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The Gamekeeper - A game I want to play - July 27, 2012 New Fragrance Listing



 I was just sitting here in the late evening a few weeks ago, minding my own business, when I hear the ping of an incoming e-mail. What now, I think…it’s been a long  week, all I want is some peace and quiet, and time to smell some new roses – rose frags, that is.

I can’t resist – I have to look. E-mails are like eating chocolate bars to me – I can’t help but have one more piece. This delicious piece is from Howard Jarvis of Bud Parfums in Warburton, Australia, wondering if Gwen and I would like to sample some of his perfumes. He’s discovered and likes our style, and thinks we should give his niche creations a sniff. 

Now, I have a soft spot for Aus, having worked for an Australian company for several years, and having visited that fabulous country several times, and I love Australian men. Guys who drink beer, love swimming, wear baggy shorts with boots and no socks, are my kinda guy…and one that makes perfumes, too?  As fast as you can say ‘Crocodile Dundee” I fire back a message in the affirmative, and a couple of weeks later, Gwen and I have our package of decant samples from Howard at Bud Parfums.

Howard, aka Bud, is not your usual perfumer. In an article on the australianperfumejunkies blog, he describes himself as having an early interest in scents, demonstrated by eating jasmine blossoms in his grandmother’s garden as a three year old, but life found him working as a bricklayer, builder, photographer, and then a naturopath, homeopath and herbalist for 15 years, focusing on native Australian plants before he settled on becoming a bona fide perfumer in the early 2000’s. It follows that his scents are created as naturally as possible, from the purest and highest quality ingredients – on his website he states: 

“We use natural ingredients as much as possible where environmentally responsible….We have over 4000 ingredients to compose fine perfumes…. We will go where other perfumers fear to tread. We will push the boundaries of fragrance."

Howard is basically self-taught, but cites Jonathan Midgely, an Australian nose, as a mentor, and he admires the bold work of non-mainstream noses, Jean Claude Ellena, Christopher Brosius, Neil Morris, and Andy Tauer.

Howard has the creds – he’s an excellent technician, and a passionate artist - and it shows in his range of truly original perfumes.  First of all, the frag names are brilliant, no “Noires” or “Ombres “ to put us all to sleep, but rather names that inspire imagination, like “Ooh La La”, “Sweetheart”, “Scarlet”, “Jezebel”, and “Butterfly” for women, and “If”, “Assassin”, “Jackeroo”, “Gamekeeper”, and “Whoa de Cologne” for men. There’s even one called “Ugly Bastard” for that special man in your life! I like the unadorned humour, so before I even open the decants and start sniffing, I’m ready to have a good time.

In his note which accompanies the samples, Howard advises that we try them several times over a week or so, since the beauty of his perfumes is in their extended dry-down. The top and heart notes are not a clear indication of the evolved scent, each scent unwinds, revealing notes here and there, and transforming into its unique character over time. Most well-constructed perfumes do this, but Bud Parfums do it brilliantly – what I think will be one kind of scent after I put it on my skin surprises me, changing into a far more complex and different scent a few hours later. 

The Gamekeeper is one of these chameleon scents. Part of his Men’s range, it really is non-gendered – anyone who loves vintage or unusual frags will love The Gamekeeper. Inspired by the character of the Gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, who became the lover of the infamous upper-class Lady, it’s a chypre, built on the classic bergamot/oakmoss/labdanum structure, but it’s a chypre like I’ve never sniffed before.

The notes are petit grain, palmarosa oil, orange blossoms, patchouli, oak moss, labdanum and musk, and it starts out smelling like a traditional cologne, reminding me briefly of Guerlain Du Coq , then as it gathers momentum, offering hints of Guerlain Jicky. It’s citrusy but not sweet, with a slightly sour note underlying the orange branches and blossoms, a note that’s obviously green but with a lemony resinous waft. Interesting….! The scent feels light, like a cologne, but twenty minutes later it’s been “chypred” by the oakmoss and labdanum, and is now more complex, and much richer. There’s some darkness around the edges that has a deeper attraction.

The Gamekeeper becomes truly an "ahhhh" frag when the patchouli and musk come into the mix. It becomes openly sensual – the earthy resinous oakmoss and palmarosa oil, which smells like lemon geranium,  give a skanky undertone ( the Gamekeeper smells a little gamey?), and the patchouli and musk give it a vampy vibe (Lady Chatterley is more than a lady!). The notes weave in and out, merging and separating, the sweet from orange blossom and rich labdanum, then green oakmoss, darker patchouli, skin-soft musk, coming up to the surface at different times, but always in perfect balance, making The Gamekeeper such a compelling scent as I catch the quiet waft over the next few hours. The quality ingredients Howard uses give this perfume excellent longevity and sillage for a naturally based fragrance.

At the end of my testing, I decide that this frag doesn’t smell like any other scent I know, so I immediately order a bottle. To my nose, The Gamekeeper has a clear quality, a lightness of being, but yet is complex at the same time; it smells very modern, and yet very old, eternal. It is incredibly original, therefore difficult to describe and hard to categorize. I think you have to try it for yourself.

I don’t know if Howard Jarvis wears shorts and boots with no socks, but I do know that he is a hugely talented perfumer, and I’m glad he likes our style. We like his.

The Gamekeeper is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.