New Perfume Review Tauer Attar AT- Resolve Rewarded

I have mentioned what an innovator independent perfumer Andy Tauer has been. In many ways the template for doing business as an indie was pioneered by Hr. Tauer. His perfumes have been equally adept at pushing at the fringes of what an independent perfume business can successfully cover. I have also mentioned that perhaps my greatest perfume regret was missing out on his limited edition of Tauer Orris when he first released it. He very politely explained to me it would never return because he used materials in small quantities he wasn’t sure he could replicate. There was one resolution I made to myself that if Hr. Tauer ever released a limited edition again I would not dilly dally a second time. Just a few weeks ago the release of Tauer Attar AT tested my resolve.

I had indirectly been hearing about Attar AT ever since early in the year when Hr. Tauer went on tour with a traveling selection of perfumes only available during his appearances. I heard from many that there was an “oud attar” he was showing which might or might not be released. I wanted to try this ever since, believing Hr. Tauer could do something special with the concept of an indie attar. When I received my first notification of Attar AT along with the mention it was a small-batch limited edition; I ordered a bottle.

Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer was inspired by a trip to the Saudi Arabian desert where he got into a discussion of oud attars indigenous to that region. By the time he returned home to Switzerland that seed had grown into a compulsion to create his version of an attar. He began to assemble a grouping of some of the most precious materials to create his “modest” attar. What he has accomplished is a very close to the skin perfume oil which is an indie perspective on a classic attar.

It isn’t listed as a note but in his blog Hr. Tauer mentioned that he was gifted an authentic oud oil while on his Saudi Arabian trip. I suspect that it is in here but in a tiny quantity. The reason I feel confident of that assessment is the very first moments when I dab Attar AT on. There is what I call a “dirty socks and cheese” smell which my collection of straight oud oils has. In Attar AT that ghosts across the early going before a pungent birch tar appears. It has the effect of providing a sticky matrix for this pinch of oud to reside in. As the birch tar arises it becomes intensely rubbery in effect before a lush jasmine provides a floral juxtaposition. Traditional attars use rose but Hr. Tauer’s use of the jasmine works better as the indoles in the jasmine fall right in line with the pungency already here. Hr. Tauer then alleviates it with Mysore sandalwood, vetiver, and cistus. It turns the latter phase into a creamy woody comfort.

Attar AT has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage as it is a perfume oil.

If there is one thing I love about Orris it is the way Hr. Tauer altered the European tradition of perfumery by turning an indie eye upon it. By amplifying certain things while drawing back on others he created one of the best perfumes I have ever smelled. Attar AT is taking the Arabic tradition and filtering it through the same lens. I am still in my early days with Attar AT and I am not ready to say it is on the same level as Orris. What I am ready to say is Hr. Tauer has once again released an indie version of a classic architecture that only could have come from him.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Patch Flash- Earth Mother

One of the most exotic women I met as child was a young woman named Patrice. Near our house in Miami there was a kind of commune which sprang up in 1970. I hesitate to say full-fledged because in hindsight I realized it was more a place for the erstwhile hippies of South Florida to congregate. It was in bicycle riding distance and I spent many weeks riding by with my eyes on this collection of unusual adults. They sure didn’t act like any of the adults who populated the rest of my life.

Hippies in Coconut Grove in 1970

One day while having my eyes turned towards the mise-en-scene within the park my bicycle came to a sudden stop. When I looked forward Patrice had grabbed my handlebars to keep me from running into her. Before I could focus my eyes the scent of patchouli washed over me. She let go of the handlebars. Then with a laugh she hugged me and said, “I’m Patrice.” I am sure it took me a moment or two to answer, “I’m Mark.” She said she had seen me ride by previously and asked if I wanted to come meet the others. At eleven years old my mind was awash with whether it was “bad” to talk to them while my curiosity was driving me towards going with her.

Andy Tauer

Five minutes later I would meet the women Patrice shared a tepee with. Even today forty-plus years removed from it the visual cues are a jumble. The way I was spoken to not as a kid but as someone worth talking to was amazing; but I don’t distinctly remember the conversation. But the smell? That found indelible purchase in my memory. All the women wore patchouli oil. This is that accord often referred to as “head shop” patchouli. I’ve always associated it with the smell of discovery. I haven’t thought about this in years until I tried the new Tauerville Patch Flash.

Tauerville is the “simple” and/or “experimental” line of perfumes from independent perfumer Andy Tauer. It has been a year since the last release Tuberose Flash. Patch Flash falls into the “simple” side of the Tauerville equation.

