February 11, 2023
By Amber Kallor
February 4th, 2023
Who Wants to Smell Like a Dead Dinosaur? Apparently, Lots of People
Not everyone wants to reek of pop stars and roses. Peculiar fragrances with notes such as gasoline and fossilized amber, and names like ‘Ink’ are trending. Here, 8 to try.
“YOU SMELL interesting,” is the best compliment you can give Katya Roelse. “I don’t think perfume is just about smelling good, it’s about being provocative and starting a conversation,” said the 47-year-old professor in Newark, Del. Some of her favorite fragrances include whiffs of brown tape like Comme des Garçons’s eponymous eau and potato like DSH Perfume’s Starry Nightshade.
Unlike mass fragrances that rely on celebrities and sex to drive sales, new niche scents entice olfactory sophisticates with eyebrow-raising names (like Dead Dinosaur) and unusual notes (like tar). Some people care “more about their pleasure than emulating a celebrity,” said New York perfumer Frank Voelkl, who’s had a hand in such hyped scents as Ariana Grande’s Ari.
Robert Gerstner, co-owner of New York perfumery Aedes, which specializes in hard-to-find fragrances, said year-over-year sales were up 30% between 2020 and 2022. Individuality and exclusivity are key for Mr. Gerstner’s customers, who don’t want to sniff people sporting their scent on every street corner. Consumers are “craving…quirkiness and creativity,” said Carlos Huber, a New York fragrance developer.
But peculiarity only goes so far. “It’s one thing to want to experience a fragrance but it’s another to wear it all the time,” said Linda G. Levy, president of the Fragrance Foundation in New York. A scent must satisfy the senses (not just reek) if it’s going to sell. So shocking notes are often blended with traditional ones, said Mr. Voelkl.
Madisin McLauchlan, 36, a Vancouver teacher’s assistant, prefers unlikely scents that trigger pleasant memories, while Paris PR executive Angharad Coates, 37, uses distinctive fragrances to mark her territory—particularly when it comes to lovers’ abodes. Zack Bochicchio, 26, a Nashville copyright associate, sees scent as a form of expression. “I wouldn’t like if a person called out [my] fragrance. But if someone borrowed my sweatshirt and said ‘This smells like you,’ in a good way, I’ll have achieved my goal.” Here, five scents sure to leave an impression.
Weirdest Note: Hay
Who It’s For: Anyone with a Berkshires abode who’s seen “Ratatouille.”
Victor Wong, the Toronto founder of the brand Zoologist, owns over 200 animal figurines that inspire his stable of scents, which includes Cow, Bee and Squid. The latest addition, Harvest Mouse, conjures rodent-friendly wheat fields via beer and hay extract. Milan perfumer Luca Maffei added notes of chamomile and orange blossom to replicate the “warmth of the sun.” The result “smells like rum-raisin ice cream,” said Mr. Wong. Bottles will go on sale Feb. 18. $175 for 60ml, ZoologistPerfumes.com
The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.
June 04, 2022
Please tell us about yourself?
The maternal side of my family is Farsi and Indian, whilst my paternal side is primarily from Bangladesh.
My paternal grandparents settled in the U.K. in the 1950s, but they also travelled all over the Middle East visiting the holy Islamic shrines. During these trips, both of them collected many attars and various other memorabilia.
One of my earliest memories is venturing into my grandparents’ room as a toddler and opening their huge antique oak cabinet... and smelling an enchanting, funky perfume. Unfortunately, for them, the tray of attars and mukhallats was on the lowest shelf, and I proceeded to open each one and pour them all over the oak counter, then splat the oily mess over my entire body. To say my grandparents were not pleased is an understatement! I guess that was my first ever chemistry experiment, which led me to having a deep interest in the sciences, especially biology and chemistry.
Later, I studied biochemistry to degree level and then went into retail banking to support my family, as my mother was a single parent at that time. I had to soldier through banking for the next ten years, but was constantly looking for something else to do, especially related to my passion for sciences. To help me cope on a daily basis, I started purchasing small amounts of oils and absolutes with the little money that I had. I would bring them to work and smell them at my till during the very brief respites we cashiers were afforded. Those oils gave me that little sense of serenity and sanity to help me survive the work environment.
During my last years in banking, I became ill and had to take time off work, which, although awful at the time, turned out to be a blessing. I was prescribed lots of antibiotics and immunosuppressants that made me nauseous on a daily basis. After some time, I found out that I had been misdiagnosed, so I stopped the medications and gained a new lease of life. Somehow, my taste and smell seemed enhanced, and I remember smelling my favourite perfume and being able to see, in my mind, how the composition was structured and created. All those times smelling individual oils and isolated molecules at my till had suddenly paid off in volumes! I had unwittingly been amassing knowledge and was now able to recall it at will. From then, in 2012, I started creating my first composition, and the rest is history!
