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  1. #1

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    Default Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    I was just going through my collection and thinking about how much the American independent perfume scene has grown in the past decade and I decided to put together my current top 10 list of these perfume houses, although there are several others that are great as well; this is just a personal list. In doing so, I noticed how many of them are smokey or bay rum-inspired. I did not include American perfume houses that are long-established, only those that are still quite small. I just put them in alphabetical order, so this isn't a ranking.

    La Curie - This is a house out of Tuscon, Arizona. The perfumer is Lesli Wood. The house is focused primarily (although not entirely) on woodsy fragrances that evoke the SW US. She won an award for Incendo a couple of years ago and it is indeed one of her best fragrances. The best way I can describe it is that it reminds me of a less sweet version of Profumum Arso. My other favorite is Faunus, a beautiful hay, bergamot, and cedar fragrance.

    Imaginary Authors - Probably everyone reading this is familiar with this house from Portland, Oregon perfumer Josh Meyer, who is a really nice guy BTW. I really like several of his fragrances, my favorite being A City on Fire. (I told you there was going to be some smoke involved with this list!) ACOF is one of my favorite smokey fragrances. The dark berry and other notes being just enough to pull it into wearability. I also really like Cape Heartache's terrific fir note and it's odd divisive strawberry note which seems to strangely vary with different wearings on different days. I'm also one of the few fans of the unrelentingly aggressive rose/patchoulli/blood fragrance, Bull's Blood. One under-rated fragrance in the line is The Cobra and the Canary, which is a lemony tobacco, leather and asphalt perfume that smells exactly like its backstory.

    Kerosene - Perfumer John Pegg has been at it a while now after leaving his job on the assembly line in Detroit. I've always enjoyed some of his offerings, but it has only been recently that I've purchased a couple of full bottles - Black Vines, which is hardcore black licorice with a base of coniferous notes, and Copper Skies, a medicinal amber which I tried several years ago and didn't like and now I love. That kind of a turnaround is unusual for me. Go figure. I've got my eye on the blood orange and oud Broken Theories as a possible future purchase.

    MadHat Scents - Ryan Eugene, who is somewhere in Illinois, produces small batch highly concentrated perfumes and sells them for reasonable prices. He loves natural musks, woods, birch tar, and oakmoss so if those things don't float your boat, he might not be the perfumer for you, but if you do ... check him out! I own quite a few of his fragrances. You need to remember that they are in small batches though, and things constantly come and go so not everything is going to always be available and different batches might have significant differences. Some of my favorites include Ash & Rose, Fur, Palo Santo Plateau, and Vert Moss.

    Mikmoi - Perfumer Mik Coyle is in San Francisco. He has produced quite a few perfumes and some interest me much more than others, but he is trying to use unexpected combinations of notes from different cultures and defy any gender categorization and when he hits the mark, he really hits it. In my opinion, one of the most overlooked perfumes I can think of is his Knight of Flowers, an incredibly beautiful floral perfume build around a really nice bay rum at its center. It's totally unisex while having its roots in something masculine. It's just lovely. He also had a fair amount of attention a few years ago for a perfume called Vesper, which reminds me a bit of Passage d'Enfer and is worth checking out for fans of that perfume. His Lingua Franca is also an interesting lemongrass and palo santo perfume.

    Olympic Orchids - Ellen Covey's perfume house in Washington state has a few perfumes I absolutely love ... and some I don't. She was also the creator of the award-winning (and now controversially discontinued) Bat from Zoologist. I put this house on the list based on three perfumes that I think are great - Woodcut, which won an award a few years ago, which is an intensely woody fragrance with an oddly sweet vanilla which strangely attempts to replicate the sweet smell of the sap of freshly cut wood. I'm not sure it exactly does that, but it is a very evocative wood fragrance that kicks to the curb the synthetic woods of CdG and others. The only thing I can think of that is this good is this particular genre is Odoon from Pekji. Blackbird is another great fragrance. It's a nice and unexpected combination of blackberries and coniferous woods. It has little in common with A City on Fire ( and has no smoke to speak of) but is another excellent example of the judicious use of berries to slightly sweeten otherwise potentially harsh notes. Finally, from her series that appears to be some sort of tribute to the devil, comes Dev 1: Foreplay, a sexy, spicy, musky (I think leaning masculine) delight.

    Rogue Perfumery - Another Californian, Manuel Cross has recently left his career as a chef to be a fulltime perfumer, working to create "old school" perfumes and proudly ignore EU perfume regulations, so I don't know how easy it will be for folks in the EU to get their nose on these. He's been getting a lot of attention on Basenotes recently, so I'll be brief and just offer up Mousse Illiminee as my personal favorite of his offerings so far.

