This time of year is the only time where I feel a little rushed. I am literally down to the last few days left to me on the review calendar before I begin to compile my end-of-year lists. In previous years it is just trying to squeeze in those last perfumes of the year. This year the final six weeks of the year has seen one excellent perfume after another arrive in my mailbox. The final streak of reviews that will be coming are all from independent lines that have conspired to make my life joyously difficult. Whenever it is posited to me that there is nothing new to be seen in perfume, I would happily gather everything I’ll review over these last few days of 2019 as proof that is flat wrong.
Another by-product of the end-of-year thoughts is it forces me to look back to the beginning of the year. To remind myself of the perfumes which came earlier in the year that I want to remember. On the day I did that recently was the first day I was wearing Zoologist Bee. It ended up having an interesting parallel as I was reminded of the perfumer of something earlier in the year while wearing his latest.
Whenever Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes has something new, I am interested. He has become one of the most reliable creative directors in all of perfumery. He has coaxed some of the best work out of the best independent perfumers in the world. One thing he does which almost seems like magic is he imposes a Zoologist style without overwriting the individual perfumer’s creativity. It is one of the major reasons I believe this has been such a broadly appealing collection. When I heard Mr. Wong was adding a perfume called Zoologist Bee I was excited to see what the interpretation of that would be. When Cristiano Canali was named as the perfumer my expectations soared.
Sig. Canali is one of the most talented perfumers currently working. He has only signed three perfumes previously to Bee. Each of them shows a unique ability to capture his keynote and make it the central layer in a perfume which slowly evolves. He has worked with some of the hardest to tame ingredients only to survive brilliantly. In Bee he is taking on another ingredient not known to be easy to work with; honey.
Honey is notorious for its refractory nature and narrow band where it finds some joy as part of a fragrance. One of the smart things Sig. Canali does is to use beeswax as a surrogate for honey. It allows for there to be less of the actual material. It also allows for him to pick up on the animalic worker bee hum underneath the waxy sweetness. By weaving in a selection of florals, resins, musks and sandalwood he once again builds a multi-layered ode to creative perfumery.
Bee opens with the buzz of ginger in contrast to the honey. As I mentioned above this isn’t a honey that tilts towards a urine-like scent profile because the beeswax keeps it more firmly centered in the pleasant sweet spot. The ginger is also given more viscosity as it is called “ginger syrup” in the ingredient list. There isn’t the usual fidgety sibling quality you find with ginger. This is a quieter version made more memorable for not seeking out attention. It goes with the flow of the honey in and out of the waxy hexagons of the hive. Sig. Canali then crafts an accord which forms a floral honey accord to act as a kind of call and response to the top accord. Using heliotrope, orange blossom, mimosa and most importantly broom he finds similar harmonics to the trio of beeswax, honey, and ginger in the top. This is where Sig. Canali keeps impressing me. He finds ways to create echoes of the ingredients of his perfumes which resonate through the entire experience. The base accord than splits things up as benzoin and labdanum capture the sweetness in a resinous embrace. A suite of musks find that worker bee animalic. Sandalwood provides the final woody grounding while being made a bit creamier with a touch of vanilla.
Bee has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
As he has done so often Mr. Wong has found a new high for a perfumer I already thought highly of. He has become the consummate creative director. Sig. Canali has shown me, once again, that he is a singular perfume designer. There is nobody who designs perfumes which smell like his. When you combine two creative minds working at the top of their game there is no surprise that Zoologist Bee has the right buzz.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist.