Rivertown Road

In my many, jumbled boxes of photos lie many, many photos of rivers.   Most of them are bends.  I have always loved bends in rivers – even if you pass that bend several times a day, if you allow yourself you can reimagine and reinvent what’s around that bend each time you look at it.   One of my earliest river loves was the Ohio River, a beautiful, winding ribbon through the Ohio Valley.  I’m hoping it’s what inspired Liz  Zorn to create Rivertown Road…..it’s as beautiful, winding and lyrical as the Ohio.   Actually, I’m lying through my lyrical teeth.  I am not getting the Ohio River at all.  I’m getting Riverside Drive.  And that’s a beautiful thing.  I love Riverside Drive, probably more than I love the Ohio River.  At least on Riverside Drive you can grab a cab to Cartier.

Billed as a masculine (“absolute pour homme”) this is easily and beautifully wearable by anyone with a nose for elegance. Liz bills it as being inspired by rivers, river towns and river people.  And I get just the opposite.  The first sniff, right off the spritz, is a bit blasty – the lavender needs a minute to settle down and let the bay, lime and bergamot make the necessary social introductions.  I know, it’s sounding very much Old Bay Rum – but hang on – once the lavender lets those three introduce themselves, they extend a hand to help violet out of the town car.  That’s right….for all the talk of rivers and bends and river people, what I get is a very elegant couple exiting a car at the Sherry-Netherland.  On a man, I would like to catch just a passing whiff of this as he leans over the back of my chair to whisper that he’s sorry he’s late for cocktails but he had to stop and pick something up (oh, gasp!, it’s a red leather box!)…as his fingertips brush my bare arm….this is a lovely scent, did I mention that?   The thought of smelling this on a man I was aquiver for…gah! it makes my liver jump around somethin’ awful!!!   This is a  perfect scent for a man who is completely at home in his own skin, whether that skin is in a Savile Row suit or in firefighter’s gear.  For a woman – at least this woman – it combines the cool spareness of lavender with the dirty warmth of the violet and jasmine into a butchy-femme genderbending delight.  I keep thinking of this as a Ginger Rogers perfume – I imagine her wearing this in Top Hat, whilst riding in Central Park,  not in her trademark feathers and satins. I’m not ‘pretty’ so who knows what kind of vibe I’m sending with this thing – but it’s making me feel like I could’ve been Ginger, maybe, if I’d paid more attention in tap lessons.  Maybe…?   But no matter if it’s Pierce or Ginger, the setting in always urban – and very elegant.   Sorry, Liz.  I was hoping to take a ride on a raft on the Ohio. Instead, I’m in a roadster on Riverside Drive.

Notes from the Soivohle website:

Opening Notes: French Lavender, Dominican Bay, Key Lime, Bergamot
Heart Notes: Dry White Violet, Seville Lavender Absolute, Jasmine Sambac, Green Roses, Saigon Cinnamon, Mimosa Absolute, Tobacco Absolute, Carnation Accord, Foin Coupe Absolute,  Tonka Bean Tincture
Base Notes: Tolu Essence, Animalic Musk, Cedar Wood Oil, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Hatian Vetiver, Beach Ambergris, Liquidambar, Nutmeg Absolute, Oakmoss Accord, Aged Patchouli

Fragrance Type: Herbal/Fresh/Green Chypre
Note: this fragrance rides the fence between Chypre and Fougere

A few days ago Tom mentioned that he sees the future of perfumery in niche and indie perfumers (my paraphrase).  I think Liz Zorn’s work is at the vanguard of that future; Rivertown Road is a classic example of what happens when a perfumer is able to follow the direction their artistry and passion takes them .  In doing so, they create scents that can stand alongside many classics.   I am not a rubber-stamp fangirl, really (there are several Zorns I cannot love) but I think hers truly is a talent to treasure.  Here’s hoping she and the rest of the indie/niche perfumers continue their craft for a long time to come.


sample:  Liz Zorn sample with purchase

photo/ Pierce Brosnan:  who the hell knows where I got this.  All I know is, it makes my gums hurt with lust every time I see it!

  • tammy says:

    As one of those big nasty redheads Randy Newman immortalized,I,too, have to be careful with masculine scents, especially since my personality is also rather large and in charge. And of course, dainty and pretty is absurd on me, as well.

    Liz’s creations don’t work with my skin, but I can surely appreciate them, and the quality is off the charts.

    Sarah McLachlan does a killer version of River; her Wintersong album is one that get a lot of play in our household.

