New Perfume Review Zoologist Koala- A New Tree to Climb

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I have always enjoyed anthologies and compilation albums. I am usually drawn in by an author or musician only to discover something entirely new. Some extra books and music to download. It hasn’t really happened to me in perfume until I received my sample of Zoologist Koala.

Victor Wong

When I received the press release in advance of my sample of Koala from Creative director-owner Victor Wong I realized I was going to be experiencing a perfumer new to me. After I got to know more about perfumer Spyros Drosopoulos I felt like I should have known of him before this. He came to perfume from a career as a neuroscientist. Even though I have no interest in making perfume when a fellow scientist does, I am usually interested. Dr. Drosopoulos has founded his own line Baruti. As has become routine for Mr. Wong he finds the most interesting perfumers to produce stellar work for him.

Spyros Drosopoulos

One of the other hallmarks of Mr. Wong’s creative direction is he tends to take what we know about the animal on the label. In the case of Koala they take the mental image of one languidly chewing eucalyptus leaves turning it in a delightful direction.

Dr. Drosopoulos opens with that expected ingredient by placing it inside a sticky honey matrix. You might look at that and think of a home remedy for the sniffles of honeyed tea and Vicks Vap-o-Rub. This is not as simple as that. The eucalyptus has a more vegetal presence the honey captures in that slightly animalic embrace which is sweetened through the addition of mimosa. This is a soft soothing top accord. Over the heart a set of spices insert themselves into that. I was expecting them to add more zing, but they add even more softness. It is a remarkably snuggly perfume for much of the early development. It switches into the base as vetiver, oakmoss, and sandalwood evoke the wood and leaves of the tree our fuzzy narrator is perched in.

Koala has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

You might look at that ingredient list and think this is a cold weather scent. I wore it on two hot and humid days, and it was delightfully cooling through the mentholated effect of the eucalyptus. I think there won’t be much of my sample left by the time there is frost on the pumpkin. Mr. Wong has been on quite a creative trajectory over the last two years. He has a vision and an audience he wants to share it with. He has regularly produced perfumes which are among the best of the perfumer he hires. I can’t say where Koala falls in Dr. Drosopoulos’ career because it is my first exposure. It is like those anthologies and compilations I mentioned I can’t wait to climb this new tree for myself.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Sloth- Rainforest Sleepytime

I was having a teleconference with an Italian perfume journalist. He asked me who I thought was doing the best creative direction in independent perfumery. I think there are two names which come right to the top of mind. One of them is Victor Wong of Zoologist. I have lauded Mr. Wong extensively but I will add this onto the pyramid. The biggest reason I think this, is he has remained true to his vision of creating different perfumes. The collection runs the gamut from crowd-pleasers to challenging. He has seemingly never compromised the creativity for commercial considerations. He has also managed to coax some of the best work from some of the best independent perfumers. It seems as if his reputation for this now has perfumers approaching him.

Victor Wong

When Mr. Wong was in London for the 2018 Art and Olfaction Awards one of his fellow finalists approached him about a collaboration. The perfumer was Prin Lomros. They had corresponded previously when Mr. Lomros had described perfumes he had imagined paired to a specific animal. They decided now was the time to collaborate leading to Zoologist Sloth.

Prin Lomros

They decided they wanted to create a slowly unfurling perfume to mimic their totem animal. To achieve this they imagined their sloth hanging high in the trees safe from the predators below pillowed on a mossy branch. It forms a sleepy green perfume.

Mr. Lomros combines chamomile, lavender, marigold, and violet leaf. This is a cleverly different way of making a vegetal green accord. Chamomile and lavender have herbal facets which Mr. Lomros uses the violet leaf to accentuate and blend. The marigold has an astringent floral quality which provides a connection to the jasmine in the heart. This is what creates the tropical humidity of the rainforest. A very precise amount of cumin represents the sloth among the leaves and flowers. Beeswax adds in its gentle slowly oozing animalic character in sloth-like movement. The fecund scent of the forest comes in the base accord via tonka, myrrh, and oakmoss. Mr. Lomros uses enough of the oakmoss to notice. This is a classic velvety oakmoss effect. It feels just like the perfect place to lay a sloth’s head for a nap.