What inspired you to become a perfumer? What are some of your favourite perfumes and genres? Did living in London influence your perfumery journey?
I always wanted to do something biochemistry related but did not know what, and I always enjoyed perfumes, even when I was little, but becoming a perfumer was never in my mind. I always thought that to be a professional perfumer you had to learn French and study perfumery in France, and that it was extremely tough and rather elitist. After my illness, I realised that I needed to follow the subtle directions my life was showing and taking me towards. I was always planning and fighting against the tide that is time… and before I knew it time was over and nothing was achieved. But I was achieving something and each day was a lesson in patience. Eventually, I learnt to relax and go with the flow, instead of going against the tide, and see where it took me… and, fortunately, this is where I’ve ended up!
In terms of favourite perfumes, I love classical perfumes, especially those made by Guerlain and Caron. I’ve been avidly collecting pre-1960s extraits from houses such as Guerlain, Caron, Lucien Lelong, etc. for a very long time. Some people collect stamps, books, watches, cars, etc.; I collect vintage perfumes. For me, each of these cherished bottles is like a precious volume written by a master decades ago, to be studied astutely and to be worn and enjoyed. My favourite perfume has got to be Guerlain’s Djedi. I will never forget the first time I smelt this intoxicating elixir and the effect it had on me.
My favourite genre has to be chypre, as it is so complex and multifaceted.
At which point did you decide to start selling your perfume? What’s so special about them?
I first started creating my compositions in 2013. By early 2014, I realised that there was a rising demand for my work, so I just carried on. At the time, I had a small eBay shop where I used to sell rare compositions from named brands, and when I used to send those to customers I would include small samples of my own work. As a result of this, a lot of the customers enquired about these oils, asking how much they were and if I could sell them some. At first, it was a few U.S. customers, and then a lovely person called Dorje created a thread about my work on Basenotes fragrance forums, and from there it just spread like wildfire! That really gave me a huge boost, psychologically and physically, so I carried on! Eventually, the demand grew so high that I no longer needed to work at the bank, and I dedicated myself to my passion on a full-time basis
It was at that moment, thanks to Basenotes, that I met my best friend Nathan, who has been a great mentor and big brother to me. I learnt a lot about fine art and refinement thanks to him and he has been a huge positive influence in my life. So much so that I believe I wouldn't have achieved as much as a perfumer and above all as a person without his wisdom and kind guidance. I praise God everyday for all the kind, wonderful souls that I have crossed paths with.
Why did you focus on attars?
I focused on attars as I felt that they were the most accurate way to convey my inner psyche. The intensity of the oils matched what was within me and thus allowed me to quieten my soul. I also focused on them out of sheer loyalty to the craft, as it was oils that had changed my life for the better.
Sacred Scarab is an alcohol-based perfume. Is it very different from attars? What were some of the design concerns?
To be honest, I designed Sacred Scarab in the same way I normally design my concentrated perfume oils. At first, I was worried about the dynamics, as the medium is quite different. However, it was just a case of rearranging the proportions of the different materials. At every stage of the design, I was concerned with fine-tuning the message and story, making sure that this was accurately conveyed when sprayed.
Let’s talk about Sacred Scarab, shall we? I remember we discussed about making a perfume inspired by ancient Egyptian perfumery at the beginning.
Yes, if I recall correctly, and we settled on Sacred Scarab as we both realised that so much could be explored with this creature. I have been a fan of Egyptology since I was a kid, avidly reading about mummies and their tombs after learning about the boy king, Pharaoh Tutankhamen. This project provided me with an opportunity to delve in deeper and learn much more about one of my favourite subjects!
During our discussion, we realised that I needed to try to tell a story not only about the insect but also about its connection with ancient Egypt, and somehow create the perfect juxtaposition. The sacred scarab looks like a big, juicy plum, and it sits on top of a dung ball and rolls this into a cosy underground den before laying its eggs inside it. Kyphi was rolled into balls after kneading, reminiscent of the dung but with a much nicer smell! So, our idea was a sacred scarab on top of a kyphi dung ball rolling it into an underground tomb!
How do you describe this scent? Some people say it has a modern opening but the base is ancient.
Modern is a good way to describe the first stage, as blue lotus is such a novel flower to many. Few have had the privilege of experiencing its delicate scent, and fewer still its essence. I would describe Sacred Scarab as a modern floral chypre, but with ancient roots! Ancient because it includes my recreation of kyphi, the ancient Egyptian incense. When I was composing The Sacred Scarab I had the intention of making the composition as regal as possible, something that even Cleopatra would be proud to wear… fit for a Queen.
