New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Saint Julep- Modern Southern Gothic

If I say, “mint julep” most Americans will reply “Kentucky Derby”. The cocktail has become synonymous with the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. In May of 1982 I was in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May to watch Gato del Sol finish first. I also experienced a mint julep for the first time; it was the worst thing about the day. I couldn’t finish the overly sweet mint and bourbon cocktail. There were many at Churchill Downs who also had a few too many making for another unfortunate association with the mint julep. Pair this with my antipathy for mint in perfume and you might perceive that I wasn’t jumping for joy when I received Imaginary Authors Saint Julep.

Josh Meyer

One thing which tempered my dread was the e-mail I received from Josh Meyer the perfumer behind Imaginary Authors. I don’t care for mint in fragrance because it evokes mouthwash, toothpaste, or dental floss. Mr. Meyer communicated to me that he also is not fond of that style of mint either. He wrote that, “I wanted it to smell like mint leaves”. My favorite mint perfumes are those which remember it is an herb before it becomes something on the end of a toothbrush. Even so the mint julep cocktail is a syrupy intense experience. So, mentioning all the ingredients of the cocktail were present in Saint Julep brought back some of the worry. What got me over all of this is Mr. Meyer’s ability to surprise which is what Saint Julep did.

Saint Julep is less about the cocktail and more about the American South and its ability to draw on its Gothic past to create a modern Southern Neo-Gothic. That focal point is the bourbon accord at the center of Saint Julep. The description from Mr. Meyer’s fictitious storyteller, Milton Nevers, goes like this, “On the outskirts of Clarksdale, Mississippi, at the end of a secluded dirt road sat a small ramshackle church. It was not a place of worship but rather where many went to seek refuge during impoverished times. Legend has it the structure was transported to the wild mint field by hand, hoisted on the shoulders of two dozen men. The outside remained simple and nondescript but the interior was aglow with pilfered neon signs, Christmas lights, and a jukebox donated by the sheriff’s son. It was a distinctly secular place where locals who knew where to find it could share moonshine, socialize, and dance their troubles away. They called their ramshackle juke joint Saint Julep and the oral histories compiled within paint a picture of that magical place where “the smiles was always free and salvation had the distinct smell of sweet mint.”

As promised, the mint arrives with its leafy, herbal nature moved forward. Instead of getting syrupy sweet Mr. Meyer instead dusts his mint leaves with crystalline sugar. It is not treacly sweet it is much more muted than that. What mutes it is the use of tangerine. Then magnolia provides a floral bridge to the bourbon accord. The bourbon adds an alcoholic bite along with its own version of sweet which dovetails with the sugared mint leaves. What is so surprising is this part of Saint Julep is light and refreshing; the polar opposite of a mint julep’s density. The base is an ingredient called grisalva which is an ambergris replacement aromachemical which also carries some leather aspects. It is a fine way to finish Saint Julep.

Saint Julep has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Saint Julep is going to be an excellent summer scent. Mr. Meyer has overcome every reservation I had going in. He has delivered a contemporary Southern classic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Imaginary Authors.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review The Sum The Mauve- Foggy Lavender Morning

There is a great amount of collaboration within the independent perfume community. A lot of it is happening on the West Coat of the US. One of the nodes of creativity is up in the Pacific Northwest. It often takes me a while to find some of the smaller brands. One which I was motivated to track down were the perfumes done for the Portland, Oregon based store The Sum. The reason I wanted to try these was because of perfumer Josh Meyer.

Mr. Meyer is responsible for one of the best independent perfume brands, Imaginary Authors. Working with The Sum he was asked to work towards small-batch ethically resourced compositions. There is a bead of sterling silver in each bottle for its “healing and balancing” qualities. When Mr. Meyer is working on his own brand he sometimes lavishly uses some of the synthetic area of his palette. His work for The Sum has seemingly taken that part out of play. This results in some of the softest perfumes Mr. Meyer has made. When it came to the first three releases I felt like there was also something missing, besides the power, from each. The Black was focused on oud but it needed a contrasting note. In The White Mr. Meyer’s deft touch with smoke is a little less precise which doesn’t allow the iris enough presence. The Red came closest with what felt like a base accord of amber, saffron, and sandalwood. I was wondering if Mr. Meyer would deliver something else for the brand after these first three. Just after the New Year I received my bottle of The Mauve. This time it all comes together.