Sloth has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Within the spectrum of Zoologist perfumes Sloth is in the middle between crowd-pleaser and challenging. Although it has bits of both at different times. It speaks to all the things I think is great about Mr. Wong’s creative direction. It doesn’t smell like anything else in the collection. Mr. Lomros has made one of his best perfumes. Even when its sleepytime in the rainforest Sloth makes you take notice.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Zoologist.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Bat (2020)- A Different Species

Every perfume brand will have a breakout moment if they are good. In 2016 that moment happened for Victor Wong with the release of Zoologist Bat. To that point he was building a presence slowly and confidently. Bat would be the inflection point of attention. Mr. Wong would be lauded for his creative direction. Bat became the way many people discovered the brand. Then a disagreement with the perfumer had Mr. Wong facing a difficult decision. Do I just discontinue the perfume? Or do I try again? To his credit he has chosen to try again with Zoologist Bat (2020).

Victor Wong

He met Thailand-based perfumer Prin Lomros a few years ago. Mr. Lomros approached him about making a perfume for Zoologist. He even had some perfume sketches for Mr. Wong to try. That has led to the release of Zoologist Sloth. When Mr. Wong made the decision to re-make Bat he asked Mr. Lomros to take the wheel.

Prin Lomros

The original perfumer, Dr. Ellen Covey, based the perfume on research she had done as part of her scholarly work studying bats. She wanted to capture the cave they lived in. The success speaks for itself. Mr. Lomros was asked to make a few slight changes a fruit here, a resin there. Make it your own but try and stay close to the way the original smelled, Mr. Wong asked. Instead Mr. Lomros created a version of Bat that reflects his part of the world and the species of bats that live there.  This isn’t the same as the first Bat but it delivers different pleasures while staying true to the theme.

The keynote of the first version was geosmin; the perfume ingredient which smells like soil. Mr. Wong wanted that to be in the new version. Mr. Lomros takes his Bat to a different cave in a different part of the world.

Bat (2020) opens with an intensely fruity accord comprised mainly of guava while gaining depth through fig and passion fruit. This is a fruit forest of Asia where the fruit bats happily perch. The first hint of the bat comes though a full spectrum jasmine. The indoles let you know there is a furry animal within the florals and fruit. I enjoyed immensely the way the bat feels like it is trying to hide from detection but the animalic indoles give it away. Now is when the geosmin comes out as if it is the dirt of the forest floor. It has that tropical humidity to go with the soil. It is a fabulously different take. Along with the intense fruits and florals it comes together very well. The hidden bat takes wing and flees to its cave over the final stages as the stone and dirt become more pronounced. Olibanum, vetiver, and teakwood form the moss-covered walls of its lair.

Bat (2020) has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Bat (2020) is nothing like the original Bat it is its own beast. I have to give credit to both Mr. Wong and Mr. Lomros for seeing this through. It would have been so easy to walk away. That they chose to release another equally compelling version into the wild deserves praise. I enjoy it as much as I did the original because of the differences.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

Colognoisseur Best of 2019 Part 2- Perfume, Perfumer, Creative Director, and Brand of the Year

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In Part 1 I took a wide view of the year in perfume that was 2019. Today I get very specific naming the very best of the year in four categories.

Perfume of the Year: Chatillon Lux Weinstrasse– Last year when I was doing my end of year summaries I had never heard of St. Louis-based independent perfumer Shawn Maher and his Chatillon Lux brand. I would catch up over 2019. Mr. Maher is representative of what makes independent perfumery special. He creates perfumes which reflect his hometown’s history and geography. I have enjoyed everything he has released this year. It was his last release of the year Chatillon Lux Weinstrasse that captured my attention most fully of any new perfume I tried this year.

