As a human person who exists on this planet today, you no doubt have a love/hate relationship with that book of Faces and are logged in at all hours clicking through your friend’s feeds: avoiding spoilers, hurrying past your racist relatives and small town, small-minded high school acquaintances ignorant blather, and finally slowing your scroll to squee over the delightful antics of pandas frolicking in the season’s first snow and baby otters floating blissfully on their mother’s bellies. Give us all the animals! We’re even obsessed with that bizarro “water bear” micro-animal that resembles a friendly eight-legged butthole.
Man, humans are weird.
The vagaries of humanity’s strange predilections aside, if you’ve spent any time in a zoo or a farm or caring for animals, you are perhaps–for better or worse–acquainted with the pungent variety of scents associated with our beastly friends. But have you ever found yourself wishing to smell like one of your favorite critters? (Okay, okay, maybe we are back in weirdo territory again.)
Well, Victor Wong of Zoologist perfumes has, and is exactly the kind of weirdo and visionary that we love. A wild dreamer who has a boundless fascination with the animal kingdom and its idiosyncrasies, Victor works with award-winning perfumers to capture the manifold delights of the natural world in fragrance form, and has created a line of eau de parfums that are “unusual, beautiful, fun, and even shocking.” And, and I am thrilled to report, these scents do not even contain animal products! “We don’t want to harm animals so that we can smell good”, notes Victor. Awww!
I’ll get this one out of the way first, because I can already hear you tittering like a bunch of 13-year-olds. Beaver, heh heh heh, right? Grow up, dorks. With a base of castoreum (synthetic beaver musk) and notes of linden blossom, iris, earth, and smoke, this opens on an outdoorsy, woodland aquatic vibe that quickly becomes an acrid, animalic musk. Despite the subtly sweet powderiness that keeps it from venturing into “unpleasant” territory, it isactually a kind of funky, moist scent. It’s pretty skanky, but in a really interesting and strangely comforting way. Beaver was designed by Chris Bartlett who describes his creations as, “fragrances that some people will love, rather than perfumes everyone will like.” Fair enough!
Like its namesake, Rhinoceros is a massive fragrance which opens with an enormous blast of dry, boozy rum and tobacco. There’s leather here, as well as sage, and lavender–and it all makes for very interesting contrasts. The dark, raw, leatheriness and the lighter herbal aromatics both play off each other and then again come together to conjure the “heat shimmering on the still Savannah” as the product description suggests. The nose behind this fragrance is Paul Kiler and with Rhinoceros he has created something hugely remarkable.
Another fragrance created by Paul Kiler, Panda begins with an intense, dewy green accord and hints of peppery warmth that is soon followed by orange blossoms and lilies, and finally comes to rest at earthy roots and damp mosses. This is less the roly-poly panda himself and more a chronicle of his slow stroll as he journeys from mountain springs to bamboo groves, munching on stalks and leaves, and basically just living a very low-key, low-stress, serene Panda lifestyle. Much later there is the barest whiff of sandalwood; perhaps the last stop in his travels is a shadowy temple at sunset, to light a stick of incense and thank the gods for his good fortune.
This is a lush, vivacious offering from nose Shelley Waddington. Brimming with a kaleidoscope of opulent fruits and honeyed florals, it calls to mind a tea party in a bright spring garden; effervescent personalities flit and flirt, while poetic dalliances occur amongst the softly blooming lilac and sweetly musky honeysuckle. Delicate nectars and sweet ambrosia is served, and later that night you dream of the sunlight glimmering through the season’s fleeting apple and plum blossoms.
Designed by award-winning perfumer Dr. Ellen Covey, Bat is undeniably, the strangest, most wonderfully unique perfume you will ever smell. Opening with a nearly overwhelming note of damp, primordial earth both vegetal and mineral in execution, this immediately conjures inky caverns and pitch-black, damp limestone caves. The scent then morphs into something I can only describe as “night air and velvet darkness”; I cannot say how she has done this, I only know that it is the very essence of the vast, temperate midnight sky, the glowing moon high overhead. At this point it becomes something quite different, and–quite possibly–even more beautiful. Soft fruits, delicate musks, and resins lay at the heart of this enigmatic scent and combine to create a fragrance that lightly circles around the wearer to surprise them with a mysterious sweetness at the most surprising times. According to Dr. Covey who has spent a great deal of time researching and studying bats, with this quality the scent has succeeded pretty well in doing what she envisioned.
Full size 60ml bottles with charming illustrations by Daisy Chan can be purchased at Zoologist.com for $125, while generously sized 2.5ml spray samples can be had for $6 a piece. A sampler set, containing all five scents, is available for $25.
(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)