Independent perfumer Shawn Maher has been an olfactory tour guide and historian to his native St. Louis. He has exposed those who try his fragrances to everything he finds special about his city. From the first time I tried them I wondered if he would eventually get around to one of the few things I knew about St. Louis, the 1904 World’s Fair. Granted my knowledge comes from the 1944 movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. It also comes from an article I read which described it as the world’s first food court.
The 1904 World’s Fair was credited with the creation of the waffle cone, peanut butter, iced tea, cotton candy, Dr. Pepper, and puffed wheat cereal. In most of those cases the truth is that they were given their first exposure to a large audience for whom it was the first time for these delicacies.
I wondered what Mr. Maher would decide was the scent of it all in Chatillon Lux 1904. What makes him so interesting is he doesn’t go for any of that list of food scents I listed above. He focuses on the number of local coffee roasters who were established along the mile-long food court. Manty of those are the continuing reminders of the Fair as they continue to thrive in modern day St. Louis.
As he mentions in his Scent Notes blog post accompanying the 1904 release, he started with coffee. What happened along the way was he shifted it from the focal point to what I call the linchpin. Lots of fragrances find an ingredient which binds together individual accords because it interacts with all of them. In this case he began with a CO2 extraction of coffee which removed the bitter oiliness. What he adds back is a softer nuttiness. It verges a little bit like hazelnut during some parts of the evolution.
Where this begins is at the Turkish Pavilion with a fresh cup of cardamom coffee. I have a Turkish friend who serves this when I visit. The early moments of 1904 are the scent of the actual cup I have had in the past. It adds a fresh zestiness over the depth of the coffee.
As this moves into the heart of jasmine and lime it picks up on the cardamom and coffee. When I visited Guatemala I had jasmine coffee. So I imagine we have moved further down the midway to the Central American Pavilion where they serve this. The sweetness of the jasmine and the nuttiness of Mr. Maher’s coffee accord are melded using strawberry furfural. The subtle fruitiness ties the flower and bean together in a red bow. The lime and the cardamom form a tart contrast.
Finally, we reach the American Pavilion where there is the classic coffee with cream. In this case the cream comes through a sandalwood accord designed to accentuate that quality of the wood. Underneath it Cashmeran adds woody lift and expansiveness to the entire perfume.
1904 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is another excellent example of Mr. Maher’s thoughtful approach to perfume making. The never-ending inspiration he finds from St. Louis is always enjoyable. In 1904 you get to stroll down the coffee midway of the 1904 World’s Fair.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Chatillon Lux.