To introduce Vero.Profumo ‘Rubj’ Extrait I’d like to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…
Once upon a time there was a poor weaver who fell hopelessly in love with a rich silk merchant’s daughter. She was indeed a beautiful woman, her dark hair and flawless complexion was much admired throughout the land. So much so that she was said to rival the queen in both her beauty and her exquisite dress. The merchant was a proud man and always provided his daughter with sumptuous gowns woven from the finest silks and brocades.
The weaver knew that the only way to win the daughter’s love was to create for her a length of cloth that could be made into the most beautiful dress she had ever owned, so he set about weaving a cloth of such rich and vibrant beauty that she would not be able to refuse him. He worked tirelessly through days and nights until he was surrounded by drifts of the finest silk in purples and blues and gold. Silk fit for a princess. He packed it carefully into a sandalwood box filled with scented leaves and travelled across the land to the merchant’s manor house.
The weaver waited outside the gates for three days and three nights, carefully protecting his silken cloth from the haughty eyes of all the other rich suitors who lined up to win the daughter’s heart, believe me when I tell you that there were many, many men. When his turn finally came to be presented to the beautiful woman, he laid the box reverently at her golden slippered feet and pledged his undying love.
Now although the daughter was beautiful, she had a cruel heart and laughed at the poor, ragged man kneeling before her. She believed herself to be every bit as lovely as everyone told her she was and she was vain because of it. She could not see that beneath his poverty the man was handsome and strong as a prince. Raising her hand to turn him away, he begged her to at least look at the cloth he had lovingly woven for her, to touch it’s silken folds and imagine the fabric shifting against her skin. She had her servant open the box, and as the silk spilled out onto the floor she was captured by the vibrant colours and bent down to rub it between her fingers. The cloth was like nothing she had ever seen before and she looked again at the poor weaver, a wicked smile forming on her lips. If this man loved her enough to create something this beautiful, surely he would go even further to prove his love to her.
The daughter had long since heard tales of an enchantress, living deep in the forest, who was said to weave silk from her hair. Any woman who wore a gown made from this cloth would be granted eternal youth. The daughter was afraid of growing old and had begged her father to seek out a piece of this cloth so that she might forever be young and beautiful. However, the tales also warned that any man who gazed into the eyes of the enchantress would be ensnared by her sorcery and could never return to his loved one. The merchant, a cowardly man, was afraid to venture into the forest himself, as were all the wealthy suitors that had previously sworn that they would do anything for his daughter’s hand. Increasingly desparate to own the magical gown, the daughter now emplored the poor weaver to seek it out for her, with much flattery and false adoration, promising that on his return they would be married.
The weaver, his lonely heart bursting with love, grasped her hands and swore to return from the forest unharmed, carrying in his arms a cloth to make her forever lovely. As she watched him go the cruel woman smiled again to herself, thinking that if he did not return, she might send some other fool in his place. She cared not one jot for this brave and desparate man, seeing only a way to have what she had always wanted. If he was successful, she would simply instruct her father to have him killed on their wedding night.
The weaver set off immediately into the forest, following the path deeper and deeper between the trees. So filled with love was he that nothing could divert him from his mission. He did not fear the enchantress, and as he drew closer to her shaded bower he felt only the glowing of his heart.
Stepping under the hanging branches, the weaver saw before him a beautiful tent, draped with glorious silks of red and russet and gold. So fine was the quality of the weaving that he could not help but be momentarily distracted. Inside the tent was all aglow with hundreds of candles, waxen pools forming on every gilded surface. White blooms filled the sultry air with their indolic breath, spilling from vases and hung in garlands from the ceiling. In the centre of the tent stood an ornate loom, intricately carved and strung with silken threads the colour of brightest copper. Beside the loom, folded with petals, lay a length of the most stunning cloth the weaver had ever dreamt about, shimmering in the candlelight. The weaver glanced about him, and seeing no one, made to step into the tent. Just as he did so he heard a muffled cry from the branches above. Looking upwards he saw, suspended in the trees, the bodies of men, trapped as if in spiders webs. He looked closer and saw that each body was woven tightly with bright copper threads from head to toe and hung between the branches in a tangle of red ropes. Alarmed, he started back toward the tent, thinking that he must quickly grab the enchanted cloth and be gone before the enchantress returned, lest this also become his fate.
