A tribute to ancient African Blackwood and its majestic home.
From crackling sap to balmy resin. Smoky wood to sun-seared stone. Purple dusk to ink-black night. GRENADILLE D’AFRIQUE expresses not only its namesake tree, but also the primal landscape in which it grows.
“It is a surprising, uncompromising and emotional scent”, perfumer Alberto Morillas explains. “The materials are simple, stark and unadorned. It is through this density and simplicity that the fragrance turns into art.”
It begins at the African Blackwood tree, a rare, costly member of the rosewood family whose Latin name, Dalbergia melanoxylon, translates to “black wood.” The title belies the range of its wood, which moves from deep purple to brownish black and is also known as grenadilla. The Ancient Egyptians, who called it h’bny, fashioned precious furniture from its heartwood. In Tanzania, the Makonde people, who know it as mpingo, use it to create spectacular, highly prized Tree of Life carvings.
In 2016’s GRENADILLE D’AFRIQUE, Alberto Morillas turns it into an arrestingly elegant olfactory sculpture. Run through from twigs to roots with aromatic, juniper-scented sap, the mythical African Blackwood tree is built around a “trunk” of Haitian vetiver. With its complex facets of wood, smoke, earth and flint, it is the vertical axis that draws together the fragrance’s vegetal, animal and mineral notes.
At first breath, it’s hard to say if the perfume places you in dusk or dawn. Sparkling bergamot captures the last rays of the sun, while a purple haze of lavender and violet spill their powdery moonlight on the savannah grasslands. Further in its life, vanilla, turned into combustible resin by a lash of ambery cistus labdanum, exudes a balsamic warmth. Bleached wood, skin-soft bark and sun-heated stone release the day’s heat into the ink-black night, cooled off by a breeze of musk.
AEDES DE VENUSTAS GRENADILLE D’AFRIQUE has now been carefully transferred to a precious new vessel: A fluted glass bottle marked by peacock blue accents, a matte black insignia-stamped cap, and a sleek yet weighty design that marks the next chapter in the AEDES DE VENUSTAS story.
Morillas describes his creation as “fossilized wood rubbed in a vanilla accord,” a strongly contrasted composition that sets its dark heart off with luminous notes. GRENADILLE D’AFRIQUE explores a new region in the scent-map, where woods and resins meet ink and stone.
NOTES: African blackwood accord, vetiver, cistus labdanum, juniper, vanilla bergamot, lavender, violet