You know, perfume reviewer is maybe not the smartest occupation for someone with permanent wanderlust. There are times it feels like someone else’s travel photos are bursting onto my wrist when I spray a scent, and never has this been more vivid than with French brand Olfactive Studio.
Olfactive Studio is created and curated by Celine Verleure, a woman with her own severe case of itchy feet. Verleure is a globetrotter with internal dial set permanently to curious: she developed Olfactive Studio by crowdsourcing (seriously), after falling in love with perfume creation during a stint in marketing for Kenzo. Over 5000 followers of her blog, The Perfume That Doesn’t Exist Yet, contributed to the look, positioning and launch products for this novel concept – a suite of fragrances inspired by the visual, exploring the link between seeing and smelling. If this all sounds a little kooky, well, it is – in a vibrant, modern but totally chic way I think only a Frenchie could pull off.
Olfactive Studio landed on my doorstep thanks to the fragrance fairy godmothers at Libertine Parfumerie, and they tortured my soul (it was really tough OK?) by sending me a selection from the range to sample. I have three favs, all bright, easy-wearing, but with a sense of the curious to them, and a serious dose of armchair travel too.
So let’s talk Danish for a minute. No hang on. Not speak Danish, I’m talking about the delicious pastry. What’s your Danish preference because I’m rhubarb all the way. It’s the tartness of the tart: it creates that first-bite sugar/sour shiver of delight which can really only be enjoyed when you’re a kid and you have no idea how many calories you’re consuming. This is the Flash Back that Verleure imagined, a childhood indulgence recalled. But the visual she sent to perfumer Olivier Cresp, is more heart-tugging. Here, new media artist Laurent Segretier distorts skype footage of his wife as they tackle the long distance relationship thing.
The work is called Touch Me Not.
So yeah, you could say this perfume smells like the feeling of seeing bae but not being able to reach through the damn computer to actually touch.
What it actually smells like? You have that gorgeous rhubarb note, as well as grapefruit in the opening and delicious juicy green apple. But all this sweetness is paired with a note that can be hard to get your head around: vetiver. Airy, slightly salty, morphing between dry and soapy, vetiver is a grass traditionally woven into translucent, fragrant screens that block the harsh sub-continental sun. And maybe I’m projecting here but in Flash Back, vetiver pulls a screen over those sweet notes and they gently fade out. You’re left with a light and dry woody base, almost imperceptible. Faded memories.
Olfactive Studio Flash Back is $149 for 50ml from Libertine Parfumerie
There’s actually nothing static or still about Still Life. It’s a celebration of life, a cocktail of vibrant ingredients that would make any mixologist bow down. It boasts a bunch if my personal fav fragrance notes – the slightly acrid, bitter citrus yuzu and the lemony, grassy green resinous elemi, ancient but still able to bring a contemporary freshness. Still Life is spicy, but green with the inclusion of galbanum (add that to the favourites list), and the base is a light but plenty boozy enough rum, spaced out with ambrox. It’s fabulous to wear.
Olfactive Studio Still Life is $229 for 100ml from Libertine Parfumerie.
So Panorama is probably the most unusual of my three picks. Because: wasabi. When imagining the insane urban jungle view from The Sheats House in West Hollywood (it’s the opening image at the top of this post), perfumer Clemant Gavarry threw in *all* the green. Cut grass, fig leaf, bamboo, bergamot and fir balsam all feature as notes and it creates an amazing sensation. That wasabi adds its unmistakable heat, but also an earthiness to the fragrance. It’s refreshing, masculine, fascinating.
Olfactive Studio Panorama is $149 for 50ml from Libertine Parfumerie