She was waiting for him beside the loom, a more perfect vision you could not imagine. Naked except for the white blooms entwined in her long, copper hair, the weaver had looked into her eyes before he even realised he was doing it. Fathomless, those eyes, black as midnight with a single star burning in each. Yet as he stared at her, so blinded was he by false love that he did not fall, only stood with his head held high and asked for the cloth to be handed over. The enchantress could not understand why he did not crumble before her as every other man did. She had no use for them once they fell, still breathing but intoxicated and stupified. She was so lonely, made a sport of stringing them up, like the trophies of hollow victory. This man, this poor, handsome man with a liar’s promise blinding him, stood before her intact and unharmed and she fell in love that very moment.
But she had no choice. He was uneffected by her magic, the cursed magic that kept her alone and isolated from the world, with only her weaving to amuse her. She had no choice but to do as he asked. She feared that sending him away would break her heart, so she plucked a strand of her beautiful hair and wove it with her fingers into a bracelet, bestowing it upon him as a good luck charm. As she placed the shimmering length of cloth into his arms, she whispered a spell into it’s folds. She wept as he turned away.
The weaver, unscathed and his poor, foolish heart bursting with pride, returned to the merchant’s house with the enchanted cloth held safely in his arms. As he kneeled before the daughter, her greed and elation knew no bounds. She grabbed the shimmering cloth and hugged it to her chest, dancing about with glee, her seamstresses waiting with needle and thread. “We shall be married this very evening!” She announced, before sending the servants and the weaver away to prepare.
The house was sent into a commotion, guests arriving from every corner of the land to see the man who had escaped the enchantress’s clutches. The weaver was dressed in the finest bridal clothes, he was bathed and groomed until every woman wanted him and every man was filled with envy. So handsome was he that whispers reached the daughter, preening herself in her boudoir, while the seamstresses snipped and stitched the enchanted cloth into a wedding gown. If this man really was as handsome as people were saying, maybe she might not have to do away with him so quickly, she thought. A dashing husband would only make her seem all the more attractive. So deep and cruel was her vanity that she still cared not one jot for his bravery.
Finally the gown was ready. The guests were assembled and the priest stood ready. The weaver waited at the alter, eager to see his long awaited bride. As she walked down the isle on her father’s arm, gasps and whispers shivered through the congregation. How unbelievably beautiful she was, her wedding gown falling in drifts of copper light behind her. No one could recall ever seeing a dress so stunning as this. Reaching the alter, the weaver turned to gaze at his beloved. As their eyes met, the air around suddenly grew thick with the breath of white blooms. The daughter gasped and stiffened, clutching at her chest with clawed hands. Eyes wide and terrified, she began to wither before the weaver, becoming old and haggered, coughing and retching. Her hair turning white, her teeth falling one by one from her once beautiful mouth, until she was nothing but a trembling old hag at his feet.
The weaver watched, stunned, as this cruel woman disintegrated before him, the blindfold falling from his eyes as he saw her for what she truly was. As he stepped away, horrified, the woven bracelet on his wrist fell away and began to unravel in a shimmering copper spiral, until the enchantress stood before him in all her carnal glory. He saw now how truly glorious she was, how beautiful and lonely, how she loved him. He looked into her eyes once more and instead of falling to the ground, he took her in his arms, kissed her ruby lips, inhaling her scent, twining his fingers into her hair. Then he lifted her up and carried her back into the forest forever.
