Niche perfume is the new mainstream. Last week I received an order of 10 "niche" fragrance samples that set me back $50. Yeah, I'm a sucker. I put a dab of each perfume on a finger before I started a painting project. As I sniffed my fingers over the next 15 minutes, I was upset to smell that most of these perfumes quickly devolved to basic Iso E Super, Cashmeran and white musk. Worst: most of them cost around $200 for 50 ml bottles! What a rip-off...and what a disappointment. The last couple of years I'm finding more interesting things for sale by mainstream/designer fragrance companies than the proliferating so-called niche brands.
On the day I did this test, only two perfumes didn't conk out after their interesting head notes faded. Today, I'll review one of them: Tyrannosaurus Rex by Zoologist.
Like its namesake, this perfume is a carnivore (I smell meat); is powerful and heavy; has a massive head(note) — smoke; and is definitely an apex predator (all the other fragrances I had arranged on my digits were devoured whole by T. Rex).
Tyrannosaurus Rex opens with prehistoric percolations — is that a soon-to-erupt volcano in the distance...a tarry, bubbling pond? Overall T. Rex smells like "landscape incense." First, I smell dry herbs but with a minty kick. The opening's main attraction is an evergreen note, charred and arranged around aromas that conjure a meaty outdoor grill-fest (scents of smoke and rare steaks). Floral notes emerge next and they're not light and airy, but dense (champaca) or boiled down to almost-caramelized flower syrup the color of molasses (osmanthus).
If you don't appreciate wood smoke, you should avoid Tyrannosaurus Rex; smoke curls through its opening and heart. The base of Tyrannosaurus Rex begins with leather (a smart segue from osmanthus to tanned hides) and ends with a vegetal/nutty musk mixing with a fantastic, sharp, buoyant sandalwood scent that lasts for hours and reminds me of a favorite bath staple (and cheap thrill): Mysore Sandal Soap. (And, no; we're not talking a delicate soap aroma here.)
Tyrannosaurus Rex has a lot going on but all its elements are dynamic and make this hulking fragrance work.
Zoologist Tyrannosaurus Rex Extrait de Parfum is $175 for 60 ml; a special, limited edition in a red box showing T. Rex in sunglasses on the artwork is the same price (450 were produced).
Tyrannosaurus Rex was developed by perfumer Antonio Gardoni and lists fragrance notes of bergamot, black pepper, fir, laurel leaf, neroli, nutmeg, champaca, geranium, jasmine, osmanthus, rose, ylang ylang, resins, cade, cedar, civet, frankincense, leather, patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla.
Note: top image of Tyrannosaurus Rex via Wikimedia Commons.