Josh Meyer

Most of the time the press copy seems so far off the mark but in the case of The Muave it is described as, “The first serene light peeking through a fog”. As I’ve already mentioned these are Mr. Meyer’s most subtle compositions to date. The Mauve is like looking out over a field of lavender dampened by the fog as the sun lurks behind the foggy veil.

To create the humidity of the fog Mr. Meyer employs tea leaves to provide rich leafiness paired with dewiness. This is then further elaborated upon with the lavender which provides a typical herbal tinted floralcy characteristic of the ingredient. It finishes with a sturdy woody base of oak.

The Mauve has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

With the Mauve Mr. Meyer shows he can talk through fragrance in sotto voce. I hope he continues to collaborate with The Sum because I think in a perfumer of his talents there is something very good that can come of this. The Mauve is evidence that even better could be coming.

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

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur 2016 Year-End Review Part 1- Overview

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2016 will probably go down as a pivotal year in the perfume business. As an observer of much of the field this year I have seen change in almost every place I can see. Which leads me to believe it is also taking place behind the scenes where I am not able to know the entire story. Change like this can be unsettling which has made for some worrying trends but overall I think it has contributed to another excellent year. I smelled a little less this year than last year; 680 new perfumes versus 2015’s 686. Surprisingly the amount of new releases has also plateaued with 1566 new releases in 2016 versus 1676 last year. Maybe we have defined the amount of new perfume the market can bear. Over the next three days I will share my thoughts on the year coming to an end.

We are told in Ecclesiastes, or by The Byrds if you prefer; “To every thing there is a season” and so it is in perfume as the season of the Baby Boomers has ended and the Millennials have taken over. This younger generation is now larger, has more discretionary income, and is spending more on perfume than the Boomers are per multiple sources. While the public at large was made aware of it this year the industry could see the change coming a year, or more, prior. What that meant for 2016 as far as fragrance went was every corporate perfume entity was on a fishing expedition to see if they could be the one who lured this group of consumers towards them. The drive for this is huge because lifelong brand loyalties can be formed right now within this group. Certainly, the enduring trends of the next few years in fragrance will be determined by where they spend their money. All of that has made 2016 fascinating because at the end of the year that answer is no clearer than it was at the beginning. The prevailing themes, based on what was provided to them, is they want lighter in sillage and aesthetic, gourmand, and different. That last category is the ephemeral key I think. The brand which can find them in the place where they Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram is going to have an advantage.

Christine Nagel (l.) and Olivier Polge

There was also generational change taking place at two of the most prestigious perfume brands, Hermes and Chanel. The new in-house perfumers for both took full control in 2016. Christine Nagel released Hermes Eau du Rhubarbe Ecarlate and Galop D’Hermes. Olivier Polge released Chanel Boy and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau. This shows both talented artists know how to take an existing brand aesthetic and make it their own.

Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, Luca Maffei (l. to r.)

The next generation of perfumers exemplified by Cecile Zarokian, Quentin Bisch, and Luca Maffei loomed large this year. Mme Zarokian did thirteen new releases in 2016 all of them distinctively delightful from the re-formulation of Faths Essentials Green Water to the contemporary Oriental Puredistance Sheiduna. M. Bisch brilliantly reinvented one of the masterpieces of perfume in Thierry Mugler Angel Muse. Sig. Maffei released ten new fragrances with Masque Milano L’Attesa, Laboratorio Olfattivo MyLO, and Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge showcasing his range. 

There were also fascinating collaborations this year. Antonio Gardoni and Bruno Fazzolari contributed Cadavre Exquis an off-beat gourmand. Josh Meyer and Sam Rader conspired to create a Northern California Holiday bonfire in Dasein Winter Nights. Victor Wong the owner and creative director of Zoologist Perfumes was able to get the most out of independent perfumers like Ellen Covey in Bat and Sarah McCartney in Macaque.

Some of the independent perfumers I look to surprisingly released perfumes which did not please me. Thankfully there were new ones who stepped up to fill in the gap. Lesli Wood Peterson of La Curie, Ludmila and Antoine Bitar of Ideo Parfumeurs, and Eugene & Emrys Au of Auphorie did that. Chritsti Meshell of House of Matriarch made an ambitious economic move into Nordstrom while producing two of my favorites from her in Albatross and Kazimi.

The mainstream sector had another strong year as the mall continues to have diamonds hidden amongst the dross. In 2016 that meant Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon, Alford & Hoff No. 3, SJP Stash, Prada Infusion de Mimosa, Thierry Mugler Angel Muse, and Chanel No. 5 L’Eau were there to be found.