Patch Flash is a mixture of 40% patchouli oil combined with a fraction of patchouli called patchoulol. The fractionating process as it exists with patchouli has produced some fascinating effects. Patchoulol is a huge sesquiterpene molecule found in the heart of patchouli. Through careful distillation it can be isolated. By itself it produces a hazy softer version of patchouli. Laid over a lot of patchouli oil it rises off it like heat shimmers off the tarmac in summer. The overall accord is patchouli but it is more like veiled memory then head shop. The patchouli is not all that is there Hr. Tauer mainly supports this with a lovely simple leather accord as hints of flowers and spices flit in and out like sprites.

Patch Flash has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I hadn’t thought about Patrice for years then with one spray of Patch Flash I was sitting on the ground listening to these women talk about things I barely understood. While their words didn’t make an impression the way they smelled clearly did. Patch Flash captures the patchouli, the flowers in their hair, and the leather of their moccasins. I didn’t know the term at the time but Patch Flash is the smell of an Earth Mother circa 1970.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauerville.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer L’Eau- Swiss Veranda

When you do anything, there are foundational elements which are necessary to build upon. When it comes to perfume, cologne would be one of those cornerstones. It is why almost every perfumer eventually releases their version. Independent perfumer Andy Tauer had released an all-natural version three years ago called Cologne du Maghreb. That was a very traditional architecture what stood out was doing it with an all-natural set of ingredients. Hr. Tauer has decided to take a second look at cologne with the latest release Tauer L’Eau.

The original cologne by Jean Marie Farina was the product of a walk in the mountains capturing the smells he encountered. For L’Eau Hr. Tauer didn’t go for a walk instead he sat on his Zurich veranda and breathed deep of the lemon tree in bloom. Just like M. Farina did in the beginning Hr. Tauer wanted L’Eau to be reflective of the moment in the morning where you step outside and inhale.

Andy Tauer

Unlike Cologne du Maghreb Hr. Tauer had his full arsenal of perfume ingredients to use for L’Eau. That allowed for him to make a Tauer-style cologne. What that becomes is the traditional citrus opening transitions through a richer floral into a unique, for cologne, ambergris-focused base accord.

L’Eau starts with a mixture of lemon, bergamot, and orange. It is a display of all the facets of citrus as all three ingredients harmonize in a reliable way. Then Hr. Tauer puts his imprint on the venerable form. It starts in the heart with lemon blossom bringing his tree next to the veranda to life. Then in a bit of inspiration he uses a powdery iris to go with that. The contrast of soft powder with transparent floral is compelling. The base accord is even more fascinating as ambergris is the core which Hr. Tauer surrounds with several white musks. This is another great choice as this forms an expansive version of ambergris which allows the lemon blossom and iris floral accord to float on the cloud it provides. Then very late on Hr. Tauer’s trademark Tauerade peeks out almost impishly.

L'Eau has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really enjoyed Hr. Tauer’s Cologne du Maghreb but after wearing L’Eau it almost feels like that earlier fragrance was a primer on cologne composition. If that was the case Hr. Tauer came away with an inspiration to make a Tauer cologne which is as imaginative as it is invigorating. Much like a spring morning on a Swiss veranda.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauer Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Tuberose Flash- Magnifying Glass Tuberose

I have been an admirer of the Tauerville line ever since independent perfumer Andy Tauer started it two years ago. Hr. Tauer’s concept of simple “flash” fragrances highlighting a particular note or accord has been very successful through the first five releases. It has become something I look forward to because Hr. Tauer has used the opportunity of simpler architecture to take the titular notes to some different places. The newest release Tuberose Flash does this for one of the most boisterous ingredients in all of perfumery.

Tuberose is a raw material which can take over a composition. A perfumer must either let it have free rein or alternatively use other powerful notes to try and tame it. It is a tricky balance; too much freedom and things just become a miasmic haze. Leash it too much and domesticated tuberose can just lay flat. Hr. Tauer took a third approach which was to use specific notes to amplify and examine specific facets throughout the time Tuberose Flash spends on the skin. It reminded me of an investigator using a magnifying glass to look closely at a part of the flower before moving on.

