If I am still writing about perfume ten years from now it will be because the independent perfume community continues to surprise me. This group of passionate artists have always taken the latitude provided by not having a bottom line to aim for the top. They work on their own timetable and let me know when they have something new. Which was how, just after the New Year, Dannielle Sergent contacted me to let me know about her new release Cognoscenti Warrior Queen.
Ms. Sergent has made her mark for her Cognoscenti brand through minimalist compositions that belied the skill inherent in making simplicity sing. When I received her e-mail I was waiting to hear about a new perfume with two titular ingredients. I was instead told she was turning in a different direction.
Warrior Queen by Dannielle Sergent
Like many independent perfumers she was interested in fusing the visual with the olfactory. For her new collection, Dark Lovelies, she used botanical oil portraits she painted as the brief for a perfume. The first is Warrior Queen.
When I looked at the picture I immediately perceived layers as the different strata of flora go from light to dark from top to bottom; except for that dark crown on top. There is always a reminder of the darkness of a warrior who becomes a queen. The picture doesn’t exactly portray what I smelled while wearing Warrior Queen. What I did experience was a very different style of layered maximal perfume making from Ms. Sergent.
It opens with an old-fashioned duet of bergamot and lavender. It is easy to feel like we’re on the way to fougere territory. We’re not. Coriander connects to a rich powdery and rooty orris in the heart. Ms. Sergent finds a nice balance between both sides of orris’ scent profile. The powder dusts the lavender while the coriander picks up the carrot-like root aspect. Through this part of the development Warrior Queen feels like a vintage perfume. It changes again as cypriol adds a pungent edge. It is often used as part of an oud accord. Ms. Sergent dials in the smokiness as if it is the remnants of battlefields past. Off in the distance but always part of the warrior. The base returns to a luxurious vintage style as sandalwood, amber, patchouli, and oakmoss provide a chypre accord like they used to be.
Warrior Queen has 16-18 hour longevity and above average sillage.
For those who have tried Ms. Sergent’s previous Cognoscenti releases this is a completely different experience. In her earlier releases she allowed her ingredients to capture space. In Warrior Queen she is adding them in layers into a confined space. Warrior Queen is a heady style of perfume. Based on her earlier work if this was given to me blind, I would never have guessed it was Ms. Sergent. When told I would have nodded to myself because I would have at the least recognized it was made by a very technically proficient perfumer.
Warrior Queen is but the first of the Dark Lovelies as Wild Child should soon be following in the footsteps of the Warrior Queen. I am hoping for more of the maximal layering I found in Warrior Queen.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Cognoscenti.