If the beginning of the year was all about rose the overall year was a renaissance for neroli perfumes. Jean-Claude Ellena’s swan song for Hermes; Eau de Neroli Dore. The afore mentioned Green Water along with Jo Malone Basil & Neroli and Hiram Green Dilettante showed the versatility of the note.

The acquisition of niche brands continued with Estee Lauder buying By Kilian and L’Oreal doing the same with Atelier Cologne. The acquisitions of Frederic Malle and Le Labo, two years ago, seem to have been positive steps for both brands. Especially seeing Le Labo in my local mall getting such a positive reception made me believe that if the good niche brands can become more available the consumer will appreciate the difference.

Tomorrow I will name my Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

The next day I will reveal my Top 25 New Releases of 2016.

Mark Behnke

The Story of Dasein Winter Nights- Sam Rader and Josh Meyer Light a Creative Bonfire

Being an independent perfumer is by design a solitary existence. Especially since each of the individuals behind your favorite brand must do it all. They are no less a perfume lover than any of us who spend time wearing their creations. There are some rare times when the community does find the time to get together. One date on the calendar since 2014 has been the annual The Art & Olfaction Awards. This past year for the third edition the founder of the awards, Saskia Wilson-Brown, also had a two-day curated event called the AIX Scent Fair at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Talking to those who were chosen to participate it was a fabulous opportunity to share their unique perspective on fragrance with a different audience. If it was just the camaraderie which was produced it would have been enough. Except I think it is improbable to believe a room full of creative minds wouldn’t find ways to collaborate. This is what happened when Sam Rader of Dasein and Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors met there. Six months after the meeting the two of them have produced one of my favorite perfumes of the year Dasein Winter Nights. I was so interested in how their collaborative process led to Winter Nights that they graciously answered a bunch of questions I sent them via e-mail. It is a story of two imaginative fragrant minds working on a similar wavelength; amplifying each other’s strengths.

aix scent fair

AIX Scent Fair 2016

I started by asking if they had ever met prior to AIX, both had not. Which lead me into the follow-up about Ms. Wilson-Brown having AIX be this opportunity for collaboration. Ms. Rader exclaimed, “That is genius.  I never really thought about Saskia’s big picture plan…I always imagined it was a way to introduce independent perfumers to the public.  Saskia is a buddy of mine and of course that would be her agenda.  She is so good at witchy community building skills.” Mr. Meyer opined on the value of AIX to him as well, “You're very right, Saskia is able to curate a tone of creativity that's pretty unparalleled, and last year’s AIX fair was unlike anything I've ever been a part of, it was incredible how much fun and vibrancy there was with all the great lines and people involved.”

Sam+Rader+of+Dasein+Fragrance

Sam Rader

With that sense of community firmly in place Mr. Meyer was looking to meet others, “Mark, honestly, it may have been a Colognoisseur post or two that put me on to Sam's projects. We also share some outstanding stockists, Twisted Lily in Brooklyn, Beam & Anchor here in Portland, and a handful of others, I feel like it didn't take too long for me to start following along when Dasein started putting perfumes out there. I was super excited to meet Sam when I saw her setting up at AIX.” When Ms. Rader walked past Mr. Meyer she recounts him reaching out to her this way, “I had only heard of Imaginary Authors and had never smelled them until the AIX.  I was walking by Josh’s table and he called out to me—“Are you the chick from Dasein?  I love your stuff!  Let’s talk.”

Josh-Meyer

Josh Meyer

Talk they did as Ms. Rader describes the meeting, “We later made time to powwow and discovered we were both self-taught indie perfumers, both only interested in avant-garde unisex scents, also both serious foodies.  We rattled off our favorite LA and Portland restaurants (Jon & Vinny’s, Clyde Common) as I sniffed and fell in love with his line.  We vowed to stay in touch.” Mr Meyer also responded to the easy chemistry that was evolving, “We're both small business owners in a niche world that's pretty specific, so we had a lot in common immediately, we had a lot to chat about and simply just got along really well really quickly. I think the idea stemmed from my inserting that she should continue the Dasein line with new projects, and it wasn't long before a flood of  ideas were flowing between us just as an easy conversation.” 

