Viewer Mail: I Want to Smell Like Chinese Air Pollution


I'm looking for a fragrance that embodies China. I spent a lot of
my childhood in China and whenever I smell industrial smoke or
cigarette smoke it's very nostalgic (and lung cancer-inducing). So is
the incense they burn everywhere in China, but I have no idea what it is!

So, I'm looking for a tobacco-y smoky incense-y scent with maybe some tea or herbal notes. Nothing TOO strong though, seeing as how the weather's getting hot. Suggestions?


animnafets, I have the same kind of toxic nostalgia for the low-grade diesel fumes I remember from my tween years in Moscow. Lucky for us we live in an age where every olfactory nuance can be recreated in a bottle, from the bumper 2006 narcissus harvest in L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse, to a rip-snortin’ case of gastric distress in Liquid Ass.

But even though the notes you crave may be extreme, you still gotta wear this shizz, so I’m excited to recommend L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha. Inspired by the Himalayas, perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour worked spicy tea and smoky incense into a transparent, arid iris. Dzongkha would be no problem to carry off in hot weather.

Recklessly leaving my gas mask behind in the fallout shelter, I’ve ventured further into the biohazard genre of fragrances to retrieve these additional beautiful pollutants:

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant: ashy, piney frankincense.

État Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarettes: attractively ashy jasmine. (This smells like the jasmine version of L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia, an ashtray vanilla with the same creamy/dusty hue.)

biehl parfumkunstwerke mb03: a summer-weight Comme des Garçons Avignon -- crisp, sheer incense.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two: smoky, spicy chai.

Etro Palais Jamais: smoky vetiver and Earl Gray tea.

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline: peaty truck exhaust and incense.

Hermès Kelly Calèche: the intersection between tea, leather and rose.

Le Labo Patchouli 24: eye-stinging bonfire smoke and a hint of ‘nilla.

Fumies, can you help animnafets recreate his exotically-charred youth?


  1. How about Annick Goutal Eau du Fier? Notes are something like: bitter orange, osmanthus, salt flower, clove, tea, and birch. Great list, but.... On me, I can't decide whether I've dipped my arm in a vat of smoky lapsang souchong tea, or walked past a huge tire fire. It's one of those scents that I spritz on at night and compulsively sniff in an attempt at mastery.

  2. Zoiks, interesting request...good calls on responses.

    I'm wondering if maybe Santa Maria Novella "Nostalgia"? It might not be logical in terms of direct translation of notes, but in spirit, it strikes me as right there. Rubber on the road, tobacco, a schmear of gasoline, and yet it winds up all smelling...good. "Nice," dare I say. A mash up that might be hard to sell as a proposition, but that ends up a happy ride.

    Can't offer any other ideas right now; I lost my train of thought. Sidetracked by thoughts of Liquid Ass...

  3. m61 - I don't know Eau de Fier, and that does sound like just the bunny for animnafets.

    ScentScelf - Nostalgia kept getting added, then dropped from my list, because the its tire/gasoline/leather angle seemed more prominent than the tobacco, and it didn't have the incense. But it's certainly worth investigation, cuz it is indeed a happy ride. Happier than Liquid Ass, at any rate.

  4. I googled Eau du Fier earlier and found this wonderful review. It's a must-try scent, but very hard to find. Enjoy the review.

  5. animnafets, Comme des Garcons' Garage is a fun concoction that combines leather, Chinese cedar and a petroleum accord, but isn't nearly as overwhelming as that sounds. More so is Nasomatto's Black Afgano, a sweet, smoky, resinous perfume that only qualifies as "not strong" with the very lightest application. And I enthusiastically second Katie's Black Tourmaline suggestion. That's a unique one.

  6. Oh yeah, Black Afgano, that's a good one, Dan. And considering you're the one who sent me a decant of Black Tourmaline, your enthusiastic seconding was already in the bag.

  7. Another (at first glance unlikely) candidate might be Montale Amandes Orientales. I know it reminded me very much of the open-fire-gasoline-cum-tear-gas vibe I know and love from my time spent in Bolivia.

  8. monoï - Ah, those dear old teargas nights in Bolivia, how we all miss them! Wow, just looked up Montale Amandes Orientales on LuckyScent, and it's funny how half the folks are talking about "yummy almonds and vanilla", and the other half are whining about "formaldehyde and burnt plastic".

    m61 - thanks for the link to that cute review with the pix. It really spells out the smell of Eau de Fier, and it does sound like one that animnafets should investigate. I've never seen it around. I suppose one could get it direct from Annick Goutal...?

  9. Thanks for the great suggestions guys!

    I already have samples of Dzongkha, Tea for Two, Nostalgia and Black Tourmaline on the way. I'm most interested in sniffing Dzongkha, I'll update when they come in :)

  10. Can't wait to hear if any of these pass mustre, animnafets.

  11. Update here! After sniffing around, I've fallen in love with Dzongkha. The boozy incense really does it for me.

    I also got a sample of Back to Black- and while at first I was iffy about the scent, I found myself spraying the tester more and more...

    I might have to shoot a hole in my wallet and pick one of the two up. Who needs to eat anyway?

  12. And we have a winnerrrrrrrrrrr! Dzongkha it is for the gentleman! Thanks for letting us all know amnimafets - closure is so satisfying. And you and Black to Black is a curve ball - if that's pollution, then it's industrial waste from Willy Wonka's factory.