    Slumberhouse - What is there left to say about Portland's Josh Lobb's company? Availability is erratic, information is sporadic and sometimes cryptic, and bottles and formulas are constantly changing. All that being said, he's done (and hopefully will continue to do) some jaw-droppingly amazing perfumes and is one of the most talented people in American perfumery. Personal favorites include Jeke, Norne, and Mare.

    Smell Bent - Okay, I know not everyone will agree with this, but I think LA's Brent Leonesio is of greater significance than his goofy, inexpensive, and unpretentious brand would lead people to believe. Commando is a musk that smells like putting your face in a man's clean cotton jockey shorts while he's wearing them. The long-gone Otter Luvr is a sweet and skanky bay rum that was amazing. Pere Noel Coward was a sweet pine that is gone at the moment but makes an occasional reappearance. Totem Eclipse of the Heart was a really musky green woody thing that is not for everybody, but that I loved.

    Soivohle - Liz Zorn has called her perfume business various things over the years, this being the current (pretty ridiculous) name, but she is one of the best perfumers in the US, living on the river near Cincinnati, Ohio making perfume and painting. My very favorite of her offerings is Rivertown Road, which is, like Mikmoi's Knight of Flowers, a perfume which is built around a bay rum structure but is elevated by quality of materials and use of surprising other notes to elevate it to perfume glory. Underworld is a lovely dusty vetiver-centered perfume. She has a large number of offerings so it may be difficult to know where to start. Her Carpathian Oud is on my shortlist to purchase soon.
    Last edited by Tonyprince; 11th November 2019 at 12:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Thank you for doing this write up. Very informative.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    A lot of info thx. Honestly I want to try Slumberhouse and Imaginary Authors. The City on Fire sounds excellent

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Ahmed at Elixir Attars. Fantastic attars in the Arab and French traditions. All natural. Out of Pasadena California I believe.

    The World In Scents. Great perfumes. Out of New York I think

    Euphorium Brooklyn.

    Hendley.
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonyprince View Post
    Smell Bent - Okay, I know not everyone will agree with this, but I think LA's Brent Leonesio is of greater significance than his goofy, inexpensive, and unpretentious brand would lead people to believe. Commando is a musk that smells like putting your face in a man's clean cotton jockey shorts while he's wearing them.
    I actually agree with you on both counts. Smell Bent has done some really nice fragrances, but Commando ain't one of them.

    Debonair and Sno Birds, however, are a couple of personal favorites.
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    On aroma and clothes / Fabric and dyes." Christian Dior - Morrissey

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Interesting Post.
    It may provide vehicle to have an expansion of exposure to this most inspiring Artisan genre.
    Some of my current tops are
    J.Hannah
    Jessica's main focus currentseems upon the holding classes to have those interested to create their own scents.
    Her emphasis is upon using Natural ingredient to produce unique personal memory.
    Some notable scents Sloloo,Orchard, Upton and the collaboration Skive.

    Bruno Fazzolari focuses upon creation of scents to complement his Visual Art using a combination of High Quality ingredient.
    Some notable scents are Au Dela Narcisse and the original Narcisse de Montagnes, Seyrig, Lampblack.

    January Scent Project 's John Biebel seems focused upon, wrestling with material to produce images and memories that offer rethink observation of notes.
    Some notables are Smolderose, Burvuvu, Vaporcindro.

    Spirit Bear Perfumes Leila seems focused upon the Classical structure of Chypre, Natural ingredient and the surprising nuanced accords that can be revealed. Her background in HR Management indeed seems to guide her approach to exploring the close individual collaboration of Bespoke.
    Scents of note. Celtic Moss, Beekeepers Daughter, Beloved, Chypre and most recent a Bespoke Camel's Chypre.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    While I do like a lot of the experimentation that's going on in indie perfumery (January, Authors, Zoologist), they seem mostly focussed on atmospheric, performance-art scents. For pure wearability and versatility, I don't think you can beat what Rogue Perfumery is doing.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    While I do like a lot of the experimentation that's going on in indie perfumery (January, Authors, Zoologist), they seem mostly focussed on atmospheric, performance-art scents. For pure wearability and versatility, I don't think you can beat what Rogue Perfumery is doing.
    I really enjoy wearing those houses products.

