Tag Archives: Niche

Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

I’m a great admirer of Zoologist Perfumes and am extremely happy to hear they are now being stocked in the UK by Bloom. It’s great to see an independent brand that is brim full of originality and making the most of artisan perfumers.

After writing about the first three fragrances (Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda)  I was excited to try samples of some of the subsequent releases.

It’s worth noting that none of these – of any of their Eau de Parfums – contains animal products.

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Civet

Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange, Spices, Tarragon
Heart Notes: Carnation, Frangipani, Heliotrope, Hyacinth, Linden-blossom, Tuberose, Ylang
Base Notes: Balsams, Civet, Coffee, Incense, Labdanum, Musks, Oakmoss, Resins, Russian Leather, Vanilla, Vetiver, Woods

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

I thought Civet was bound to be too much for this fragile flower but not so. Shelley Waddington was aiming for the effect of a fur coat over naked skin and that’s exactly what she’s achieved.  After a glittering citrus start, the warm vintage fur is draped around your shoulders. It’s a real stunner with facets of cosmetic powder, flower petals and body warmth. I find it sensual and a little heady rather than intimidatingly animalic. I particularly love its glamorously retro aura and the way it makes me feel cocooned.

The use of coffee in Civet is an inspired modern twist. You wouldn’t necessarily know it was there without the notes list but it adds a roasted depth which is subtle and – like the touch of vanilla – is blended nicely into the whole. The spices are also handled with a light touch. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its sex appeal but entices you to close your eyes and nuzzle it like a blissed-out feline.

Nightingale

Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba

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Nightingale immediately showers you with plum blossom as if caught in a snowstorm of deep pink petals. It’s sweet and powdery, the way a combination of rose and violet often is. This cosmetic-style accord is underlined with a full-bodied opacity that comes from the patchouli and moss. It’s a vivid, striking opening to a perfume that has a unique character.  It’s fully embellished but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A complex yet playful composition, Nightingale mellows out beautifully, developing that recognisable vintage chypre signature so many of us covet. I can imagine it successfully captures the feeling of celebration and optimism that comes with the onset of spring in Japan.  The tendrils of musk rising up from under its blush coloured skirts prevent it from coming across too innocent. Nightingale is ideal for lovers of classic chypres and the woman or man who is not afraid to indulge in a swathe of pink when the mood takes them.

Macaque

Top Notes: Cedar, Green Apple, Red Mandarin
Heart Notes: Frankincense, Galbanum, Honey, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine Tea
Base Notes: Cedarmoss, Green Tea, White Oud, Musk

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

I imagined a perfume named after a monkey would be about base instincts and therefore rather confrontational and even skanky. It’s actually the exact opposite. On spraying, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by clean air, the head-clearing scent of evergreens and a cascading waterfall. The aroma of lush vegetation and mossy undergrowth is cut nicely by tart citrus fruit.

Macaque is more about the mountain habitat than the mammal itself. It represents not only the forested slopes but the temple that overlooks it. There are the slimmest scented strands of frankincense, flower petal offerings and fragrant teas which drift across the canopy. It’s much more spiritual than beastly and extremely atmospheric. Macaque is a refreshing bright green fragrance which creates a sense of place, far away from our material world and its humdrum concerns.

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Do any of these fragrant creatures appeal to you? Do you have a favourite from the line?  

 

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Iris Cendré by Naomi Goodsir

 

An iris rising from the ashes…

 

Notes: Bergamot, Tangerine, Orris Butter, Violet, Amber, Cistus, Tobacco

 

Earlier this year I ordered a sample of Iris Cendré from Surrender to Chance along with Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes, which were  my two lemmings of the moment. Vanilla Smoke was a great success and is on my Full Bottle List but what about Iris Cendré? I’ve been mulling it over.

Seeing as I love the note so much, I feel there is definitely room for more than one iris in my collection and I like the atmospheric, striking style of Naomi Goodsir’s perfumes.  With so much positive feedback last year, Iris Cendré definitely got me intrigued. I was also interested to see what perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s take on iris would be as he does smoky scents so well (such as Bois d’Ascese by the same brand). I quite fancied an iris among the ashes.

