One Thousand Scents

Friday, November 08, 2013

Hot Stuff: Le Tabac by l'Antichambre


If you’ve ever seen one of those packs of runners leaving from or arriving at a Running Room on a Sunday morning, you may have had the same thought as I often have: these people aren’t running because it’s healthy, they’re running because they get to shop for shoes and those stupid jackets with the ass-covering back hem and the belts that hold all the tiny bottles of hydration — because they get to buy all the stuff.

I love stuff. My apartment has lots of it. In fact, that’s why I don’t go out unless I have to: because  in is where all my stuff is. If I lived in a building with a gym and a supermarket and could work from home, I’d never leave at all. So I don’t have anything against stuff: I just think people should be honest about why they do things. Most men who have a workshop in their garage have it not because they actually make anything, but because they want to be able to buy all the stuff on the assumption that some day they are in fact going to make things. A lot of women who love being women just get off on the fact that they get to have all this stuff, the clothes and the shoes and the makeup — girl stuff.

My father was a pipe-smoker (actually, an omni-smoker who counted pipes among his arsenal), and I think part of the appeal of the pipe is that there’s a lot of stuff. Cigarette smokers get a nice lighter if they want, and maybe a cigarette case, which can seem a bit pretentious if you don’t play it right, but that’s it (unless you use a cigarette holder, and good luck pulling that off). Cigar smokers get humidors and cutters. But pipe smokers get the whole shebang: pipe racks, cleaning tools, special ashtrays, tobacco-pouches and jars, various cultivars and flavours of tobacco, and of course the pipes themselves, of which a dedicated smoker could easily have a dozen or more.

The prize for all this is that pipe tobacco smells spectacular*. Cigarettes smell pretty horrible, thin and acrid and ashy. Cigars can be and usually are famously rank. But pipe tobacco smells gorgeous: in its unlit state rich and full, earthy, with a hint of sharpness; when burning, thick and lush, like incense that gives you a buzz. And perfume aficionados may appreciate that it comes in dozens of scents, too: apple and cherry, vanilla and maple, whiskey and rum.

When a while back I discovered that I had a whole bag of Luckyscent samples from a Dutch company called L’antimatiere (“Antimatter”), I was surprised and kind of thrilled: then this week when I realized I was going to have to wear and think about and describe these samples, I was brought down a little. Or a lot: I thought, “Oh, god. More of the same.” So I decided to stack the deck in my own favour and pick the one out of the twelve that was most likely the please me: Le Tabac, which is to say “Tobacco”.

I am a sucker for tobacco scents. A complete pushover. An easy lay. When I smelled Le Tabac, I was instantly and completely seduced. It's a glorious amalgam of brandied baked apples and cherry tobacco, and it lasts for hours and hours.

The problem, and such a minor problem it is: Le Tabac is far too simple. Tobacco is a pretty complex scent all on its own, but Le Tabac doesn't develop at all, just the baked apples for a while and then cherry tobacco for hour after hour. Still, if that is what you want to smell like — and there are in all honesty not that many things than which that is better to smell like — then Le Tabac, currently $185 for a 50-mL spray perfume at Luckyscent, is absolutely worth owning.

The Antichambre website, though, is kind of a dog: it doesn’t really tell you anything you need to know, just the address (in Belgium) and the hours of operation — no product listing, no online shop, nothing. Apparently they want you to visit their store, and if you don’t live near it, you’re out of luck. In this day and age, why would anyone have such a useless, nothing-y website? Don’t they want to sell more stuff?

*On the other hand, the penalty for all this smoking is that you may, as my father did, suffer a stroke and develop oral cancer, which is why I prefer to take my tobacco in the form of perfumes.

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