The world of niche perfumes is tight on real estate these days. If a brand manages to carve out some land, it seems you gotta build as high as possible, as fast as possible, creating a high-rise of products visible amongst the cacophony, hopefully providing something for everybody.
But there is another way.
Instead of going large, you can go deep.
Mihan Aromatics is a Melbourne-based brand with a Melbournian aesthetic. Minimally designed, locally produced, and achingly cool, Mihan is all about memories.
Describing places, experiences, aromas that “conjure heartache, hubris and harmony”, it’s all pretty esoteric stuff on first glance and while I’m a sucker for a good story, I’m also wary of fluff when it comes to fragrance. But Mihan’s capsule collection of nostalgia, from autumn park hangs to sweaty summer dance sessions, is pulled off to perfection. It feels authentic, intelligent, thoughtful, ernest. There’s a very clear style here, a lightness, a dreamy character to all the fragrances that reminds me of Ben Gorham’s creative vision for Byredo. Each one is a mood, and while the stories are specific, the space and softness of the scents allow plenty of projection (of your imagination, that is, these are creations that stick close to the body…).
Sounds good, right?
Yeah so there was a strong sense of trepidation when I heard the name of Mihan’s newest addition: Petrichor Plains. This would not be an abstract recollection for me. Because along with babies necks (they’re better than the heads), and salty sea spray, the smell that arrives just before a storm is my absolute favourite. And I was concerned this impression just wouldn’t stack up.
Petrichor, the blood of the gods, is an oil released from dry stone in anticipation of drought-breaking rain. It’s a smell any Aussie knows well (Australian scientists first named it, though matti ka attar had been harnessed in India long before). Somehow fresh and humid, warm but with the potential of release within, it’s an electric smell yet comforting, of the earth. In Petrichor Plains, Mihan Aromatics harnesses that electricity in the opening with bright bergamot and salty cardamom, warm spice and cool citrus clashing in an arresting fashion – lightening advancing from across the plain. Then comes that signature Mihan haze, under which lies something much softer and more feminine. The earthiness of iris is displayed beautifully here, with rosemary supporting (though to be frank I wouldn’t be able to pick it out if I didn’t have the notes – there’s just a sense of tension, intentional rawness that it seems to add).
Australian buddhawood in the base is a lovely finish but to me, Petrichor Plains is all about that progression from bright and fresh anticipation and soft, earthy release. It took me a few wears to get into its groove, but now I’m absolutely hooked. This is a summer scent without doubt, totally unisex and pretty sexy, in a dancing in the rain kind of way.
Sienna Brume was my first Mihan, delivered in the height of summer and it was love at first sniff. Capturing the easy-going, sun-sedated vibe of a humid summer, coconut and cucumber are presented not as distinct notes, but in wafts of sun-creamed skin and cool clunking drinks in dewy, cut-crystal glasses. It’s breezy and light on a pale, smooth timber base and totally habit forming.
Probably the scent that connected least for me, this debaucherous affair is all warm spices and sexy tobacco. A big hit of javenol provides suave smoothness but the cinnamon note is a little too literal to me, and doesn’t integrate so well. But maybe I need a night of sweaty, uninhibited dancing to allow it to properly sink in. Can someone please attempt this and report back?
This was the scent that made up my mind about the Mihan aesthetic. While woody and oudy and masc, it’s also got this light transparency to it that reflects a very modern and deliberate style. Apparently inspired by an Autumn afternoon in one of Melbourne’s beautiful public gardens, there is something fresh and clean about Mikao Bark despite its blend of sandalwood and cedar. It’s a crisp breeze through the trees vibe, made possible by the ambergris-like quality of Cedramber in the base and while it might be inspired by the great outdoors, I can see this working very nicely on a suited-up specimen.