Silence the Sea is one of the most intriguing fragrances that I’ve ever come across.  Christophe Laudamiel, working together with the Strangelove NYC brand owner Elizabeth Gaynes and creative director Helena Christensen weaves a creation that features pure ambergris with an alluring effect, addictive and deeply primal.

This is not a marine-aquatic fragrance, and yet it speaks about oceans and seas in volumes!

For forever, people have wanted to smell like the sea, and since the perfumery reached the mass production phase, many more could do so: the 1950s gave us Ambroxan, and the 1980s an aroma chemical called Calone. Then came all the Acqua di’s and L’Eau d’s – becoming the most popular scents of the 90s. Many featuring whooshing notes of salty ozonic air, crushed seashells, seagrass, cold melons, coconut, and cocktails under a meticulously groomed palm or fig tree.

Adriatic Sea 1

Trends come and go, but the Marine/Oceanic fragrances keep rolling in like high tide come every summer with beach-y, summer-y, fresh but showing off glowing sun-tan vibes. And there are the different ones, square pegs in round holes, the ones that make you feel overwhelmed by their sheer beauty. Like Strangelove Silence the Sea. 

Here is my review, edited – previously published in Cafleurebon.

If you’ve never had a chance to smell a tincture made of natural ambergris, this might be the most specific one you might come upon by a long shot!

It’s composed in a different way, and signed by Christophe Laudamiel – the hyperactive, highly inventive, and unrestrained in his eloquence– Mr. Chemistry Wizard and Mr. Master Perfumer at once, Osmocurator and a creative force behind many provoking fragrances  (I’ll never stop regretting that I do not own Le Coffret he made for Thierry Mugler, containing a line of fragrances based on Patrick Suskind’s book “Perfume, The Story of the Murderer“, or at least just the one and only perfume dedicated to The Plum Girl). Add to this that he’s using the finest raw materials out there, aided with a palette of Givaudan’s best -thanks to the Strangelove NYC brand owner Elizabeth Gaynes, and creative director Helena Christensen.

Prepare to be challenged, surprised, engaged, and thrown into the world of intense olfactory art!

I was intrigued by its distinctive character, so I asked Christophe what in the world did he do to make it so impressive. He told me that the ambergris used in this fragrance comes from a tincture made from the selection of natural ambergris he made himself, with his production procedure!

Silence the Sea Oil

Some call it difficult, some say it’s disturbing, and yet Strangelove NYC Silence the Sea is at its core a masterfully blended fragrance that revolves and shifts shapes around the utterly fascinating, natural ambergris. The kind of ambergris that makes it perfectly clear why it’s priced as gold per gram: soft, slightly salty deep down in nostrils, smooth, with an addictive animalic facette that feels like human skin, transparent and glowing, like the surface of the sea it floated upon for many years.

It brings images of mermaid tails, wrinkles upon Jacques Cousteau’s forehead, sounds of whales singing, and smiles of dolphins frolicking in sparkling seawater.

Silence the Sea Review

Silence the Sea seashells and sea grass

I took it with me to the seaside, where it belongs. 

As I walk into the sea, its softness caresses my skin. I dive into it with no effort, just stiffen the muscles and let myself sink slowly beneath the ripples of small waves. One deep breath, and down I go with eyes wide open, my hair swirling slowly upwards around my face.  The surface of the sea closes above my head and the sea envelops me, shutting out the sounds coming from the beach. The deeper I go beneath the surface, the darker become hues of blue, and slower the movements. If the surface of the sea is painted transparent blue with watercolors, the deeper down you dive its texture is more like a dense aquamarine-colored tempera.

Swimming in sea

At moments like this, I become one with the sea, and as soon as outside world sounds are muffled and gone, the silence of the sea draws me in its soothing embrace.

And after a late swim that evening after sundown, I went to sleep with my hair and skin still salty and wet, unwilling to wash away traces of the sea’s soft embrace. I felt as cozy as I imagine a closed oyster would feel tucked safely in seagrass swaying slowly at the bottom of the sea. And if I stick my nose into my elbow and take a deep sniff, my skin smells like the finest, natural ambergris. Or is that the trace of the fragrance I wore earlier that day, Silence the Sea?
Silence the sea oil in sea grass

Silence the Sea immediate opening is like deliberately breathing in a fine sea-mist splashed over sea-grass mossy rocks at the seaside. It then draws you in and pulls you deeper inside, like a wave pulling away from the shore and curling itself into depths to gain force. Misty floral accords arise, but they feel twisted and shaped to fit into the indolic, gently animalic curves of ambergris, not to make it lighter, but to add depth and darkness to it. Forget the fragility of dainty daffodil flowers: this absolute shows the true, mythological character behind the name – an opulent, dark heady floral-animalic side of it, carnal, earthy, and entrancing.

The deeper you go through the development of the fragrance on your skin, the more mysterious it gets: the addition of oud made me visualize a white chunk of perfectly aged, sun-bleached, and salt-soaked ambergris making its way back into the whale’s inside, into the liquid-black cradle where it originated from, and this felt strange and so intimate at the same time.

Depths of the sea Silence the Sea

It reminded me of a moment when I was cleaning freshly caught cuttlefish for the first time, removing the teeth, carefully pulling out their insides to single out and remove ink-bags, meant to use for risotto nero I was preparing. My hands smelled like this when one of the silver-colored small ink bags broke, and ink spilled all over my fingers, tainting them so much that it took days to wash it off.

Just when the depths of the fragrance get saturated and seem like about to tip into a feeling of heaviness, a ray of light comes from the dryness of incense, shifting it into another direction, upwards toward the surface of the sea. Even that is just yet another distraction from that unforgettable ambergris centerpiece: soon the animalic nature of deep-sea glides in again, carrying hyraceum like a strong underwater current. It rolls abundantly in its animalic-leathery warmth, with deeply sensual, musky undertones. And yet again, the overall experience is soothing.

Strangelove NYC Silence the Sea, once you get used to its distinctive character, feels addictive. It’s so spontaneous, uncensored, and primordial:  you are immersed into the essence of the sea that’s playing with your senses, making you aware of its dark might lurking from the depths and drunk with its translucent beauty on the surface. If this is a bond between two lovers, like the copy for this fragrance suggests, then what a deeply profound intimacy it is!

Dark is the sea when you dive beneath the surface, dark and mysterious. Wild and untamed, always moving, and changing. This is what SilencetheSea feels like: natural, stripped of all the artificial decorations, unapologetically innovative, and boldly sensual at the same time.

Silence the Sea oil at the beach
I tested and wore Strangelove NYC Silence the Sea for three weeks (perfume and oil), took it to the seaside, crawled around beaches with it while sniffing rocks, pebbles, and sand, fresh and dry seagrass washed up on the shore, and yes, it was worth it. This is by far the most unique marine-themed fragrance I ever came upon.

Notes (as listed by the brand): pure ambergris, black oud, blue chamomile, natural narcissus, natural tuberose absolute, mimosa, white truffle, angelica.

Additional, researched notes: deep-sea accord, Asian lime, elemi resin, fresh frankincense, ambrette, ambrettolide, ambrox, African hyraceum.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Strangelove NYC

A 15ml bottle of Silence the Sea EDP was kindly sent to me via Calfeurebon and by Strangelove NYC. Opinions are as always, of my own.  Test before you buy!  Available at the Strangelove NYC website


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