The original Bulgakov edp was an imagined scent-track to my favourite novel by Mikhail Bulgakov – a bizarre, grim and wondrously arcane détournement of Moscovian society during Stalin’s purges in the 1930s.
The opening to the perfume referenced the poverty and struggle of daily life – via the homely scents of:- Russian lavender, caraway seeds, aniseed, cigarette smoke and general gloom.
A gradual descent into the underworld of Bulgakov (the perfume, not Gospodin Bulgakov), revealed a scene of tattered opulence, of corrupt bureaucrats quaffing Sovetskoye Shampanskoye behind the iron curtain, whilst most Muscovites were scrabbling to find a loaf of bread. Cedarwood, Rose, Jasmine, Musk, Sandalwood, Oudh, Benzoin, Labdanum and Vanilla. The final trail of the original perfume retained a hint of the aniseed, and the oudh, yet largely finished as a powdery woody floral, long into the night.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about modern Russia, and it occurred to me that the story of Master and Margarita may well be set in 2021, with the ominous elements of corruption and oligarchic power really ramped up in so many terrifying ways. The lead characters in M&M still exist, and being an outsider (not Russian), I will not attempt to make any sort of comparative analysis in writing any words about that, writing only in scent.
So the new version is much much more menacing. I’ve totally overdosed the formula with:- 4 oudhs – Hindi, Cambodian, CO2 Oudh resin and Misty Forest Vietnamese. As well I’ve added castoreum. New Bulgakov also contains more Jasmine, more Sandalwood, Narcissus, Tobacco, Costus, Styrax and Bulgarian Rose.
It still contains Russian Lavender, Caraway and Aniseed in the opening, as they are emblematic of my inner imaginings of the daily grind for so many Russians (1930s and now).
The overall effect is a complex moody leather that sometimes arrives with a single-minded determination to dominate all else. Other days, it floats and shimmers on the breeze. An enigmatic spirit, a talisman of force.