One of the things which has drawn me to Mr. Maher is he shares his process through posts on the Chatillon Lux website. What these entries reveal is a perfumer who understands the materials he is using. He goes deep into the effect each ingredient has on the finished product. You can read the one for Weinstrasse here.

Weinstrasse was inspired by the Germans who migrated to St. Louis and began vineyards. What Weinstrasse captures are the smells of the late harvest. It begins from a clever accord of grapes on the vine using green cognac oil and blackcurrant bud. One thing I marvel at each time I wear Weinstrasse is the way Mr. Maher captures the glow of a late autumn sun. Many perfumes inspired by wine have a claustrophobic feeling. Mr. Maher creates a perfume with a golden glow of muted sunlight. It opens up the entire composition. In that blog post Mr. Maher wanted Weinstrasse to be his version of a fougere. The base is an overdose of the ingredient which defined the beginning of modern perfumery; coumarin. It adds that classic fougere-ish vibe without going fully into it. It fits surprisingly well with everything that has come before.

I believe Mr. Maher is a special talent who is only at the beginning of creating his perfumes. He will have a difficult time making a better perfume than Weinstrasse my choice for Perfume of the Year for 2019.

Perfumer of the Year: Cristiano Canali- Perfumer Cristiano Canali provided brilliant bookends for 2019. In January I was enthralled with Rubini Tambour Sacre only to be equally engaged by Zoologist Bee in December. Sig. Canali is not one of the most prolific or well-known perfumers. He has a layered style of making perfume that requires the right concept to allow it to flourish.

Working with Andrea Rubini and a talented creative team at Rubini Sig. Canali translated the sound of sacred drums from the Horn of Africa into a gorgeous composition in Tambour Sacre. Collaborating with Victor Wong of Zoologist for Bee he created a perfume of multiple layers of honey without falling into the places where honey can be difficult. He successfully traveled the tightrope necessary to make Bee memorable.

This became an easy choice because he was the only perfumer to create two of the ten perfumes I was considering for Perfume of the Year. That is why Cristiano Canali is the Perfumer of the Year for 2019.

Runner-Ups: Mandy Aftel, Antonio Gardoni, Olivia Giacobetti, Christophe Laudamiel, and Shawn Maher.

Creative Director(s) of the Year: Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi of Masque Milano– There have been no creative direction in all of perfumery better than that provided by Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi of Masque Milano. For the past six years they have followed a formula of working with the best young talented perfumers. Also giving them a brief and the latitude they wouldn’t find elsewhere to create one of the best collections you can find. The two perfumes released in 2019 continued that. Early in the year they worked with Vanina Muracciole to create a reconstructed chypre in Kintsugi. At the end of the year perfumer Caroline Dumur produced an elegiac rose rife with poignancy in Love Kills. Sigs. Brun and Tedeschi have consistently pushed independent perfumery to new heights while serving the young rising stars. For this and the perfume they oversaw in 2019 they are the Creative Directors of the Year for 2019.

Runner-ups: Christian Astuguevieille of Comme des Garcons, Etienne de Swardt of Etat Libre d’Orange, Jan Ewoud Vos of Puredistance, and Victor Wong of Zoologist Perfumes.

Brand of the Year: Zoologist Perfumes– It is a modern miracle what Victor Wong has achieved with his brand Zoologist Perfumes. He is another creative director who seems to get the most out of his collaborators. In 2019 he worked with Joseph DeLapp on Dodo, Daniel Pescio on Chameleon, Celine Barel on Squid, and Cristiano Canali on Bee. No two of those perfumes are like the other. Mr. Wong has created a brand which has consistently impressed but 2019 was the best year they have had creatively. That is why Zoologist Perfumes is the Brand of the Year for 2019.

Runner-Ups: Aftelier Perfumes, Chatillon Lux, Comme des Garcons, and Masque Milano.

Part 1 is my broad overview of 2019.

The Top 25 will be published on Monday December 30.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Bee- The Best Buzz

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.

Victor Wong

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.

