Welcome to the return of New In Niche where we round up some of the latest offerings from the niche side of the perfumed world. The idea here is to highlight some of the fragrances from the smaller perfume Houses out there. One thing I am not going to try and do is to define Niche in this column. My rule on whether I include a fragrance is going to go like this; if it smells like niche and looks like niche, I’m going to call it niche.
Alexa Lixfield 001, 002, and 003
If you go to Alexa Lixfield’s website
and read the “About” section you see right at the top her credo; “I produce culture”. She spent 10 years as a model before going onto design school. In 2006 she set up her design studio in Hamburg, Germany and has been producing pieces of art many of which center around using concrete as a material. In January 2010 she expanded her artistic talents into the area of fragrance and released three fragrances; 001, 002, and 003. The bottles have concrete stoppers in them each which get a shade darker to signify which fragrance you’re trying.
is described as an “elegant and comforting fragrance” with notes of Lily of the Valley, jasmine, light herbs, white tea, and musk.
is meant to evoke a “sandalwood fan in motion” and it has notes of sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, fir balsam, tonka, and vanilla.
is “an exotic fresh fougere” containing bergamot, rosemary, patchouli, pepper, vanilla, and cinnamon.
I’ve had a chance to smell all three fragrances and found 001 to be the lightest and the most feminine of the three fragrances. In contrast 002 was the one I felt tilted towards the most masculine as the mix of woods present made this a fragrance any man could easily wear. 003 seemed like it should be more of a gourmand, based on the note list, but I found it to be closer in style to what was promised an exotic twist on a fougere and unexpectedly light considering the note list.
Odin 01 Nomad, 02 Owari, 03 Century
In another cross-cultural entry into fragrance, although from the much more well-traveled path from fashion, come the inaugural three fragrances under the Odin brand. Odin is a menswear store in Soho in New York City. They have also been expanding their brand and fragrance is a logical place to expand into. Like Alexa Lixfield their first three offerings are numbered but they also have a name to go with them to give you a little hint of what is inside.
is, as the name would imply, a riff on the spice trade and comes off as a fairly pedestrian take on an oriental based fragrance. The notes are juniper, cedar, black pepper, tonka, and sandalwood.
is based on the name of a Japanese province and it exudes a classic Asian minimalist vibe with notes of mandarin, crushed grapefruit leaves, pepper, and musk.
is an attempt to create a modern chypre using birch, cypress, mint, myrrh, vetiver, patchouli, moss, musk and amber.
After trying all three 02 Owari is the lightest and is for those who like their clean and fresh fragrances with a little extra zip. 01 Nomad has a classic oriental construction and it feels very similar to other orientals out there; if you’re a fan of the style it is worth a try. 03 Century is an excellent take on a modern chypre and easily the most interesting of the three to me as it had the more complex drydown on me.
Histoires de Parfums Tuberose Trilogy #1 Capricieuse, #2 Virginale, #3 Animale
Our third set of three fragrances come from Gerald Ghislain and his Histoires de Parfums
line of fragrances. Tuberose is one of the classic floral notes in perfumery and M. Ghislain wanted to create a trio of perfumes to explore all of the facets that tuberose can bring to a fragrance. The stated idea of the line was “…to capture(s) the sweet and heady perfume of the tuberose and combine it with different middle and base notes to create three different fragrances.” As a result you get a “gourmand”, a “floriental”, and a “floral leather”.
#1 Capriceuse pairs its tuberose with saffron, bergamot, iris, ylang ylang, cacao, and suede.
#2 Virginale adds mandarin, cherry, jasmine, tiare, frangipani, blond woods, patchouli, and vanilla to its tuberose.
#3 Animale surrounds its tuberose with notes of kumquat, neroli, plum, herbs, blond tobacco, and immortelle.
If you are a fan of tuberose fragrances like Frederic Malle Carnal Flower or Robert Piguet Fracas these fragrances will be right up your alley. The leather at the base of #1 Capriceuse makes the development of that one very interesting. #2 Virginale is fruity floral but the tuberose adds the kind of big, bold floral to that mix that allows the floral to stand up to the fruit. #3 Animale starts out like it is going to be a fruity floral but the mix of herbs and tobacco along with the maple syrup aspects of immortelle combine to create a very memorable heart and base.
Histoires de Parfums 1889 Moulin Rouge
Gerard Ghislain released the 15th volume in the Histoires de Parfums series, 1889 Moulin Rouge
. This like the other entries in the series is meant to evoke a specific time and place namely the famous Parisian burlesque theatre where the cancan was born.
