perfume Excellence this year (click here to read Tama’s reviews) so I was not surprised by the collections’s brilliant synthesis of ideals, ingenuity and combinations created to balance “ch’i” and align one’s olfactory feng shui.
Painting by liu maoshan
KI (Wood) is an interesting take on a woody aromatic fragrance. Warm rosewood adds character and depth to the shadowy green aroma of poplar buds. A delicate undertone of pine needles and sap adds a breath of fresh mountain air with a resinous shimmer while the scent of freshly split wood lingers radiating a comforting blend of Canadian grove and my grandfather’s woodshop. Going on very green and slightly balsamic, Ki maintains its woody grandeur throughout its duration, alternating between slightly smoky and drily mossy to capture a pristine deep forest aura. Sillage: average. Longevity: above average.
Notes: Bois de rose (rosewood), poplar, pine & timber accord.
Qian Xuan (1235-1300)
"Represented by atypical and insightful note choices, Sui (Water) opens with yuzu capturing the sparkle of sunshine reflected on the surface of a quiet woodland pool. Its juicy, but not-too-sweet aroma radiates a sheer, slightly demulcent effect. Green stalks dangle silken iris petals, reflected at the water’s edge, adding a refined fluid florality. A vapor accord creates the olfactory illusion of wisps of mist swirling and rising, adding buoyancy to the ambergris base. Sui softly encapsulates different aspects of water, as distilled from citrus flower and marine amber, in an enchanting combination that never inundates; instead it cascades over you leaving glistening refreshment in its wake. Sillage: close to fair. Longevity: good.
Notes: Yuzu (Japanese grapefruit specie), iris, vapor accord & ambergris.
"The Metal Element" by Edwin Alvero
A pleasant surprise was Kin (Metal), which captured the cooler smooth aspects of firm but malleable metals. A scented smelting of green leaves, flower stamens and rum results in an olfactive alloy that is shined to polished perfection with a gray stony musk. Forsaking any ubiquitous metallic or ozonic notes, Kin still reflects the sheen and elegance of metal. Petit grain’s bitterness is softened with a boozy glow and whispers with a spiced floral edginess before streamlining into a sleek skin-scent. Combining a relaxed rawness with translucent freshness on a smooth mineral base, Mik has captured the sateen touch, reflective finish and earth-infused origin of its namesake in a feat that borders on true alchemy. Sillage: above average. Longevity: slightly below average.
Notes: Petit grain, saffron, rum & mineral musk accord.
Chen Shuzong Harvest
In another novel interpretation of its element, Do (Earth) shies away from dark typical notes usually associated with soil and sod to focus instead on the abundance of fertile fields, all imbued with an earthen essence. Decadent plums and honey-sweet apricots drizzle their nectars over newly drying hay, adding a warm fruity aspect to the aromatic harvest. Tumeric adds a semi-arid spicy aspect to the sacred smell of opoponax resins in the base. The interweaving of notes in Do create an earthy aroma that is rich and lush. Despite its comforting strength it remains mysterious and wafts slightly pagan with the scent of rolling country hills, sun-warmed soil and orchards. Sillage: average then closer. Longevity: average.
Notes: Stone fruits accord (purple plum & apricots), turmeric, hay & opoponax.
Buddha on Fire by Tenzing Rigdol
Completing the set and the elemental cycle, we arrive at Ka (Fire). Smoldering at first, rather than erupting immediately into flames, we are caught between the delightful zing of pink pepper and a sulfuric phosphorus accord. Glowing and growing warmer and brighter, the addition of lapsang souchong tea maintains smokiness introducing a warming transparency. Redwood serves as fuel for this conflagration as its lignin boughs catch fire and it billows soft swirls of elegance. Hot, but not overly dry or spicy, and radiant, Ka is as ephemeral and intangible as the tongues of flame leaping and dipping. A dry down resembling glowing embers fading at dawn continued to chase away both chill and darkness. Sillage: good. Longevity: very good.
Notes: Pink peppercorns, redwood cedar, phosphorous accord & Lapsang Souchong tea.
Mik has traveled the globe studying spiritual and cultural teachings including feng shui. According to its principles, we should attempt to align with the elements and harmonize with our surroundings in order to remain grounded and connected to nature. In studying perfume he realized that many scents are layers of accords, in various proportions, to arrive at something personal and new. All five fragrances can be worn singularly or combined and layered in infinite combinations echoing the natural world. Each element is represented simply and profoundly with only four notes or accords. The layering of two or more together create dynamic and cohesive blends as each individual fragrance contains hidden threads of the other four. Nature presents us with never-ending diversity for us to enjoy. Now MIKMOI (pronounced “Mick-Mwah as in the French”) has given us the same possibilities…in perfume form.
Disclosure: Reviews based on samples sent to me by MIKMOI San Francisco. .
John Reasinger, Senior Editor and Natural Perfume Editor.
Author's Note: All of these are available for purchase on MIKMOI’s website in 4.25 gram solid cologne sticks for $27.00 US each. For those who may wish to purchase the complete set, Mik is offering all five for the reduced price of $125.00 US.
Element of Escape Display at The Artisan Fragrance Salon 2014
Through the kindness and generosity of MIKMOI, we have a unique gift for one reader living anywhere in the world The winner will receive a full size cologne stick of the element of their choice along with samples of the remaining four scents. To be eligible, please leave a comment stating which elemental perfume would harmonize with your olfactive aura and your choice of cologne stick. Draw will end April 25th, 2014.
Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief
We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will just be spilled perfume.