The Snake Collection
Fragrance talk

The Snake Collection By Stephane Humbert Lucas: Act III

Throughout ages and cultures, snakes have stood as a symbolic representation of mystery and allure, a sign of luck and good fortune in some cultures, and an omen in others. Snakes were even elevated to godly status in ancient mythology. In some myths, gods revered snakes as a source of power and mysticism. Artists, like the one and only Stephane Humbert Lucas, took the inspiration from the snake motif, comparing the effect of the snake’s venom on its unsuspecting victims to the effect the perfume scent leaves on people within your range.

In the last Act, we’ll be shedding light on the rest of The Snake Collection, AKA “La Collection Serpent.” The collection includes Sand Dance whose inspiration comes from the distant eastern shores of Asia, as well as God of Fire which comes from Mexico in the other part of the world. Additionally, we’ll top that with a thorough breakdown of the previously launched perfume, Harrods or H Mamba as it’s often referred to. Harrods is notably the point from which this collection has sprung.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

The Snake Collection Sand Dance: A hypnotic dance

This perfume gets its namesake from the Sand Dance, or the “Kalbelia” which is an integral part of the culture of a snake charming tribes from the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. Snake charming is a local street performance in which the snake charmer plays a flute-like instrument called the pungi supported with clappers and small drums while a snake jerks around in a swirling motion akin to dancing. The Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan were declared a part of its Intangible Heritage List by UNESCO in 2010.

Intrigued yet? If not, let me show you what this perfume has to offer. This alluring snake dance-like fragrance is built around Cocoa accord with a complimenting Patchouli. The two notes give off that dark chocolatey feel. It opens up with dried Mandarin soaked in sweet-flavoured Whiskeys, like Honey with some spicy facets from the maturing barrel which is deep, brown sugar and Vanilla like. The dried or crystallized Mandarin accord reminds me of the accord that was used in his Une Nuit a Doha. This is what initially piqued my interest.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

Soon enough that delicious welcome-cocktail marries the earthy chocolatey heart of the composition; the Cocoa is powdery, deep and semi-sweet with the deep chocolatey feel of carnal Patchouli. The feel is smooth and velvety, like well-done tiramisu. Not that it smells like one, but the reserved sweetness reminds me of the texture of the delicious dessert. The warmth from a sweet balsamic Amber rises up sending an irresistible invitation to approach you, exactly like a snake dance, both captivating and thrilling that you can’t keep your eyes off of it.

The amber accord is formed by Benzoin and Styrax which are very rich, sweet-balsamic and spicy warm. There’s a hint of bitter sweetness lingering in the background. It gives off a bit of sweet and smooth Almondy facets. To prevent the texture from being too syrupy and resin-like flowing, there’s Cedar which works as a strong woody backbone. The entire heart-melting sensation is smoothened out with Sandalwood and wrapped up in Cashmere.

As it dries down, it becomes sweeter balsamic, then the base of Benzoin and Styrax takes the main stage and turns rich, burned sugary and slightly smoky brown. On skin, this doesn’t settle like a generic Amber base. It vividly keeps moving with different notes like a movement that a sand-dwelling snake does when it quickly sidles from sight and buries itself in sand; it’s smooth, noticeably smooth, which suggests a high volume of natural ingredients that have been included into this composition.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

Metaphorically speaking, this composition is not a screamer. Based on the notes, it might sound like MFK’s Grand Soir with its enormous and sugary Ambery sillage, nevertheless, Sand Dance is more tamed and reserved. After the opening of the scent, it sits quite close to the skin. Once you think it’s gone, the scent comes alive all of a sudden giving off that smoothly waving silage that slowly intensifies as you move around or gesture with your arms. It is so intense that people will have to notice it.

This is not a weak scent by any means, I have to admit that I was surprised with how soft it was as I tested it on paper, but when it settled on my skin, it became a different story altogether. It lasts for quite a long time too, the longest time it remained on my skin was almost NINE hours!

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

The Snake Collection God of Fire: A Father of Gods

The inspiration behind this creation is the father of gods in Aztec mythology who wears a Turquoise snake as his earplug and carries it behind his back. I speak of Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of turquoise fire (Turquoise was the symbolic equivalent of fire for Aztec priests). I have to admit I was a bit confused when I looked at the title and smelled the scent for the first time. I expected the scent to give out fiery sentiments full of warmth that intensely evoke deep desires. Instead, I was met with a cheery scent. Once I read the official press release, I understood why the bottle is in turquoise and the scent’s profile was quite tropical fruity leaning.

God of Fire was quite a challenge for me to figure out as the evolution of the scent is quite stable without being linear. It’s like sketching a photo on paper as 2D and later adding some shadows to give it more of a 3D. I find this semi-tropical scent quite fascinating and for me, this is probably the most unique scent in Stephane Humbert Lucas’ portfolio. It’s also one of those scents that I can’t quite explain because it requires a lot of testing. After many times of testing, I can say with confidence that I finally figured it out.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

Imagine yourself being in a tropical seaside, in Mexico to be precise, but not near the beach but the edge of a blue hole, a deep submarine sinkhole. The thrill of seeing how see-through and crystal clear turquoise water dramatically turns into deep ruby blue when we approach the hole. Our fascination and imagination go wild by the mystery of what might be there. As the scent starts off quite bright and clearly tropical but washed away and pulled into the mystery of deep blue with dangerously sensuous and exotic raw materials.