So what is kyphi? Does kyphi have any common perfumery ingredients? And how does it work in Sacred Scarab?
Kyphi is an ancient Egyptian incense. It was so famed that ancient Greeks and Romans such as Pliny the Elder wrote about it and its various benefits. In Egypt, it was burnt for religious and medical purposes. It was also purportedly used as a chewing gum! It was incredibly popular and there were many ancient Egyptian manufacturers, but each manufacturer had a slightly different formula. However, these were all based around the same ingredients in different proportions: wine, honey, raisins, frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, styrax, cassia, labdanum, benzoin, juniper and cedarwood.
For this most auspicious project, I did a lot of research into the various kyphi formulas through the ages, but focused primarily on those recorded by the ancient Egyptians. I read various literary sources about this mystical substance and also attended seminars given by the renowned Egyptologist, Dora Goldsmith, who, by a stroke of good fortune, just happened to be talking about the ancient Egyptian smellscape and kyphi!
From attending these seminars, studying kyphi balls created by reputable sources, and creating my own kyphi balls, I gained a good understanding of how kyphi smelt. Early on, I realised that although wine was used as a binding agent in kyphi it also provided the sweet fruity note found in the incense. From there, I decided that kyphi must be the base and foundation of the entire composition, and that I had to use the pronounced wine sweetness as the backbone of this composition. I have got to thank my good friend Johanna Venables of NOT Perfumes for helping me source and study some of these kyphi incenses, and also letting me try her own kyphi balls, all of which really helped with the overall research.
In the perfume there is also aldehyde and blue lotus. Can you tell us why you chose these two ingredients?
Aldehydes are used in the composition to convey brightness and sunlight, mirroring the hot climate of our sacred scarab. The citrus materials in the perfume also contain aldehydes, but specific aldehyde molecules were added to synergise with the citrus so that, when first sprayed, the composition appears extremely bright. Alternatively, the sacred scarab was associated with the divine manifestation of the early morning sun, Khepri, who was believed to roll the sun disc over the eastern horizon at daybreak.
The blue lotus was chosen as it was so revered in ancient Egypt. After studying very rare and expensive blue lotus absolutes and essential oils, I realised how absolutely perfect this flower was for this project, as it had the exact wine note that I needed to connect and juxtapose with the wine-like backbone of the kyphi. I have to sincerely thank fellow perfumer Joseph De Lapp for kindly sending me various samples of these super precious blue lotus absolutes and essential oils for free, so I could cross-reference them with the ones I had collected over the years. Knowing how terribly expensive and rare these materials are, I had to accurately recreate a facsimile blue lotus in all its delicate glory.
Once this accord was created and added to the kyphi base, I needed to really bring it alive. This was achieved with an overdose of peach lactone aka Gamma Undecalactone, enhancing the fruity character of the two main accords so there was a rich plum-like aura. To me, the sacred scarab looks like a ripe, purple plum!
Later, I came across a wonderful academic article posted by my friend Olivier Pierre David from the Osmotheque, and he just happened to be talking about scarab beetle pheromones. That was coincidence enough, but there was something even more incredible... it went on to say that Gamma Undecalactone is secreted by scarabs as a sex pheromone! Honestly, I couldn’t believe it! It was like, this composition is an absolutely perfect fit… conceptually and literally.
What is next for you? I believe there is exciting news from you?
Yes, indeed, I am releasing my own collection of spray compositions in September/October. Plus many other exciting projects in the near distant future.
November 13, 2021
I am going to wear the heck out of Chipmunk this fall. It is that scent of woods after all the vegetation has disappeared in preparation for winter.
Chipmunk (the fragrance) is perfectly positioned in timbre and ingredients to lead us through into the autumn with style and a generous helping of fragrant nostalgia.
Chipmunk’s true strength isn’t its portrayal of the animal, but its conjuring ofthe season we associate that animal with most here in North America: autumn. For that reason, I suspect autumnal fragrance fans will be scurrying to sample Zoologist Chipmunk.
