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Pekji Perfumes

Independent Perfumery Lists

Top 10 Indie Perfumes I Want to Own

October 7, 2015

I’m cheating slightly here, because there are more than ten on my list. I’m a greedy bitch and can’t confine myself to wanting only 10. But since that seems to be the magic number for this list-y thingies, then 10 it is!

This is basically a list of perfumes that made me stop in my tracks. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, more often than not it happens with indie perfumes. That is to say, perfumes produced (mostly in small batches) by independent perfumers, who tend to be one-person outfits with none of the distribution channels or financial backing of big cosmetics companies like most of the big name brands.

The fact that these independent perfumers are able to produce heart-stoppingly good, often brilliant perfumes without the big bucks or sophisticated marketing engines behind them is one of those things that makes my Irish rebel heart happy. It just does.

Here’s the list  – click on the links to go to the full review. Just to be clear – I don’t own any of the perfumes on this list…but I really, REALLY want to.

First up is Hiram Green’s Shangri-La. A sexy peach-skin and jasmine chypre with an animal growl operating just under the surface. I see a sexy librarian wearing this – the type you see in Mills and Boon novels with the high-necked blouse and tidy chignon that comes undone with passion behind the shelves with the silent-but-deep cowboy type she hates (but doesn’t really hate).

Bond-T by Sammarco is a dark, dry “sort of” gourmand perfume that smells like the best dark chocolate, leather, and black tea you’ve ever smelled. Hot damn, this is some sexy stuff right here. Great on a woman, but hubba-hubba on a man. Apply this to a man and you will be clubbing him over the head and dragging him back to your, um, cave.

Peety by O’Driu is an unusual tobacco perfume – not at all comfortable like others in the category (Tobacco Vanille, Pure Havane, etc.). Instead it goes for an unsettling combination of pissy honey, medicinal cloves and herbs, and a paper-dry tobacco. Weird and gorgeous. And totally wearable. You’re supposed to add a drop of your own pee to experience Peety in its full, er, splendor. Click through to see if I did or not….

Mito by Vero Profumo is an Italian garden’s worth of green leaves and citrus fruit squeezed into one little bottle. There is something about this that says “Diorella-on-Steroids” but I love it far more than Diorella. If you want classical greenery and anti-classical rotting underbelly, Mito has you covered. I can’t believe I don’t own this. Yet.

Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari is the first vetiver fragrance I have ever enjoyed enough to want to own a bottle of (if you don’t count Timbuktu and Shaal Nur as vetiver fragrances, which oddly some people do not….freaks). A sour spray of grapefruit rind against a matt, black background – that’s what this smells like. Deep, crisp, and unforgettable.

Odoon by Pekji is my platonic ideal of a woods fragrance. Dry, pure wood with little pockets of sweetness like droplets of maple syrup caught inside the wood going pop, pop, pop when the log is put on the fire to burn. My sample broke and the contents shrank to an attar-like sludge, making it even better. In fact, if I ever get a bottle of this, I plan to crack it on the kitchen counter like opening a bottle of champers and then leave it on the window sill to concentrate.

Le Maroc Pour Elle by Andy Tauer is a heady, sumptuous rose and jasmine perfume that is refined and naughty in that classically French tradition, but also has a side that hangs out in the local head shop huffing Indian incense and cheap patchouli oil. Rather marvelous…can’t get this one out of my head (cue Kylie).

Cimabue by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is Safran Troublant to the power of Opium. Or Theorema. Like a golden, fruit-studded Pain d’Epices or Pannetone, it writes Christmas in big letters across the sky. An oriental you can almost, but not quite eat. Right now with the weather drawing in, it’s all I want.

Christopher Street by Charenton Macerations is a turbo-charged version of an eau de cologne that twists the form in bewildering ways. The opening notes come at you like a huge wall of sound, fizzing and snapping at you like electrical wires cut loose in a storm. It’s explosively sour, like those lemon and lime sweets you bought as a kid and sucked until they corroded the lining of your mouth. Truly exciting stuff.

Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio is a big ole angora sweater of a scent, with dark amber, smoky incense, tree resins, and animalic leather all twisting together like strands of wool until you can’t tell where one strand ends and the next begins. Comfortable and edgy at the same time, like hearing the howl of a wolf deep in the forest from the safety of your cabin fireside.

Au Dela by Bruno Fazzolari is an ode to citrus, sun-baked hay, and a green jasmine that floats above a dark, salted amber like a layer of silk. It triggers a scent memory to do with my father and his Eau Savauge, but I’m not sure that explains my fascination with this. It feels like I am remembering a glorious past, but in a quiet, unemotional way.

Jeke by Slumberhouse….I love you, I hate you, I love you again. I think I was always a Slumberhouse ho from the get go (yo!), but it’s only recently I got into smoke-monster fragrances. Le Labo Patchouli 24 was my gateway drug and from there I found my way into Jeke, which I had originally despised. Now, it’s my down-country Tribute.

Review Woods

Pekji Perfumes Odoon

June 29, 2015

Omer Pekji is one hell of a talented perfumer. I have been working my way through his pack of samples since March, and even though there are only five of them, they are the kind of perfumes you have to take your time with. Not because they are inaccessible – far from it – but because each of the perfumes is such a clear statement on each of the categories he has taken on (woods, incense, aquatic, leather, and oriental) that it forces you to think about everything the perfumer must have included and excluded on his way to finish the perfume.

So when I smell Pekji Perfumes Odoon, I am not smelling and evaluating just a wood perfume, but rather the finished outcome of a thought process that kind of goes like this:

“I have smelled all the great woods perfumes there are to smell. Some of them are great, some of them are almost-great, and some of them are missing a lot. Here’s my answer to all of that. This is MY wood. This is what I think wood should smell like in a perfume.”

That kind of confidence could go either way, frankly. Because either my vision of what a great wood scent smells like lines up with his, or it doesn’t. Thankfully, it does. Actually, it’s the exact shape of the perfect wood scent I’ve been carrying around in my head for a while.

I am kind of amazed because this Omer Pekji has managed to create not only an Ur- woods for me (Odoon) but also an ur-Smoke/Leather (Cuir6). Given that I only like maybe one sample out of twenty, and even that one sample not necessarily making it onto my must-buy list, this is a weirdly phenomenal success rate. I guess I should just hand him my credit card and be done with it.

Anyway, Odoon. I don’t know what the name means, but every time I say it, I think of “Brigadoon”. I only vaguely remember the movie, but there were small people living in a forest and it looked like everyone was on acid. I broke my sample vial of Odoon and the liquid evaporated down into an attar-like sludge at the bottom, but I can tell you that it’s been ages since I smelled something that smelled this good.

It opens on a crisp note of wood smoke. It’s dry wood but there’s a slight sweetness to it, like little droplets of maple syrup caught inside the wood going pop, pop, pop when the log is put on the fire to burn. It is not at all acrid or ashy. It smells clean and sweet, like the start of the burn, not the end.

There’s a good brown, rich sandalwood here performing its deep bass thrum in the background, but its creamy, lactic pungency is kept nicely out of the picture, allowing the clean cedar to shine. Balancing out the clean, creamy side of things is a wet, green, rooty vetiver note, just bitter enough to keep things in perfect balance.

It smells rich and clean and sweet in that natural way a wood log does when it’s freshly split open. Nothing more and nothing less. I like it because it smells like wood without any unnecessary upholstery, and yet is not in any way blunt or raw. To me, it is the most perfect lullaby of woods ever, and relaxes me in a way I thought Tam Dao would (but doesn’t). It is a restful, beautiful perfume, and an example of what happens when a perfumer has utter confidence in what he’s doing.

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