Without giving away too much of your identity, can you tell us about yourself?
I'm in my 30's and I live in a loft. I currently work as a bartender, and my passions are playing music, composing perfumes, and writing. My roommate will be moving out in a month and I'm looking forward to converting the extra bedroom into a dedicated fragrance studio where I can put a full-sized refrigerator for materials and devote much more time to my perfumery.
I've liked smelling things ever since I was a little kid inhaling aroma of the dirt in the backyard or my parents' fragrances that they kept on their dresser. When I got older, an uncle bought me a bottle of Hugo Boss cologne and I couldn't stop smelling it - I wondered why I couldn't keep my nose away from it. I bought a few more fragrances, and then at a certain point I started hiding all my fragrances, lest family and friends see a bunch of bottles of cologne and make the wrong inference about my proclivities. Eventually though, I decided to teach myself perfumery and at that point, I became pretty open about being a frag-head. Why fight it? Most people think it's pretty cool.
Indie Guy, you have an awful lot of perfume (269 entries in your Wardrobe), how on earth do you decide what to wear in the morning?
On most days, I love the sheer volume of my options. The only time it becomes annoying is when it's a big event like a date or something like that, then I'm always second guessing myself. I try to always keep reaching for the back of the wardrobe and pulling out things I haven't worn in a while. It's kind of the "penny saved is a penny earned" thing. I know a lot of Basenoters like to keep their collections tightly pruned - and there's a certain virtue in that, but I feel that as a DIY perfumer, it's important to always have the widest library of reference materials that I can; and it's always the best kind of fun to rediscover something I got for cheap at TJ MAXX, like the little throwaway bottle of Lagerfeld Jako I got for $5 in the clearance bin several years ago - I don't know why this stuff isn't more highly rated, it's so unique!
What about going on holiday? Isn't it a bit agonising to have to decide?
I suppose it is. I usually travel with a mini-drobe of three fragrances; I call it my "bug-out trio". I bring something fresh and light, something safe that's a tad woody and spicy, and then something a bit edgier and heavier or a bit oriental. So for my fresh scent, I usually grab something like Hermes Eau D'Orange Verte (either the original or the Concentré), Prada Infusion D'Homme, Creed Neroli Sauvage, Yves Saint Laurent Live Jazz or Lanvin Vetyver. For the safe woody spicy scent, I usually take something like Gucci Pour Homme II, Terre D'Hermes, almost any of my Creeds, Rive Gauche Pour Homme, Tom Ford for Men (sometimes the Extreme) and either Jo Malone Amber & Lavender or Creed Windsor if I'm going to be wearing a suit. For my edgy choice, I like to bring something like SMN Nostalgia, Musc Ravageur or one of my Lutens, John Varvatos or heavy Muglers like Pure Malt or Pure Havane. Maybe a nice leather like Hermes Bel Ami too.
If I really have to get by with one scent, I'll bring something like Bleu de Chanel - which gets the scorn of a lot of Basenoters for some reason, but it works so well on my skin and it's versatile. Other one-stop-shoppers for on the go are Aventus and Green Irish Tweed, both by Creed and Terre D'Hermes.
What's the thing that you are always in the mood to wear?
Mr. Hulot's Holiday by CB I HATE PERFUME. I have the water perfume version and it's wonderful. Always fits like a second skin, and it's always easy on the nose.
You appear to be a Thierry Mugler fan, would that be right? If so, what do you admire about the line?
The first time I smelled A*Men I was amazed at the sheer number of bold notes that were crammed into it. Also, I find it amazing how a woman can always walk by wearing Angel and I know what it is, yet it smells so good on any girl. I like the concept of flankers; it does seem that Mugler takes it to ridiculous lengths sometimes, when most people want a completely new fragrance and out pops another A*men flanker - but I also feel like some of these flankers are put out as a REWARD to true fragrance collectors, rather than the way other houses release flankers to try to capture more casual buyers. The novelty of flankers like Pure Malt and Pure Havane is matched only by the quality. I still haven't tried Pure Shot yet, but as a lover of mint scents, I think I'd love it too.
