The brand Olfactory NYC reached out to me recently to see if they could send me some of their stuff. Mostly I say a polite no thanks to these offers, because mostly the offers don’t appeal to me. I’m not running out of perfume in this lifetime, and space is a little tight on my shelves, and thus reserved for things I really want to try.
But these did look interesting – primarily because they’ve collaborated with some huge names including Honorine Blanc and Frank Voelkl and Harry Fremont and Ilias Ermenidis, if I can be permitted a moment of fangirl squeeeeee. With folks like those on your marquee there’s a good chance you’re doing something right, and I was also intrigued by the Olfactory vibe.
Their bottles are plain-looking (not unattractive) and at $50 for 50ml or $20 for 10ml are inexpensive — heck, practically free! — by perfume standards these days; the overall message is that they’re here for the perfume, and not spending money on celebrity sponsors or sexy branding or creating some fictive backstory for their product.
So. They’ve got fourteen fragrances, with mostly-kinda-unisex names like Riley and Taylor that serve almost as placeholders – they could just as easily have been named various colors, or numbers. If you don’t want to stare at a bottle named Leo, that’s fine, because when you order it you can name it whatever you want (within their length limit) and they’ll customize it on the label. Fun, right? For a surcharge you can also customize your fragrance using their dropdown menu, adding in a squidge of various complementary accords if you want to amp up the woods woods or spices, for example.
Several of the scents sounded good to me, but ultimately I chose Ashton, a citrus tea that is also the name of one of my sons, so it seemed like kismet. I asked for a 10ml bottle along with their “Tinkerer Box” add-on that allows you to layer it with five additional accord combinations. I also ordered (and paid for) their Explorer Box of their nine core scents which is $18 and ships free, and the full cost of which can be applied toward a bottle if you decide to buy one, a pretty sweet deal.
The scents all seem inviting rather than challenging, and if that sounds like a complaint coming from me, the queen of weird, it’s not. There’s certainly room in my life (particularly in hot, humid summer) for the scent equivalent of a favorite tee shirt – reach for it with a sigh of relief and then you don’t have to think about it, it’s just pure comfort, you know exactly how it feels.
Anyway, Ashton is fantastic – my favorite tea scent right now. Notes are bergamot, white tea and lemon, and it’s got surprising presence and longevity; I can smell it on my arm a day later, which is not what most tea scents offer, they vanish so quickly. We’re well into the nineties here (that’s 34C for you overseas folks) and a summer tea is just so refreshing, whether drinking or wearing it — as witnessed by the tea scent posts on here recently! The fragrance doesn’t go sour on me, which tea can sometimes do, and I also love it with their layered add-on of smoky tea and citrus. When I’m not test-driving samples, it’s what I’ve been wearing since it showed up a couple weeks ago. It’s such a delight to wear, that’s all there is to it.
Olfactory also carries an array of body products with the same scents if you like to layer, and they also have candles.
I want to highlight the Olfactory website and customer service, both of which are way above par. With companies scrambling to beef up their web portals during the pandemic, it’s surprising how bad that interface can be, everything from how user-friendly the setup is re button placement or scrolling and hover features, to dropdown menus and product features, to how easy or difficult it is to use things like search features or Paypal. Not an issue on Olfactory, which was a seamless, intuitive experience from start to finish. Shipping can also be slow in these COVID days, but I got a shipping confirm from Olfactory on the same day I placed my orders, the first of which which showed up in perfect condition two days later. And all my email questions have been answered quickly. So, kudos to Olfactory for that.
I’d intended this review to cover more of the lineup, but unfortunately the postal service has been incredibly slow with my sample pack of scents which is apparently being walked here on a turtle’s back from Manhattan, so, assuming I like them, expect my thoughts on those in the future. The ones that look particularly good to me right now are Blake, a beachy coconut by Ilias Ermenidis; Taylor, a jasmine-tuberose from Honorine Blanc; and Cam, a fig-violet-incense from Frank Voelkl. Really, don’t those sound wonderful?
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this virtual trip to Olfactory (which I would love to visit in person) and with any luck I’ll be waxing poetic about some of these other scents on here in the future. Stay tuned.
- full PR disclosure – I requested their smaller 10ml travel bottle of Ashton, but what arrived is the 50ml, which is what they typically send out in their PR boxes; I’m not mad about it given how much I’m loving and wearing it. I also gave them my spiel up front that if I didn’t like their product I wouldn’t write about it, since I don’t crap on smaller brands (Chanel can fend for itself, you know?) and if I did like it, I might write something, but no guarantees.