Thursday, January 5, 2017

Zoologist Perfumes Part Three: Nightingale


The artwork on the labels of Victor Wong's Zoologist Perfumes is so engaging and witty in its depiction of the animals representing each perfume, and it has played a big part in giving the brand a distinctive presence. They are all beguiling but this drawing for Nightingale is my absolute favorite, and I think by studying it you can get a window into the perfume, as I will explain in my review.

Nightingale, one of Zoologist Perfumes newer offerings introduced in 2016, was created by Japanese perfumer Toomo Inaba. There are two interesting facts about Mr. Inaba's collaboration with Zoologist Perfumes: one,  Nightingale was his first commercial perfume and two, he had already created this scent before being approached by Victor to contribute to Zoologist's scent library. It required only a few tweaks to be accepted as the brand's newest scent.  It is immediately apparent that Nightingale's approach is different from the two perfumes I've reviewed previously, Bat and Hummingbird. Both of these scents were impressionistic scent stories following the journey of the animal they represented. Nightingale doesn't directly reference the bird and it's journey; it's origins are more esoteric.

When Mr. Inaba originally created the perfume he was inspired by a poem from around 1000 B.C., written by the younger sister of the reigning Empress of Japan, who had decided to enter a nunnery. The poem read: "Soon you will be wearing a black robe and enter nunhood. You will not know each rosary bead has my tears on it." She then gifted her sister with a rosary made of agarwood in a box adorned with a plum blossom. Mr. Inaba used these notes as a reference point to make a perfume featuring plum blossom. The blooming of these blossoms are a herald of spring in Japan, along with the song of the nightingale. You can read more about Toomo Inaba here in an interview on the Zoologist website.

Notes for Nightingale are:
Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris


The opening of the perfume has a Japanese aesthetic, quiet yet distinctive and slightly exotic. It is as if I've opened a little wooden box and a beautiful scent comes forth. I can sense the light of the bergamot and lemon but they are indistinct; however, they serve to set the stage for the classic fruity chypre formula: a bright opening, a fruity heart, and a dark mossy base. The saffron note lends a whisper of intrigue and spice. The plum blossoms begins to take center stage but the fruitiness of the note is kept in check by the darker base notes. I enjoy chypres and this one stays rather linear on me once it reaches this stage, which suits me just fine as I very much enjoy the fragrance. Just as the nightingale above is outfitted in her structured kimono and decorative obi, this perfume with its slightly retro vibe reminds me of an era of elegance for ladies and gentlemen.

Perfumer Toomo Inaba has taken Nightingale in its own direction. Whereas Hummingbird brims with life and Bat swoops exhuberantly, Nightingale is quieter, more somber and mysterious. Ultimately it strikes me as still. Peaceful. Calming. And have I mentioned that this is the only Zoologist perfume that the juice is not the standard pale yellow but instead is a beautiful salmon pink? Not that this should matter, but it charms me. That echanting label, rose-colored juice, pink floral chypre scent! I am smitten!

Read more about Zoologist Perfumes in Part One, Part Two. Part Four and Part Five.

Photos are from the Zoologist website. Samples are my own.

2 comments :

richpot said...

My favorite of the illustrations as well. The whole presentation is precious, including the pink juice. Can't wait to try it. Lovely review, Cynthia. Thanks.

Cynthia said...

If you like chypres I think you will love it! Thank you!