In an interview Andy Tauer gave recently, he talks candidly about these new fragrances, and how they came about. The central issue was a difficulty he was having working with iris roots in the development of a previous fragrance. Since that’s one of his favorite and most-used notes, he had a problem to solve.
He wondered, he says, if. If a scent could be reduced to its fundamentals while still being harmonious. If the classic pyramid structure could be transcended in a way that would still leave room for development. If he could come up with a series based on these ideas that would work; what to call it, how to describe it. If stepping onto an alternate path for a time would fit with his developing brand.
Near the end of the interview he speaks of how he came to the decision to do this. New roads; the creative process itself in which nothing is ever really “finished,” but can always be better, which is well-known to any artist. And the knowledge that a new road leads to discovery of all sorts of other new aspects that can be applied to one’s new work, and as tweaks (which are hard to resist) to one’s older work.
The battle of Natural vs. Synthetics goes on, of course; Tauer’s previous work has mixed them in quite complex formulas. These fragrances, the Pentachords, are made from synthetic molecules. The intellectual and creative challenge he gave himself -- construct 3 perfumes using only 5 ingredients each-- meant that every ingredient had to perform every function expected of a perfume. Using the molecules was part of the solution. The other part was using the most interesting molecules, ones that evolve on skin as naturals do, in harmony with one another. He tried a number of synthetics, most notably a variation Irone Alpha -- as expensive as rose absolute -- before finding the right ones.
These words are a joy to write. Not many perfumers would ever consider revealing their own artistic processes, much less their dilemmas. This speaks to perfumery as art, in a way we’d all love to see more of...ok, already, what do they smell like?
There are three, the series named after the five-note diatonic scale, the individual fragrances named after the colors they evoked to Tauer.
“Verdant” is a green (are you surprised?) After the initial leafy burst, it reminds me of walking into a humidor. There is tobacco here, making this very different from most “green” scents, with their usual trinity of galbanum/vetiver/violet leaf. Tauer fans will recognize a bit of spice, too, along with the hints of galbanum and leather. It’s not sweet, nor is it sharp. It’s a great masculine and a distinctively different feminine.
“Auburn” is a Tauer through and through. It’s a bit like his "Orange Star," with its fruity-not-bitter orange, a bit of honey and lily like his "Zeta," and a dash of L’air du Desert Marocain (just a dash) in there too. Lately I’ve been exploring the world of mixology, in which cocktails are constructed much like perfumes. I’d love to see how a flavorist would approach these notes.
“White,” my personal favorite, has been described in terms of snow and silvery violet, but to me it opens with rich, foody vanilla, then a strong violet aspect and a base of ambroxan (or one of the other myriad names which describe synthetic ambergris) and some white-woody musk. Try as I might, I can’t see this cold; it’s divinity, an old-fashioned kind of white candy my grandmother made. The violet, which is the aforementioned irone alpha, does shift and glimmer. (Most ionones render me asnomic to practically everything else in the fragrance; this doesn’t.) All this being said, “White” is a cool-weather fragrance, which I plan to wear when our weather cools (if it ever does).
And these last. The “White” in particular lasted, even on me, all day.
These fragrances won’t be released worldwide until mid-September. At the moment, they’re only available at Campo Marzio, in Rome. Be the first of your friends...leave a comment, any comment, by midnight, August 7, US Eastern Daylight time. I’ll do a random drawing and send the winner the pictured set of generous carded samples.
To watch the interview with Andy Tauer, go here.
Full disclosure: The sample sets were set to me by Tauer Perfumes.