The note list for Moulin Rouge is mandarin, plum, cinnamon, absinthe, rose, iris, patchouli and musk.
While it isn’t explicitly stated I also think M. Ghislain was influenced by Baz Luhrman’s 2001 movie Moulin Rouge as when I smelled this; the mix of absinthe and musk brought to mind the courtesan played by Nicole Kidman, Satine. Moulin Rouge feels like something she would wear when she was at work. It is a nice entry into the Histoire de Parfums scented bibliography.
Costamor Sugarwood and Tabacca
Costamor is a new perfumery, established in 2009, by Elizabeth Wright. Her inspiration was her visits to Costa Rica as a youth. As inspired as she was by the sights of the flora and fauna around her it was the scents that have stayed with her as an adult and led her to creating fragrances based on those memories. The first two fragrances were launched at the beginning of 2010.
Sugarwood is meant to evoke the ubiquitous sugar cane that grows all over Costa Rica. It is the central notes in Sugarwood and it is surrounded by fig at the top followed by a bouquet of iris, jasmine and peony, before a base of cedar arrives.
Tabacca also strives to replicate an indigenous plant of Costa Rica, that of tobacco. This is one of the few tobacco fragrances that has note of the raw green tobacco leaf and the cured tobacco leaf. Paired with the green tobacco note is apple followed by the cured tobacco accord paired with a rose tea note. The base is all amber.
As someone who grew up in this area of the world both Sugarwood and Tabacca do an excellent job of recreating these distinct smells of sugar cane and tobacco, respectively.
Costamor has two more fragrances getting ready to launch: Beachwood, a mix of aquatic notes and woods; and Dulcess, a fruity floral.
By Kilian Rose Oud
One of the more successful launches in 2009 was By Kilian
’s Pure Oud. It was one of the most successful oud fragrances in 2009 and considering the number of them released that is an accomplishment. This is why the second fragrance in the “Arabian Nights Collection” Rose Oud is one of early 2010’s more anticipated fragrances.
Rose Oud has notes of Turkish rose, oud, saffron, and cardamom.
Rose has become oud’s natural partner when it comes to perfumery and Calice Becker has chosen to make the rose the dominant note in Rose Oud. As opposed to Pure Oud the oud is very restrained in Rose Oud and that might appeal to those who would like a lighter dose of oud in their fragrance.
There are three more fragrances to come in the “Arabian Nights Collection” ; Incense Oud, Amber Oud, and Musk Oud.
Dior Homme Ambre Nuit
The three fragrances that make up the Dior Homme collection, Bois D’Argent
, Cologne Blanche
, and Eau Noire
were created in 2004 under Hedi Slimane’s imprimatur. Since M. Slimane left Dior
we wondered if we would get another fragrance to add to the original three. Now we know the answer Christian Dior enlisted Francois Demachy to create Ambre Nuit
as the fourth fragrance in the Dior Homme line.
The notes are grapefruit, bergamot, rose, pink pepper, and amber.
Ambre Nuit despite any misgiving I might have had is a worthy companion to the first three fragrances in the Dior Homme collection and the mix of rose and amber is excellently realized by M. Demachy
Parfumerie Generale No. 24 Papyrus de Ciane
We finish this month’s column back where we began it with perfumes that have numbers attached to them. Pierre Guillaume’s 24th fragrance for his Parfumerie Generale
line of fragrance is Papyrus de Ciane. Papyrus de Ciane is described as being reminiscent of the “ elegant sway of intense green plumes”.
The listed notes are galbanum, broom, mild plant notes, Mousse de Saxe, and Silvanone Supra (synthetic musk).
Papyrus de Ciane is built upon M. Guillaume’s recreation of the Mousse de Saxe perfume base which was used quite extensively in the 1920’s. If you are interested in the history of Mousse de Saxe I point you to Octavian Coifran’s excellent post on his blog
As this is my first experience with Mousse de Saxe I have to guess that it is the ingredient that gives Papyrus de Ciane its exquisite green character. This might be the greenest fragrance I’ve ever tried and it never trips into sweet or powdery territory. Papyrus de Ciane might be one of the most original compositions of the last few months. If you are a lover of green fragrances this is a must try for you.
About the Author
Mark Behnke is a writer for Basenotes and Men's Style editor for FashionTribes. Mark is a regular poster on the Basenotes forums as Somerville Metro Man and on Twitter as @SomMetroMan.
If you wish to have your product featured in a future column, contact Mark here.