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Andy Tauer

The close-up examination begins right away as the tuberose is in place from the first moments. Hr. Tauer then uses citrus and mint as the first magnifiers. What these notes in tandem do is to tease out the mentholated underpinning that tuberose has. It is obvious when tuberose is in high quantity. For Tuberose Flash Hr. Tauer didn’t want the tuberose to be that loud early on. By using the citrus and mint it draws attention to the mentholated nature without going all flowery. That is saved for the heart where two other white flowers, jasmine and orange blossom, bring out the typical tuberose most are familiar with. This is a typical white flower bouquet with indolic grace notes and narcotic floralcy. The base returns to using a note to magnify an aspect. In the late going it is patchouli attracting the indoles. They combine to form a slightly dirty patchouli. Amber and benzoin are also in the base and they are there to balance the indoles with more typical sweetness; not allowing Tuberose Flash to go too far into the darkness.

Tuberose Flash has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Tuberose Flash is an interesting companion piece to the perfume he did last year for his Tauer line called Sotto La Luna Tuberose. It also shares a very distinctive progression through the phases. What I found particularly interesting is that Hr. Tauer found two different explorations of tuberose within a year. I like Tuberose Flash more because that opening where the mentholated character is displayed stands apart from most tuberose fragrances. With Tuberose Flash Tauerville and Hr. Tauer have created a six-pack of excellent “simple” perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Au Coeur du Desert- Heartbreak Beat

As I fell deep down the rabbit hole that continues to be my love affair with all things fragrance there were so many turning points. Most of us who were using the internet to bond together in our perfume love looked to find out as much as we can. One of the great discoveries was this blog by a Swiss perfumer by the name of Andy Tauer. For someone who wanted to know how perfume was made here was a perfumer explaining all of it. The beauty of this is Hr. Tauer continues to do this as he has blogged for over ten years now. He has continued to share his creative process with readers. A couple months ago he wrote a post which reminded me of the perfume which introduced me to him; L’Air du Desert Marocain. Released in 2005 it was one of the earliest examples of the difference between independent perfumery and the large brands. I consider it one of the modern masterpieces of perfumery; it is damn near perfect.

andy tauer

Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer has decided to revisit the architecture of that perfume with his latest release; Au Couer du Desert. That translates to “heart of the desert” which also serves as a description of the perfume itself. Hr. Tauer’s first change is to make it an extrait formulation at 20% fragrance oil concentration. Right away this has the effect of blurring the edges making things softer. This desire to soften continues throughout the development as Hr. Tauer makes a sepia toned photograph of L’Air du Desert Marocain.

This softening effect comes right at the top as Hr. Tauer switches up the spices into a softer palette over a juicier citrus. Things get more defined as the next phase is frankincense framed by cedar even that is made softer than it would be due to concentration. The final base accord is where Au Coeur du Desert breaks with its inspiration. The mixture of patchouli, ambergris, and vanilla provide an opulent plushness to finish upon.

Au Coeur du Desert has 12-14 hour longevity and low sillage.

All memories tend to have a soft filter applied to them giving them some pliability. If Hr. Tauer had just upped the concentration across the board of L’Air du Desert Marocain I don’t think it would have worked. Instead he retools the fragrance in a way which brings back memories while also delivering new treats. While I was wearing this I thought of the old 1980’s song “Heartbreak Beat” by The Psychedelic Furs. There is a line which felt like an appropriate summary of the way I felt about Au Coeur du Desert, “and there’s a perfect kiss, somewhere out in the dark”. Au Coeur du Desert feels like that perfect soft kiss in the dark.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauer Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Lonesome Rider- Lonestar Orris?

It has been ten years since most of the world became aware of independent perfumer Andy Tauer. The first perfume I tried was a little less than ten years ago called L’Air du Desert Marocain. At the time it was one of my first introductions to the potential of independent perfumery. L’Air du Desert Marocain showed a perfumer with a vision could find a wider market. The next two releases were a limited edition called Orris and a regular release, Lonestar Memories. Orris I think is one of the great masterpieces of all-time. Lonestar Memories was Hr. Tauer’s take on the American West full of sagebrush, campfire, and leather.  Now in 2016 as a thank you to those who have supported Hr. Tauer he has released Lonesome Rider.

