The backstory: Like the other fragrances from indie brand Imaginary Authors, O, Unknown! was inspired by an imaginary book by an imaginary author. Here's the book blurb:
At age 65, when famed explorer and author Philip Sava was given less than a year to live, he set off from his home in Madagascar for parts unknown. Leaving all his belongings behind, he set off on foot, hopped a freighter across the Indian Ocean, and wandered into the Bangladesh wilderness. His journey, which lasted over a decade, took him through Nepal and Tibet where his exploration turned spiritual and into rural China where months of solitude resulted in some of the most confessional observations ever committed to paper. This is the story of a man grappling with the meaning of life as he grasps to life’s last vestiges.
What's in it: The notes include black tea, lapsang souchong, orris butter, Kyoto moss, musk balsam, sandalwood & ???.
What does it smell like: There is a brief and bright fruity-citrus open. Then, a blend of black tea, not quite as pine-y / smoky as I expected from the lapsang, but a little pine-y / smoky to be sure (if you want more smoke, get City on Fire; if you want more pine, try Cape Heartache). Plus, iris, and plenty of it — to my mind, this is an iris fragrance first and foremost. The iris starts out fairly vegetal, and works its way closer to cosmetic powder as O, Unknown settles. The base is warm, earthy, chalky-creamy, woody and lightly sweet, and made me think of vanilla and heliotrope, with a dash of concrete.
It's unisex and the lasting power is good.
Verdict: I'm a sucker for a decent, offbeat-but-wearable iris, and perhaps a sucker for Imaginary Authors as well — I like the quirky packaging, I like the tongue-in-cheek novel names, and I like the reasonable prices. This one will make my buy list. Figures that I just missed a sale on the 14 ml travel sizes (they were 15% off last week), but I'll wait for the next one. I want a small bottle of Memoirs of a Trespasser, too.
In case you want some too: I have a 14 ml travel size of O, Unknown! to give away. It has been used lightly for testing. I will send it anywhere in the world, but the usual giveaway rules apply — I will take eons to mail, and I won't be responsible if something goes wrong in the sending. If you want it, comment below, and start your comment with "I want it." I will pick a winner using my handy dandy random winner app next Friday, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, 27 November.
The details: Imaginary Authors O, Unknown! is available in 14 ($38) or 50 ($95) ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Imaginary Authors under Perfume Houses.