Elements Showcase: Day One

Rather than sit on my notes for a week, I’m going to try to post some quick thoughts and favorite things from the show.

*This Italian soap ($24 for a bar), distributed by C.O. Bigelow and set to appear in stores next month. It smells like deep, rich pipe tobacco mixed with spices. It’s amazing, and Barney (of Fragrant Moments) and I both kept going back to it.

*Blood Concept, a line of four metallic-based fragrances inspired by blood types. The packaging is thoughtful—the big bottle looks like an IV bottle and the small one is a dropper. The most interesting of the line at the booth was AB (the notes include aldehydes, aluminum, pebble, aqua), but when I smell the scratch-n-sniff card they gave out as samples, it smells like a deodorant soap. Now O (thyme, raspberry, leather) and B (apple, black cherry, patchouli, teak) smell the best to me.

*Nasomatto. The whole line is intriguing, from the infamous hashish-based Black Afgano (which really does smell good, and not at all like weed) to the leathery Duro. The distributor rep, who also reps Blood Concept, said that the founder of Nasomatto was kicked out of perfume school in Grasse, France for something that involved his quest to make a fragrance that smelled like semen.

*Carner. This small two-year-old Barcelona-based fragrance line is looking for US retailers. The newest of the collection, Cuirs, smelled exactly like marijuana to me. I laughed and asked the Carner reps what the notes were, thinking I’d get a knowing nod and an explanation; turns out it’s a woody leather fragrance—nothing more.

*From Amouage, the ultra-luxe Oman-based fragrance house, a new pair of fragrances for men and women called Honour was launched. The men’s version starts out with a potent blast of pink and black pepper. I didn’t stick around long enough to smell the middle (geranium, nutmeg) and base notes (patchouli, vetiver, musk), but I got a sample.

Amouage’s Library Collection is even more expensive than their main line. Barney and I both liked Opus II, which was not quite like anything else at the show. Its notes include: (top) lavender, absinth; (middle) jasmine, rose, cinnamon, cardamom; (base) patchouli, musk, cedar.

*Tauer. I was hoping to familiarize myself with Tauer, the celebrated niche fragrance collection from Switzerland, but I was thwarted by a distractible and disinterested distributor rep. I had just bought myself a small sample vial of Lonestar Memories, and I was excited to learn about the rest. Barney asked the rep about one of Tauer’s new collections, but the guy knew nothing about it, despite its sitting in front of him. This rep kept trying to walk away from us, and we kept trying to ask questions.

I refuse to let this bad rep experience sour me on the brand (obviously he has nothing to do with it), but it reminded me of how devastating bad customer service can be to fragrance. With scent so tied to memory and experience, how easy it would be for a scent to help recall an asshole at a department store who sprayed something on you without your permission.

Eventually we gave up, but I managed to smell L’Air du Desert Marocain: (top) coriander, cumin; (middle) rock rose, jasmine; (base) cedar, vetiver, ambergris. It was superb.

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