Etro is a love or… ignore label. You just can’t hate them, but many perfume lovers find them boring. The word game Etro/ Retro doesn’t help either. Maybe the extensive reformulation reports don’t help either. This line however has some gems and I enjoy their straightforward, no mythical pretences, approach to perfume. Messe de Minuit is one of their most acclaimed releases, A total incense fragrance that, with such an explicit name, predisposes for dark tales from the crypt.
Messe de Minuit opens with a brief burst of sweet citrus, orange or mandarin. With sweeping speed an equally fleeting tobacco note gives a dump sensation to the opening. A tiny dash of cinnamon adds warmth and sweetness. Very quickly all these notes step in the background to let the fat lady sing: incense in the form of incense tears, not to be confused with the pungent, volatile smell of burning incense. Incense tears smell floral, fruity, slightly powdery, moderately sweet and with a urinous undercurrent. The floral component of these incense tears in particular seems to be carnations to my nose and the fruity a white-fleshed peach. The slightly urinous smell of white pepper is also prominent in the middle of the development. Some violet seems to be part of this composition giving it a distinctive wet cement note, I have to stress however that all these elements are very hard to pin down and I have spent a whole day spraying myself with Messe de Minuit to make sense of the tiny fragments of individual notes because the main impression is always the most photorealistic rendition of incense tears. Trying to analyse these notes is closer to describing the properties of a variety of incense than identifying perfume notes.
Messe de Minuit was a big surprise for me. I was expecting a mysterious, dark, volatile incense fume laden composition along the lines of Serge Noire. It is instead a perfume that speaks of innocence, freshness, anticipation, veneration and awe.The imagery that I get from this is a floodlit temple of cold stone filled with children dressed in white, seemingly silent but leaning towards each other, whispering words and pointing with their gaze to the altar where a window lets in a yellowish light.
Trying L’Eau Froide made me think of Messe de Minuit because for me this is the most unusual incense I have ever smelled. Ironically incense is not part of the official notes.
Notes from Etro.com: bergamot, lemon, orange, Ceylon cinnamon, petit grain citronnier, patchouli, myrrh, labdanum, musk
Notes from my nose: orange, mandarin, carnation, white peach, white pepper, cinnamon, violet, incense tears