Back in January 2012 I was attending the Elements Showcase in New York City. Behind a stand manned by a number of Japanese people was one of my favorite finds at any perfume exposition I have attended. When I met the founder and perfumer, Yasuyuki Shinohara, of Di Ser on the first day I would keep returning to the stand to try more of the perfumes. The fragrances were so unique and beautiful I expected a deal for US distribution to arrive soon enough. I was so confident I used up my samples over the rest of the year. Then there was nothing. Because I wrote a review on Kaze at CaFleureBon I would get the occasional e-mail asking where it was available. My answer until recently was a trip to Hokkaido Island in Japan where Shinohara-san was based. It has taken six years but finally a set of Di Ser are available in the US. I ordered a sample set and was pleased to see that little had changed.
Yasuyuki Shinohara (photo from CaFleureBon at Pitti Fragranze 2016)
When it came to this set I decided to see how my memory had fared as Tsuki was one of the perfumes I tried back then. It was part of a collection capturing the four traditional Japanese elements; of which Kaze was a part of. Tsuki is the Moon and it was one of the greenest geranium perfumes I had encountered. In my notes after the exposition I wrote to myself “Herbal geranium” in my spreadsheet description. Having a new sample to experience reminded me why that description is accurate but incomplete.
What is remarkable about Di Ser as a brand is the way their raw materials are made. All hand-made botanical materials. This means the time is allowed for tinctures to gain appropriate strength. Hard to extract materials will have the time taken to achieve enough to use. This makes it among one of the best natural perfume lines in the world. Not only reconnecting with Tsuki but the other six available in the US reaffirm that statement. Over the course of the year I will review all of them, they are that good, but first let’s see how I feel six years later about Tsuki.
One thing I say often when I’m called an “expert”; I counter with the way I think of myself “experienced enthusiast”. My experience with the nuances of naturally produced ingredients has expanded tremendously in these six years. Which is why Tsuki is so enchanting to me. I can smell that authenticity more clearly now. Tsuki shows it off.
That geranium I remembered was right there as soon as I sprayed Tsuki on. The herbal part was also there as coriander and mint flank it. The coriander is extracted in such a way that the lemony nuance is amplified while the mint provides an expansiveness to the natural green of the geranium. I use the sobriquet “green rose” to describe geranium nowhere is that more evident than in the geranium in Tsuki. Then in a fabulous different turn Shinohara-san adds in juniper berry and fennel. The juniper berry combines with the coriander to form a gin accord but that is subtext. The fennel is what is writ large over the heart of Tsuki. The vegetal licorice scent of the herb provides a contrast to the floral green of geranium. Over time the geranium fades and the fennel is left to take root in a gentle earthy patchouli.
Tsuki has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I mentioned this in my previous review of Kaze. If you think you know what a Japanese perfume will smell like based on European interpretation of that aesthetic, Di Ser will prove you wrong. What stood out then and now is there is a Japanese precise arrangement which more accurately describes the Di Ser aesthetic. Every ingredient in its specific place for a specific effect. I could wish that was a more universal aspiration when designing fragrance. I am happy to see it still thrills me the same six years later.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.