I recently became curious about the perfume series Six Scents, which annually releases a collection created by pairs of clothing designers and perfumers united around a common theme. The current collection, called Series Three, centers on the nature of childhood memories and the influence of adolescence on identity. A portion of the perfume sales goes to War Child International.
This sounded ambitious and therefore interesting, I became very curious about how these diverse influences could be expressed in a perfume. I love collaborative projects–they can bring out the best of both, and fascinating mixes inbetween. Some of these scents–and the designers who worked on them–include a focus on both male and female, although sometimes with scents the lines can become quite blurred. I ordered samples of the series (from Luckyscent) to try them out. I’ll run through them below, although I’m as not as facile at describing scents as The NonBlonde (few are!), I thought the lines was interesting enough to present despite my limitations. I’ve also chosen some pictures to showcase some of the clothing designer’s work. I believe that each perfume sells for $80, and there is a list of retailers on the Six Scents site.
No. 1: Beau Bow by Alexis Mabille and Roger Flores-Roux Incredible. At first, I thought of the original Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. A very sophisticated floral, like walking into a dream garden. There’s a hint of citrus among the woods and florals–a rich orange without any hint of shrillness. There’s a grassy quality that reminds me of a Parisian park–manicured, centered, yet still exciting. According to Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who formulated the scent, the scent is “elegantly modern, but strangely, still romantic, a bit hazy” and that the two collaborators “imagined the fresh and elegant Eau Fraiche structure so popular in France in the ’70’s, and gave it a jolt and a twist.”
Top notes: Luminous hesperides: Sicilian cedrat, juicy mandarin, Calabrese bergamot and tart bigarade orange from Andalusia. Playful herbal and green accents: Provencal lavender, grand vert basil, garden mint, violet leaf absolute, Persian galbanum, lentisque resin. Heart notes: Egyptian jasmine, sambac from India, Magnolia grandiflora, rose attar from Bulgaria, wild Alpine cylamen and white honeysuckle. Bottom notes: vetyverte from Reunion, mossy nuances, iris absolute from Florence and the sheer woodiness of Kephalis.
No. 2: Trompe L’Oeil by Mary Katrantzou and Shyamala Maisondieu Eclectic. There is mix of bright citrus and floral in this, and something a bit bitter. According to the perfumer, Trompe L’Oeil has a classical feminine theme with mimosa as the main theme, with cirtrus facets. “The inspiration is a mix between Mary’s memories of her travel experiences, when she was a child, and her unique style. It is feminine and fluid but with a strong character.”
Top notes: Bitter orange, mandarin, neroli, pear. Heart notes: Mimosa, rose absolute, ylang ylang, tuberose absolute, orris absolute. Bottom notes: Amyris, tonka beans, ambrette seeds, vanilla absolute.
No. 3 Can’t Smell Fear by Juiun J. and Natalie Gracia-Cetto The name of this perfume made me curious about the entire line, and it is one of the most unusual fragrances I’ve ever experienced. There’s a very natural, yet urban, twist to this scent. Like an exotic forest set in the middle of a city, an image that I realize is contradictory but there you have it. There’s an excitement to this scent, a spice that mixes with the floral, but it is grounded with the strong sandalwood. For me, it was like opening a delightful wooden box of images from both the past and the future. The perfumer describes this as “I wanted to create a fragrance that provides comfort, that protects you in an urban somewhat hostile universe. I chose a leathery theme, comfortable and reassuring,” with some woody and floral notes to add refinement.
Top notes: Bergamot essence, green mandarin essence, pink pepper essence, nutmeg essence. Heart notes: Orris, ambrette seeds essence, cedar wood atlas essence, incense resinoid. Bottom notes: Leather accord, sandalwood, amber, musks.
No. 4: Ascent by Rad Hourani and Christophe Raynaud This has a very clean powdery topnote, which at first seems very bright. There’s a fruity sweetness. But there’s a deep complexity underneath, evoked by incense and leather. According to the Raynaud, who formulated the scent, the theme is based on phases of life. Childhood by baby powder, midlife by leathery notes and the end by incense. “The end result is a contrasting fragrance, luminous yet dark, shiny and matte, like Rad’s fashion.”
Top notes: Pear juice, violet leaf. Heart notes: Ylang ylang, rose, cedarwood, leather accord. Bottom notes: Incense, powdery musks, tonka beans benzoin.
No. 5 #087 N. Hoolywood and Stephen Nilson Very ephemeral–there’s a strong pleasant rosemary that has been softened with the other scents. I’m feeling a little bit of beach and other herbs thrown in–an herbal beach. After a few moments, the scent of motor oil begins to linger. This scent is very personal to the designer–as the perfumer describes, the designer wanted “to recreate the feeling of arriving at Los Angeles airport from Japan 30 years ago” with “a contrasting combination of elements from nature and childhood: the smell of engine oil in his father’s car; getting off at the Kugenuma Beach train station and inhaling the saltiness of the ocean; the mysterious scent of Kurobe dam releasing water on a cloudy, snowy day; and the clean, relaxing feeling of grooming and bathing captured through the scent of the hiba tree, hinoki wood cypress, nutmeg and rosemary.”
The strength of the motor oil meant that this scent isn’t my cup of tea, personally but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy it on my husband. Come to think of it, there is a certain segment of the male population who say that they prefer the scent of motor oil to perfume…maybe they’ve just found their perfect scent.
Top notes: Hiba tree, sugi leaves, green cypress. Heart notes: motor oil, salty-icy water accord, nutmeg, Moroccan rosemary. Bottom notes: Hinoki wood, sandalwood, fir balsam.
No. 6 ‘M’ Ohne Titel and Yann Vasnier There’s something very sharp about this scent, tempered with something a little powdery and subtly sweet when it dries down. This is very sophisticated and edgy, it’s like an anti-perfume–more of a glass skyscraper than a garden. The notes work well together. This is not a combination that I would imagine has ever been created before–they tore down the cathedral and created something new, from the street that is very, very modern. Says the perfumer, the scent evokes the rebellious side of growing up, “night clubs and late outings.”
Top notes: cadamom absolute. Heart notes: cedarwood atlas opur, touch of black plum. Bottom notes: tonka beans (Venezuela), castoreum, civit, musks, moxalone captive, cosmone.
Of these, Nos. 1 and 3 were my personal favorites. These scents are unique enough that I’d encourage you to try these at a counter or sample program. This is a short term, unique series and therefore it’s safe to say that you won’t see these at a local Sephora. Sometimes it can be a little more work to find something unique, and it can be worth it in the end if you find something you love.