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Rhinoceros – It will steal your soul… - November 16, 2015

















Photo Courtesy of Zoologist Perfumes

The first time I encountered Zoologist Perfumes was at a fragrance launch at Niche Essence in Toronto. I was intrigued by their fragrances: Panda, Beaver and Rhinoceros and delighted to learn that Zoologist Perfumes is a Canadian indie niche fragrance line launched in 2013 by Torontonian Victor Wong.

As I recall, there was a lot of discovering, talking and sniffing that evening, but I kept going back to the table where the Zoologist perfumes were displayed and I kept going back to Rhinoceros. I still do.

It didn’t take me long to connect with Mr. Wong and over coffee we spoke about his love of fragrance. He’s a lovely, soft-spoken man with a commitment to producing great fragrances.  And the whole animal theme isn’t just marketing – like having bunnies sell internet services or having a gecko sell insurance. Mr. Wong has a real respect and fascination with them:

“Our line of eau de parfum captures the idiosyncrasies of the animal kingdom and transform them into scents that are unusual, beautiful, fun and even shocking. Our scents will reconnect you with manifold delights of the natural world.
Our perfumes do not contain animal products. We don’t want to harm animals so that we can smell good. Therefore traditional animal musks have been replaced with synthetic ones for ethical reasons.”

Finding a perfumer who shared this vision and could translate it into a stunning fragrance like Rhinoceros, ended with Paul Kiler. Born in California, Paul Kiler’s first passion was photography that evolved into a passion for art, design and sculpture.  In 2002, he started to study perfumery and in 2012 he launched his own line, PK Perfumes with an emphasis on creating “eco and body conscious beautiful fragrances that last well, and are importantly different and beautiful, but are certainly not bland.” His inspiration “came from his love of beauty in all forms, and his love of Nature and scents around him that he has enjoyed since being a boy…”

This brings me to my favourite part of the blog: talking about how much I love Rhinoceros.

It opens with sour, aromatic bergamot along with a boozy note of rum matched with an astringent note of leather. This is not a refined leather note. It’s raw, dry and anilmalic. Lavender contributes a floral element while sage gives it a soft sweetness thanks to its amber aspect. But sage is an herb and combines with armoise give it an herbaceous dimension as elemi and conifer needles give it a sharp, piney aspect so that the opening is potent, powerful and bold – and now it gets interesting. The booziness fades away, and rose-nuanced note of geranium carries a floral note to the heart  as a deliciously balsamic note from pinewood and cedar wood, echoes the opening and creates a woody frame for notes of rich, musty oud, sweet tobacco and the maple-tinged sweetness of hay from immortelle. The heart is a complex woody/leather/tobacco/oud accord that plays off opposites: rugged/refined, animalic/dignified and so peaceful powerful it will steal your soul. The woodiness extends to the base with vetiver and sandalwood, but the leather dominates and on me it gets smoky and sweet from amber.

The drydown is rich and complex, dry and a little sweet and surprisingly lighthearted. To me, it is a very distinctive and memorable fragrance.

The first time I wore it, that game of opposites in the heart had me wondering if it was going to go off balance, but it’s crafted with such agility that it never does and I realized that those opposites make Rhinoceros perfectly unisex.

Cool weather really brings out the best of Rhinoceros, so now is the time to try it and to wear it.

It’s official, I am Paul Kiler fan and a Zoologist Perfumes convert – just thinking about where Mr. Wong will take me next takes the sting out of Monday.

Rhinoceros is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 each.