Perfume Directory

Io (2018)
by Chris Rusak

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Io information

Year of Launch2018
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
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HouseChris Rusak
PerfumerChris Rusak

About Io

California desert incense in the image of Death Valley, summer day hikes, and wildfires.

Reviews of Io

Rusak’s portrait of the Southern California desert starts at ground-level and moves upward. The frankincense, which Rusak tinctured himself, permeates the perfume from start to finish. Combined with labdanum and other resinous materials the frankincense smells dusty rather than woody or sappy. It’s rooted in an earthy accord that smells more of sand and stone than moist garden soil. The sense of scorched desert is palpable to the nose. Rusak says that the dry-soil effect is in large part due to a tincture of smoked, dried peppers that he created in his studio. The result is a sun-baked coziness that’s much more personal than the geosmin overdose sometimes used to give fragrances an earthy but often brittle vibe.

To a large extent the smell of the SoCal desert is the scent of fire. The remnants of past brush fires seem to linger for years in the charred stumps of juniper and scrub oak. Papery sagebrush and dried piñon pine needles provide fragrant kindling for the loose fields of waxy, smoky creosote bushes that make the desert smell as if it could burst into flames at any moment. Io balances smokiness and dryness to reproduce the moody tension of desert air on a hot day, where the combination of bone-dry plants and burnt remnants are the before and after of a seemingly inevitable fire.

The challenge of an incense perfume is the momentum of the frankincense itself. Placing it at the center of a perfume can make the perfume simply follow the dynamics of the material, no matter how hard the perfumer might try to steer it in other directions. Rusak bends frankincense to his own purposes just as he twists the expected geography of the material. Frankincense’s origins are in Eastern Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula where the boswellia sacra tree grows. Perfumer Chris Rusak transplants his tree to the desert of Southern California where it reinvents itself in classic Californian fashion
12th March, 2019

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