Cristiano Canali

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.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Squid- Deep-Sea Aquatic

Anyone who has ever been in a boat on the ocean can tell you once you get out over deep water things change. The color goes from brilliant blue to deep indigo. If you dive underneath the water after a few feet you realize there is more below you than above you. There is also a scent to the ocean once you leave sight of shore. It has nothing to do with sea spray, suntan lotion, or tropical flowers. It is all about the briny depths. If you’ve ever wanted that in a perfume Zoologist Squid is here.

Victor Wong

Creative director-owner Victor Wong collaborates with perfumer Celine Barel. Their effort is to create an aquatic that represents the depths of the ocean. This an aquatic which is for those who don’t want the classic “fresh and clean” aesthetic characteristic of the style. Squid looks in the darker places far away from land. To accomplish that Mme Barel uses a couple of fabulously engineered accords she calls “black ink” and “salty”. The former is probably the factoid most people know about squid, they shoot ink to escape predators. In the case of a perfume accord I experienced it not so much as inky but as the deep indigo color of the open sea. The “salty” accord is, I think, an accumulation of the typical sea spray ingredients layered in a denser fashion. I believe I pick out things I recognize but there seems to be more weight to some of them. I would be interested to know how she decided to construct this.

Celine Barel

Squid opens on a top accord of incense and salicylates tuned by baie rose. It reminded me of the scent of the seaweed lines at the edge of the Gulf Stream. It is a green-tinted top accord which leads to that combination of “black ink” and “salty” accords. This is when Squid dives deep beneath the waves. It finds a weight to the typical aquatic style that is compelling. I could drift here for days in a salty pool of ink. Squid moves on with the most classic ocean perfume ingredient there is; ambergris. It provides the more typical style of brininess. In Squid it feels like I’ve surfaced from a dive to where the scent seems lighter. It is the only part of Squid which feels like an old-style aquatic.

Squid has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

The depths of Squid make for an aquatic that is going to be even better in the chill of fall and winter. Where most of my aquatics go into hibernation after Labor Day, Squid will still be prowling my perfume shelf as a deep-sea aquatic with legs.  

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Chameleon- Field of Perfumes

Kevin Costner hears a voice tell him “If you build it, he will come.” at the beginning of the movie “Field of Dreams”. It is a call to do what you think is important to bring an outcome you desire. The saying has been altered by many to replace the “he” with “they”. This has then gone on to define efforts which willingly go outside of the mainstream. I have no idea if the creative director-owner of Zoologist Perfumes, Victor Wong, is a fan of the movie or the saying. What has become evident over five years of Zoologist making perfume is the belief that if you build interesting perfume, they will find it. The latest to be found is Zoologist Chameleon.

Victor Wong

One of the reasons for the success of his line is Mr. Wong finds his collaborators by also being a perfume fan. For Chameleon he met perfumer Daniel Pescio when he bought some vintage perfumes from him and M. Pescio added a sample of his own to the box. According to the interview with M. Pescio on the Zoologist website, Mr. Wong thought the perfume smelled very “French”. He filed the name away until he had the idea to do an ylang-ylang and vanilla focused perfume called Chameleon. One thing about M. Pescio is he is one of those shadows behind the scenes of the fragrance world. Chameleon is the first perfume I have smelled by him. In the interview he says he strives for “quality” of ingredients, “the balance”, and “the evolution”. Those are all things which come together to make compelling perfume.

Daniel Pescio

For Chameleon M. Pescio didn’t want to retread the typical ylang-ylang vanilla style which is out there. Instead of exploring the sweet floral aspects of ylang-ylang he focuses on my favorite part of the scent of this flower; its fleshiness underneath the sweet.  

Chameleon opens with a bouquet of fruity notes representing a tropical style. Threads of aquatic breezes blow through. The ylang-ylang rises to meet the fruits. In the first moments it smells like many ylang-ylang centric fruity florals. Rather quickly it drops into a lower harmonic as that quality I enjoy in ylang-ylang begins to be noticeable. I have enjoyed this because it was the basis of so many vintage perfumes where it would be paired with animalic ingredients for an incredible sensuality. M. Pescio moves towards a similar effect as he harnesses the confluence of cashemran, vanilla, and musks to farm a “salty skin accord”. This comes together to form a fascinating Retro Nouveau perfume.