 

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Iris Cendré starts a little vegetal and a little powdery, with a brief burst of chilled orange juice. As the iris comes into full focus, I’m reminded of why I love this material as much as I do. I read on The Candy Perfume Boy that one perfumer described orris as “a perfume in itself” and that sums it up its complexity perfectly.

Here, it strikes a nice balance being not too carroty, cosmetic or floral. The mood is subdued and candlelit. As iris often does, it evokes a wistful feeling in the wearer.

Iris Cendré is powdered but in a very gentle, smooth way and I’m relieved that it’s not sweet.  It’s true to iris’s nature but adds something new in its sprinkling of cinders. It doesn’t smell of billowing smoke or incense to me, but more like powdery charcoal which turns to dust at the slightest touch.  The effect is subtle and sophisticated.

As time goes on, to my surprise the backdrop turns from grey to green. I enjoy this transformation into mossy suede a great deal. In this way, Iris Cendré turns the typical perfume progression on its head. The deep, resinous, bold accords are at the start, moving into soft greenery as it develops. This makes it an unique iris fragrance. Although it may disappoint those who aren’t fans of green accords and who want those indigo/grey tones all the way through. 

The base sounds like it should be heavy, being made up of amber, cistus and tobacco but it’s not. As with other creations by Rasquinet, it’s a sheer, clean, woody/ambery blur.

The projection is weak but maybe that’s the result of dabbing rather than spraying. The other aspect that gives me pause is what I can best describe as a kind of persistent musky fuzziness. My mate and fellow blogger Tina G noticed something similar so at least I know I’m not imagining it.

Personal niggles aside, Iris Cendré is an original and distinctive take on the note and worth trying if you’re an iris fan.

 

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Please share your experience in the comments if you’ve tried Iris Cendré.

 

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Gin and Tonic Cologne, Sea Foam, Sensual Oud, Excentrique Moi and Signature Wild by Art de Parfum

Art de Parfum launched this year with five fragrances which aim to be soulful, bold and luxurious. Although their style intends to reflect French sophistication, they are actually a UK based niche brand.  Here are my impressions of all five.

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Gin & Tonic Cologne 

Notes: Juniper berries, grapefruit, lemon zest, cucumber, gin, ambergris, cedar, vetiver, white musk and incense.

I have noticed a certain fondness for gin among my perfume pals and whilst I don’t drink it, I do enjoy perfumes inspired by it. in short, Gin & Tonic Cologne is a very good one. It is the closest I’ve come across to a spray-able version of the real thing. In the opening the grapefruit and lemon really fizz and accentuates the fruitiness of juniper berries. It’s pretty linear after that and all the things a good G&T should be; refreshing, tart and aromatic. It makes a great alternative to the standard summer cologne, especially as – despite the name – it’s actually pure parfum strength like the rest of the collection.

 

Sea Foam 

Notes: Bergamot, sea notes, laurels, lemon, incense, eucalyptus, guaiac wood, seaweed, fig leaf, driftwood, patchouli, Haitian vetiver, sea salt and sandalwood.

I really like Art de Parfum’s take on an aquatic fragrance. It doesn’t go down the watery melon or cucumber route but goes for more of an aromatic angle. There’s the zing of citrus to represent the bright sunshine and the saltiness of seaweed to let you know you’re by the ocean. Eucalyptus would normally worry me but here it works really well with the light resinous incense to build the olfactory coastal forest. The fig adds a pleasant green-tinged creaminess and reminds me of Bois Naufrage by Parfumerie Generale.

Sea Foam is much more unusual than your average sun lotion or seaside fragrance. It’s a great combination of marine, lactonic and aromatic.

 

Sensual Oud 

Notes: Cloves, geranium, dates, saffron, rose, suede, patchouli, agarwood (oud) and cypriol oil or nagarmotha.

