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Fragrance family: Leather
Gender: For women and men
Concentration: Eau de Parfum (EDP)
Perfumer: Paul Kiler

Rhinoceros was launched in 2014 by Zoologist Perfumes, a Canadian indie niche fragrance line created in 2013 by Torontonian Victor Wong. It has since been reformulated, but my bottle is from 2014.

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. Still, it’s crafted with such agility that it never does, and I realized that it’s those opposites that make Rhinoceros so exciting to wear and to smell on someone else.

Notes: bergamot, rum, lavender, elemi, sage, armoise, conifer needles, pinewood, tobacco, immortelle, geranium, agarwood, cedar wood, vetiver, sandalwood, amber, smoke, leather, musks.

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