Not in Jest: Lord's Jester Perfumes
One of the nice things happening these days is that there are talented artisanal perfumers out there; most of whom make products that are far more lively, interesting and higher quality than anything you're going to find at Sephora, and sometimes even Saks. In that group is New York-based Adam Gottschalk, who studied under no less than Mandy Aftel He was kind enough to send me samples of five of his fragrances: Selene (EdP), Heracles and Demeter (EdT), Ares (EdC) and Anthea, a solid. He was also nice enough to answer my questions which were perhaps not original, but I'm not Baba Wawa..
How did you come to be a perfumer? What was your inspiration?
I was obsessed with perfume for a short time. Then I came across two books which changed my life: first Perfume by Patrick Suskind which told me the way perfume used to be, and Essence & Alchemy by Mandy Aftel which spoke of a radical departure from the days of old. I've never looked back, sure as I am that it's simply a matter of rediscovering the old ways of the perfumer's art. I categorically deny that to make stupendous perfume one needs synthetics. I wouldn't be involved at all if I thought that were true.
The world of even small perfumers is becoming pretty crowded, how do you set yours apart?
By emphasizing that I _guarantee_ my perfume will enhance your allure,
as only natural components can do.
Can you describe your process for custom-blending perfumes?
I send 18 notes to a person, in three groups, labeled anonymously. Then I listen to their feedback to a certain extent, knowing what I know about how to construct world-class perfumes. There are more notes, depending on what I think a person likes; I pick and choose carefully for the remainder.
Considering the ever-more restrictive guidelines as to what ingredients big houses can use, where do you see the perfume world in 5 years? Are small houses like yours the answer to people who seek out traditional (real) perfumes?
I see us natural perfumers renamed Renegade Perfumers. Yes, small houses like mine will definitely be the source for real perfume. Just as in days long gone.
What's next for Lord's Jester? New scents or products you'd like to talk about? Any stores carrying you?
I will release next Phoebe (my osmanthus perfume), Daphne (my chypre), Chronos (my immortelle perfume), something I'm calling Persephone (an ode to rose), and my mille fleur (10,000 Flowers). Possibly I will make the solid perfume I passed Mandy's course with ( I have two solids for sale right now), a perfume called Selene, which I think might be my best liquid. Then I'm always chock full of ideas. No stores carrying me yet, but that will change soon.
Now to the samples: They don't list noted per se so I am guessing a lot here...
Selene is iris and violet with the lovely simple sweetness to it. It get lusher and more dense as it wears, but not so much that I wouldn't wear it myself. The iris and violet are beautifully balanced and are very French in that there's no post-modern trickery in here. This is a bouquet, not a bulb. That's a good thing here.
Heracles starts off with bright citrus peel, then becomes smokier and herbaceous (which must be the boronia) the longer you wear it. I suppose this is the one that would be considered the most "masculine" of the five, but if you're the sort of lady who will buy her fellah Derby and filch it at every chance, I think you've found his Father's Day gift.
Demeter is tobacco and hay and I think a touch of cool mint; making perfect sense for a scent devoted to the goddess of the harvest. It actually reminds me a little of Chergui, although I think that Demeter might be (I know, strike me with lightning) be more all-around wearable. Chergui sometimes makes me feel like I'm being buffeted by it; Demeter feels like an embrace.
Ares starts all citronella-spicy, befitting the god of manly strength. A deliciously dry yet warm amber drops in later, melding to the spices and adding quite a bit of smoky zing. It also has great lasting power, especially considering that it's an Eau de Cologne
Anthea, the solid, is an ode to jasmine, I think with orange and lemon flower. It surprised me by being my favorite of the group: the jasmine is silky-smooth and whispers, somewhat like the jasmine we have here in Southern California. It plays an olfactory hide-and-seek: stick your nose in it and you smell the orange and lemon blossoms but draw back and the jasmine peeps out and winks.
All of these are lovely; you all know that I love some of the more outre scents out there and the sometime carnival-ride-in-a-bottle they might produce. But sometimes you might want to get off the merry-go-round. These are beautifully balanced, elegant creations that I think are going to make a lot of people very happy. They certainly did me.
Lord's Jester is available at their website. Ares is $45 for 5ML and $80 for 10ML, Heracles and Demeter are $70 for 5ML and $130 for 10ML, Selene is $95 for 5ML and $180 for 10ML. Anthea is $45 for 7.5ML, $95 for 20ML and $125 for 30ML. They have a sample set of three (your choice) available for $25. My samples were provided by Lord's Jester.