The Perfume Guy – Zoologist Perfumes CHIPMUNK Fragrance Review | Woody, Nutty, Sweet Autumn Fragrance
ouch110 Fragrance Reviews – NEW! Zoologist "CHIPMUNK" Fragrance Review
Cali’s Groom Room – NEW! Zoologist- Chipmunk | Perfect Fall Fragrance | Fragrance Review 2021
Jerry Yanis – Chipmunk 🐿 | Zoologist Perfumes - Fragrance Review
Scott Aromatico – New Zoologist Perfumes Chipmunk | Snowy Owl first Impressions
Stella Scented – Zoologist Chipmunk review - Stella Scented
Espace Passion Parfum Avec Isa - New releases by Zoologist: Chipmunk and Macaque - Yuzu Edition (French)
香水有毒 Perfume fanatic – Zoologist Chipmunk香水 不專業香評 (Chinese)
October 12, 2021
Could you tell us something about yourself?
As far as I know, I’m the world’s only Finnish globally active professional perfumer. I grew up in Helsinki and attended Finnish-Russian language school for 12 years. By 18, I was fluent in three languages (Finnish, Russian and English) and somewhat able to use French and Swedish. I was a total bookworm and grew up on old school science fiction and Russian classics. I had also been writing for publication since the age of 9 – so languages seemed to make sense as a career choice. I was going to be an interpreter and I even enrolled on a degree course towards that path, but a gap year turned into a big change - and here I still am, in the UK. I’ve forgotten my Russian now; I’d have to live there for a year or so and it would come flooding back.
I have a 9-month-old Finnish Lapphund called Taisto and I’m married to a Brit with Finnish and Northern Irish heritage. We live in Leighton Buzzard.
It’s easy to look back and think you see a pattern where there wasn’t one, but it did take me a while to realise that not everyone necessarily catalogues their memories with the odours first, memory second. Smelling everything and remembering the exact odours was second nature to me long before I even knew what a perfumer was.
How did you become a perfumer? Did you go to a perfume school?
My route to perfumery is unconventional and filled with side quests. It’s also a bit like When Harry Met Sally, in that perfume was a huge part of my life all along but I didn’t consider it as my one true love until I was in my 30s. The best summary is that while I didn’t attend ISIPCA or an internal perfumery school in a big fragrance house, I have assembled the equivalent of a formal perfumery education from learning on-the-job, academic study, mentorship, and self-study over a period of 12 years. I think the biggest acceleration in my learning came from starting the business with Nick – I was able to get the kind of help that would normally only be available to corporate perfumers. Learning perfumery and becoming more than just competent at it takes more than one human lifetime’s worth of work, so it’s good to have help.
I worked part time after school from age 13 to 20 for a superstore (the kind that stocks everything you can think of and also has distinct departments like cosmetics & fragrance). Over the years I gained a solid foundation of product knowledge in all the brands they stocked. I had also built what nowadays is called a “perfume wardrobe” (and back then in the 80s was considered excessive) – I had a minimum of 20 perfumes in rotation at any one time. Balahe by Leonard, Givenchy III, Paris YSL, Femme Rochas and Fendi were some of my favourites from that time. In the 90s, I wore a lot of Coco. It was my clubbing perfume.
I had always secretly wanted to be an artist, but an unsuccessful art school application in Finland left me thinking I needed to be pragmatic, so I enrolled in London College of Fashion. I graduated in 1996 and went on to work in film, TV, fashion, and theatre as a make-up artist and hair stylist. Our curriculum included cosmetic science and that was my first experience of product formulation. My dream career at the time would have been to work for Jim Henson’s creature workshop – but I had no idea how to achieve that goal.
Instead, I ended up backstage in theatre and fashion shows; magazine shoots and musicals; on a HBO film set in Hollywood creating 1930s hair styles, and creating body painting designs for a fantasy film that was really a thinly disguised soft porn film.
As much as that was fun and exciting, I started to crave some stability. My income had to be supplemented by continuing to work in – guess what? Cosmetics and fragrance. The scheduling of work on set often clashed with my shifts at London department stores (I worked in every single one of them during this time) and sometimes I ended up doing ridiculous workdays that involved an 8-hour shift at Dickins & Jones, then dashing to a theatre to get the actors ready – and finishing at 1am.
I got a job as a regional training manager for a UK cosmetics and fragrance distributor. Their main focus was fragrance, and this was the first time I saw what had been right in front of my nose all along. I started looking into who creates fragrances, where the materials come from and how the industry is set up. All of this was still fiendishly obscure, so it was not easy. The internet was in its infancy and there were no helpful websites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, nor any guidebooks like those edited by NEZ. What I would have given for a place like the Institute of Art and Olfaction back then! The inner workings of actual perfumery seemed like an impenetrable wall.
