• Dan Naughton

SP Parfums - Lignum Vitae Forte (2017)

Updated: Apr 16, 2018

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Paco Rabanne decided to reformulate (again) the 1973 benchmark aromatic fougere Pour Homme and outsourced the task to Amouage with an unlimited ingredients budget? No, neither had I, but if this happened the result might smell something like Lignum Vitae Forte from SP Parfums.

SP Parfums is a newly founded indie/niche fragrance house headed by German perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit. A pharmacist by profession, he created his first perfume Pink Patchouli in 2006 and spent the next ten years perfecting the ten scents which formed his Essential Collection - fragrances that caught the attention of renown critic Luca Turin and many other fragrance connoisseurs in 2017.

Lignum Vitae Forte is my personal favourite of this collection with the 70s suncream inspired Suntan Glam being another that instantly hit the spot for me.

I was fortunate to be sent a 30ml bottle for review after declaring my love for my sample.

The company’s website describes the fragrance thus:

"Old fashioned barbershop-accord, strong and pure masculine – very fougere! Earthy, woody and ambery – Patchouli-nagarmotha-ciste-guaiacwood, hints of narde, sandalwood, rosewood and some shades of leather and musk."

The packaging is simple and perhaps a bit basic considering 30ml (the largest available size) costs 158 Euros. The hand written label is a nice touch and this does have the feel of something truly made by hand in small batches. A 7.5ml sprayer can be had for 45 Euros and a 1.5ml sample is 10 Euros. Other discovery sets with combinations of SP Parfums offerings are also available on the company’s website. Whilst I have to say this is very expensive, it is worth noting that the fragrance is very strong and 30ml could last as long as 100ml of a regular fragrance as you will not need to spray much for the best effect. Clearly this is one for fragrance aficionados only but I have to admit that this scent really does smelly classy and expensive.

There is a certainly a barbershop/fougere theme running through the heart of this one. It reminds me somewhat of my well preserved vintage bottle of the above mentioned Paco Rabanne Pour Homme and also of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Green (1978) with its green, mossy and leathery aroma. However, there is something a little more exotic and less stereotypically 70s powerhouse-esque in this fragrance. On first applying there is a somewhat medicinal sweetness and an almost boozy nuance to the scent. A suggestion of incense and a smoky/woody accord combine with the earthy and mossy fougere backbone of this beguiling and enigmatic elixir. Over time the not unpleasant medicinal element fades somewhat to leave a leathery, manly, woody and very long lasting smell. It may be the patchouli that provides a welcome hint of dark bitter chocolate.

So it’s a barbershop scent but it is really much more than that. If you are looking for a high quality shaving foam like scent or something that is a better quality rendition of Brut aftershave then Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2003) or Penhaligon’s Sartorial (2010) would be much closer to the mark. What we have here is a much more ambitious and daring attempt to elevate the fougere to a higher level of depth and complexity which will take time for any wearer to fully appreciate and may raise a few eye brows at first sniff.

In my opinion this attempt has been highly successful and this is a beautiful, rich, complex and imaginative perfume. The performance is stellar (I believe the concentration is extrait de parfum) and even for a habitual over sprayer such as myself 2 or 3 sprays is enough. The scent itself is nostalgic but does not feel dated. My opening gambit about Amouage was perhaps a silly oversimplification but the perfume gives a bit of 21st century niche exoticism to the 70s barbershop genre. If that is something that appeals to you then this is well worth trying.

Lignum Vitae Forte is a rich, earthy, manly, exotic fougere that should appeal to lovers of Houbigant’s Fougere Royale, Creed’s Bois du Portugal and MDCI Parfums Invasion Barbare without really smelling quite like them or anything else! Highly recommended to sample as are the other diverse and exciting creations from Sven Pritzkoleit.

SP Parfums Website:

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