SCENT SEMANTICS: five perfume writers, one word, one perfume – the word of the month is MISANTHROPE, and I chose Ambergreen by Oliver&Co Perfumes!

I was thinking a lot about the choice of this word, for the first time we have something that isn’t ever so positive. Would you buy a perfume named Misanthrope, I asked myself.
Why not, I thought: life isn’t all about pink bubbles and rainbow-colored butterflies, unicorn tails, and pixie dust. The fact is that perfumes tend to have “positive” names, and positivity always sells better.
Even if one is a declared misanthrope, wouldn’t they choose a perfume named Pink Bubble over a one named Contempt?
Yes, perfume is supposed to elicit positive emotions, contribute to our overall well-being, and make us happy. But you never know which memory perfume can create or trigger, and not all are nice and comforting.
In the world of (forced) positivity, a misanthrope would be regarded as an anomaly, something negative, and negativity should be avoided at all costs – but let’s be honest; misanthropy is human, we are all sometimes misanthropes, and (like any other feeling, positive or negative) – it’s perfectly normal to feel what you feel.
The point is in what you choose to do, how you act, and express your feelings, anyway. If you think that there’s not a gram of misanthropy in you, please try to remember when was the last time you judged someone based on their flaws – yes, that’s being a misanthrope too.
Let’s start with the Merriam-Webster definition:

Definition of misanthrope

: a person who hates or distrusts humankind
Simple like that. Is it? Well, not really. Much clearer if you look at this explanation of behavior (Wikipedia):
“Misanthropy is a general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behavior or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word’s origin is from the Greek words μῖσος mīsos ‘hatred’ and ἄνθρωπος ānthropos ‘man, human’. Misanthropy involves a negative evaluative attitude towards humanity that is based on a negative judgment concerning mankind’s flaws.”
Since hate is too harsh a word, I contemplated distrust or contempt of human behavior, for example. Which, quite honestly, in the world of perfume I felt/feel for some Instagram influencers, either the “DM me for collab” ones or self-proclaimed “expert content creators“. And brands (people) that endorse them. Or fake, self-proclaimed “perfumers”, brands (people) that sell off-the-shelf, generic perfume, cheaply purchased in drums like prestige, niche fragrances. A$$ & tits perfume “reviewers”. And charlatans, con-persons, fakers, or cheaters in the world of perfume. Reformulated and or discontinued perfumes I loved, and brands (owners) that disappeared.
See? I wonder what your list looks like, do share in the comments if you want to!
As I said, we are all misanthropes – sometimes. Not at all times, I hope. Live and let live is a much healthier approach anyway. Still, sometimes I can relate to this quote:
“I become quite melancholy and deeply grieved to see men behave to each other as they do. Everywhere I find nothing but base flattery, injustice, self-interest, deceit, and roguery. I cannot bear it any longer; I’m furious, and my intention is to break with all mankind.”
― Molière, The Misanthrope
Knowing all this, it was still so hard for me to pick a perfume to match the word. But as soon as I thought more about meaning and behaviors associated with misanthropy, one thing immediately popped up in my mind: how much I laughed while reading (and watching the play) – The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover / Le Misanthrope ou l’Atrabilaire amoreux!
Molière Misanthrope cover book
Thinking about this Moliere masterpiece made it much easier to associate perfume with the word and its meaning! This comedy, a satire still actual today, made me think about what Alceste, the protagonist, and  THE misanthrope would smell like.
What perfume would suit him as a signature scent? Quick to criticize the flows of everyone surrounding him, including himself, and yet falling in love with Celimene, playful and flirtatious, gossipy, and a true coquette, yes, he was the inspiration – everything clicked right immediately!
“Betrayed and wronged in everything,
I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king,
And seek some spot unpeopled and apart
Where I’ll be free to have an honest heart.”
― Molière, The Misanthrope
Bitter. That’s the first thing that crossed my mind. Herbal-bitter, and yet soft at its core, maybe even with a touch of flowers in the heart, and some soft woody notes. I ran to my perfume vault, desperately searching for a matching perfume!
There it was, a perfect match: a gifted bottle, from a friend that couldn’t wear it. Ambergreen by Oliver&Co Perfumes, belonging to Illustrated Series, launched in 2016! He found it too overwhelming, too demanding, too…well, it was just putting him in a bad mood, so I adopted the poor orphan – and loved it!
Oliver & Co. was an independent fragrance brand founded in Madrid by self-made fragrance designer Oliver Valverde in 2009. These were quite unconventional fragrances, now gone: the brand is no more. Ambergreen is gone. It was awarded the Duftstar 2017 in Berlin – as the “Best Artistic Independent Perfume”!
I still think Ambergreen is a very interesting and beautiful creation: green it is, bitter-sharp green, dripping with green juices, quirky, with shifts, turns, and a total contrast in the ambery base. It immediately crossed my mind as a perfect match for The Misanthrope Alceste, even with the “other, soft side” of the perfume – the touch of orris and guiac wood, and the contrast of sweetness that appears under all the lush, green tones.
Just as Alceste as a character is multidimensional, so is Ambergreen: although extremely synthetic, it has a soul, a strong character, and soft spots hidden under the green overdose!
It is rough, it is rather simple but with a sound structure, it is rough around the edges, and it is unique. Yes, there’s a hefty dose of Ambroxan, but it makes sense, adding mineral coldness, a salty twist, feeling abstract, and adding to the tension.
And yet, there’s sweetness, like feelings of love, being hopelessly in love with a flirt, and honesty and simplicity in Alceste that endears him to some other characters in The Misanthrope. In Ambergreen it’s the sweetness of basil, blast of Hedione, aromatic streaks that draw you in, coriander that spices everything up a bit more, just before earthy-feeling notes settle in, and throw you on cold salty rocks, and last…and last…seemingly forever.
I should have kept my bottle of Ambergreen safe and secure, hidden away to use whenever I felt the need – alas, I made the mistake of putting it onto the family tray of fragrances to use for one month, and as you can see, it was given much love and wear.
“But reason does not govern love.”
― Molière, The Misanthrope
It doesn’t, and my love for perfumes is certainly not governed by reason. So, goodbye philosophical pessimism and misanthropy, and hello Ambergreen – I’m saving the last drops to enjoy them from time to time, from now on imagining that Moliere himself smelled just like this.
Notes (as listed on the bottle): ambroxan, amyl salicylate, basil, coriander, amber, fig leaf, galbanum, grass, green pepper, green mandarin, guiac wood, hedione, orris, and shiso.
Scent Semantics
Please do check out the rest of our Scent Semantics crew, blogging about MISANTHROPE:
Sheila / The Alembicated Genie decided to take a break from perfume writing and has other projects she’s working on.
The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, WIkipedia

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