In the end, I found my way to a cosmetics company that was both known for its fragrances and – crucially - created all its own formulas, including the fragrances, in-house. I had to start from the shop floor and work my way up, but I became a junior perfumer there, through training and participating in all the fragrance activities (buying trips to see raw materials; learning how to quality control; even learning how to compound in bulk on the factory floor – that was such an eye-opener as they were doing everything by hand; your 2% of vanillin in a formula looks really intimidating when it’s a mound of powder you have to solubilise). I also helped train their in-store training team and participated in the launch of their own quirky perfume brand, which involved travelling around the world with their perfume gallery concept. Fell in love with Seoul, New York, and Tokyo.
The products that I worked on as a perfumer were varied, and the raw material palette was a mixture of expensive naturals and basic synthetics. I compounded all my own formulas and trials of course; there were no assistants. This was also very useful training. They funded my study on the ICATS Diploma in Aroma Trades course, on which I won the David Williams prize for best student in my first year.
I moved on after 7 years there, to a small family-run ingredient and fragrance supplier. My role was 80% technical management (fancy term for all incoming and outgoing quality control, plus all regulatory) and 20% perfumery. It was a crash course in the inner workings of the supply side and really educational in many ways; for example, I learned how to properly assess and analyse raw materials and how to detect minute differences in qualities by nose alone. Perfumery was completely different there – very cost conscious, focused on synthetic materials and on functional fragrances. But I did do my first candle fragrances there and realised I enjoyed that medium.
After that, I worked for a colleague from the British Society of Perfumers where I had been a council member for a few years by then; she needed lots of help with the regulatory consultancy and training side of her business and as a reward I also got to help her create fine fragrance accords and keep the lab organised.
Above, clockwise: Olfiction office, Nick Gilbert/Pia Long, Thomas Dunckley, Ezra-Lloyd Jackson/Pia Long/Marianne Martin
Can you tell us more about Olfiction?
One serendipitous bit of timing led to my good friend and sought-after fragrance expert Nick Gilbert becoming available exactly as I was starting to get frustrated at not having enough perfumery to do – and we had a boozy discussion at my dining table about “starting a business one day.”
Three months later, we had a business and our first big account. This was in 2016. We started the business with no outside funding and that’s how things remain to this day; Nick and I co-own it outright.
In the beginning, it was just the two of us, and our business was founded on a combination of our skills and dream projects: olfaction and fiction. Perfumery and storytelling. We shared these twin passions and had experience in both. Two years in, we needed to expand the team and Ezra-Lloyd Jackson joined as a lab assistant, and another good friend Thomas Dunckley (aka The Candy Perfume Boy, six-time Jasmine award winning fragrance writer) started helping us part-time with the storytelling and training side of the business. Soon after that, Marianne Martin, an experienced chemist, perfumer, and perfumery tutor at the London College of Fashion approached me to help her edit the perfumery module for the course she runs – through that collaboration, we clicked and enjoyed working together so much that she joined our team as an independent consultant. She has been instrumental in helping to train Ezra who wants to become a perfumer. One of the best things about our perfumery team is when we get together to smell materials and end up with three perspectives from three generations and backgrounds. It’s so inspiring that I still get goosebumps!
I knew right from the start of Olfiction that this was my opportunity to finally become a full-time perfumer and I did not want to add the bulk compounding, regulatory or filling to our business straight away. It also seemed too much to expect for us to immediately source and stock all the raw materials I wanted. Nick agreed. So, we knew we needed a partner and that’s when Nick suggested we should ask Accords & Parfums, as he had an existing relationship with them through his previous work for L’Artisan Parfumeur and Penhaligon’s.
Above: Garden of Accords et Parfums
Accords & Parfums was founded in 2004 as an extension of Edmond Roudnitska’s Art et Parfums, and they are almost like a publishing house for independent perfumers. They are based on the Roudnitska estate in Cabris, just outside of Grasse. We have an exclusive agreement as the only ones in the UK working through them. It’s such a privilege and it has helped us so much. They source and stock thousands of materials and we can have any we could ever want; currently our lab has around 400. They provide access to formulating software which allows me to do the precise work of the endless calculations required in formulating, reformulating and regulations. They provide stability and safety testing and use the same standard of quality control and precise robotics for manufacturing as the bigger houses. It’s an ideal situation.
Who are your clients? What are some of the perfumes and candles you have created? Which scents/candles you have created so far are special to you?
On the perfumery side: niche & luxury brands, hotels, home fragrance manufacturers (and sometimes unexpected businesses who wish to use perfume in PR or marketing) – on the storytelling and consultancy side: well-known luxury fragrance brands, fragrance industry organisations, larger fragrance houses, distributors and retailers. We also do one off events sometimes, for example with theatres, and provide education for some university courses that include formulation science or marketing. Ezra has been scenting music gigs and giving smell training and perfume making workshops for children. Our aim is to be a positive, enthusiastic force in the world for perfume and smells, and to get to do cool stuff. So far, we’re heading in the right direction.