Your collection seems to be quite a 'guy' collection, not too much unisex stuff - fair to say?
I do have some unisex stuff-- I like the way a house like Hermes or Bulgari handles unisex. Obviously Comme des Garçons is marketed as unisex. I think a lot of citrus fragrances are traditionally unisex. But at the end of the day I'm just a straight guy who is comfortable in his masculinity and let's just leave it at that.
What would you recommend for a seductive Saturday Night?
Ahh, good question. I once had such a night and found out later that she hated my cologne, but couldn't resist me anyway (it was Comme des Garçons Jaisalmer). It's fun to go with the edgy stuff when it works - believe it or not, SMN Nostalgia seems to have a pretty direct effect on women. Rive Gauche Pour Homme is sometimes too good*. One can never go wrong with Green Irish Tweed. Egoiste is a good one too. I feel confident whenever I wear Terre D'Hermes and Bleu de Chanel. I think the important thing is to wear something you have worn enough times that it gives you confidence. Also, don't overdo it; you want to wear a little bit less than normal so you can pull her in, not push her away.
I notice you are partial to a bit of musc in your fragrance ...
It's weird but true. I always hated musk and also the very idea of musk. But sometimes perfumers slip it into a fragrance in such a way that you don't notice it right away. Women are much better at smelling musk than men are. So often when I would get a compliment from a woman on my cologne, she would remark that it smells "musky" on me, which I could never understand because I tend to focus on topnotes and middle notes and such. Musk often seems to sit outside the pyramid for me, unless it's a scent like Narciso Rodriguez for Him which is one of the muskiest scents ever made, no matter which version you take.
Musk was just one of those things that I decided to stop worrying about and learn to love.
You have an impressive Comme des Garcons series collection - is it because you like completeness and had to have them all, or do you really love each and every one of them?
It's a little bit of both. I love the concepts behind their fragrances and I love the actual fragrances. The Red Series and the Incense Series are both wonderful through and through. The Synthetic Series was probably one of the highest points in modern perfumery-- both in concept and execution. It was tragic to see it discontinued, but I'm so happy that I was able to get the complete series. I've been a bit disappointed with what they started to do after the Synthetic Series and I started to lose interest in the house. I liked a few of their recent releases but I'd like them to get back to their roots a bit more.
Do you wear some things more because you get more compliments while wearing them? Which fragrances do you get the most compliments with?
I can't help it. I like getting compliments. I've probably received the most compliments on Rive Gauche Pour Homme. I get a crazy amount of positive attention when I wear Green Irish Tweed, Guerlain's Heritage, the discontinued Extreme Polo Sport, Musc Ravageur, Terre D'Hermes and Chanel Antaeus off the top of my head. Allure Pour Homme is another. I tend to get more compliments with the warmer, spicier things with leathery, peppery notes.
All our Wardrobe people spend some time on a desert island (you can choose which one), which 3 things would you take with you? (OK, since your collection is so large, 3 bottles and 2 decants!)
Let's see, that IS a tough one. I guess I'll go with one of my bug-out trios... Eau D'Orange Verte to keep me feeling refreshed; Voyage D'Hermes because it's woody and sits on the fence of safe and edgy, and I need to spend more time with it - it's always good to take a book you've never read! For my third, I'm going to have to take M7 by Yves Saint Laurent, because it's a fiery contrast to the other two. I think it would be tough sticking with three scents for a long period of time, but I've gone through stretches where I spent a whole month wearing one scent just to see if if could be done and it was easier than I thought. Still, after a while I'd probably start combing the beach for ambergris and picking rare flowers and trying to make my own cologne on the island. When do we leave?
*There is a famous Forum thread concerning Rive Gauche Homme and Indie Guy, which I didn't know when I conducted this interview. Luckily Grant has an encyclopaedic memory!
Thanks again to the fabulous Indie_Guy for sharing his Wardrobe with us.