This year has seen a rise in the idea of fragrance of a single well-made accord as a perfume to be released. They are linear as can be with the only hint of development as the accord comes together, quickly, on the skin. Maybe followed by some fraying down to a base note or two. Of the brands that have tried this, Kilian and H&M, I found the Kilian ones more interesting because they felt like previews of other perfumes in the line. The H&M ones smelled like the samples collected after any perfume school session where they are teaching accords. Overall, I’m not going to be drawn in by an accord in search of perfume. There is a computer programming philosophy epitomized by UNIX called DOTADIW deconvoluted it means “Do One Thing and Do It Well”. The clothing brand AllSaints has done what most successful brands do; expand into fragrance. Their three debut scents, Incense City, Metal Wave, and Sunset Riot are all single accords which are done well. It is because they are so simple, I will do quick paragraphs on all three.
Incense City I thought would be my favorite because how can an incense accord by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux go wrong? This is a simple mixture of cedar, incense, and ambrox. Sr. Flores-Roux creates a kind of incense box accord. It is much lighter than those materials might portend but it also has a tenacity on my skin which was surprising. I think what kept this from being my favorite was I always want more from my resins and this just stayed on the transparent side of things.
Metal Wave by perfumer Gil Clavien was an oddly named choice for a perfume which smells more like parchment because of the papyrus in it. Mme Clavien creates an austere accord of magnolia and juniper berry atop the papyrus. It is like someone is writing on a scroll as the juniper berry has a bit of inky bite while the magnolia provides a sweet floral contrast.
Sunset Riot by perfumer Gabriela Charliu was my favorite because the accord here is that of a citrus-tinted Oriental. Mme Charliu uses the herbal nature of baie rose along with the clean woody lines of cedar to come together with orange blossom to form a recognizably Oriental accord. I liked this because it was subtler than most Oriental accords within perfumes; which usually come as the base accord and require some presence. Mme Charliu wisely keeps this a little less amplified but not so transparent.
All three perfumes have 12-14 hour longevity due to some tenacious synthetics in their compositions and average sillage.
You might look at these three perfumes and think incense top accord, magnolia heart accord, Oriental base accord and layer them, Don’t! I tried this and the cacophony that resulted had me using my fragrance wipes to scrub the whole irritating concoction off my forearm. What that exercise confirmed is each of these are doing just one thing and doing it well.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples sent by AllSaints.