And sometimes when the night is slow
The wretched and the meek
We gather our hearts and go
A thousand kisses deep. (Leonard Cohen)
Sometimes when the night is slow, memories resurface. The surface of deep, calm lakes of subconscious mind ripples with images, feelings, and scents thought forgotten or distorted with the passage of time. Sometimes the layers of time fall off certain memories from our childhood, and then we can suddenly see the same scenes and experiences vividly, with such clarity and intensity as if rewinding the movie of our life and watching it in the 4DX technology cinema, with scents included.
Listening to Janne Rainer Vuoerenma, founder of the new niche perfumes brand V/siteur (launching soon!) felt like this when he sat beside me in Florence, during Pitti Fragranze. He spoke in a soft voice about his memories of holidays spent with his family in Finnland. They once owned a wooden cottage with a sauna near a big lake surrounded by a fir tree forest, in a small village Limattala. He admits that this is his oldest and most personal olfactive memory! V/siteur is a brand based in Stockholm, Sweden, but Janne came from Finland…
The first thing I noticed while listening to him was how he speaks with respect and reverence while describing these vibrant childhood memories. A sauna is for Finns a sacred place of health, cleanliness, and pureness. This is not just an all-naked&sweating-in-a-wooden cabin, skinny-dipping-in-a-lake wellness procedure!
The tradition is carried unbroken for many thousands of years, with rituals, etiquette, respect for nature and a touch of mystery and magic, souvenirs from ancient times when chants were sung to celebrate Midsummer and these hot, dim-lit serene places were inhabited by sauna dwarfs.
A memory thousand kisses deep rising from the land of thousand lakes. Of careless youth, miraculous nature, warm hugs of fire, smoke, steam, the excitement of diving into the deep cold water, the scent of your own skin after a sauna, and the joy of feeling intensely alive and awake, yet calm inside.
Expressing hot and cold, fire and ice, vibrant youth and utmost, funereal silence down beneath the surface of a lake, Thousand Lakes opens with the vividly green freshness, and you can feel how the thin twigs whisk your naked skin gently, releasing the scent of tender birch leaves.
It’s the breath of loving, accepting and kind Nature, vibrant with bitter-green spontaneity. You can almost feel the soft tickle of grass under your bare feet, and the way your lungs fill with fresh air with every breath you take.
Refreshing bitterness becomes juicy, savory and tart, flavored with berries, using a very bitter-sweet side of rhubarb accord. It feels like freshly cut rhubarb from a garden, its edges still dripping with juice, making the opening bitter-green tones softer and slightly sweeter. I must say that I enjoy this “natural” state of rhubarb enormously, as opposed to almost artificially sweet, gourmand accords that underline it’s fruity nature.
It seems that just as the warm atmosphere gets laden with laughter, feeling of ease and freshness after exiting a hot sauna and running towards the lake, a cold curtain is pulled over the scene, changing tastes, colors, feelings, and atmosphere again.
Janne connects this phase of perfume development with diving into the cold, dark lake after taking a sauna, and the feeling when you find yourself under the surface, in the absolute stillness of water – cut off from the outer world:
“Into the cold, black lake we jumped, and for a brief moment, everything turned silent. “
What actually happens is a sense of olfactory coldness, in a very mineral, calming way. Just imagine the relief of jumping and diving into a lake, your naked body embraced by water and all the noise of the outer world disappearing, transforming you into a part of the lake, of the forest, of Earth, of Universe, your Inner Universe, of calmness and peace. A thousand kisses deep dive.
This mineral, calming coldness is washed away by misty trails of smoke like there was smoke inside of a wooden room where the stove is being heated, but it vanished afterward, leaving only thin, steamy, smoky trails behind. This smoke is gentle, with leathery nuances of heated birch tar. Although the overall feeling of Thousand Lakes is calming, the first stages are lively and energized, and later phases become calming, melancholic and dreamy, vibrating on a very nostalgic level.
Smoke, steam, leather, and musk feel smooth and intimate, like drops of sweat gliding down your clean skin in a sauna. The gentle, clean skin musky tones of the dry-down are more of a feeling than a strong smell, and they linger for a long time, smoothing all the rough edges of a day.
Thousand Lakes is a finely blended perfume, that you can notice through all phases of development – it glides smoothly through transitions, seemingly effortlessly. Projection is average, and it becomes a skin scent in the dry-down. Very elegant and refined, definitely unisex, and effortlessly sensual. I would wear it all year round!
Perfumer: Marie Schnirer
Birch leaf, Vegetal accord, Black currant, Mineral accord, Rhubarb
Warm woods, Musk, Smoke, Leather, Steam.
For more information about the launch and availability of these fragrances please check out V/siteur FB page or IG account: @visiteurparfum
The other two perfumes in V/siteur line are Cabaret Nocturne by Cecile Zarokian (you can read my review&interview with Janne for Cafleurebon here), and Beach Bizzare by Patrice Revillard.
In the end, we are merely visitors in our own reality – V/siteur
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, V/siteur
Samples were graciously given to me by Janne at Pitti 2019, opinions and feelings – as always – of my own.
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