In the post announcing Lonesome Rider Hr. Tauer mentions that it is meant to build upon Orris and Lonestar Memories. Early on in my wearing of Lonesome Rider I spent too much time trying to find those two perfumes leading to a mild disappointment. I had to walk away from it for a few days to stop thinking about that. If you go into Lonesome Rider thinking this is some mash-up of the two inspiration fragrances I think you will also be disappointed. When I returned to Lonesome Rider instead of seeing Hr. Tauer as some perfumed gene splicer I instead focused on what he said, “Lonesome Rider builds on Orris…..followed (by) Lonestar Memories.” The word I focused on was builds. I realized Hr. Tauer was not trying to create a throwback what he was attempting was to delight us all over again by returning to a style of perfume he hasn’t done much recently. On that score Lonesome Rider delivers spectacularly.

andy tauer

Andy Tauer

This time I feel less like I am in the wide-open spaces. I am instead within my inner space as Lonesome Rider is a perfume of introspection. I found myself late in one of the days I wore it using it as a meditational focal point. There is a serenity throughout Lonesome Rider quite uncommon in most perfumes.

Lonesome Rider first arrives with grapefruit pierced with clove, coriander, and black pepper. What is nice about this is the way the spices surprisingly transform the citrus into something shaded by those notes. Instead of exuberance the grapefruit is more mannered because of the spices. The orris rises out of this retaining the spices as underpinning. This is an evolution of the cinnamon, frankincense, orris heart accord of Orris. The black pepper stands in for the metaliic quality of the frankincense and the clove is the counterpart to the cinnamon. Lonesome Rider finds the orris more contained, less effusive; which follows the more serene nature of this perfume. The leather comes next and this is a well-cared for leather garment, broken in with all of the rougher birch tar facets worn away over time. What I like best about Lonesome Rider is Hr. Tauer takes the smoky faux oud of Cypriol and uses it to provide a hint of that more animalic leather in an earlier day when it was a player. The base is sandalwood, vetiver, and cedar forming an old weathered wood accord.

Lonesome Rider has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

As I mentioned above if you are reading Hr. Tauer’s words and expecting Lonestar Orris I suspect you won’t find it. If you actually take him at this word what you do get is a marker on the maturation of a precocious talent after ten years. Lonesome Rider is my favorite Tauer release since Une Rose Chypree; I think it is one of his very best.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Fruitchouli Flash- The Answer to Why?

There are a number of common experiences I have when people find out I am a perfume blogger. They will tell me what they wear; waiting for a reaction. Most of the time these are department store releases. If there is one thing department store fragrances have done is they have coalesced around a few popular bestselling styles. I usually talk with them about the perfumes which were the originators of whatever they are wearing. If the discussion goes further, I begin to talk about niche and why I think it is usually more interesting. Then when we get down to the cost the spell is usually broken. I have always believed if there was a similarly priced niche alternative there is a real chance to show the difference. Over the last 16 months independent perfumer Andy Tauer is helping me to see if that hypothesis has any weight.

Hr. Tauer has started a spin-off line called Tauerville where he is creating simple releases with a niche sensibility at a price similar to the department store bottles. The first four each highlighted a specific note. With the fifth release Fruitchouli Flash we might have the one which answers the question of why niche is more interesting than mainstream.

If there is any segment of mainstream perfumery which feels played out it is the fruity floral segment. Nevertheless, my desk is already full of boring wannabes for 2016. Even as the fruity floral train started to lose speed someone had the idea of adding in patchouli to give it more weight revitalizing it for cooler weather. Ever quick to jump on a trend there are now dozens of banal fruitchouli releases. Which is where Fruitchouli Flash comes in. The single note Flashes were good but you really need something similar to what they know to get them to try something different. Fruitchouli Flash might just be that perfume.

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Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer keeps this approachable as he uses peach and apricot as his fruit notes. If you’ve tried peach in a mainstream fragrance in the past few years, you’re probably smelling gamma-decalactone. It has all the subtlety of a fuzzy jackhammer. In Fruitchouli Flash Hr. Tauer uses natural apricot extract to ripen the screechy aromachemical. In many ways this is the soul of independent perfumery on display. Taking the same ubiquitous aromachemical and finding a way to twist it with something new. By using the apricot extract it gives the peach a slightly pungent overripe quality. It is exactly what you can’t find at the mall. The note list names a few florals in the heart; I never noticed them because the patchouli is all that comes next. Again the aesthetic of indie perfumery is here as Hr. Tauer uses an assortment of musks to make the patchouli soft; removing the head shop vibe. This has an earthier feel to it which makes a fragrant still life of a very ripe peach which has fallen off the tree and embedded itself in the moist soil.

