New Perfume Review Nishane Istanbul Fan your Flames- Night of the Hookah

I have never been a smoker although I love the smell of tobacco. I think pipe tobacco in all of its various scented forms is one of the simple pleasures. My father smoked a pipe and I would tag along when he would go shopping for tobacco. It was one of the first places in my young life I attached with a specific smell. I think this is a common experience explaining why tobacco perfumes are as popular as they are. I am always interested in a new tobacco fragrance. When I visited the Nishane Istanbul stand at Esxcence 2016 their latest release Fan your Flames is a new take on tobacco.

mert and murat

Mert Guzel and Murat Katran

The name comes from a saying by Rumi the thirteenth century Persian poet. The saying reads, “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.” It is a statement particularly apt when applied to founders and creative directors Mert Guzel and Murat Katran. For all of their perfumes they have chosen perfumer Jorge Lee to fan the flames of their vision and bring it to life. This vision was of a Turkish hookah café. It is a simply constructed fragrance that lets the tobacco do the heavy lifting throughout.

Jorge Lee

Jorge Lee

M. Lee opens this visit with an almost outlandish mix of coconut and rum. Every time I wear Fan your Flames my very first impression is pina colada. Which is sort of appropriate because to cater to the young clientele the tobacco has become more flavored in recent times. I’m not sure if there is a pina colada flavored tobacco but I wouldn’t be shocked to discover there is. That is what Fan your Flames becomes as that tropical boozy accord matches up with tobacco within minutes. It does have that fun quality for about an hour until the tobacco becomes more prominent and the fanciful flavor dissipates. It is almost as if the kids have left and the older men who don’t need anything added to their tobacco have arrived. To really confirm the turn M. Lee uses oakmoss and cedarwood to form a bitingly woody accord in the base. Almost as if the discussion has turned into a debate.

Fan your Flames has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

From the moment I smelled this on a strip I knew this was my kind of tobacco fragrance. The early frivolity replaced by the earnest nearly tobacco soliflore in the end was very appealing to me. It really is an entire evening sitting in Istanbul breathing deep as the night moves through its paces.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nishane Istanbul at Esxence 2016.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nishane Istanbul Pachuli Kozha- Rough and Tumble

As I related in my review of Afrika Olifant last week I received a sampler containing ten perfumes from Nishane Istanbul. When I am working my way through this amount of samples I am usually looking for something different as well as some kind of consistent aesthetic. So many of these lines with so many perfumes in them often feel like box checking exercises to make sure all fragrance styles have been represented. What sets apart the accountants from the perfumers is that elusive cohesion I mentioned.

The owners and creative directors of Nishane Istanbul Mert Guzel and Murat Katran have definitely made sure to create a distinctive aesthetic for their brand. Many of the perfumes show real flashes of inspiration but there were only two of the ten I sampled which made enough of an impression that I wanted to wear them for a couple of days. The second one is Pachuli Kozha.

Jorge Lee

Jorge Lee

The creative directors again worked with perfumer Jorge Lee on Pachuli Kozha. With Afrika Oliphant I lauded the risk taking. Pachouli Kozha is a more safe fragrance as it doesn’t diverge greatly from other patchouli and incense fragrances out there. Except M. Lee does provide a fascinating floral opening before the fragrance develops in more predictable ways.

Pachuli Kozhla opens with two of the lighter floral notes in hyacinth and camomille. Then M. Lee roughs them up with a slightly oily ylang ylang. I enjoyed the way the ylang sort of oozed over the more polite florals. The patchouli comes next and it is dense earthy patchouli. Again M. Lee roughs it up with the addition of pepper. In this case I found the pepper enhanced the herbal facets of the patchouli by bringing them into a sharper focus. The base is honeyed incense as the slightly metallic incense gets smoothed over with honey. For the final bit of contrast M. Lee uses a leather accord which is more patent leather than leather. It gives a shiny contemporary shine to the incense.

Pachuli Kozhla has 18-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Pachuli Kozhla doesn’t take many different turns but M. Lee’s addition of roughly contrasting notes made this a more interesting perfume for those touches. Pachuli Kozhla, like Afrika Olifant, show a real emerging aesthetic of orthogonal contrasts throughout the line. When it works it makes for something very nice to wear.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Nishane Istanbul Afrika Olifant- The Elephant in the Room

As I’ve explained previously when I get these huge collections from a new brand it has a tendency to just wear me out. One drawback it has is I put off trying all of them because there are just too many. For the new brand Nishane Istanbul I received a set of ten samples from Twisted Lily. As I’ve hit one of the doldrums on the perfume calendar it was time to give them a try. Of the ten I was sent there are two which really stood out and I will review both of them over the next couple of weeks.

mert and murat

Mert Guzel and Murat Katran

Nishane was founded in September 2012 by Mert Guzel and Murat Katran. Working with perfumer Jorge Lee they have created a collection of sixteen perfumes in less than three years. Many of the fragrances show glimmers of inspiration but they never came together completely for me. The one which stood out as the most unique in the ten I tried was Afrika-Olifant.

It caught my attention because it is almost entirely made up of notes which are usually found as basenotes. As a result it has a flattened development because everything tends to show up quickly. That kind of congestion actually works in Afrika-Olifant’s favor as it made me feel like I was constantly turning in a circle looking for different parts of the perfume.

Jorge Lee

Jorge Lee

The first notes I detected were a mix of incense and amber. The incense has that silvery edge fine incense provides to perfumes. M. Lee then uses myrrh to attenuate that sharpness while retaining the resinous quality. The next set of notes are a trio of animalic ingredients; civet, castoreum, and leather. These are superimposed on top of the resinous top accord. This now makes for an exotic animalic accord as the resins swirl throughout the very feral notes in the heart. Just as you might be getting your bearings a cocktail of four synthetic musks provide a scintillating counterpoint to the naturally animalic. This is where I fell for Afrika-Olifant. The blend of the synthetic musks have a futuristic aspect to them that seems to turn the animalic heart accord into something cyborg-like. As I mentioned none of the notes I have mentioned really recede at all and many hours of wearing Afrika-Olifant is spent with everything on display.

Afrika-Olifant has overnight longevity and average sillage.

The juxtaposition of the real animalic with the synthetic is what makes Afrika-Olifant stand out within the Nishane Istanbul line. It is the only one of the ten I tried to truly take a risk and it has paid off with one of my favorites of the line. Sometimes you just have to confront the elephant in the room which tells you to play it safe. Then you have the freedom to create a perfume like Afrika-Olifant.

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

Mark Behnke