There are times I probably treat independent perfumers like Pokemon; gotta have ‘em all. The downside of that mentality is I too often forget about them after the initial acquisition. Back in 2012 I became aware of a young independent perfumer by the name of Dannielle Sergent and her brand Cognoscenti. She created five very beautiful initial releases. At the time when I was at CaFleureBon the other writers were as impressed as I was and they ended up writing about them. I would meet Ms. Sergent in New York City soon after this and we spoke about independent perfumery from both of our perspectives. I enjoyed our interaction but I never followed up once I started Colognoisseur even though I was seeing great things written about the line. Thankfully this particular Perfume Pokemon didn’t like being shuffled to the bottom of the deck and contacted me. Which then led to my receiving samples of the entire collection.
One thing that was beneficial in having that four-year interval was being reminded of how good the original five were. It also showed how much she had been growing as a perfumer. Ms. Sergent composes in a minimalist way. Her fragrances have a number followed by a simple two-word phrase indicating the keynotes most of the time. Even though the perfumes are simply defined they carry that portmanteau of simplexity I like to use when describing these kind of fragrances. Of all of the new releases I tried, the one which shows this best is No. 30 Hay Incense.
When I use the made-up word simplexity I mean to convey that something which seems straightforward has hidden depths. When I wear Hay Incense the hay and the incense are ever present. It is those notes which run underneath that surface which turns Hay Incense into something more than a simple two-note fragrance.
Hay Incense opens upon the titular notes right out there. For a few moments I am able to take in the sweet dried grass of the hay against the slightly metallic feel of a church incense. Then from below bubbles up birch leaf providing a pungency which enhances the hay. Immortelle which enhances the austerity of the incense. Throughout the next few hours another note arrives and adds depth. Benzoin followed by lavender, followed by leather then vetiver. None of this disturbs the hay and the incense always in ascendance.
Hay Incense has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
This style of perfumery is too easily dismissed as lesser because it is seemingly so simple. It requires a bit of attention by the wearer to truly get the most out of wearing Hay Incense. That extra awareness pays dividends because the real beauty is right there under the surface.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Cognoscenti.
Header Photo: Annabelle Breakey Photography for Cognoscenti