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Naja brochure - perfumeniche.com

I was very sad to learn that Vero Kern, the brilliant niche perfumer who became a perfumer later in her life, passed away suddenly on December 18, 2018.

I sniffed Vero Kern’s first three fragrances, Onda, Kiki, and Rubj when they first appeared in 2013. I’d never heard of Vero Kern, but I was stunned by the three fragrances. Especially Onda, which took my breath away. A brooding fantasy of vetiver and leather, it’s one of the very best modern chypre fragrances that perfumery offers to this day.

Gwen was captivated by Vero’s Rubj, a perfumed garden of sensual delight which lifted the doors to her perfume perception right off their hinges, and a few years later I was rendered speechless again by .rozy. Voile d’Extrait. This is a bold, fiery and passionate rose-based scent, inspired by the Italian actress Silvana Magnani, and has a magnetic opening which is so spectacular it could be a fragrance all on its own. 

Vero Kern created perfumes that are far beyond the norm in complexity and artistry. With every one of her scents, she takes you on a journey into a transforming and emotional sense experience. If the love of perfume were a religion I would worship daily at the altar of this Perfume Goddess. On her website, she described herself as a  “perfume composer junkie”. For her, creating fragrances is like a drug, a complete passion. “Perfumes are a love story. There is nothing more intimate in all of life than the connection between perfume and skin.”

Naja, her most recent scent, is a limited-edition of 650 bottles which was released in celebration of the tenth anniversary of her niche company, Vero Profumo. “Naja stands for my fascination, and my conviction of the healing power of scents and reminds me of my earlier activities as an aromatherapist and as a pharmacy assistant.” (Fragrantica interview).

This fragrance is her vision of tobacco – tobacco and flowers and fruit, per the note list. The packaging is acid green and dense black, the simple graphic is a coiled hooded cobra snake, and the first sniff is a shock. Naja smells exactly how I don’t expect it to smell, bitter, salty, rank and damp, a sensation of rotting flowers and fruit. Yep, this is a Vero Kern perfume!

Vero Kern - cafleurebon.com

My shock recedes as the tobacco accord takes shape, creamy, honeyed, and smoky, and I think Habanita, but Vero Kern delivers another sensory  jolt and takes me deeper into HER tobacco vision. The tobacco accord is the life of the plant, yanked from damp soil, clots of black earth on the roots, the acrid vegetal rush of crushed green leaves, the perfume of new blooms, the sweet hay smell as the leaves hang drying, the spicy complexity of dried leaves, the thick smoke of pipe tobacco -  it’s all there in a few deep inhales.

And then Naja becomes deep and dense, thick with leather notes from osmanthus absolue with its sueded apricot overtones, and then opulent from a honeyed sweet nectar, subdued but delicious, from linden flower. And through it all there’s the slight dissonance of a damp saltiness, the aquatic melon note, green rind and all. The combination of notes is unusual, but Vero Kern uses the power of the tobacco note with all its nuanced facets to expand their presence, especially the florals, which are achingly beautiful.

The long drydown is as hypnotic as a cobra, swaying and weaving among creamy tobacco notes, damp earth, bitter green, and wafts of medicinal leather reminiscent of Onda, airy powdery linden blossom, faint doughy sweetness of apricot from osmanthus, hints of melon juice, and dried  tobacco leaves, spicy, peppery and smoky. The various notes and accords float up haphazardly in different combinations, Naja can smell different according to your mood, it’s dense, decadent and delicious but then becomes airy, it’s intoxicating and sensuous and then as light on skin as cashmere, it’s female, it’s male, it’s Everyone. Naja absolutely defies expectations.

Naja is impossible to resist. Vero Kern created another stunningly original fragrance, a masterpiece vision of the tobacco note that can take its place next to vintage classics like Tabac Blond or Habanita.  Naja is original art we can readily own, wear on our skin, and enjoy endlessly. It is pure pleasure with every breath.

"It’s magic. It’s joy. It’s poison. It’s cure. It’s chaos. It’s cosmos. Naja: A perfume to be worn with love and reverence."- from the Naja packaging brochure

Vero Kern’s contribution to modern perfumery should be treasured.  She will be greatly missed.

Naja is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $15.00 for 1 ml.

Read about our other Vero Profumo fragrances: OndaRubj, and .rozy. Voile d’Extrait.

 

 

Bertrand Duchaufour - remember him? Sure you do. A few years back this über - talented nose seemed to be was everywhere, all the time, and we couldn’t get enough of his swoon worthy fragrances. And, then around 2015 we started to see less from him, especially after he left his positon as Perfumer in Residence at L’Artisan.

That doesn’t mean he’s dropped out or faded away. Au contraire. He’s been busy. Since 2014 he has been with fragrance company Technicoflor and creating fragrances for niche lines like, Grandiflora, Neela Vermeire, St. Giles and Olfactive Studio.

In fact, it was his collaboration with Olfactive Studio that brought Duchaufour back into my orbit. He’s the perfumer behind their new Sepia Collection which is a trilogy of Extrait de Parfum – Vanilla Shot Leather Shot and Chypre Shot. The ‘shot’ in the names refers to both the sensory and photographic click of a camera.

Honestly, each of the fragrances in this collection is a winner, but Vanilla Shot was my first choice and for a very scentimental reason: Havana Vanille. Created by Duchaufour for L’Artisan in 2009, this became the vanilla fragrance by which I measured all others because while vanilla was at its centre, Havana Vanilla was by no means gourmand.

 
Vanilla is enjoying a moment in the fragrance world and I couldn’t be happier. The truth is vanilla is a pervasive note in perfumery and its popularity has only increased with the current appetite for gourmand fragrances. But vanilla is much more complex and nuanced to be pegged as sweet or dismissed as gourmand.

So, I was curious: what would Duchaufour do with vanilla for Ofactive Studio?

All fragrances for Olfactive Studio begin with a collaboration between a perfumer and a photographer. In the case of the Sepia Collection, the collaborators are Duchafour and English-born environmental artist, sculptor and photographer, Martin Hill.

The Press Kit for Vanilla Shot says this:
‘Photography and fragrance enhance each other. In Vanilla Shot, an arch made with thin pieces of sculpted wood connected by floating flax threads above the Wanaka Lake in New Zealand evokes the slender and elongated shape of vanilla beans: A composition that bespeaks extreme balance and tension.’

Vanilla Shot opens with a bracing shot of spice: orange-faceted, herby coriander and bittersweet saffron brightened by the nose-tingling effervescence of aldehydes. The spices don’t deepen, instead they float over the heart, warming notes of deep, sensuous rose, thick, jammy fried fruits and resinous opopanax. This is the irresistible siren call of the foreign and the exotic – a Duchaufour fingerprint. The fruits and flowers give way to a dark, creamy, caramelized note of vanilla balanced resins: by warm, woody myrrh, vanilla-tinged Benzoin.

The drydown is complex, rich and sensuous. The funny thing is, about an hour in, I put my nose to my wrist and smell a shadow of the fragrance. At first, I found this disappointing – the scent didn’t last. But then I kept smelling it away from my nose, for hours. Then it occurred to me: this is the effect of looking at a photograph up close and not being able to see the whole picture until you move back away from it. Clever. Well, Duchaufour has been called the master of shadows.

When I do take in the whole fragrance one thing is clear: with Vanilla Shot Duchaufour has created a truly original vanilla scent that’s easy to wear and to enjoy. It’s a masterpiece.

Vanilla Shot is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.
 

Images - olfactivestudio.com - Media Room, Visuals

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.

WHAT WE DO

We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.