Chameleon has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Chameleon is another Zoologist release which asks perfume lovers to come to what Mr. Wong is building. Over the past five years many have found it worth the trip. Chameleon is just another all-star player in Mr. Wong’s Field of Perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s Note: For those of you who enjoy the visual with your perfume Mr. Wong has teamed up with artist “The Big in the Small” to create four unique prints based upon Chameleon. You can read, and see, more at this link.

New Perfume Review Zoologist Dodo- Extinction Protocol

There are few stories in independent perfumery as successful as that of Victor Wong. Mr. Wong went from being part of the gigantic group of people who talk about making perfume on Facebook to actually doing it. Even more remarkable is his business plan of asking some of the best independent artisan perfumers to design something for his Zoologist brand. He has acted as a creative director allowing the perfumers to create something he would like to smell. Mr. Wong has taken the way he wanted independent perfume to be and brought it to life. A little over four years ago he released his first perfume. At the beginning of his fifth year comes Zoologist Dodo.

Victor Wong

Following up last year’s Tyrannosaurus Rex it seems like Mr. Wong is working on the extinct side of the animal kingdom. For Dodo he collaborated with perfumer Joseph DeLapp. Mr. DeLapp has his own artisanal line of attars he distills himself called Rising Phoenix. According to his interview on the Zoologist website Mr. DeLapp only rarely works in alcohol based Eau de Parfum. He has a line ready to go but it seems like Dodo will be his first. He also mentioned in the same interview that he wanted to make an EdP which was as dense as an attar. He doesn’t quite manage that. What he does achieve is something more open and appealing.

Joseph DeLapp

Mr. Wong wanted a fougere as part of his line. Mr. DeLapp had been working on a fougere as part of his own brand. They met in the middle in producing Dodo. This is a fougere which only comes from this kind of creative genetics.

Dodo opens in a tropical jungle redolent of green foliage and exotic fruits of lychee, lime, and raspberry. Mr. DeLapp deftly chaperones the three fruity ingredients allowing them to create a humid tropical jungle accord. This transitions into a floral heart accord of rose over ambergris and fir. The fir deepens the foliage effect from the top accord into something more pine-like. This s where Dodo becomes most like an attar. Rose is a classic attar ingredient and the one used here has all the rich quality of an attar rose. Mr. DeLapp uses the ambergris as the supporting ingredient to lift that rose up. The base accord continues the slowly intensifying green with oakmoss anchoring it with its noir-ish quality. Mr. DeLapp threads through a lightly animalic musk, patchouli, and amber to complete the tropical jungle milieu.

Dodo has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

One of the things I have admired about Mr. Wong is he has often brought out the best work of the perfumers he has worked with. Dodo is another case of this. I like this better than any of the attars I’ve tried from Rising Phoenix; and those are very good. I am now very much hoping Mr. DeLapp finds a way to produce his own line of Eau de Parfums. Dodo is another success of Mr. Wong’s extinction protocol for perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Zoologist.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex- Force Multipliers

When two creative people you admire team-up you probably expect to find something that is more than the sum of its parts. It has been one of the characteristics of the creative direction Victor Wong has produced for his Zoologist Perfumes brand. I think he has helped the independent perfumers he collaborates with to produce some of their best perfumes ever. In the perfume whisper stream, I had heard that one of the most creative independent perfumers, Antonio Gardoni, and Mr. Wong were trying to find a way to team-up on a perfume. The rumors have been realized as Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex has been released.