The moment that I touched ‘Rubj’ Extrait to my wrists I was pulled into a dark, fairy tale world. I have my whole childhood and adult life with my nose buried between the pages of a story book, beginning with the brothers Grimm and moving on to Angela Carter in my teens. If a page from ‘The Bloody Chamber’ had a scent, it would smell of ‘Rubj’, in one of her many incarnations.
I imagine that this perfume smells different on every skin it touches. The Eau de Parfum contains cumin, which gives ‘Rubj’ a far more animalic, raunchy character. The enchantress in the EdP version of the story would be a demon, making love to her captives then ravaging their hearts as they watched. The addition of passionfruit combined with the cumin is reminiscent of the post-coital reek of cooling skin. I have found this to be the way with all but one of Vero’s Eau de Parfums. ‘Onda‘, ‘Mito‘ and ‘Rubj’ EdP’s are the more gregarious, lusty siblings of their brooding Extrait sisters. ‘Kiki‘ is the only one who’s character does not alter dramatically. Vero Kern is the master of complexity, her emotional understanding of scent and her unapologetic use of reek and skank are both unsettling and exhilarating. Her perfume is exceptional, her talent undeniable and everyone who wants to experience intelligent, emotional scent making should seek out these perfumes.
I think that most of you will know by now that I am a little shy of the raunchier side of Vero’s fragrances, and this does not change with ‘Rubj’ EdP. The cumin is simply too much for my delicate sensibilities. The passionfruit at the end of the development is something really rather beautiful, juicy and sticky and mouthwatering, but I cannot deal with the cumin onslaught that comes before it. The Extrait however, has wrapped itself firmly around my senses and threatens to topple dear, fun loving ‘Kiki’ from her throne.
The opening is of the most lush and creamy petals, orange blossom that shimmers slightly with citrus and a heady gush of jasmine that hints at the tuberose hiding at it’s heart. I am overjoyed at the orange blossom in ‘Rubj’, it is a scent that I love in its pure form but usually when it touches my skin it becomes fusty and stifled. Here is keeps that remarkable lightness, whilst all the creaminess and fleshliness of the other white florals hold it gently and allow it to shimmer.
The sensation of waxen petals is something that even my husband noticed. He told me I smelled ‘like expensive candles’. When I explained about indoles having a waxy quality he was fascinated and sniffed at my wrist over and over. ‘Rubj’ is totally intoxicating, the perfume builds and swells and tumbles forth over and over. I love that it never becomes overwhelming though, this is a perfume that I would happily wear at any time of the day or night.
‘Rubj’ has a darkness in her heart. A musky, whispered secret that becomes more noticeable as the perfume warms on the skin. Although the initial visual impression is one of tumbling white petals and a light citrus shimmer, the musky civet deepens the perfume into russet and blood red and gold, ornamented with white blooms. The civet also gives ‘Rubj’ a warmth and coziness that I wasn’t expecting. This is a delightful development, to feel comforted by a perfume. Like a much loved story to be read over and over, you know the plot but it never fails to thrill you. I want to wrap myself up in ‘Rubj’ scented blankets and while away the afternoon in front of the fire. How strange that this perfume can be both humidly tropical and comforting as a warm cashmere blanket at the same time. ‘Rubj’ is indeed an enchantress, luring you into her embrace by giving you whatever you heart desires. Vero Kern is a magician. ‘Rubj’ has an effect that twists your expectations and makes you fall in love, whether it be in a wistful, shadow filled fairy tale, or in the lustful embrace of a demon.
‘Rubj’ is the one for you if you adore orange blossom and musk. The EdP will rock your world if you are a raunchy cumin lover, looking to smell of intertwined bodies beneath bloom laden branches. She will seduce you completely. If, like me, you are looking for a floral fragrance that delivers more than just a pleasant bouquet, then the Extrait will not disappoint you. I cannot tell you how bewitching this perfume is. I approached it with extreme caution, expecting to dislike it because of the cumin. Although I would not choose to wear the EdP, the Extrait has everything one could want from an indolic floral fragrance, and more. It is stunning. I need to own it. You need to try it.