Nothing whets your appetite for a little sense of humor like smelling the work of two or three niche firms of the US West Coast hippie persuasion, forever declaring their perfumes to be an homage to some desert flower, extinct civilisation or spiritual practice. That stuff is the perfumery equivalent of yoga music, and demands a couple of Sousa marches as a chaser.
I felt lucky therefore to receive a package from Anastasia Denisenkova, an indie perfumer who works in the Lush/4160 Tuesdays tradition, i.e. what I would describe as perfumery’s Circus School: the spraying of each fragrance should by rights be preceded by a drumroll, a spotlight swivelling and narrowing onto the sample atomiser, then a clash of cymbals as the fragrance cartwheels onto the ring.
To pursue the circus analogy a little further, Denisenkova’s perfumes have the weird mixture of sexiness and incongruity of the sequinned body suits seen on magician’s assistants. All seem to flirt with high contrast accords between rich, abundantly dosed natural materials and brutal, almost functional aromachemicals. This is not the easiest way to make perfumes, but when it works it produces memorable marvels, as the work of Ernest Daltroff, Sophia Grojsman and Dominique Ropion will attest. The fact that I mention AD’s work in the context of such greats is a credit to her inventive brilliance.
Some of her fragrances are immediately appealing. Salad is a tender, crunchy, green affair doused with a vinaigrette made with lemon stovetop cleaner. Peachy manages, from new, to smell like a fifties composition left on a windowsill for years. Flower Milk is so sweetly poisonous that I imagine Socrates’ last cocktail to have smelled something like that. Some are incomprehensible: I have no idea what attempted pairing of soy sauce and burnt toast led to Oomph, or what is Hidden‘s eventual reveal. But thank you and full marks for all the inventive and reckless high color.
Categories: niche houses