There are a few independent perfumers who have quite as distinctive a signature as Sig. Gardoni. He was the unnamed perfumer for a different brand and the aesthetic nearly screamed his name when you tried it. Until he was revealed as the perfumer he must have become bored with being asked if he was. Sig. Gardoni has excelled at opening phases which are compelling. If there has been a consistent drawback it is the rest of the perfumes sometimes suffer from a clutter of ingredients heading off in many directions. My hope was that Mr. Wong could be the kind of traffic cop who could keep the perfume flowing without jamming up. For the most part I think this is what takes place.

Victor Wong (l.) and Antonio Gardoni

It begins with the bold opening I expected as twin pillars of smoke via cade oil and frankincense. This is amplified with notes of fir, and black pepper. This is acrid smoke the kind that makes you cough if you get too much. Sig. Gardoni captures the violence of air on fire. What twists it all is you also smell the flowers that are burning as champaca, jasmine, neroli, and ylang-ylang capture a primordial tropical milieu. It is a completely Gardoni style opening. Now the question was would this burn to the ground or soar. Mr. Wong does oversee a much more concise trip to the finish by concentrating on a set of woods and animalic ingredients to produce the giant dinosaur in the name erupting from the forest. It starts as cedar and sandalwood begin to push back at the smoke. A classically constructed birch tar leather accord joins in with civet to make the animalic accord. This is far less complicated than the typical Gardoni finish and much better for it.

Tyrannosaurus Rex has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is by far the most avant-garde release from Zoologist. It is not going to be a crowd pleasing easy-to-wear style of perfume. It is also another example of how Mr. Wong can accentuate the positives of the perfumers he works with. Tyrranosaurus Rex is a show of creative force multipliers producing something amazing.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Zoologist Hyrax- Hyraceum Happens

One of the reasons I find perfume so fascinating is it makes what you might think should smell bad something that smells good. Most of those smells originate from the anal region of different animals. One of the most unique is the ingredient hyraceum, or Africa Stone. Hyraceum is the petrified form of the excrement of a small rodent-like creature known as a Cape hyrax. It has been a seldom used ingredient, but I have generally enjoyed it. It provides a funky animalic aspect that the various musks do not.

Hyraxes!

My most memorable experience with the raw ingredient was at Pitti Fragranze in Florence a couple years ago. There I was given the opportunity to smell it in its unadulterated form. I gagged. It smelled like…um…excrement; concentrated excrement. Then I was shown how, as you dilute it, the gag-inducing turns into a rough leathery ingredient. It is this which gets used most often. When I received my sample of Zoologist Hyrax I had a feeling I would be smelling some hyraceum.

Victor Wong

The owner and creative director of Zoologist, Victor Wong, has been working with different independent perfumers ever since the beginning of his brand. For Hyrax he chose to collaborate with perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit. Mr. Pritzkoleit has his own brand, SP Perfumes, which has been in existence since 2016. I’ve tried most of his releases for that brand. The best is when he uses the animalic ingredients. Those are what he seems to have the keenest intuition about. With some creative direction I expected Hyrax would be pretty good. I was correct. The reason I like it so much is it embraces the animalic in a boozy embrace of whisky.

Sven Prtizkoleit

Hyrax opens with a huge shot of hyraceum. If you aren’t expecting it, you might be wanting to get your arm as far away as you can. It is like turning on the amplifier without noticing someone has pegged the volume. It is so strong it almost carries its own kind of distortion wave. Mr. Pritzkoleit goes to work turning the volume down. At first saffron and pink pepper start to tame the hyraceum. Then a fabulous shot of whisky does the job. Like the hyraceum is soaked in a glass of Jack Daniels. I fell for this each day I wore it. So much so that when the more pedestrian patchouli and amber arrive to finish this off I had a slight twinge of disappointment.

Hyrax has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Hyrax is the most animalic perfume released by Zoologist. It is a couple of levels stronger than Civet. For those who enjoy the brand you can use that as guidance for what your personal affinity might be for Hyrax. I have a special place in my perfumed heart for fragrances like Hyrax; always have. Which means I’m happy to shrug my shoulders and say “hyraceum happens” while spraying myself with more Hyrax.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist.

Mark Behnke