One of the frustrating aspects of this trade is that there are still many projects under NDA, and also many that take a long time from the very first idea to the final product on the shelf; sometimes years. More and more now, we’ve been named as the perfumers or providers for even some of our bigger projects (like the Mach-Eau we just did for Ford). But this is still the exception.
My favourite smells are quite a contradiction – on one hand I love bright, dewy green scents (and I got to really explore that style in the recent collection I did for Designers Guild as well as in the Succulent candle for our own brand Boujee Bougies), and on the other hand, I love leather aromas so much it’s bordering on a fetish, so of course I had such a good time creating Terror & Magnificence for Beaufort and the Cuir Culture leather candle for Boujee Bougies. In the last few years, I’ve also created for Ghost, Mercedes Benz and Browns Fashion.
The pace of launches slowed right down in the last two years (and we all sadly know why), but conversely, this means there are so many to come in the next 18 months that it seems a bit silly! The first of the “next” list of launches just happened; two candle fragrances for La Montaña (Mistela and August Sunset), and in 2022, Boujee Bougies will see the launch of two new candle fragrances and four perfumes.
Of the recent work, I have adored working on Chipmunk (am I allowed to say that here? It’s true!) because I was able to draw on so many vivid scent memories and add such a twinkle in the eye of that perfume as well.
There are also two perfumes coming out in 2022 that are special to me. I created each with two separate friends in mind; I can’t wait for those to become real. One of those is part of a collection of seven perfumes for a new luxury niche brand, founded by a Mayfair jeweller.
How do you describe your perfumery style? What and who inspire you? What are some of your favourite perfumes?
Magic realism is the best way I can describe my signature style. I first aim for hyper-realism, then twist it. I often add little in-jokes or Easter eggs to the creations, regardless of the medium. Either word play or something to do with the concept itself. Of course sometimes the inspiration is completely abstract, and that’s when the instinctive feel for cross-modal interpretation is useful. Thinking in textures, colours, emotions, states of mind and translating those into scent, or vice versa. I also love decoding what the client really wants, although Nick is our main client contact and helps a lot with this process.
In a way, I did end up being an interpreter – an interpreter of another person’s imagination into scent.
Inspiration is absolutely everywhere, and always links seemingly disparate concepts or materials in that daisy chain of “what if” that all perfumers are probably familiar with – perfumery to me is a state of mind, a constant way of being, experiencing the world, the sensory input and the sensory imagination and memories in your own head as a continuous sea of inspiration. All I need is a command “think of this idea”, either internally or externally, and the cogs begin to turn, pulling inspiration from materials I may have thought I knew but now want to re-smell through the lens of this new idea, or an evening walk in nature, or the green tea I am sipping; a vegetable I’m chopping for dinner… art I see in a book. Everything. Everything is inspiring. If I have been working too much on output and creations, I sometimes deliberately stop to visit an art gallery or gardens or a forest, just to recharge the creative mind with new input. I am always reading (multiple books in progress at all times), and a lot of thoughts come from there, too.
Favourite perfumes are split into two types – the ones that I can wear without thinking about them (Annick Goutal Mandragore, Le Galion Eau Noble, Guerlain Cuir Beluga) and perfumes which to me are either linked to a special memory or just so beautiful in themselves that I need them in my collection even if I don’t get to wear them often – too numerous to list, but for example Ambre Sultan Serge Lutens, Mitsouko Guerlain, L’Artisan Dzongkha.
Let’s talk about Chipmunk! How would you describe Chipmunk? What are some of the ideas and inspirations behind this perfume?
The timing of this was so good. I had just received a sample of a material I hadn’t used before, oak barrel absolute, and I had gone on to create a smell-alike accord to study the olfactive qualities. I had also started working on a hazelnut accord – more like fresh, just shelled, not exactly fully gourmand. I constantly do little studies like this because I am curious. And exactly then, our talks about a Zoologist perfume landed on the Chipmunk and I got very excited.
The oak is the central trunk that I pinned everything else on in the perfume, and the hazelnuts are mixed with acorns, seeds and leaves inside the burrow. All the forests I’d ever visited came to whisper their stories to me and I almost felt like I was creating a scent for a Ghibli film, being the perfumer-Totoro, willing for things to sprout and grow into tall, towering trees through scent. I remembered the smell of still sticky tree sap from conifers from my childhood, and the resins in the perfume echo this.
Did you build it with different accords? How complex is this fragrance? What are some of the naturals used? Are they specials and your favourites?
