Not long ago I was contacted (through the Basenotes.net site) by a new perfumer who is launching a new line. He wanted to know if I was interested in sampling his initial fragrances, and I agreed. So, as for “full disclosure,” I was sent four samples that appear to be 1 ml or less each. The perfumer is striving to recreate vintage compositions (and doesn’t adhere to IFRA guidelines), especially of that late 70s to early 90s period, it seems, so I was quite curious to sample them. After doing so, he decided to launch one of them at first (Tabac Vert). For those interested, here is where you can order samples or 30 ml bottles:
I’ll begin my reviews with Chypre de Siam, which I hope he releases soon. The notes for this one are:
Benzoin, Kaffir Lime, Jasmine Sambac, Salacca Fruit, Oakmoss, Incense Wood.
The ingredients listed on the etsy page are:
Coumarin, Iso Alpha Methyl Ionone, Hydroxycitronellal, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Limonene, Oakmoss, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, Eugenol, Isoeugenol.
I dabbed it on and I try to avoid top notes (though in this case I just blew on the area that was dabbed, rather than holding my breath or leaving the room), so keep that in mind. It certainly feels “old school,” and those who don’t like dry “old school” scents that are sweet may find not enjoy it, but I could also see some of these people being won over to it, because it isn’t “musty” (I’ve read many who complained of this quality). On the other hand, it’s possible that some would perceive it as musty. I think what most mean by this is a dry yet musky quality, perhaps with a clear animalic element. If you have tried Equipage, imagine it without the strong rosewood (and muskiness) and I think you’ll have a good idea what this is like (again, at the drydown stage).
What I was expecting was either a somewhat sweet base or a dry/woody one, but this is no more than a touch sweet and just a bit woody. I think it would satisfy those who have said they wished they could find in vintage scents, which is a more straightforward (possibly simpler) and less “in your face” composition. You don’t have to worry about any obvious aroma chemicals here, and I could imagine this being good for layering as well (lately, I have often layered a vintage scent with a recent release). A criticism may be that it’s not daring enough, but unless someone claims that his/her scents were meant to be “groundbreaking” I can’t accept this as a valid complaint.
I was going to sample the others, but then before I did he told me that he decided to change the formulations/compositions, and only release Tabac Vert for the time being, until he gets the others exactly as he wants them. The listed notes for TV are:
Cedar, pepper, bergamot, amber and sandalwood.
Fortunately (for me, at least), this is a “big” tobacco type scent, reminiscent of Creed’s Vintage Tabarome and Worth Pour Homme Haute Concentration (but without the lavender), so I’d classify it a bit closer to the former. I like this one better than any non-sweet tobacco scent I’ve tried so far (I wouldn’t reach for this one when I wanted something like Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, and vice versa). And the tobacco quality lasts for a very long time! There’s no longer any reason to lament “high” vintage prices (such as for ones like Patou Pour Homme, Vintage Tabarome, and Egoiste Cologne Concentree). Nor can one say (as I’ve heard on more than a few occasions) that vintage should be avoided because it may not be easily replaced. It’s available now and you can buy as much as you like! The base is reminiscent of Boucheron Pour Homme EdP (vintage formulation) but with tobacco rather than lingering citrus.
As to the oakmoss content in Tabac Vert specifically, the perfumer says it is just a hair under 1%, whereas IFRA only allows .2%. I asked him about how Tabac Vert compares to vintage scents that contained more tiny amounts and this was his response;
I recall seeing a Louis Appell demo formula for Chypre de Coty with 1% oakmoss. And I’ve also seen a (so-called authentic) formula for Mitsouko with a whopping 7%.
Without an actual gcms of these original juices we’ll never really know because perfumers are super secretive. We can only really gauge from these demo formulas and what works in our own lab.
But, for the record: I very adamantly DO NOT consider myself a perfumer but rather a perfume hobbyist. I’ve spent the last 8 years learning and familiarizing myself with the materials. I experimented with demo formulas and did A LOT of trial & error (mostly error), but I think to consider myself a perfumer marginalizes the real perfumers in their industry and their hard work, experience and education.
Overall, I was pleased to learn that there’s no reason why vintage type scents can no longer be produced. Why so many niche companies want to market “iso e super overload” or “cashmeran overload” scents is an interesting question. As I’ve said before, it may be that enough of the niche crowd now perceive a scent with a lot of iso e super or cashmeran as “special,” “expensive,” “high quality,” etc., and so it’s more likely to be a success (can you imagine what a “dihydromyrcenol overload” scent would be perceived by this demographic?). Personally, and on the other side of the niche scene (that is, the “talented amateurs”), I liked these scents more than any of the Andy Tauer scents I’ve tried. Why are some of AT’s scents so popular? If it’s because of the “in your face” quality, then you might find the Rogue Perfumery ones to be “up your alley,” but to me TV is a composition that works perfectly, whereas the AT scents I’ve tried seem flawed in one way or another. After I told him how much I enjoyed TV, he generously sent me 30 ml, so that should keep my non-sweet tobacco scent cravings in line for a quite a while, as it’s very strong (I think one full spray per wearing is all I need)!
NOTE: TV is really “old school,” so some will likely perceive it as musty or even “old lady,” but they’d say the same thing about Vintage Tabarome, Patou Pour Homme, Egoiste Cologne Concentree, etc., I’d guess.