I finish my examination of Scent Trunk with two inspired by wine and terroir.
January 2020 by Miss Layla
When it comes to wine, I have enjoyed the expansion of it from the traditional centers of France, Italy, and the US. The same is true of perfume. As more independent perfumers bring their own parts of the world to life. One of the new centers of wine is New Zealand. They have undergone a steep learning curve producing some spectacular wines. Miss Layla a foodie turned perfumer has thought about the reason for that. She concludes it is the region itself, known as terroir. She further mentions it is because compared to other vinicultural areas its relative youth means it is still evolving. In January 2020 she wanted to make a perfume which captures a terroir in flux.
The keynote for January 2020 is truffle. It is a natural for someone who came from the culinary world to gravitate towards this. As she points out in the press notes it is not an easy ingredient to work with. There is a narrow band where it can be used. She finds the sweet spot enough to realize her vision.
The earthy slightly acrid truffle appears at the start. Blackcurrant bud is paired with it. This is a meeting of two querulous ingredients as the truffle and blackcurrant bud have a lively give and take. Moss provides a velvet carpet for them to circle each other upon. A hint of alcoholic wine comes through cognac and black olive. As a few herbs appear this is reminiscent of the nose of a New Zealand Pinot Noir. It goes very woody over the latter stages with oak given some support with leather and ambergris. January 2020 has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
February 2020 by Spyros Drosopoulos
Dr. Drosopoulos takes his wine inspiration from perhaps the most famous of all, Champagne. There is a sense of opulence that goes with the wine used to celebrate special occasions. Dr. Drosopoulos decides to explore the Chateau where it is made.
His keynote is black currant. It is immediately consumed in a bubbly champagne accord. There is a nose-tickling quality to the best versions of this wine. Dr. Drosopoulos creates an accord which fizzes over a deeper fruitiness from the black currant. I have often had raspberries added to a flute of champagne and this early part reminded me of that. The perfume takes a turn to the introspective as he evokes the paper incense of Papier Ambre along with a wisp of smoke which curls off the smoldering parchment. It ends on a note of perfume opulence as orris, patchouli, and pine form the scent of a cozy study with a flute of champagne on one corner of the desk and a censer of Papier Ambre on the other. February 2020 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Closing Thoughts on Scent Trunk
I thoroughly enjoyed all six samples I was sent. It reinforces my belief that independent perfumers are the best choice for a monthly service. When given a truly blank canvas to create upon these perfumers all stepped up to their own vision. It is why this does seem like a perfumer’s paradise where creativity is ascendant.
Disclosure: This review is based upon samples sent to me by Scent Trunk.
As I continue my exploration of the new iteration of Scent Trunk I look at their first two monthly offerings.
November 2019 by Tyler Monk
One of the themes I will touch on consistently through these reviews is the choice of keynote. Mr. Monk launched his own independent brand called Luvandus five years ago. I have not tried any of them. I don’t know whether November 2019 is an outlier or more of the same. What I do know is it is a perfume which reminds me of my morning gardening duties.
During the midsummer days, all my gardening takes place soon after sunrise. There is a pleasure to digging in the dirt to begin the day. November 2019 captures that with pennyroyal as the keynote. Readers will know of my aversion to mint in perfume. Pennyroyal is a relative of spearmint. Except it is not. It is the dirty punk cousin of spearmint who maybe hasn’t had a shower. There is the herbal aspect of mint but there are way rougher scented edges that I am not thinking of dental products when I smell it. Mr. Monk centers his perfume around that.