That conversation would begin the process which would produce Winter Nights. It came together as they communicated after returning home. Ms. Rader talks about those early conversations, “Over several texts and phone calls Josh proposed the idea of a reimagining of each season so that I could expand my line while staying true to the initial concept.  He came up with the concept of WINTER NIGHTS, and we were both super jazzed.  As I went into the preparations for the new scent, Josh and I continued our virtual friendship and decided it would be really fun to create the scent as a collaboration.”

cali-winter-bonfire

Together they came up with the brief for Winter Nights. Mr. Meyer remembers the process this way, “I always felt like WINTER was the fragrance of a winter down in Southern California, I grew up down there in Hermosa beach as a little kid, and feel like the winter I experience up the coast, here where I’m at now, in Portland has a darker feel to it. So, as we chatted we came up with the idea of using a Northern California winter beach bonfire as the inspiration. Sort of a meeting spot between us… It was my idea to add a touch of smoke and resin to the project.”

As they moved into the actual composition part of the process they had to figure out a way to work while being separated geographically. Ms. Rader found their connection formed at AIX helped overcome any artificial barriers, “I have loved working with Josh because he has this infectious joie de vivre while also being totally strong and no nonsense.  There was a really great yin / yang balance of our energies in the process.  Mostly Josh came up with the ideas and did the initial sketches of things, and I would be receptive and fine tune the ratios to get the right cohesion.  We were like the band The Postal Service…we did all our blending via shipping each other formulas in the mail, and communicating via phone and email.  It was pretty easy to say yes to everything Josh sent me because he is a truly masterful nose.  We also seem to share an aesthetic vocabulary.  We always understood where the other was coming from, we agreed easily on where we wanted to get to, and had an almost effortless process of getting there.  I think this scent is by far the best of my collection, which I owe to Josh’s ingenuity and precision. I have never made a blend so fast and so painlessly.”

cadewood-essential-oil

I was curious if either of them thought there was a linchpin ingredient to Winter Nights. Mr. Meyer was more equivocal in his answer, “I wish I could say there was a single note or accord that makes it what it is, but I really feel it's different elements coming together to become more than the sum of the parts. The cade oil, the numerous pine elements, and resins… not to mention the underlying sweetness used in the first iteration that we used as a balancing point for the other notes really ties it together and makes it complete.” Ms. Rader was unequivocal in her answer, “Yes!  The cade oil.  Josh suggested it as the basis for our smoke accord.  It has a really beautiful authentic smell of woodsmoke.  So many other smoky oils and molecules have this sickening sweet hickory-ish smell that comes off like smoked meat.  Cade is a dark, rich, woody ashy fire smell.  And the best part is that cade oil is made from Juniper tree tar, and Juniper trees grow all along the coast of California.  So if we were making a bonfire in Big Sur there is a good chance we’d be using Juniper branches.  Pretty poetic, right?” I agree with Ms. Rader the cade oil feels like the keynote and even more so now that I know the story behind it.

After the success of Winter Nights I had to ask if there was a chance for more collaboration. Mr. Meyer replied, “I hope so! It is so much fun to work on fragrance creation, and working with others in a particularly solo creative environment is thrilling.” Ms. Rader is equally enthusiastic, “I would be delighted to work with Josh again.  I have no idea where the future of Dasein is headed, but I do have a feeling that Josh’s advice and input will have a great deal to do with the direction.  He’s become a fast friend and trusted advisor.  I am very lucky we met, thanks to Saskia and the AIX.” Based on what you both achieved with Winter Nights I would love to see more.

I want to thank both of these very busy people for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly. The behind-the-scenes story is as fascinating as the fragrance.

Mark Behnke

Editor's Note: Winter Nights is a limited edition of 400 bottles meant for the 2016 Holiday season.

New Perfume Review Dasein Winter Nights- Midnight in the Tree Lot

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I know it isn’t even Halloween and I’m going to start talking about Christmas over the next few paragraphs. For all of you who can’t stand the idea bookmark the page and come back in a week or whenever you’re ready to start the Holidays. Let me just tell you that it is a truly extraordinary perfume which has me doing this; and it is a limited edition.

I love the Holidays and I really love having a Christmas tree. It is a full spectrum experience of the smell of the tree paired with the visual of bubble lights and ornaments. I think my affection for the smell of Christmas trees came from my time in high school, in South Florida of all places. One of my best friends was a member of an organization called Key Club which is the junior version of the Kiwanis. Their major fundraiser was selling Christmas trees in a lot. I wasn’t so big on being there during the selling. I was very big on being there with the overnight crew who would keep an eye on things in the early hours of the morning. We would sit in folding chairs around a fire pit talking about the things teenagers talk about. Broken parts of the fir trees found their way into the flames. There would always be a moment when the wind would shift and the smoke would swirl around me with the smells of the cut trees surrounding me. The camaraderie of a shared experience created bonds which have lasted over forty years for me, of which that smell is the trigger for that memory.

