Had a great time on Saturday at the Pop-Up fragrance salon held at Zinc Details (a home decor boutique) on Fillmore St. in San Francisco. I arrived towards the end, but it seemed that there was a nice-sized crowd there. I really liked the fact that both mixed media (natural mixed with synthetics) and 100% natural perfumes had representation. For those of you who are on Instagram, I immediately bumped into a fellow perfume worshipper, the awesome @mrcologne76!
You might be wondering, "What exactly is artisan perfume, versus niche or indie perfume?" I shall attempt to explain.
The Art and Olfaction Awards defines the "Artisan" category as, "Created by a perfumer with direct ownership in the company, who blends every formulation in-house without the use of a fragrance house." Auphorie, Papillon Artisan Perfumes and Imaginary Authors are artisan houses.
Compare with their definition of Independent: "Created by a privately-owned company, formulated by a perfumer without a direct hand in every aspect of the production + marketing of the perfume." Basically there is an owner who hires noses to create perfumes for the house. Zoologist Perfumes, ERIS Parfums and Neela Vermeire are examples of independent houses.
When laypeople talk about "indie houses" or "indie perfumers," they are referring to small perfume houses that are owned and operated by the nose, and the nose is the owner, but that would more closely match the definition of an artisan perfumer. Examples of houses that people often refer to as "indie" include Alkemia, Smell Bent and Solstice Scents. These houses, according to the Art & Olfaction Award categorization, would be artisan perfumers.
The salon featured the following perfume houses:
Ineke Perfumes - Mixed Media - Ineke is a house I am very familiar with as it is a local house (San Francisco). Her perfumes are found at one of my favorite boutiques in town, and Anthropology carries her perfumes (although I haven't checked in a while). Ineke is a classically-trained perfumer and makes some seriously wonderful, unique and complex perfumes, all of which deminstrate exceptional skill in fine detail. I own her Briar Rose and Angel's Trumpet.
COGNOSCENTI - Mixed Media - Cognoscenti is a house I have been keeping my eye on ever since I smelled their stunning No. 16 Tomato Leather. I typically don't even like those two notes, but the nose, Dannielle Sergent, has brought such great harmony to their marriage that I found a new appreciation for them. I described Cognoscenti as artistic from the get-go, and I discovered upon meeting Dannielle that she is a painter, architect and designer. Artistry runs through her veins.
Maison Anonyme - Mixed Media - I will not name the nose because, as he explained, the concept of the house is the "luxury of anonymity." Kind of a Wizard of Oz thing going on--what's behind the magic curtain? I could not wear any mixed media that day, but from the tester strips, I can tell this nose showcases his talent well with his first three perfumes. They are beautifully blended, and they contain contrasting notes--one of my personal favorite types of perfumes. So rather than smelling things that "make sense", such as vanilla and cinnamon together or vetiver and citrus, you will get parings such as sharp galbanum with sweet immortelle or church incense with animalic musk. Cool!
La Fleur by Livvy - Natural - The theme with many of her perfumes is flowers, as interpreted by Olivia Larson. Her inspiration comes from her childhood in India. Livvy's perfumes show tremendous skill in creating diverse, complex and lasting natural fragrances. Noteworthy? A Parisian Affair, which resembles classic or vintage perfumes. I thought it resembled Chanel No. 5 and other similar perfumes. No other 100% natural perfume that I have ever smelled mimics a vintage like that, and "modern vintages" are quite the trend lately. Livvy introduced her new collection called "Scent O'Clock," which consists of four different perfumes that can be worn separately or layered. I have smelled two of them, and they are certainly nice on their own, but I need to try layering sometime.
El Jardí Secret - Natural - Truly artisinal perfumes by Esperança Cases Prats. She typically makes very few bottles of each perfume, and the glass bottles that house them are limited as well, so you will never really get the same fragrance nor the same packaging. Some of her perfumes take a year or more to craft. Based in Barcelona, Spain, shipping is difficult to the USA for larger bottles. I sampled the beautiful 1900, which, if I recall correctly, features herbs from Argentina as well as Spain, showcasing the relationship between the two countries. It has an earthy, chocolatey, patchouli-like base that is overlayed with refreshing garden herbs and sweet, innocent florals. The more I wear it, the more heavenly I realize it is. I should have bought the 100-ml bottle for $190 while I could. Definitely my loss! This house won an Artisan Perfume Award in 2016 and was given the title, “Official Fragrance Partner of the TASTE AWARDS.”
En Voyage Perfumes - Mixed Media - I did not get a chance to talk with the perfumer. I have sampled the popular Zelda in the past, but I don't know it well enough to even review it. You guys might know this line better than I do, so feel free to comment below.
Velvet and Sweet Pea's Purrfumery - Natural - I have a few posts about this house and its nose, Laurie Stern, because I simply adore it. The house offers perfumes crafted from some of the finest and rarest natural essences you will ever find anywhere, including some very special antique essences. Her beeswax comes from the hive that she lovingly nurtures in her own garden. Her perfumes are luxurious, complex and soul-soothing. My absolute favorite is her bucolic beauty, Honey. Check out her Signature Collection as well as her adorable Kittylicious Collection! She offers scented lockets, which are charming and make you smell fabulous.
MIKMOI - Mixed Media - I did not get to spend time talking with this perfumer, unfortunately. I have samples of a couple of his fragrances, but I have not had a chance to wear them enough to review them. Again, feel free to comment below.
A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes - Natural - I don't want to speak of the house too much at this point because I am not familiar enough with it. I only got the chance to sniff one perfume on my actual skin, Moonlight Serenade, as the pop-up was closing up for the evening. It's a soft, musky, almost soapy, woody-floral. I am a sucker for those types! It was apparently inspired by Downton Abbey. I bought a purse-sized spray. I will sample more of their perfumes in the future and can comment more later.
Meshaz Natural Perfumes - Natural - Mesha began distilling lavender more than twenty years ago and has expanded her line. I spritzed on Opal Rain. It smelled like lavender and lemon. But Meshaz is not limited to lavender or even other flowers! You will find exotic ingredients in her perfumes as well, such as peru balsam and cannabis.
Olympic Orchids (mixed media) could not make it because of flight delays at SFO. Bummer, as I would have liked to meet the nose in person. I am quite familiar with the house, having sampled at least a dozen perfumes. The original line was based upon some varieties of orchids, but she has a lot of other perfumes that smell very natural, kind of like landscapes. I own Kyphi, Arizona and Cafe V, which is the most incredible creamy sandalwood that exists! The house offers a few 100% natural perfumes.
None of the perfumers use natural animal musks (civet, castoreum, deer) in their perfumes at the present time. If you are as concerned about it as I am, it never hurts to ask the nose before you buy something. But, bravo! You can shop with all of these houses with confidence that, thus far, they are part of the solution, not the problem.
Why can't they have these pop-ups once a month?! They are exhausting but fun!
Thank you for reading today ;) <3
Edit: La Fleur by Livvy's perfumes have won Artisan Perfume Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and the house was given the title, “Official Fragrance Partner of the TASTE AWARDS”. My apologies for not mentioning it above!