    There are mainstreamish sort of fragrances too, such as Camel by Zoologist, Burvuvu by January Scent Project just to make two of many.
    FYI: I spray all fragrances on clothing, never on skin.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Sonoma Scent Studio is a longtime US indie favorite, as well as Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Most US based indies don't do anything for me, but these three are exceptional, in order of preference (but all with very different styles):

    Rouge Perfumerie
    Bruno Fazzolari
    Aftelier
    Current Top Ten:
    1) Portrait of a Lady original formula (EdP Frédéric Malle)
    2) Giorgio for Men vintage (Giorgio Beverly Hills) - tie
    2) Giorgio V.I.P. for Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills) - tie
    4) Dia Man vintage edt (Amouage)
    5)
    Anat Fritz Original Formula and Classical (Anat Fritz)
    6) Captain vintage (Molyneux)
    7) Javanese Patchouli (Zegna) - tie
    7) Monsieur de Givenchy vintage (Givenchy) - tie
    7) Coeur de Vetiver Sacré (L'Artisan) - tie
    7) Polo vintage (Ralph Lauren) - tie

  11. #11

    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    While I do like a lot of the experimentation that's going on in indie perfumery (January, Authors, Zoologist), they seem mostly focussed on atmospheric, performance-art scents. For pure wearability and versatility, I don't think you can beat what Rogue Perfumery is doing.
    I agree with this. Could not wrap my head around most of January Scent Project's offerings (got a sample package from them) including their alleged best, "crowd pleasing" scent, Burvuvu (HATED the mushroom note in it, I think? ruined the whole composition for me. Hated it. Scrubbed it off.) But I love several of Rogue's scents, including Tabac Verte, Derviche, Fougere L'Aube, and the awesome Mousse Illuminee.

    Anyhow, great informative post. Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    +1 for Sonoma Scent Studio. Very good house.
    <div class="bnsotd"><b>Currently wearing:</b> <a href="ID26148387.html"><img src="http://www.basenotes.net/photos/products/33/26148387-7393.jpg"> Carven L'Eau Intense by Carven</a></div>

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by thrilledchilled View Post
    Ahmed at Elixir Attars. Fantastic attars in the Arab and French traditions. All natural. Out of Pasadena California I believe.

    The World In Scents. Great perfumes. Out of New York I think

    Euphorium Brooklyn.

    Hendley.
    The world in Scents is based out of NJ, definitely a very underrated brand with high quality scents.

    I really can't sing the praises of Hendley Perfumes enough. All the the house's offerings are unique, wonderfully crafted, and beautifully evocative yet completely wearable. I am looking forward to more great things from Hendley Perfumes.
    Scent is an exercise in patience and imagination.

  14. #14

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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Joe View Post
    I agree with this. Could not wrap my head around most of January Scent Project's offerings (got a sample package from them) including their alleged best, "crowd pleasing" scent, Burvuvu (HATED the mushroom note in it, I think? ruined the whole composition for me. Hated it. Scrubbed it off.) But I love several of Rogue's scents, including Tabac Verte, Derviche, Fougere L'Aube, and the awesome Mousse Illuminee.

    Anyhow, great informative post. Thanks!
    Thanks! I've been wanting to try Burvuvu but, like you, I haven't found the love for January Scent Project yet although I thought the oil version of Smoulderose was good.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Rogue Perfumery is one of my favorites. I really enjoy Tabac Vert and Chypre-Siam.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    What I love most about these smaller indie artisanal houses is their unique and highly personal approach to perfumery. While some across as a little rough around the edges most have their own voices and able to tell their stories.
    “...too many among us die at thirty and are buried at eighty.” - Robin Sharma

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by cologne connoisseur View Post
    Rogue Perfumery is one of my favorites. I really enjoy Tabac Vert and Chypre-Siam.
    Mine as well. It has gained a lot of attention this and last year.
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by purecaramel View Post
    Spirit Bear Perfumes Leila seems focused upon the Classical structure of Chypre, Natural ingredient and the surprising nuanced accords that can be revealed. Her background in HR Management indeed seems to guide her approach to exploring the close individual collaboration of Bespoke.
    Scents of note. Celtic Moss, Beekeepers Daughter, Beloved, Chypre and most recent a Bespoke Camel's Chypre.
    There's some good gems from this house.
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Have to add Neil Morris, Ava Luxe & House of Matriarch.
    "What is this secret connection between the soul, and sea, clouds and perfumes? The soul itself appears to be sea, cloud and perfume..." - from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    I’ll add Dame to the list. I really enjoy his creations, most are wearable and just plain smell good.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Providence Perfume

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Top 10 Smalll American Artisan/Niche Houses

    Quote Originally Posted by teardrop View Post
    Have to add Neil Morris, Ava Luxe & House of Matriarch.
    Neil Morris has a lot of unique scents.
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