There is an exciting, bright new talent on the perfume scene, John Biebel, a man who reminds me a bit of Slumberhouse‘s Josh Lobb in his creative, bold, unusual, and very modern voice, a man who has quietly released two of the most accomplished and striking fragrances of 2017 and a third pretty one. They demonstrate a remarkably deft mastery of complex fragrance structures, an eye for good quality raw materials, and an innate talent but, above all else, his fragrances feel authentically original. Like Mr. Lobb (and also Serge Lutens), Mr. Biebel has the rare ability to combine unusual notes or aromas that might sound odd on paper but, thanks to his talent and skill, come across in the most interesting ways that leave you sniffing your arm again and again, wondering why no-one had thought of the idea before. At other times, though, he takes a classical composition and manages to make it feel modern and fresh but also dramatic. In both instances, I think that the result is bound to be somewhat polarizing, but then original, thought-provoking, impactful, and sometimes challenging fragrances usually are.
This year, Amouage‘s annual masculine and feminine duo is called Figment. I’ll take a look at them both today.
Today, we’ll look at a four releases from Lubin, Amouage, Roja Dove, and Byredo: Epidor, Bracken Woman, Tuberose, and Velvet Haze. They’ll be briefer takes than normal; I’m behind on covering recent niche fragrances after my long absence and I’m afraid I’ll never catch up if I write one of my typical reviews for each scent. Plus, the only way someone as verbose as myself can manage to write short descriptions is if I stick to the most impressionist overview possible, and skip the usual detailed breakdown in development, sharing other people’s perspectives, or arduously looking up retail links around the world. I’ll try to provide a few relevant details or links at the end, should you wish to pursue the scent further, but not many. So, let’s get to it.
If you merely looked at the note list for Nuit de Bakelite, the newest release from the Australian niche brand, Naomi Goodsir, you might quickly dismiss it as a fragrance that wouldn’t suit your taste preferences, particularly if you’re one of those people who has an intense loathing for tuberose. On the surface and from basic descriptions, you might conclude that it was a highly feminine floral with a greener take on what is perhaps the single most notorious, polarizing flower around, one whose indolic, heady, fleshy, and narcotic aroma has sent numerous people reeling ever since Fracas was released decades ago. Tuberose may be my favourite flower in both perfumery and real life, but I know its very name makes a lot of readers shudder and that several of you avoid any fragrance which includes it.
If you’re one of these people, then let me say right now that Nuit de Bakelite has nothing in common with the conventional take on either indolic tuberose or floral femininity, and that you might be surprised if you tried it. From a spiky, herbal, vegetal green floral to a softly smoked iris woody musk to a unisex, spiced, woody tobacco-leather velvet (and several points in-between), it traverses a range of fragrance profiles that you might not expect. The result is interesting, modern, and worth putting aside any preconceptions that you may have about the notorious flower because, in all honesty, I really wouldn’t classify Nuit de Bakelite as a tuberose fragrance at all, at least not in the sense of a tuberose soliflore. At most, it’s tuberose-adjacent in its early hours but, afterwards, it becomes another matter entirely.