With fine fragrance, perfume – I tend to work quite methodically. Starting with little accords of individual effects, then blending them in different proportions (even though at this stage they’ll be “messy”, I know what I’m looking for – the unique voice of the perfume). Once I know what to do, I explode the whole formula, tidy it up, do it again, and start to edit, edit, edit.
The key accords that I started with were the realistic oak warmed in the autumn sun, the forest floor and burrow, and the fresh hazelnut. For the burrow, I used an aromachemical called Terranol (a Symrise material that has aspects of fir balsam, moss and patchouli, and I think of it as luxury geosmin; more earthy, less beetroot). As I used natural fir balsam and patchouli, too, they formed a beautiful bond.
The camomile was a whimsical but useful addition - it sweetens the composition without becoming gourmand, it adds earthy notes without dirt, and it adds herbal floralcy without being overtly flowery. Plus, I enjoyed imagining her in a clearing in the forest, nibbling on a flower.
For the magic part of the magic realism, I used expensive, fuzzy synthetic musk for her fur, and added some fantasy woody materials as well as the naturals, for example Javanol which is just lovely. It added a kind of smoothness to the naturals.
There are a couple of hidden qualities that are a nod to her habitat and geographic location; I want people to discover them by themselves rather than to reveal all here.
Do you think Chipmunk is more for women, or is it unisex?
Perfume has no gender in itself – so, the end result can be worn by everyone. Of course, this concept was based on the girl scout chipmunk, so I wanted that combination of hyper-realistic nature and fun artistic interpretation of her to come across. This perfume has cute and fluffy elements and I wanted it to be a scent that should bring childlike joy and a sense of calm to the wearer. I suppose those can be feminine qualities. So, it’s a feminine-leaning creation that can be for anyone who wants to wear it. Having said that, because our individual odour perception is so based on our own receptors, memories, and context, for some people this could read as a masculine because of all the woody aspects and the animalic base notes.
What are some of the projects you are working on? Can you share them with us?
I am currently creating perfumes for a chain of barbershops, working on an oil-based perfume for a potential new offshoot of an existing project, creating a few dozen candle fragrances for various clients and preparing the Boujee perfumes for the stability and safety testing part of the process.
February 28, 2021
There was a point in every day I was out in the winter woods where the sun informed me it was time to turn for home. Most of the time I did that with the desire for more time to spend outside in the stillness. Now Snowy Owl brings the quiet of snow home to me.
Snowy and floral, earthy and raw, icy and smelling piercingly of flowers; a fragrance that hides the hot and pungent honey of animalic notes deep inside, becomes ever fluffier, ever more beautiful, ever closer to a truly sophisticated perfume as opposed to a mere niche perfumery creation on the theme of snowy owls and their habitat.
The shining moment of this very gender inclusive fragrance is the coldness, which is beautifully done and very transportive. For lovers of cold places, or indeed for those who find themselves in hot places and seek some respite, this may well be enough to seduce them into purchasing.
Now Smell This
Snowy Owl's white-floral notes are delicate and restrained, still surrounded by the "cool" outdoorsy notes, like pre-spring flowers threatened by a late-winter snowstorm.
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December 01, 2020
This is gorgeously well-mannered. It is a musk to wear when you don’t want to provoke. It ends on a woody base of sandalwood and cedar framing the musk accord.
Musk Deer Zoologist is a spicy, powdery, animalic fragrance of very friendly character yet has unexpected turns and facets, powered by instincts rather than human logic. It is a very unusual and fun interpretation of musk.
NEZ Magazine, Issue 11
Musk Deer rekindles the extraordinary attraction humankind feels to the peculiar perfume secreted by the male musk deer. Thankfully for the small animal from the south of Siberia, Pascal Gaurin's fragrance is just an interpretation of the ingredient. In the opening, fresh, spicy cardamom contrasts with the warmth of calamus, whose wooden scent is close to cinnamon's, recalling the cool-hot effect of red Tiger Balm. But the initial accords quickly yield to synthetic musks, fleshed out with oud and ambrette, with its subtly plummy facet, to reproduce the animalic, dirty, slightly peppery, soft scent of natural musk. If the flowers in the description are barely detectable, the cedar and earthy patchouli accord does evoke the taiga as a backdrop. Well-executed, the fragrance remains surprisingly discreet and close to the skin.
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November 25, 2020
BY JANELLE OKWODU
November 25, 2020
Musk has been an essential ingredient in perfumery since the very beginning, and you can find mentions of the animalistic base note as far back as the 5th century AD. Originally derived from male musk deer—a species now endangered due to hunting—the musk we use now is derived from synthetic compounds. Zoologist’s latest scent honors the animal’s majestic nature and its namesake accord by creating a 100% cruelty-free version of musk enhanced with cardamom, ambrette, and sandalwood. The concept makes for a fragrance with all the softness and sensuality associated with natural musk without any environmentally unfriendly drawbacks.
