Meditation no. 7, 2013, photo by Laurence Demaison ©
Serpentine curls of smoke rise from pipes as the shaman chants his icaro, or sacred song over the sick. The peppery-sweet aroma of tobacco fills the night air, which is thick with the narcotic perfume of linden blossom. The Naja, or cobra, symbolizing life force, is held aloft, as flames from the fire smoke and dance in a ritual of renewal.
Vero Kern self portrait-selfie for ÇaFleureBon May7, 2017 ©
One of the most impressive launches at Esxence this year, NAJA is Vero Kern’s 10th anniversary fragrance, and the sixth in her acclaimed line of artistic, luxurious perfumes. Inspired by the snake as an emblem of the duality of the universe and its eternality, NAJA was released as a limited edition of 650 bottles.
Rihanna, photo by Mariano Vivanco for GQ's 25th anniversary edition, 2013©
The snake occupies a powerful place in animistic cultures. For ancient Egyptians the cobra — NAJA haje – was sacred, and was used as a symbol of the pharaohs. In certain South American shamanic schools, the snake is the symbol of fusion of nature and cosmos. Tobacco (Nicotiana) is a nightshade plant used for some 8,000 years numerous cultures to create a haze of protection; to cleanse, and to impart energy.
Smoking Man, Borneo, photo National Geographic
NAJA slithers onto the skin with nectarous honey curling beside a rich, complex tobacco. Within seconds, NAJA blooms into one of most complex, rich tobacco scents I’ve ever encountered: the loamy, spicy smell of the dried leaf combining with woodsy smoke of a lit pipe and the hay-like perfume of young plants in the field. But it is the way the tobacco wraps itself around linden blossom and osmanthus that makes NAJA so compellingly beautiful.
Linden blossom, watercolor pencil drawing by Catilustre©
Osmanthus is evident in the opening moments of NAJA, its leathery apricot adding a mezzo soprano note that intones softly over the plummy hum of tobacco and honey. But nowhere is Vero Kern’s brilliance as a perfumer more evident than in the painterly way she handles linden. One of the headiest of tree flowers, linden to me has always been the smell of late spring, the drowsy, honeyed perfume of windless days that are turning sultry, when most other flowers have gone back to sleep for another year.
Robert Mapplethorpe Lisa Lyon with Snake©
Here, Ms.Kern offsets linden’s syrupy luxuriance against the pungency and black pepper-parchment smell of pipe tobacco. As the richness of the linden comes forward, the dried aspect of tobacco becomes apparent. Soon, the aggressive aromatics of the multifaceted tobacco combine: the mulchy smell of the dried leaf, the bitter, herbaceous green of the living plant, the purple sweetness of its flowers and the resinous smoke of the pipe bowl. The two notes work in tandem: linden’s saturated redolence is held in balance by the bite of tobacco, while the linden, now joined by a sly melon note, cuts tobacco’s bitterness and smoke.
Corinne Calvert, photo by George Hurrell, 1948©
With its opulence and depth, NAJA retains echoes of the great vintage beauties Caron Tabac Blond and Molinard Habanita. It is without question one of the best tobacco scents of recent years; floral, earthy, sensual and rich, and marked by Vero Kern’s original voice and artistry. Inhale and let the spirit move you.
— Lauryn Beer, Editor
Notes:Osmanthus absolute, melon, linden blossom and tobacco.
Disclaimer: Sample provided by Vero Kern to Michelyn and Lauryn at Esxence, Milan – many thanks. Opinions are my own.
Readers in the USA can pre-order at luckyscent.com here
To be eligible, please leave a comment with what appeals to you about NAJA in Lauryn’s review, where you live and if you have a favorite Vero Profumo fragrance. Draw ends 5/13/2017.