It’s hard not to be jaded when it comes to trying another oud but this is enjoyable if you’re a rose fan. Rose and oud are a common combination because they work so beautifully together and here the sweet, almost fruity rose is nicely accentuated by fresh geranium.  The opening is all about the rose with the oud only filtering through gradually and even then it remains gentle. It has the texture and scent of supple, rosy suede. Sensual Oud is a refined French take on agarwood.

 

Excentrique Moi 

Notes: pepper, cloves, red fruits, lemon, wormwood, guaiac wood, hibiscus, black tea, patchouli, white musk and cedar.

Excentrique Moi lives up to its name. It’s an strange mix of spice, plummy richness and the sour herbal twang of wormwood, which is used to flavour absinthe and vermouth.  All of this rests on top of a bed of black tea and patchouli, with the overall effect being quite powdery and opaque. Not for everyone but I guess that’s the idea. If you’re looking for something off-beat and enjoy the bitter scent of absinthe, Excentrique Moi could work for you. The prominent powdered clove note and sourness is too much for me unfortunately.

 

Signature Wild 

Notes: cinnamon, davana, cardamom, orange blossom, dried fruits, radiant woods, labdanum, leather, sandalwood, amber, peru balsam and Haitian vetiver.

Signature Wild will please fans of davana; that boozy, fruity note you either love or, as in my case, don’t. It lends perfumes a feeling of dark, heady opulence. The diva davana is supported by sweet gourmand spices and orange blossom with a soft suede backdrop. This works well because they are all singing form the same exotic, er, hymn sheet. The far drydown is a sweet balsamic amber and the general feel is smooth and a touch powdered. Although it may sound heavy, Signature Wild actually wears incredibly lightly for a sweet, boozy/fruity suede fragrance.

 

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Do you fancy the sound of any of the Art de Parfum fragrances?

 

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1805 Tonnerre by Beaufort

Twisted firestarter…

Notes: Lime, smoke, gunpowder, blood, brandy, sea water, amber, balsam fir and cedar.

 

These days when I hear about a new perfume house it tends to wash over me. That is unless it’s mentioned by a friend.

Tina G of Australian Perfume Junkies told me about Beaufort and specifically the scent 1805 Tonnerre. What especially got my attention was when she said the man behind the line, Leo Crabtree, had played drums with The Prodigy. Apparently he has had a life-long love of fragrance and his inspiration for Beaufort is the dark side of English history, particularly in relation to the sea.

The brand name comes from the Beaufort wind force scale of measuring the intensity of the wind: a system still in use today. The website states that it represents “a kind of framework within which we can understand ourselves: The wind is constant, enduring, but ultimately changeable and potentially destructive”.

So when I met up with fellow blogger Esperanza at Bloom perfumery during her recent trip to London, I suggested we try the line. We both enjoyed testing the three fragrances released last year in the inaugural Hell and High Water Collection because they were so distinctive. Whether they’re to your taste or not, it’s interesting to try something that isn’t bland or you’ve experienced a million times before.

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1805 was the year of the Battle of Trafalgar, which Admiral Nelson won but during which he lost his life. The fragrance, 1805 Tonnerre attempts to re-create the scent of the battle and is an arresting clash of lime and gunpowder. The lime is bright, fresh and tart while the gunpowder is smoky, leathery and almost meaty. The two are surprisingly well matched, with the lime slicing through the powdery smoke in the opening stage.

The citrus fades over about an hour leaving a woody/ashy drydown with a little salt spray and a pleasing handful of pine needles thrown in.

Of course there should be no gender restrictions in perfume but 1805 Tonnerre feels assuredly masculine to me and I can envisage it being attractive on a guy with a bit of an edge. I can also see women who like bold, smoky perfumes going for this one too.

Tina told me that as well as the Eau de Parfum, the scent is available as a candle and that medium appeals to me most.

Projection is explosive to begin with but mellows out.  I found it to be fiercely tenacious – as if it had seeped into the skin – even surviving a bath.

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It’s one of those fragrances that is best appreciated at a bit of distance. If you press your nose in close – as is our wont – it’s too intense and jarring, but that’s not how we experience fragrance in day to day life anyway.

Give it room to breathe and 1805 Tonnerre can become an uncommon pleasure.

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