Fruitchouli Flash has 18-20 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I have a very good friend who I have been trying to being over to the world of niche for a long time. Her favorite perfume is a fruitchouli. I can’t wait to show her Fruitchouli Flash. Which is the final point I would like to make about these Tauerville releases. Yes they are simple. They are not as complex as what Hr. Tauer does in his Tauer Perfumes line. I believe this is by design this is not perfume for those of us already converted. It is a perfume to help some of the adventuresome masses to take a look in the back room away from the bright lights of the fragrance counter. With that in mind I think Fruitchouli Flash is what they should find when they take that step.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Amber Flash- The Shallow End of the Indie Pool

As the independent perfume market has grown over the past ten years it has become difficult to tell someone where to start. The very essence of the indie perfumer is doing things a little different, sometimes a lot different. If a consumer new to this sector is adventurous just jumping in and letting your nose take you where it may, is best. For most they want to enter at the shallow end of the pool cautiously easing themselves in. One of the problems with that is there is a lot less indie perfumes in that shallow end of the pool. Which is why I am pleased with independent perfumer Andy Tauer’s brand Tauerville.

andy tauer

Andy Tauer

Tauerville was created at the end of 2014 with the release of Rose Flash. Throughout 2015 three more releases were added; Vanilla Flash, Incense Flash and the latest Amber Flash. Tauerville was a place where Hr. Tauer wanted to “experiment”. He has certainly done that by taking some of his well-known effects from his main Tauer Perfumes line and tweaking them slightly. When I tried the first three Tauerville fragrances all at once it was that which I noticed first. Having had a few months to spend with them now I have realized that they are also very approachable examples of an independent perfumer’s aesthetic meant to entice you in to the indie perfumes pool at the shallow end. Amber Flash might be the introductory step leading into that metaphorical pool.

When I first smelled Amber Flash I was once again drawn to where I believe Hr. Tauer is tweaking something. In the case of Amber Flash I believe it is the spicy woody incense accord found in many Tauer Perfumes dubbed “Tauerade”. It is an olfactive signature for many of the perfumes in that line but it is strong. In Amber Flash it feels like Hr. Tauer has fashioned a low calorie version of Tauerade easier to experience and embrace.  It is surrounded by other notes which enhance the softer version of this signature.

Amber Flash opens with what is often used as a substitute for ambergris, labdanum. In this case it provides the less aggressive aspects of amber and allows the wearer to ease into the rest of the development. It fairly quickly deepens as patchouli combines with the labdanum leading to an earthy kind of feel to this part of Amber Flash. This is where in a different indie take on this concept something strong would seal the deal making it a different kind of earthy. Hr. Tauer instead just adds a bit of vanilla to keep it a little on the sweet end and much more approachable. Then we get to the Tauerade-lite base. In regular Tauerade there is a strength to that base which has so often provided the foundation to many of the Tauer Perfumes that I wait for it with delight. In Amber Flash that accord is modulated into something much softer only hinting at the strength of the full Tauerade. In Amber Flash sandalwood, cashemran, amber, and benzoin form this lighter weight version. It is the perfect way to finish Amber Flash because it displays an aesthetic without clobbering you over the head with it.

Amber Flash has 16-18 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

One could arguably make the argument that the independent perfume explosion began with the Chandler Burr review of Tauer Perfumes L’Air du Desert Marocain. Which is why with the Tauerville line I am happy to see Hr. Tauer finding a new way to entice perfume lovers into the indie perfumer’s world. Amber Flash is a great place to begin for anyone considering that.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauerville.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2016 Hopes and Wishes

As we reach the last day of 2015 it is time to look forward to 2016. Here are some things I am anticipating and/or hoping for.

christine nagel

Christine Nagel

The first fragrance from Christine Nagel for Hermes. This is a holdover from last year. I expected this to happen in 2015 but I will be very surprised if I am typing this for the third time at the end of next year. I firmly believe she is the right successor to Jean-Claude Ellena. I just want to see what she does first.

I want another great Guerlain. Over the last two years Guerlain has fallen into that pitfall of complacency. They have made solid perfume which has been so safe. It has been three years since the release of Rose Nacree du Desert, which was the last one to slay me. Surely when you are releasing over a dozen new releases per year there is a spot for something less safe and more different.

I still want that big crossover success for an independent perfumer. This has been a hope for as long as I’ve been blogging. It hasn’t quite come true yet. Although the move of Christi Meshell of House of Matriarch and Raymond Matts taking their perfumes into Nordstrom is one element that will be needed to make this come true.

perfumed-plume

I want the inaugural edition of The Perfumed Plume to be a big success. For too long as a US writer I’ve been envious of my European colleagues who have yearly awards for their writing. Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky have established The Perfumed Plume to be the American version. I think there is a lot of great writing happening in the fragrant blogosphere and I want to see it recognized appropriately.

