Blog post by Gwen

Rhinoceros (2014) – complex and exciting and memorable

Photo Courtesy of Zoologist Perfumes

The first time I encountered Zoologist Perfumes was at a fragrance launch in Toronto. Zoologist Perfumes is a Canadian indie niche fragrance line launched in 2013 by Torontonian Victor Wong. I was intrigued by their fragrances, each one named for an animal, bird, insect or fish and designed to express the eccentricities of the animal kingdom in fragrance.

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 real respect and fascination with animals and doesn’t use animal products in any of his fragrances.

Finding a perfumer who shared this vision and could translate it into a stunning fragrance like Rhinoceros ended with artist/perfumer Paul Kiler, who launched his own eco-fragrance line, PK Perfumes, in 2012.

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

It opens with sour, aromatic bergamot and 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 to 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 it’s those opposites make Rhinoceros so exciting to wear.

Look who’s an animal lover now!

Check out Rhinoceros in our Shop.