  • March says:

    Grand Canyon is, I think, my favorite. But you make this sound pretty darn appealing!

  • annie says:

    Lord,I love Liz Zorn’s creations,and having lived in Cinci for 10 yrs,I know a penthouse on the river can be had for a song,doncha’ know?….However,I’d surley LOVE a more feminine Lavender frag.,if anyone knows of one…I know some people can pull off this unisex thing,but,but,my body totally sucks it up,and I feel the need for a jock strap(sorry,I’m feeling ‘frisky,today)…carry on,my perfumistas…..

    • Musette says:

      ;)) on the jockstrap! Know just what you mean, which is why I think it worst really well on a Ginger-type, trying to butch it up for the day. I’m already butch enough, though this is gorgeous.

      Alas, the river I am lusting after is the Hudson. Penthouses there are gonna set me back a bit, I’m afraid. :-< xo >-)

      ps. ask March about femmy lavenders. I don’t know of any – in heavy concentration it reads totally masculine on me.

  • Francesca says:

    Sounds wonderful. And I love Riverside Drive, too.

  • Meg says:

    Fully agree with the thought that Zorn stands at the vanguard– when I experience her work, I feel just for a moment that I’ve been transported a step ahead into the future.

  • Vasily says:

    I purchased a number of Liz Zorn samples a while back, and found there were several I’d either purchase as a decant or a full bottle. Having grown up a few blocks from the Mississippi River, I found Rivertown Road’s notes of lavender, bay rum, violets, and wood evoked for me a riverboat dandy; it’s the sort of fragrance Maverick might have worn. Lavender doesn’t often agree with me, but it’s perfect in Rivertown Road.

    “Makes my gums hurt with lust”? Wow. :d

    • Musette says:

      Yes! Maverick! Got it in one! I couldn’t come up with a River Rat reference (and let’s face it, he was just a glammed-up version)…although I found it to be a little less dandified – the bay rum didn’t bloom on me that way. I used Pierce up there as the personification of a secure male and when I think of him I always think of a slight, angular air of steely menace. Just a touch. That’s what the lavender does for me.

      xo >-)

      • Ann says:

        Hi there! Love the Maverick reference. I’m still a lavender neophyte, just taking baby steps with the note, but this combination sounds pretty cool.

        • Musette says:

          It’s lovely. I just realized where Vasily and I diverge. I think of Maverick as a ‘ruffled shirt’ guy and I see Rivertown Road as more pintuck.

          xo >-)

    • Musette says:

      The only thing that keeps me sane and on-track when I see these photos of El Brosnan, is the knowledge that they have made him up and photoshopped the living daylights out of him!

      xo >-)

  • Olfacta says:

    I agree with Tom. My wallet doesn’t, but I do.

    Perfumes of place and concept — well, I could just spend years contemplating Liz’s work.

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    So funny/ironic/synchronistic to read a post about rivers when all month long I have been humming and singing the old Joni Mitchell song, “River” because of being an East coast transplant in CA during the holidays-‘it don’t snow here, it stays pretty green…I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”

    Like Neil Morris’s line, none of Liz’s things smell even remotely wearable on me, but I do so enjoy reading about them. And rivers.

    Tell about the rabbits, George.

    • Musette says:

      I was a huge Joni fan in college (still am) and that song used to make me so sad…but I would trade you in a heartbeat, hating the cold as I do….;)

      I have only found one NM I can wear well (Leather Garden) but as with Liz, I am so glad he’s out there doing what he’s doing!

      Stop with the rabbits – you’re going to make me sad…:(

      xo >-)

    • March says:

      Oh, I love that song so much, although it makes me a bit sad too. Listened to Blue recently and was reminded what a great album it is.

      • Musette says:

        songs are like tatoos
        you know I’ve been to sea before
        crown and anchor me..
        or let me sail away

        the fact that I know those off the top of my head orta tell you somthing…:-?

        xo >-)

  • Joanna says:

    The notes sound lovely and like something I’d like to sniff. But…sometimes I wonder. A river? Do these people actually spend much time by a river? I mean, I love the outdoors as much as anyone and I live in Minnesota so I spend a lot of time near rivers. If you ask me what a river smells like I’d have to tell you not too good. So I will have to try to not think about a river when I do sample. :)

    • Musette says:

      Liz lives in Cincinnati, which is on the Ohio. And I don’t think she meant the smells of the river itself. I think she was trying to reference the vibe of those types of towns and areas and people…her thoughts on it are in the description on her site.

      I love rivers but agree – sometimes they don’t smell too great!

      xo >-)