First let me give credit to Nathan Branch for the inspiration to take the following photographs. I would never have had the idea to chronicle my experience of opening Liz Zorn’s beautifully wrapped package without his gorgeous blog. When her Soivohlé Natural Artisan Cologne Suite sample set arrived, I wanted to capture the care she had taken to create this artistic moment, no matter how fleeting. So many thanks again to Nathan for allowing me to think of taking these photographs, and to Liz Zorn for crafting a such a beautiful presentation.
Before I breakdown the individual fragrances, I want to express how impressed I am with all four Natural Artisan Colognes. They are unique, fascinating, complex and most importantly, beautiful to wear. Cologne can either bring to mind a masculine fragrance or a lighter scent due to a low concentration of essential oils (and/or aroma chemicals). I don’t know what the concentrations are, but these are not lightweights nor are they strictly masculine. Both women and men alike will adore them.
Ylang n Pepper
The Soivohlé website describes this natural cologne as a dry, semi-floral and I wholeheartedly agree. There is nothing juicy or heady in this ylang ylang flower, it’s crisp and clean and the pink pepper overrides the super-sweet flourishes that tend to accompany this essence. Pink pepper has become rather ubiquitous in perfumery as of late, and in my opinion has come to mean a whole lot of nothing. When I see it listed in perfume notes, it doesn’t necessarily mean the fragrance will sparkle with peppery brightness, or be enlivened with hints of spiciness. Well my friends, Liz Zorn knows how to make her scents spicy, and Ylang n Pepper got spice! There’s also a hint of the citrusy-neroli type floral aspect of ylang ylang that becomes more present in the heart which blends seamlessly with its peppery dryness. In fact, this cologne is so dry, it takes on a woody quality. Ultimately though in the drydown, the pepper fades and the floral sweetness of ylang ylang stands alone.
Vetiver n Guaiac
Can I gush for a moment? I love, love, love this fragrance! I am admittedly smitten with vetiver which explains my preference a smidge. But Ms. Zorn has blended an intricate down-in-the-soil rich cologne that is also exhilarating and radiant as it bursts with lavender, tobacco and spices. Even though I am a full-fledged vetiver-lover, if spicy fragrances are too tenacious or linear, I tire of them and won’t reach for the bottle. As I mentioned above, these colognes are complex, and Vetiver n Guaiac is the most complex of the bunch. It evolves from its spicy, richly earthy opening, to a more grassy and herbaceous, yet powdery heart. Not being a perfumer, my presumption is that the lavender coaxes the herbal quality from the vetiver, while the amber base brings forth vetiver’s powdery side.
After a couple hours of this gorgeous heart, a soft vanillic floral emerges. I had to write Ms. Zorn to ask if there were floral notes in Vetiver n Guaiac, and aside from violet leaf absolute, there is not. The benzoin in her amber base, combined with the vanilla (and possibly the violet leaf) create an unexpected and beautifully subtle drydown. To clarify, the beginning and middle were not subtle, nor would I want them to be. Vetiver n Guaiac has terrific sillage, as do all the colognes, and impressive lasting power, 4-5 hours at least.
Geranium Rose Mint
Geranium scents have a very distinct aroma when they are made with the essential oil. In its pure form the essence is quite sharp and lively, which Geranium Rose Mint is not. The topnotes were surprisingly mellow for a fragrance with the words geranium and mint in the name. Its subtle geranium piquancy leans towards the rosy side of rose geranium, and cedar then makes it all the more easygoing. What was fascinating, is that after about an hour, the breezy menthol-esque quality of the mint came alive rather than in the topnotes. In the drydown this became a cozy, rosy cedar even in the presence of the mint. The evolution of these colognes has been stunning.
Lavender n Patchouli
I can’t imagine that composing the perfect blend of lavender and patchouli would be an easy task as a perfumer. Even the casual perfume wearer can attest to patchouli’s ability to overtake a perfume and kill it, and lavender’s potent herbal nature must be a challenge to balance. But Ms. Zorn nailed this one, as the lavender essential oil, lavender absolute and patchouli neither compete with nor overwhelm one another. Rather, they are harmoniously blended so that they become enhanced versions of themselves, yet more subdued and more wearable than usual. Lavender n Patchouli was also created with Ms. Zorn’s amber base which has benzoin, labdanum, tolu balsam, and lesser amounts of wood and balsam notes. In addition to the woody amber blend, vanilla in the mix creates powdery curves in this herbal and earthy unisex fragrance.
Soivohlé Natural Artisan Colognes are available at the Soivohlé website and are very reasonably priced:
$18 for 0.33oz bottle
$70 for the 4 bottle set
$12 for the 2ml sampler set (photographed above)