The Strange Invisible Perfumes Signature Collection comprises 18 fragrances created by Alexandra Balahoutis. 10 of them will be on counter at Barneys in October. All are in parfum concentration, and let's just get the bad news out of the way: they are not cheap. They run $185 for 1/4 oz.
The good news: these are well-crafted and unusual perfumes. I did not love all of them, but not a one bored me, and I found a few of them startlingly beautiful. They are not the sort of thing that you buy to impress your co-workers at a business meeting or to attract a mate; they are perfume-lover's perfumes, made for people who like to smell things. They require patience: several of them have difficult top notes, and develop very slowly, over a period of some hours.
Heroine has notes of opoponax, cedar, ginger, tuberose, and frangipani. The opening smells like tuberose mixed with something unpleasant — not the wintergreenish medicinal rub of Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle, but more like a mixture of melting plastic and gasoline. It resolves gradually into a huge blast of cedar, which temporarily drowns out the tuberose. The cedar fades slowly to a whisper, leaving just enough behind to ground the heady notes of tuberose and frangipani. It is lush and rich, but not overly sweet, and the ginger, while soft, adds a little kick to the florals. Lovely and long lasting.
Black Rosette has black tea, rose, leather, and spearmint. Another odd opening, with lots of hazy medicinal stuff (very like agar wood) floating over mint and leather. The dry down is an assertive mix of animalic leather, smoky tea leaves, and rose. It is a dark, earthy, atmospheric fragrance, and after an hour I decided that while it was way cool, it wasn't something that I would wear. After 2 hours, the hard edges of the leather had smoothed, the fragrance had taken on a deep, rich wood note, and I was completely captivated.
L’Invisible is the namesake fragrance of the line, and features oak moss, resins, ylang ylang, blood orange, hibiscus, vanilla, rose, and lemon. It has a more conventional opening than the two fragrances discussed above, with dry mosses and floral notes over resinous undertones. The ylang comes on first, with the sweetness cut by the citrus notes; the rose arrives much later with a hint of vanilla. Hours later, it is a soft, close to the skin blend of oak moss and light resins with just a hint of flowers.
Other fragrances that will be available at Barneys include Aramaic (for men, with blue lotus, holy basil, cinnamon, agarwood, cardamom, and frankincense), Arunima (with blue lotus, vanilla, frankincense, lavender, ginger, cardamom, and key lime), Atlantic (for men, with benzoin, sandalwood, lavender, bay rum, peppermint, key lime, and frankincense), Eleuria (formerly Con Brio, with frankincense, musk rose, iris, jasmine, and vanilla), Étrange (with far eastern flowers, resins, ginger, benzoin, and seaweed), Galatea (with ambrette, neroli, benzoin, galbanum, and tuberose), and Tosca (with mimosa, jasmine, basil, parma violet, tobacco leaf, pale musk accord, bergamot, and orange blossom).
For buying information, see the listing for Strange Invisible Perfumes under Perfume Houses.
Tomorrow: Strange Invisible Perfumes Lady Day.