September 10, 2020
New York, NY, 10/9/2020
Zoologist was presented with the prestigious Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year Award on 10/9/2020 for outstanding perfumery. Zoologist Squid won the hotly contested prize over other nominees including Tabac 28 by Le Labo, Copper by Comme des Garcons, WF / 2020 by A.N. Other, Rose & Cuir by Frederic Malle.
June 23, 2020
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.
The central core still contains an echo of eucalyptus throughout, though, which is really pleasing… I worried that it might get lost as it tends to be a short lived note in perfumery. Drosopoulos worked some interesting secondary notes to help move this along through the different phases so that it carries the smell over a few hours. What also “works” well is that eucalyptus still translates as a cleansing smell, something conjuring up curative waters, healing balms. It feels restorative, centering.
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Cologniano_D’s Olfactory Camera – KOALA -Zoologist Unboxing and First Impression.
April 25, 2020
It feels just like the perfect place to lay a sloth’s head for a nap.
Sloth combines polarizing, somewhat peculiar notes of perfume together to create the dense, biodiversity of the animal’s environment. Some of these notes are so complex that they’d be perfumes by themselves: chamomile (with it’s herbal edge and apple-like sweetness,) Himalayan spikenard (peppery, sweet, and woody,) açaí berry (sweet, but thick and complex in its own tropical way.) These smells are matched with an animalic perfumed edge that defies easy description…
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April 24, 2020
It gives us immense pleasure to learn that Zoologist Bee and Squid were both selected as finalists in the Independent category for the 2020 Art and Olfaction Awards!
We know that, like every year, it was an extremely hard pool to judge. Our submissions made it through quite a process, and we are very proud.
Zoologist Bee is designed by Cristiano Canali (Argeville); Zoologist Squid is designed by Celine Barel (IFF).
Awarded to just eight perfumes and projects a year, The Art and Olfaction Awards are designed to celebrate excellence in independent perfumery, and raise public interest and awareness around new developments in perfumery on a global scale.
The Awards, established in 2014 by The Institute for Art and Olfaction, are given to outstanding creators in the categories of independent, artisan, and experimental perfume from across the globe, chosen for perfumes and experimental projects with scent released in 2019. In addition to those juried categories, the Art and Olfaction Awards honour excellent work being done in three discretionary categories: The Contribution to Scent Culture Award, The Septimus Piesse Award for Exceptional Vison, and the Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume.
This year’s Art and Olfaction Awards events will take place in a public ceremony at Cicada Club in Los Angeles, in late September.
Each Art and Olfaction Award winner will receive The Golden Pear, which continues to cement its status as an important achievement in the perfume world.
We hope we will win!
March 24, 2020
Last Update: April 20, 2020
International mail and parcel service is being severely impacted by the evolving coronavirus situation. Many international Postal Operators have suspended mail service.
Mail and Parcels destined to all regions of the U.S.A. continue to be delivered. Changes to USPS operations and delivery processes to protect employees and the public from the spread of COVID-19 may impact delivery times.
Postal services have been suspended to many international destinations at the request of the receiving Postal Operator or due to the lack of available transportation.
Canada Post is still accepting letters and parcels for these destinations.
Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, China*, Croatia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea South Rep, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Mexico*, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Pierre Miqln, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States Of America, Viet-Nam
*Zoologist don't ship to China and Mexico regardless of Canada Post service availability.
Canada Post is not accepting mail and parcels for these destinations due to a temporary service disruption.
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua And Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Ascension, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia/Herzegov, Botswana, Brazil*, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central Afr Rep, Chad, Chile*, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Congo, Dem Rep, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Rep, Dutch Caribbean, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equat Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Fr Polynesia, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea North Dem Rep, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Moldova, Republic, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn, Qatar, Reunion, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Samoa, Sao Tome Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Is, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Vincent & Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad And Tobago, Tristan Da Cunh, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks & Caicos, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emr, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela,Virgin Islands-Br, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
*Zoologist don't ship to Brazil and Chile regardless of Canada Post service availability.
For destinations where service is still available, expect significant and unpredictable delays. Delays are the result of both limited air transportation and changes in the way Postal Operators deliver. Like Canada Post, many international Postal Operators have introduced changes to eliminate customer interactions at the door and support social & physical distancing. These changes may delay delivery and signature will not be available on some items.
To see the full list of destinations in PDF, click here. Thank you for your understanding.