That punk spearmint shows up at the start. Mr. Monk begins to develop what will become a gradual increase in the earthiness overall with the addition of carrot seed. It acts as a social worker to the pennyroyal trying to clean up its act a bit using some orange soap. Anise provides its herbal licorice which finds a lovely harmony with the pennyroyal. This is where November 2019 hits its high point. That earthiness I spoke of becomes more pronounced through the base accord of tobacco, chestnut, and oud. This is that moist dirt I dig through in the morning. As the pennyroyal, anise, and tobacco find their stride November 2019 soars. November 2019 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
December 2019 by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
If I were going to guess a perfumer who would be part of this it would be Ms. Hurwitz. She has always been excited to stretch her boundaries under different circumstances than her own DSH Perfumes brand. She has always been one of my favorites because I have seen the experimentation lead to something amazing. I suspect a part of December 2019 will be seen again in a future composition.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
The keynote she builds this perfume upon is coriander. Coriander is one of those bifocal spices, piquant and woody. Ms. Hurwitz expands upon both. Early on using hemlock, sage, and cardamom the spiciness is on top. It forms an accord of dense green foliage. Once you push through you find a heart of rose and orris adding a soft floral effect. The base coalesces around labdanum as leather, tobacco, and musk provide a partner to the woody part of coriander. December 2019 has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I’ll conclude my look at Scent Trunk with the other two samples sent to me and some closing thoughts tomorrow.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Scent Trunk.
At this point in time there have been many perfume subscription services. They’ve taken an equally varied path to what they seek to provide. The only one which have held any interest have been the ones which feature new original releases. The last one I was intrigued by was featuring professional perfumers from the large oil houses. It worked for me because the perfumers were given latitude to formulate a small-batch for a presumably discerning audience. I thought many of them achieved the goal. I also mused about whether this was a better idea for the small independent perfumer community. They’re used to taking chances. A few months ago independent perfumer Yosh Han brought Scent Trunk to my attention.
Scent Trunk has partnered with a constellation of independent perfumers to bring their unique perspective to a monthly fragrance subscription. Thanks to Ms. Han I received an assortment of six of the past monthly releases. I am going to review all of them over the next three days to give readers a good understanding of how different these perfumes are. I am going to start with two perfumes who came from people I knew of from other artistic pursuits prior to trying their perfume.
May 2020 by Catherine Haley Epstein
I knew of Ms. Epstein through a fantastic panel she participated in during Esxence 2019. She was one of the people I walked away wanting to hear more from. I didn’t expect it to be a perfume.
Catherine Haley Epstein
Each Scent Trunk perfume works with a keynote. Ms. Epstein chose Ylang-Ylang from Nosey Be Madagascar. The full version of that ingredient is a gorgeously full fleshy floral. It is what I enjoy about ylang-ylang. I think Ms. Epstein shares that with me based on May 2020.
The keynote is right there to start. Ms. Epstein chooses a flare of grapefruit to bounce off of it like a sunbeam. It provides a brightness which Ms. Epstein works to maintain. Violet provides a complementary floral which pulls the ylang-ylang away from the sweeter part of its profile towards a more musky part. It stays here for a short time before cedar acts as a woody counterpart to the grapefruit in the beginning. The clean woodiness adds brightness. Vetiver provides the anchor as the grassiness keeps that going while the woody piece of it provides a grounding effect. May 2020 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
March 2020 by Heather D’Angelo
This is that story of I never imagined I’d meet you here. Ms. D’Angelo came to my attention through her music. Those who read my Sunday column know I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks: The Return. I also was exposed to new music during it. One of those was a band called Au Revoir Simone. They did a song called “Lark” during Episode 4. I was downloading their music the next morning as the song lodged itself in my head. I didn’t expect to meet Ms. D’Angelo through a perfume but here we are.
The supporting material says neroli is the keynote. It is prominent but it is a different ingredient which is the star, hemlock with an assist from cucumber. It creates a fantastically odd green accord simultaneously intensely green and transparently watery. This type of combination comes from a place of experimentation. It is something I found through all the Scent Trunk releases I tried. Ms. D’Angelo uses the neroli as a shimmering floral in contrast to that hemlock and cucumber accord. It ends on an oud base which picks up the hemlock giving it a darker tint over the later stages. March 2020 has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
As we go through the next two days I think you’ll see the type of fragrance experience Scent Trunk is attempting to provide.
Disclosure: Review based on samples provided by Scent Trunk.