Perfume Review: Sacre Coeur (Sixteen92)

I’ve been busy this past week with preliminary tests of many scents, but there’s one in particular I want to focus on today, because it fits the recent weather perfectly. It’s at that awkward time of year when spring is just about to show its face but it’s still dismal and grey, caught between snowing and raining. So for now, I’m wearing Sixteen92’s Sacre Coeur, which settles into something very much like candle smoke on my skin, with a side of polished leather and wood. I find it calming and grounding and a perfect accompaniment for cold, grey days.

smoke on the candle.

The official description is: Midnight mass in the dark of winter. Cold stone warmed by the flicker of prayer candles, dust-topped reliquaries, ancient leather-bound books, icy stained glass, dried herbs, timeworn cathedral pews ingrained with centuries of incense smoke. Solemn, austere, introspective. Frankincense, Elemi resin, Ambrette, Bois de rose (Rosewood), Cistus Labdanum, Leather, Vanilla, Roman Chamomile, Orris root, Birch Tar.

When it first touches my skin, Sacre Coeur is a smoky campfire. The birch tar gives an amazing smoky intensity, with just a little leather and resin peeking out. It’s exactly the scent that lingers on your clothes after spending long hours in front of a campfire, but as if you were wearing a leather jacket and maybe burning some incense on the side – frankincense, not nag champa or the like. It’s shiny but smoky leather, and I love it. It’s comforting because it does remind me of spending time with friends in leather jackets around a campfire. Good memories.

As it wears on my skin, a subtle sweetness emerges. Frankincense and chamomile become clear, an intriguing combo with the smoky leather overtones. By an hour, the smokiness has receded so rather than intense campfire smoke, it’s like the smoke of a recently snuffed-out candle, layered with newly polished leather. There’s something almost waxy about it. There’s wood too, smooth and lacquered. The church-like inspiration shines through on drydown. I imagine candles burning themselves out on a smooth waxed wooden table. There’s a fascinating near-herbal dimension and a slight edge of pine, and I overall find this very complex and intriguing. Interestingly, though a smoky leather scent sounds sexy to me (and the first that comes to mind, BPAL’s Iago, is certainly sexy), I don’t find this sexy at all – maybe because of the church association. Longevity is decent, about 6+ hours on me, and decent sillage.

The smell of recently snuffed-out candles is a favorite of mine and I’m thrilled to have it captured in this perfume. My mom mentioned that she finds the leather a bit chemical-y, but I don’t find it any more so than most leather fragrances. This is one of those scents that I just can’t tear my nose away from.

Sacre Coeur was released as part of Sixteen92’s Winter collection, and is not currently available. It may or may not return for next winter.


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