The 1920’s were one of those societal inflection points that influenced much of the social change for the rest of that century. The Great Depression cut short the wave that was building through the Roaring 20’s. Now that we are entering the 20’s for the current century there is some desire to have it roar too. Perfume can be one of the ways some perspective can be brought on both decades. This is especially true for Heritage brands which can span the times. JF Schwarzlose 20/20 makes the first attempt to do this.
JF Schwarzlose was an early perfume brand which ceased operations in 1976. In 2012 it was resurrected under the creative direction of Lutz Herrmann. Hr. Herrmann has wanted this Heritage brand to use the vintage formulas of the past and update them. He has worked exclusively with perfumer Veronique Nyberg since the beginning. They have refined the aesthetic of vintage ingredients with a modern feel over the years. 20/20 might be the best example of it to date.
The inspiration was a JF Schwarzlose from the 1920’s called CHIC. That perfume was analyzed to find a way to modernize the patchouli-centric perfume of then to one of now. The key to this is to rely on one of the new synthetic woody ingredients along with a fuller extraction of baie rose through MANE’s Jungle Essence. In these last thirty years both new synthetics and more efficient extractions of natural materials have allowed perfumers to do more. Mme Nyberg uses her new tools to create a modern version of CHIC.
It opens with the Jungle Essence baie rose. I have smelled this at a presentation all by itself. It is a remarkably faceted ingredient. There is the herbal quality familiar to many. There is also this through line of fruitiness that becomes more apparent in this Jungle Essence version. It sets the green tone that will tint the entire structure of this perfume. Rose and benzoin come next with the sweetness of the benzoin capturing the fruity aspect of the baie rose drawing it into the rose. At this point is where 20/20 feels like 1920. It moves ahead 100 years as the patchouli and amberwood present themselves. I suspect the patchouli of CHIC was a fuller hippie chick kind of patchouli. This patchouli is desiccated using the synthetic woody ingredient. Mme Nyberg doesn’t allow it to become too sharp but this is what modern patchouli accords are made of in 2020. Geranium replaces rose over the later stages making 20/20 a cool aloof floral in the end.
20/20 has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Hr. Herrmann and Mme Nyberg have created other JF Schwarzlose perfumes which have straddled the past and present. 20/20 does it the best; with a roar.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.
I know there has to be a fair amount of consideration given to the naming of new perfumes. When a perfume has a good name it can set my expectations appropriately. When it has a non sequitur kind of name it can leave me thinking more about the name than the fragrance. The new JF Schwarzlose Fetisch falls in between these two extremes.
JF Schwarzlose is another resurrected Heritage perfume brand. Creative director Lutz Hermann has partnered with perfumer Veronique Nyberg to both revive some original formulas as well as create new perfumes. My favorite Heritage brands are taking this approach as they honor the history of the brand while striking out in new directions. Hr. Hermann has been using the new compositions as ways to evoke the town where these perfumes were born, Berlin.
Berlin is known for its vibrant fetish club scene. It is a city which wears its kink freely. This was where I expected Fetisch to venture. When I visited the JF Scharzlose stand at Pitti Fragranze there was a leather harness hanging there. I expected Fetisch to dive deep into the bite of leather and the shine of latex all tinted with a Gothic sensibility. Hr. Hermann had other less subversive things in mind. Fetisch does have an exotic leathery quality but it has an oddness rather than a kinkiness to its style overall.
I love the opening of Fetisch as Mme Nyberg opens with a beautifully intense osmanthus. The leathery quality of the floral is matched by a refined leather accord. I wanted a biting birch tar leather. Mme Nyberg’s accord is much softer. Which is good because the saffron also present in the top notes has room to breathe and swirl through the osmanthus and leather duet providing exotic harmonics. The first hour of Fetisch is spent here. The heart is where Fetisch provides a little weirdness. Mme Nyberg has a milk accord she uses which is less creamy and more like raw milk with a bit of an animalic undertone. Before it gets too strange a dollop of vanilla sweetens the heart. The base is a sharply resinous incense and styrax. Here at the end I get some of the Gothic vibe I was looking for.
Fetisch has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Despite its name Fetisch does not really want to dive deep into unconventional waters. Only with the vanilla milk heart is there anything truly unusual here. Which is really good because despite the name the top accord of osmanthus, leather, and saffron is simply gorgeous. Which is the problem with the name there needs to be some danger. Instead Fetisch is all slap and tickle. If you are looking for an exceptional osmanthus and incense perfume Fetisch will fill that desire. If you have other darker desires you think a perfume called Fetisch should realize, this is not that fragrance.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from JF Schwarzlose at Pitti Fragranze 2015.