We all have our "pet" perfume houses. For me, a "pet" house would be niche, and small niche at that. One of my favorite perfume pets of the last few years has been Zoologist. Late this year, two new perfumes have joined the zoo: Camel and Elephant. Each perfume gets inspiration from animals — and places — I love.
Perfumer Christian Carbonnel; listed notes of orange blossom, rose, palm dates, dried fruits, jasmine, frankincense, amber, myrrh, cedar, cinnamon, musks, civet, oud, sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, vetiver
On a trek through an unforgiving desert, starting point and destination are indistinguishable from one another. Terracotta-hued dunes twist and writhe, their shapes ever-shifting. Only the merciless sun and aloof constellations can be trusted to point the way. Weighed down by treasures – some tempting the eyes with their glittering sheen, others enticing the taste buds with exotic aromas – the camel plods toward a far off marketplace. Water is but a dream for now, the taste of sweet dates a distant memory. There is nothing but an endless ocean of sand.
The camels I've met up close were at the edge of the Sahara desert (I gave the one I sat on a hug and a kiss on its neck, which prompted a jerky head motion and look that said: "What the...?") So, I associate Zoologist Camel with Morocco. Its complex mix of notes reminds me of early-stage Serge Lutens perfumes, but Camel is sheerer.
Camel's opening smells slightly medicinal and thick, but quickly lightens with lovely orange blossom and a sugary (but not overly sweet) "crystalline" accord that must be the dried fruits. Next, jasmine mixes with incense and myrrh and I detect a mild clove scent. The musks in Camel smell of pre-deodorant humanity, but these humans burned incense and wore tiny silver cages around their necks with a sticky lump of "amber" inside. Camel presents an afterglow of incense (a quirky ash perfume). I love Camel's base: cedar, vetiver, amber and oud. Camel's extreme dry down, that lasts most of the day, is spicy orange blossom mixing with incense. Camel belongs on my to-buy list.
Perfumer Chris Bartlett; listed notes of leaves, Darjeeling tea, magnolia, jasmine, cocoa, coconut milk, incense, woods, amber, musks, patchouli and sandalwood
Huge trees quake at their approach, vulnerable leaves shuddering as the ground rumbles under heavy footsteps. They come with appetites as massive as their lumbering bodies. Nothing is spared from their bottomless hunger – trees stripped bare, roots upturned, even the tiniest blooms cannot escape their grasp. When the behemoths move on, they leave behind a path of destruction. Yet what often looks like carnage is actually a renaissance. The elephants fulfill a vital role – purging the delicate ecosystem, allowing new life to flourish.
Elephant begins with the vibrant, !GREEN! scent of crushed fat, juicy tropical leaves — it'll perk you up, I guarantee. In mid-development, there's a bouquet of cocoa-dusted blossoms, and a mix of bitter and sweet (white flowers). In the base, I smell "green" patchouli mixing with coconut, raw sandalwood and earthy musk (as in musk made of dirt). Elephant's sandalwood note is surprising and different; it's tart and sappy, a welcome change from the creamy sandalwood I often smell in perfumes. The glorious elephant got its due with this fragrance.
Zoologist Camel and Elephant Eaux de Parfum are $135 for 60 ml.