The early-2020 closing of the Barneys New York flagship store on Madison Avenue was a sad moment for me. I've been shopping there for fragrance and makeup for longer than I care to admit, and I have happy memories of meeting the creators of various cosmetics and perfume brands during "personal appearance" events on the beauty floor. One of those creators was Yosh Han, whose line of perfume oils was carried by Barneys and was popular amongst Makeup Alley perfumistas in the early 2000s. I remember chatting briefly with Yosh and telling her how much I liked Winter Rose, among other scents in her collection.
I always kept an eye (and a nose) on Yosh's work and even ran into her from time to time during her recurring New York visits. I worried a little when her perfume oils started vanishing from various online retailers a year or two ago, and then I was relieved to learn that a rebranding had been in progress. Yosh's new "Eau Fraîche" collection re-introduces most of her earlier fragrances in new "sophisticated and refined" compositions developed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, although they still carry their original concepts and their chakra-associated qualities.
Since my longtime favorite from Yosh was Sottile (Italian for "subtle"), the reinterpreted Sottile was the first vial I opened in my sample set. Whereas the original Sottile was a simple nosegay of tea rose and lily of the valley, the new Sottile also includes hyacinth, neroli, citrus, jasmine, narcissus, gardenia, rose, musk, Peru balsam and vetiver. As a "vibrational fragrance," Sottile "resonates with the 6th chakra, clairvoyance — clear vision — especially self-reflection and ability to see others as they are."
Sottile is the most retro-feeling perfume of the bunch, an aldehydic spring bouquet that calls to mind some of my favorite fragrances from the 80s, or even classics like Guerlain Jardin de Bagatelle or Caron Fleurs de Rocaille. The rose is still there, but it's enmeshed with the pollen and powder of the various other flowers, plus a sharp stemmy green note that appears in the heart and then fades away to leave a softer dry down with a hint of fruitiness. This is a perfume-y perfume, no doubt, and a very pretty one. Will it clarify my perceptions of myself and others? We shall see.
I also have fond memories of Ginger Ciao, a tropical gourmand fragrance inspired by a "bewitching" character in a (possibly imaginary?) novella. Ginger Ciao is now described as a scent that "evokes the allure of faraway lands, sparkling youth, and a sun-kissed glow" and "resonates with the second chakra — sexual and creative energy." I remember Ginger Ciao most for its intense ginger heart and its notes of milky coconut and rubbery-sweet ylang ylang. Now it features "tropical florals, jungle woods, coconut, juicy fruits and exotic spices," and I'm primarily noticing a buttery tiaré floral note, some sunny neroli, and a vanillic musk base more than ginger or coconut. It's glamorous in a fun, beach-y way. If you ever tried and loved Guerlain Terracotta, you should give Ginger Ciao a sniff.
The one new addition to the collection is Omnistar, which has been swapped in for the now-departed Omniscent. Omnistar is recommended for anyone who is "drawn to glamorous femme fatales and dashing bon vivants," while it "transcends the physical, takes you into the future, and radiates a golden aura" and encourages "abundance." Its notes include sheer amber, galactic musk and etheric minerals. Sounds outer-spacey! On my skin, however, Omnistar began with a fruity intro of bergamot and fig before turning into more of an abstract citrus-musk that feels radiant and very contemporary. I'm not usually someone who gravitates to futuristic "non-perfume" perfumes, but Omnistar really fit my mood on a few recent days when I needed to cut through the noise and clutter in my head and focus on tasks at hand.
Yosh's revamped collection is rounded out by new versions of White Flowers and U4eahh!, with the latter now re-named Angeleno, as well as Sombre Negra and König. As resistant as I can be to change, I'm really enjoying these "elevated" iterations of Yosh's original creations. My own tastes have shifted over the past decade or more, and (as Yosh herself reminded me during a recent online aura reading — yes, she offers these!), this year of unavoidable change and loss is a good time to form new habits in our daily lives, even small ones. For me, that includes fragrance. I'll miss the stores and scents I no longer have, but I'll also try to stay open to new olfactory experiences.