I wish for new brands to start with no more than three to five debut releases. 2015 saw more new brands coming to the market with ten or more entries. This kind of business plan is unsustainable because the little boutiques which are the life blood for a new niche brand can’t just give over shelf space for ten new perfumes with no audience. If you have ten great ideas please pick your three best and build an audience; for the other seven.

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Vero Kern

I am hoping for a new Vero Kern release. After taking 2015 off I suspect that 2016 will bring us the follow-up to Rozy. Please don’t make me wait too long Vero.

I hope for the continued success of initiatives like Tauerville. Andy Tauer’s Tauerville line is a great introduction to independent perfumery at an attractive price point paired with perfumes which display that indie ethos. I would like to see some others make an effort to try something similar.

I ended last year’s column with this:

One non-perfume hope is for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the Star Wars movie I’ve been waiting thirty years for. I think JJ Abrams is the man who can actually pull that off.

Sometimes wishes do come true.

On this New Year’s Eve I convey to all the readers of Colognoisseur the Happiest of New Year’s wishes. May all of them come true in 2016.

Mark Behnke

Pierre and Andy’s Excellent Adventures- Pierre Guillaume Lumiere Fauve & Tauer Perfumes Dark Mysterious Woods

Even the scions of independent perfumery must bow a little bit to creating with an eye towards sales. The advantage is an independent perfumer has a much smaller bottom line than a conglomerate. Even so by the very nature of being outside of mainstream business forces you still have to keep the ship afloat. Two of the most successful independent perfumers are Pierre Guillaume and Andy Tauer they have made Parfumerie Generale and Tauer Perfumes the examples for those who have followed. Their success is because they provide a different fragrant experience to perfume lovers. But even they want to break free every once in a while and give in to a creative urge they feel might not be worth including in their brand offerings. M. Guillaume and Hr. Tauer have each made a recent one-off experimental fragrance. Both have in common a challenging nature asking the wearer to embrace the near un-embraceable.

Hyraceum

Hyraceum (Photo via africanaromatics.com)

M. Guillaume’s inspiration for Lumiere Fauve which he made in a small batch to giveaway at Pitti Fragranze 2015 was an online criticism. It was a short pointed comment saying, “Your perfume is shit.” This inspired M. Guillaume to actually make a shit perfume. More precisely a perfume based on hyraceum. Hyraceum is the solidified extract of urine and feces of a small South African mammal called the Hyrax. I can’t even begin to imagine who first thought this would be a good perfume ingredient. M. Guillaume allowed me to smell the unadulterated raw material and it smelled like what it looked like. I nearly gagged because I took in too deep a breath. Like other ingredients like indoles which at 100% also induces revulsion once it is reduced it becomes more palatable. M. Guillaume didn’t want to reduce the hyraceum to too low a level. He wanted a shit perfume wrapped up in beauty. In this case a floral bouquet wraps itself around the hyraceum making it more approachable. I love perfumes like this but even wearing this for a whole day was a bit of an experience. It reminded me of The Elephant Man as there is a fierce intelligence under a disfiguring surface.

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Painting by Andy Tauer to accompany Dark Mysterious Woods

Hr. Tauer I think wanted to live down his “nicest guy in perfumery” label with Dark Mysterious Woods. I think he left out an adjective, dangerous. When wearing Dark Mysterious Woods it made me edgy as if there was something out there in the moonlight. Hr. Tauer’s choice for these woods are none of the usual soothing choices like cedar or sandalwood. Nope this is all the villains of the woody end of the perfumer’s palette. Because there was no place for me to find a place of comfort I let the mystery sweep me away. It means Dark Mysterious Woods evokes emotions I probably don’t want provoked on a regular basis. The day I wore it I thought of the movie The Blair Witch Project as it felt like there were things out there in the dark. The more I tried to find them the more lost in the forest I became. Dark Mysterious Woods was unsettling in the most pleasant of ways like an olfactive haunted house.

I suspect we will never see either of these for sale as they are meant more as single experiences. I do think we will see some of the themes that each of these perfumes contains to be worked into a future release. I won’t be surprised if M. Guillaume takes his hyraceum and spins it into gold. Hr. Tauer might take the rougher dangerous woods and use them as contrasting foundation for a more traditional beautiful opening reminding us there is danger underneath the fairest of them all. I thoroughly enjoyed being taken on two such excellent adventures by Pierre and Andy.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Pierre Guillaume and Andy Tauer.

Mark Behnke