Sam Rader

Sam Rader

Shared experiences can be the genesis of some great ideas. This past May at the Hammer Museum on the same weekend The Art & Olfaction Awards were handed out there was an exhibition at the Hammer Museum called the AIX Scent Fair. While there independent perfumer Sam Rader, of Dasein, met fellow independent perfumer Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors. Over the course of the weekend they decided they wanted to work together on a sequel to Ms. Rader’s first release for her brand called Winter. That fragrance was the near photorealistic smell of a Christmas tree. Ms. Rader captured my attention with that first release. Now in collaboration with Mr. Meyer she has released a limited edition called Winter Nights.

Josh-Meyer

Josh Meyer

In Winter Ms. Rader took a spectacularly sourced pine essential oil and supported it with cardamom and lavender. That trio remains but is much transformed; made softer. Ms. Rader and Mr. Meyer use a more attenuated pine source. It is matched with a haze of smoke. I must compliment the perfumers the smoke here is perfectly balanced it hangs like a haze not as an overwhelming presence as it does in so many lesser fragrances. Then instead of cardamom, cardamom tea is used. Instead of lavender absolute, lavender flowers are used. Both call back to Winter but have a much lighter presence. The final addition is a suite of darker musks.

Winter Nights has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Winter Nights is a limited edition of only 400 bottles made especially for the 2016 Holiday season.

Ms. Rader finished doing all four seasons earlier this year. Her tour through the seasonal year showed she was a special talent. Mr. Meyer has also become a standout with his Imaginary Authors releases, especially the ones from this year. Winter Nights is very close to the best perfume from both of these talented independent perfumers. It is constructed like a delicate gauze of memory of midnight in the tree lot. Winter Nights is as close to those high school December nights as I have ever encountered. It is a sublime Holiday perfume.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Slow Explosions-What’s Inside the Big Bang

I don’t know which filmmaker did it first but the slow motion explosion has become a staple of moviemaking. Part of what makes it so interesting is seen in real-time an explosion is a second or less worth of flash and boom. Slowed down on film it is many seconds of flash with no soundtrack. What is so interesting about seeing an explosion in slow motion is you see the expansion of the flame, the whorls curling and expanding as it almost hypnotically draws you in. What I have always enjoyed about seeing fast things slowed down is the underpinning that is on display to something you can’t see with a human eye. All of these thoughts came to me as I tried the new Imaginary Authors Slow Explosions.

Owner and perfumer Josh Meyer saw Slow Explosions as an elaboration to last summer’s limited release An Air of Despair. In particular he wanted to expand, or explode, the saffron into a more typical Imaginary Authors release. An Air of Despair was an atypical perfume from Mr. Meyer; Slow Explosions is another in the line of complex compositions more endemic to the collection.

Josh-Meyer

Josh Meyer

One of the things I always enjoy about an Imaginary Authors release is the imaginary author Mr. Meyer comes up with. This time it is Gwen K. Vroomen who in 1980 threw a dart at a world map and left her job to go to the place the point of the dart pierced; Goa. Slow Explosions is her journey to Goa and her “Journey out of darkness” summarized thusly as, “I was lost, aimless, and depressed. Now I’m only two of those things.”

To capture his author Mr. Meyer uses a mélange of south Asian spices but as mentioned above the saffron is most important. It is wrapped in rose and leather to keep one wondering which of the adjectives for Ms. Vroomen was improved.

Slow Explosions starts with the spice market vibe as hints of curries and cumin are rapidly overwhelmed by a large dose of saffron. As I’ve recently learned saffron in this concentration carries a leathery quality which makes it a great partner to a leather accord. Before Mr. Meyer rolls out his leather accord a really jammy rose absolute first makes its presence known with the spices. The slightly sweet rose is also contrasted with a peek-a-boo note of apple. The apple seems to be an olfactory illusion at times. All of the trickery is washed away with the arrival of the leather. This is biker jacket leather well-cared for and oiled. The saffron adds a kind of botanical leather as texture. A bit of benzoin and cashmeran provide a conventional foundation.

