Gri Gri are a new brand to us here at The Sniff and it’s difficult to work out quite where they sit: expensive enough to rub alongside with Byredo at the en vogue end of the market, but not quite refined enough to have the same clout. They don’t appear to be aiming for the same sophisticated market as Parfumerie Generale, but nor are they as fun and rebellious as Etat Libre d’Orange. It’s a strange one this, and with anything a little unusual we’d definitely recommend investigating them, just to see if they fit with your own wonderfully unusual personality.
The nose behind the line is Anais Biguine who was responsible for creating Jardins D’Écrivains and indeed Gri Gri is available through the Jardins D’Ecrivains website as they don’t seem to have their own set up yet. It’s a new line this one, with four scents, all entering the market in 2016.
The first point to make is that Gri Gri trade themselves as ‘perfume for tattooed skin’. As far as we can tell, this is just a sales tool. Although an intriguing idea, after researching their website and various articles online we can find nothing to suggest that the formula is different to regular perfume. To fully get to the bottom of this though, we have contacted the company and will update this post with their response if and when they reply.
So onwards, to the perfume itself.
Tara Mantra is, in typically over the top perfume marketing terms, described as an ‘invitation to meditation’. It’s description references Sanskrit texts and monastic awakenings. Can anyone say ‘cultural appropriation’? Maybe we’ll defer to the Buddhists on that one…
The top notes of this perfume feel a little like they are at odds with themselves. An spray gives two distinct impressions once the alcohol has started to evaporate: very sweet, and woody. The sweetness is potent although not unpleasant, like the smell of violets and bubblegum. The woody notes are much heavier and thicker and we found them to be almost labdanum-like (that is to say sweetly woody, slightly leathery and a sort of dusty musk). The sweetness and woody notes charge against each other, but also the juiciness of the sweeter notes and the dryness of the woods do as well. It’s an interesting start that you’ll either love or find at odds with itself
The confusing and conflicted beginning soon mellows and notes of candle wax, leather and incense creep in. There is also a very strong vein of patchouli here. Word to the wise: if you don’t like patchouli then you can probably scratch this perfume off your Christmas list right now. If you do like it though, you’re in luck!
As far as patchouli goes, this is a good one and it’s used at just about the right level. At times it teeters on the brink of smelling like a hippy’s bedroom but just manages to stay the right side of that. The patchouli itself doesn’t smell too harsh, it has the edges just taken off, which pushes it back towards ‘refined’ and away from tie-dye.
The heart of this perfume is almost the diametric opposite of ‘airy’; it’s a close perfume, curtains drawn, incense-smoke thickening the air, lava lamp in the corner type smell. It’s friends probably ride motorbikes and have chains attached to their wallets. It’s broody and animalistic at times with a musky, dark heart.
For us the base notes are where this fragrance really shines. Again it mellows nicely to really allow the moody, woody notes to come through. The patchouli never really goes away, nor does the slightly sweet edge, but in the base the balance of the woods/sweetness is handled more deftly and is much less discordant. There isn’t a clash here, instead you settle into a fragrance that is comfortable with itself, even though it has a dark and murky past.
The other stuff
The longevity of this fragrance is moderate with it lasting until the afternoon quite well. The sillage (the cloud of fragrance that surrounds you and projects from your body as you wear it) is interesting as it is affected mostly by the sweeter notes and is quite leathery at times. It’s the sort of top-edge of leather-smell you would get from wearing a second-hand leather jacket. Not the full on delicious hide smell, but just the sweet curing scent right at the top of that.
Given the conflicting and conflicted nature of this scent it might have been a difficult one to pin down to a specific gender, however, to us it seems to sit more towards the masculine end of the perfume spectrum. It would wear best in Autumn and Winter when the notes would compliment the ambient notes of those seasons, however, given it’s contrasts, why not wear it in Spring, just to be a rebel?!
In terms of the design surrounding this product, we are yet to be convinced. Their typeface and bottles are a little on the cliched side and they are trying perhaps a bit too hard. It’s not offensive on a design aesthetic level, but nor are they going to win any awards for the gorgeousness of their packaging and artwork.
Gri Gri Tara Mantra is available from Bloom Perfumery, London, who kindly provided us with a sample of this fragrance. It’s so freshly in though that it doesn’t yet appear to be on their website, but we’re sure that if you contact them (details at the bottom of their homepage) they would be able to help with your order. It’s also available from the Jardins D’Ecrivains website where it is priced at €95 for 100ml EDP.
In answer to our email as to if and how Gri Gri perfumes are formulated for tattooed skin, we received the following response: “In answer your question, the Gri Gri perfumes has been inspired by the history of tattoos, so they are dedicated to tattooed skins, in a symbolically [sic] way.”
So now you know!