When I receive a large debut collections from a designer, I find it difficult to give a good assessment. This was the case three years ago when I received the first set of fragrance from Rag & Bone. I thought they were well done but one, Oddity, stood out far above the others. Which leads me to unfairly think of the others as lesser. It is nice to get a second chance as Rag & Bone release two new fragrances Monoi and Genmaicha.
Creative director Marcus Wainwright wants the Rag & Bone perfumes to mirror the fashion side of the business. In his vision it means putting a focal point ingredient on the bottle and “accessorizing” it. In the first collection that generally meant one prominent note and another slightly less prominent note. At the time I thought it was a good concept. Now with Monoi and Genmaicha it proves to be durably so.
Monoi is a lightweight white flower style of fragrance. It takes a tiare accord of frangipani and gardenia to represent the creaminess of the white flowers. A green banana leaf, crisp pear, and sandalwood are the main accessories. It is finishes with a set of white musks to build in the expansiveness over the long run.
Genmaicha is a citrus blended green tea type of fragrance. A tart yuzu sets up the sharp green tea note in the heart. Nutmeg is used to tease out a toasty nuttiness underneath. It blunts a lot of the roughness of the green tea if left on its own. It all ends on a clean cedarwood platform.
Monoi and Genmaicha both have 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
With only two to assess this time around I see what Mr. Wainwright wants his fragrance collection to represent. Both Monoi and Genmaicha rise to his vision.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Rag & Bone.
It is something to watch as a clothing designer makes the, seemingly, inevitable entry into fragrance. There are now many variations which have seen success or failure. At this point the trajectory a brand takes as they explore a new sector tells you as much about their brand as to how serious they are about fragrance. The fashion brand Rag & Bone took the collection route as they released eight new perfumes.
Per co-founder and creative director Marcus Wainwright they wanted to start each perfume with a focal point note and then essentially accessorize them in a Rag & Bone style. What that means in terms of the perfumes is that seven of the eight have an ingredient on the bottle and it is paired with something else. Like all collections it is hit or miss. Perfumer Daphne Bugey does a nice turn on musk and bergamot in Bergamot. Perfumer Ilias Ermenidis does a quirky boozy gourmand oriental with rum, plum, tobacco and amber in Amber. Of course, contrarian that I am the one which I really fell for is the one with a name which doesn’t have a raw material in it; Oddity.
Look from Rag & Bone Spring/Summer 2017
Oddity is one of two done for this collection by perfumer Frank Voelkl; Rose is the other. I am speculating here but where the other seven fragrances do seem like variations on a theme much as the jeans which Rag & Bone are famous for; Oddity represents their runway shows. When Rag & Bone does their runway collection at Fashion Week Mr. Wainwright likes to do contemporary takes on classic British schoolboy uniforms. While there is an underlying coherence there is always a sense of asymmetry in the designs which gives them that outsider appeal. That same design aesthetic is apparent in the way Oddity develops under M. Voelkl’s hands. Each phase has something traditional made asymmetric by an orthogonal note.
M. Voelkl opens on a gentle breeze of cardamom which he intersects with Szechuan pepper. To make sure the spice has a bit of the upper hand here he also adds in angelica root. Which performs a neat juxtaposition as the cardamom starts on top only to be rapidly toppled by the pungency of the pepper. The spiciness continues as incense and leather arrive in the heart. This is a rougher leather and the incense complements it nicely. The orthogonal choice here is to use licorice underneath. This is the herbal throat lozenge version not the ones you eat at the movies. That herbal nature helps continue the connection that the pepper provided in the top. This all lands on a base of rich vetiver made even more so by amber. The amber also captures the spicy herbal nature of what has come prior. The final bit of contrast comes via the sweetness of vanilla.
Oddity has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I will say that the Rag & Bone collection, overall, is mostly well done and even the ones I wasn’t enchanted by are well executed. They are worth seeking out and trying. Oddity does prove one of my issues with receiving a big collection when there is one which I think is just on a different level it can leave the others feeling pale in comparison. That’s how much I liked Oddity.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Rag & Bone.