Slow Explosions has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

On the days I wore Slow Explosions I found it to be a fragrance which rewarded my attention throughout the day. When I tried it on a strip it was saffron, rose, and leather. On my skin much of the other supporting notes become detectable making it seem as if my wearing it was looking inside the Big Bang on the strip in slow motion so I could see everything going on. There is much to see and after wearing Slow Explosions I was neither lost, aimless, or depressed; I was happy.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle provided by Imaginary Authors.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Every Storm a Serenade- Off-Season in Denmark

There is always something odd about the off-season in resort areas. If you visit a ski resort in July the still chairs of the lifts carry a melancholic reminder of colder days. Walking by beachfront restaurants with the decks covered with tarps for the winter makes one want to tear them off and yell, “Party!” The one common theme of off-season is quiet. It is a time where you can have the space mostly to yourself. You can be reminded that there is something to be admired in a time and place out of step with the rest of the world. Off-season is off kilter. The latest release from Imaginary Authors called Every Storm a Serenade is a salute to the off-season at a Danish beach town.

Owner and perfumer Josh Meyer has been quietly assembling one of the stronger independent perfume collection currently. Since he started in 2012 he has been steadily improving as a perfumer. He has been taking risks with his latest releases which I appreciate. Every Storm a Serenade is an aquatic fragrance. It is an aquatic fragrance built around Calone. If it was just that it would be another in a long string of Calone-based aquatics. Instead Mr. Meyer takes on the much maligned ingredient looking for opportunities to hang notes next to it which will keep it from being trite. Every Storm a Serenade succeeds at doing this.

Josh-Meyer

Josh Meyer

Mr. Meyer has the basic outline of a story to go with each of his Imaginary Authors. In this case Every Storm a Serenade is penned by Niels Bjerregard. Here is the thumbnail from the Imaginary Authors website, "When Stina, a burgeoning writer, decamps to her mother’s summer house for the winter to write a book, her trip overlaps for one day (and one steamy night) with a brawny fisherman named Ulv. While she struggles to gain traction with her novel, her fixation on the mysterious seafarer results in countless unsent letters, the contents of which chronicle the spiraling psyche of lust and longing. Set on the desolate west coast of Denmark during the tourist off-season, Every Storm a Serenade is a meditative masterwork that will lull you with its well-designed sentences and intimate tone.” Every Storm a Serenade is a fragrance of contemplating a life choice in a place where there is nothing but quiet.

Every Storm a Serenade opens with the medium weight woodiness of spruce. Mr. Meyer adds eucalyptus to form a sort of faux-pine accord. It is easy to pick out the two components when I was focusing on things. In the times I wasn’t as attentive the mentholated green woodiness did remind me of pine trees growing near the shoreline. The Calone crashes into all of this like an ocean wave. At first it overwhelms everything but rather rapidly the pine claws its way back. It reminded me a lot of a high tide moment when the waves can just reach the tree line. Sea spray coating the conifers. One of the things I dislike about Calone is it is too clean a representation of the ocean. Mr. Meyer has used his top notes along with vetiver to roughen up the Calone. It adds a saline bite that is not usually there in Calone aquatics. That briny nature is enhanced further by the use of ambergris. This adds that subtle heft to the ocean accord.

Every Storm a Serenade has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage.

Despite me going on about off-season this is a warm weather fragrance through and through. I wore it once on a cooler spring day and once on a near 90-degree day. It was much better on the second day. The heat made it more expansive. I give a hat tip to Mr. Meyer for taking on Calone and finding his own space to work within its confines. Every Storm a Serenade is a top-notch aquatic.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors An Air of Despair- The Last Sigh of Summer

The summer of 2015 is coming to an end. As a warm weather lover I am wringing every drop of sun and warmth out of the remaining days of the season. With schools opening up over the next few weeks even though the calendar says summer it means fall is on its way. Sometime in the next few weeks the great rotation of everything will happen. The heavier fall perfumes will move the summer ones to the back of the shelf. The sandals will be traded for loafers. The sweaters will come out of the cedar chest with the clean smell of the wood clinging to them. If I have a scent which signals the changeover from summer to autumn cedar would have to be it. I think Josh Meyer the independent perfumer behind Imaginary Authors might agree with me. His latest release is called An Air of Despair and it is meant to be a limited edition for the summer and fall seasons. It is a cedar focused fragrance and it captures that moment when we shift gears from warm to cool.