God of Fire opens up with a burst of citruses and a just-about-to-ripe Mango which is a bit green, slightly somehow sharp with a raw apricot-like feel. This is probably the best Mango accord I’ve ever come across. The red berries dazzling around this tropical deliciousness giving a sharp sourness to balance out the sweetness of the Mango. There’s a trace of Ginger backing up the brightness of the opening. Like being in turquoise water on a sunny day.

As soon as we approach the blue hole, the complexity of Coumarin rises up and absorbs the brightness with its ambiguous weightless freshness of Aldehydes and a newly-mown hay but a weight of Tobacco-ish, bitter sweet Tonka-like smell. I believe this is what masterful Monsieur Lucas cleverly created, a coumarin accord that smells fresh yet densely sweet, a “Blue Coumarin.” This strikes me as bewildering for I haven’t smelled anything like this before. Around this enormous, almost fantastical fragrant core, lurks a night infused Jasmine bloom.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

As it dries down, faint, almost shadowy, dark and woodsy facets join in. It sparks earthly green that results from a blend of Cyriol and a hint of Oud. The amount of Oud is almost non-existent as a clear note, but I guess it’s here to instil depth to the composition. Amber is also here purely to give a bit of warmth supporting the Blue Coumarin core; it doesn’t stand out like it does in the others in this collection.

Once again, this is also not a “shouty” scent, which personally lands in all the right places because this type of scent can become cloying with all the fruits and that bombastic insinuation as well as that odd interpretation of Coumarin in the heart. Having said that, the first burst is very projecting. It lasts relatively around 30 minutes before it settles down as the heart reveals itself.

The texture of the scent is also quite interesting, once you think it is gone, it constantly reminds you of its lingering presence. Therefore, I can’t really determine its longevity. I wonder what goes on in its composition to render the smell consistently present, yet with pleasantly modest projecting power just enough so that others can faintly smell it without it being cloying.

All in all, I have a great deal of awe-inspiring and fascinating things to say about God of Fire. It is undoubtedly my number one favourite of this collection. It’s something new that I can’t easily categorize under the olfactive.

The Snake Collection
The Snake Collection

The Snake Collection HARRODS (aka H Mamba): Venomous Mystery

If there’s a scent that can quite literally hypnotise you, I think Monsieur Lucas’s H Mamba, simply called Harrods, can leave you spellbound. It’s the scent that can lure you in and engulf you just as a snake does to its prey.

Its composition is built around peachy Osmanthus to first and foremost allure you in. I was immediately reminded of Soleil de Jeddah with its distinctive burst of green fruity floral Osmanthus accompanied by dry Leather warmed by the Sun. Then, comes very dark facets lurking behind this sunshine from Black Gemstone and Oumma, which is smoky woody with a slight touch of gluey and sticky darkness from O Hira. I literally took three strips with these scents on each and started sniffing them both altogether as well as separately. Mother of God, have mercy on my nose, it’s overwhelmed by aggressively contrasting notes.

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The Snake Collection

Soon enough you find yourself in a trap of dark woodsy Leather. The facets of Soleil de Jeddah start to take control, pushing those heavy notes further down. The aromatic fruity leather lingers quite a while merging with the creamy and powdery Orris which soften up its edges. In an instant, I felt this stage resonating in a way similar to Soleil de Jeddah, very vibrant and warm, like leather in springtime. It echoes feelings of ecstasy.

Slowly and delicately, it starts to gradually darken revealing the glorious complexity of deep Amber with a modest amount of Oud. It’s not those sweet or glowing Ambers I am used to, but something very dark. I believe, at this stage, Styrax takes the main stage, having a rich and sweet-balsamic with a peculiar styrene top note, resinous and slightly animalic. It’s like it checks all the boxes, like a conductor who guides the notes in an orchestra. With this harmonious blend, the scent gets quite mellow as all the facets finally find peace. The fruity-floral Leather along with the dark and smoky Amber are smoothened by Orris.

The longevity of this one is phenomenal, with clearly detectable TEN hours that may also extend to SIXTEEN as a skin scent. On top of that, it simply can’t remain silent! This is the type of a scent that demands attention with its enormous sillage. On the other hand, it’s not something that annoys people around you by its sillage; it’s more like a pronounced scent cloud that lingers and is very easily noticeable.

Summary

The Snake Collection is by far one of the most fascinating projects Monsieur Lucas has put out there. Releasing a huge collection of five new perfumes plus one previous release which drew a lot of attention to the house, Mortal Skin. I think the risk was quite high but he managed to compose a bunch of differently stylistic perfumes. There’s at least one for every guy or gal, if not more. Personally, I find this a successful collection where Monsieur Lucas delivers the diversity of his perfumery skills and how far he’s willing to push the limits of his own boundaries.

I have some personal favourites: God of Fire for its uniqueness and fantasy, Crying of Evil for its smooth textured ambery leather and White Lady Snake for the unexpected twist on the white floral scent profile.

The Snake collection is available in 50ml bottles. Each retails for around 212 USD. Except “Harrods” aka “H Mamba” which retails for around 370 USD.

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