Independent perfumer Josh Meyer has been producing perfume for his Imaginary Authors brand since 2012. He has embodied that indie ethos of doing things his own way. From the start his fragrances showed a lot of promise but they also felt like we were undergoing some on-the-job training with him. This leads to a place where if there is something there all the lessons learned come together and there is a period of sustained creativity. In my estimation that happened with 2014’s Yesterday Haze. Since that release there has been not only releases for Imaginary Authors, but also a collection for Portland, OR store The Sum and a collaboration with Sam Rader of Dasein on Winter Nights. Through all of this I have felt like the work for The Sum was him experimenting with restraint which has been in short supply in his original brand. Winter Nights was a true collaboration which wove magic as Ms. Rader and he found an incredibly balanced construct. All of this comes home in Imaginary Authors O, Unknown!
The faux literary inspiration for O, Unknown! is the final installment of the Philip Sava trilogy who was the author behind Memoirs of a Trespasser and Cape Heartache. For O, Unknown! Mr. Sava is faced with his mortality he tells, “the story of a man grappling with the meaning of life as he grasps to life’s last vestiges.”
The perfume captures the final wanderings of our author as he moved from Bangladesh into Nepal, Tibet and rural China. This translates into the rich black tea found in Bangladesh and the Chinese Lapsang Souchong over a traveler’s accord which captures the final journey.
Mr. Meyer takes black tea and combines it with a tincture of Lapsang Souchong. The tincture has the effect of pulling the focus to the tea instead of the smokiness. It is there but it lilts instead of creating a fog. It is a gorgeously realized delicacy unlike any other beginning Mr. Meyer has used before. The keynote for O, Unknown! Is a rich orris butter where the powdery is jettisoned in place of the rhizomal earthiness. It is that which provides some weight to the tea accord. This all leads to a forest walk of sandalwood, moss, and musk as the last hike ends.
O, Unknown! has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
This is the best perfume Mr. Meyer has made because he is willing to walk the tightrope of delicacy and heft. O, Unknown! has the ability to stay high in the clouds while keeping the ground below in sight. This might be the final story of our imaginary author but it the best perfume by the non-imaginary perfume author behind it.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Imaginary Authors.