Mr. Meyer is another of this recent breed of independent perfumers who adds something visual and written to his fragrances. His perfumes carry the name of a book that never was including what one might find on the dust jacket of this fictitious fiction. Here is the description of An Air of Despair: “When Vivian Gwyn’s parents mysteriously disappear one month before her eighteenth birthday it foils an elaborate plan she had to kill them herself. In her search for clues as to their whereabouts she finds an elegant mink coat and a safe full of valuables in her mother’s cedar closet. Keeping the coat but selling everything else, she embarks on a glamorous adventure that takes her from the small Tennessee town where she grew up to luxurious penthouses in Manhattan, runways in Milan, and finally the castle in Switzerland from which she learns she is a descendant. No expense is spared in Viv’s valiant quest to shake the sadness that plagued her upbringing and she quickly learns it’s not riches that bring happiness but happiness that brings riches.”

Josh-MeyerJosh Meyer

What I enjoy about these descriptions is how I try to tie the olfactory to the written. Mr. Meyer has often taken me on a journey of the mind as well as the nose. With An Air of Despair it is when Vivian finds the mink coat in the cedar chest which captures two of the three ingredients in An Air of Despair. There is definitely something missing as far as the fragrance goes because Vivian should have traversed the spice markets of Marrakech for the third ingredient.

Mr. Meyer has taken a desiccated foundation of cedar as the nucleus of An Air of Despair. Cedar is most often used as a woody fixative in the base. There are other perfumes which feature it but not as many as say sandalwood. The cedar Mr. Meyer uses has that quality of carrying the past. It has a sharpness from it being in a high concentration. This time cedar isn’t trying to provide support. This time it is the star of the show. Early on saffron provides the contrast. Another excellent choice as it provides an exotic foil to the upright cedar. After a while a really great animalic musk provides the later stage competition for the cedar. Here it is the smell of the human animal underneath the civilized veneer.

An Air of Despair has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you have not tried any of Mr. Meyer’s other Imaginary Authors fragrances an Air of Despair is not the place to start. It is different than most of the others in the line mainly for its simple construction. For those who have been adding each volume to their collection An Air of Despair is an example of Mr. Meyer expanding his skills on something simply constructed; from which he manages to find the pathos to embrace the end of summer and the beginning of fall.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Imaginary Authors Yesterday Haze- Bitter Dusty Figs

Imaginary Authors is the amusing concept by independent perfumer Josh Meyer in which he houses his perfumes in bottles made up to look like the spine of books which never were. In 2012 he released the first seven volumes in his scented library and followed up in 2013 with two more. I have always loved the idea of making up literary inspirations for perfume. The perfumes were all above average but none of them really motivated me to write about them. I look forward to each new release to see if the latest edition will be the page turner I’ve been waiting for. It looks like the tenth volume Yesterday Haze is the one I want to take down from the shelf and spend some time with.

Before you even try the perfume you are greeted with a bottle and packaging so arch they bring a smile to your face. Yesterday Haze is penned by “author” Lenora Blumburg (1909-1983). Ms. Blumburg wrote one of the earlier volumes, Violet Disguise. Yesterday Haze is described as a “subtly sinister follow-up” around a love triangle between a crop-duster who is having an affair with his employer’s wife. Each volume comes with a quote and here is the one for this perfume, “Just as sunsets are more beautiful on hazy days, so, too, are the memories of yesterday.” What is clear after wearing Yesterday Haze is all of this takes place in a fig grove as that is what Yesterday Haze evokes.

joshmeyerJosh Meyer

Mr. Meyer is working the complete fig tree experience in Yesterday Haze, not just the fruit. As a result the opening of the perfume has not only the creamy aspects of the fruit but also the smoothly woody facets of the tree. Tonka is used to tilt the fruit of the fig more towards the creamy. Iris is used to powder over the potentially rough edges of the bark. This is where Yesterday Haze lingers for quite a long time on my skin. Very late in the development there is a bitter note matched with a slate-like minerality. These notes are identified as walnut bitters and orchard dust in the note list. They are much more common aromachemicals but the fancified names convey the feeling that in the end this story ends in bitterness and dust as there seems to be no happy ending.

Yesterday Haze has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Mr. Meyer has “penned” a diverse collection which should find one volume to appeal to most. Take your time with the line and give each one a try. Somewhere within the ten stories there is probably one which will have the right ending for you. Yesterday Haze is definitely the one I want to read over again.

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

Mark Behnke