New Horizons in Fragrance: Aether Arts Perfume
Every so often it's good to discover something that makes you rethink your position, or your taste, or whether or not you can be persuaded to like something you were firmly convinced you could never embrace. Well, I just had to eat my hat about marine/ozonic fragrances because I have discovered one that I really, really like, in the most unexpected way. It is Argent by the talented new perfumer Amber Jobin of Aether Arts Perfume in Colorado. Even more impressive, it is not only a member of a perfume family that I have professed to dislike overall, but it has mint in it, which is a notoriously difficult note to incorporate with other perfume ingredients. Argent is airy and refreshing, minty-cool without being a cliché of the “toothpaste” variety, and thoroughly enjoyable to wear. According to Ms. Jobin, she was inspired by the idea of the stratosphere (also known as the “ether”) when making it, and it's easy to visualize all that arching blue space when smelling it. Coriander, silver fir, petitgrain and rosemary keep the mint company on top; I think the rosemary is the key to tying them all together and keeping the mint from being too dominant. Floral notes, pear and watermelon chime in, followed by a base of musk, frankincense, galbanum (one of my favorite notes), seaweed absolute and cedar. I love that this has real seaweed as well as the Calone of of the melon note, which makes it actually smell of the ocean. I have tried all natural fragrances that use seaweed and seashells and of course mainstream fragrances using synthetic marine notes are everywhere; I have never experienced them together in the same scent, and it's wonderful. Kudos to the perfumer for this winning entry into the fragrance world. I should not really be surprised, because Ms. Jobin has apprenticed with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes for the past five years, and is continuing to learn from one of our best American perfumers.
Argent is a marvelous summer fragrance and so is A Roll in the Grass, which is just what it sounds like, with a twist – some of the “grass” is good old marijuana, or cannabis, in a fragrance inspired by the Burning Man festival “Rites of Passage” theme in 2011. Fortunately it's the green pre-smoked note that's in the perfume, so you won't get any funny looks when you wear it. There is plenty of fresh-cut grass of the other kind in here too, along with basil, oregano, fir needle, galbanum, a good “dirty” jasmine, rose, patchouli and oakmoss. Sound familiar? Yes, it's a real honest-to-goodness chypre, nice and sharp and vivid green, one of my favorite styles and very nicely done. This is exactly the right thing to wear to a barbecue, lawn party, outdoor concert, or just to kick back and relax in your own backyard on a hot summer evening. It can even be a stealth perfume for wearing to work; it's sophisticated enough for the office like all its kind, and only you will know that the Mary Jane you have on has nothing to do with your shoes.
Ms. Jobin has been profoundly influenced by the Burning Man festival and way of life; the third perfume I tested was also inspired by the movement. “Fertility” was the theme Burning Man in 2012, and in accordance with that, Inuus is one heck of a sensuous perfume. It is a mélange of floral, spicy, honey and woody notes, and to me it is a truly outstanding incense perfume, not very sweet despite the list of notes, and certainly suitable for unisex wear. Inuus (pronounced IN-oo-oos) was the Roman god of fertility and copulation – no romance, just sex, and no holds barred. Sambac jasmine and intense Moroccan rose hold court at first, then give way to a delicious blend of spices with white pepper and the slow burn of paprika. The base includes patchouli, sandalwood, benzoin, myrrh, labdanum, honey, beeswax and sumac, the last being a really unusual ingredient that is used as a flavoring in Middle Eastern cuisine. It adds a unique and pungent smokiness to the mix which I find to be quite irresistible. As with most perfumes in this general style, it only gets better the longer it's worn, and after several hours you might feel pretty irresistible yourself. Inuus is probably my favorite of the trio, but as I tried each one repeatedly I found new aspects to appreciate, and I would be happy to own any of them.
One thing I really like is that these fragrances come in oil form, in a strength equal to a 25% Eau de Parfum concentration, so a little bit goes a long way and will last well on the skin. Find these fragrances in the Aether Arts Etsy store; samples are available too.
Image credit: Earth's stratosphere and the Moon from NASA Earth Observatory's Flickr library.
Disclosure: I received samples of all perfumes tested directly from Aether Arts Perfume.