Kerosene Broken Theories

Happy June. It’s actually warm and sunny here (shhhh – don’t want to jinx things). The dahlias are tall, the roses and columbine are blooming, the honeysuckle is everywhere and smelling incredible, and the apple tree, which bloomed magnificently in April and May, is full of little apples.

Interestingly, there is a fairly long article in this weekend’s Financial Times HTSI (previously How to Spend It – don’t ask) section about higher priced perfume (ie, the above £200 bottles) and how popular they are. Price point is something we’ve discussed a fair bit on this blog. The key point of this article is clearly there is a market for these more expensive, in theory more unique, less widely available brands and juices – and there’s a quote from someone at Liberty saying frequently people are buying a couple of these pricey bottles at a time.

But, onward.

Today, I’m looking at the third sample from my recent order, which is Kerosene – a brand I knew about but hadn’t paid attention to – Broken Theories. As with the Margiela From the Garden I bought this for the name.

Kerosene is an indie brand based in Michigan in the US. The company itself does not ship outside the US but here it’s fairly easy to find the fragrances on the sample sites and at least one London perfumery offers the line.

The fragrance names are great and I plan to try Walk the Sea and R’oud Elements soon.

Launched in 2015, the notes list for this is blood orange, tobacco, spices, vanilla beans, sandalwood, oud and incense.

The opening on me is a great birch tar/creosote hit. There’s something sweet under this but it’s completely complementary to the birch tar/creosote – and there’s something vegetal.

As it warms up, the blood orange adds a nice, bitter citrus punch. Onwards, we’re into a bit of Band-aid and some gentle vanilla.

Strangely, in the middle of its development, three to four hours in, I smell garlic, which isn’t totally unpleasant but is still a bit weird.

The drydown is sweet vanilla and incense.

I realise there is nothing in the list above about birch tar but that’s what I get initially. And at no point do I get a sense of tobacco. We smell what we smell.

The thing that gets me most about this – and I will say it smells good – is that it smells derivative and it didn’t take long for my brain to go Tauer LDDM! I know that sometimes perfumes remind us of other perfumes. For me, however, with Broken Theories, once the association with l’Air du Desert Marocain was front and centre I couldn’t think about BT’s development without thinking about the path LDDM takes. No, this is not l’Air but it is close. This misses LDDM’s roughness but it feels like it is trying to do the same thing.

The Kerosene fragrances are EdP and here cost around £165 for 100ml.

Anyone had this happen with something they tried? That perfume X smelled good but made you yearn for perfume Y and then you couldn’t think of X without thinking of that other fragrance? Does it matter?

Pics: Pexels and mine

  • March says:

    I haven’t tried any of these, although they sound interesting. I admit the name “Kerosene” puts me off a bit, but that’s a “me” problem. The weather’s gorgeous here at the moment but it’s going to be hot by the end of the week — usually a late June thing, not now, which is worrisome. I’m done dividing/transplanting various plants and now I’ll just need to be sure to keep them hydrated.

    • cinnamon says:

      I agree that it is a strangely off-putting name — and I wonder if that was on purpose. Hope your weather is manageable and all the plants thrive.

  • Portia says:

    I’ve liked quite a few of the Kerosene oeuvre Cinnamon. He did a particularly good licorice one and a super smoky one too but I can’t recall their names and I’m too lazy to go searching for you.
    His origin story and those very cool hand crafted bottles are also special.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      The bottles are very nice—a really good design—along with the labels. I’ve got another sample coming. See where that goes.

    • rosarita says:

      The licorice one is Blacks Vines, I love it. Copper Skies and Whips and Roses are good also.

  • Dina C. says:

    I think perfume “cousins” are a great thing, a real blessing in fact, when the original scent is discontinued and impossible to find anymore or it’s been reformulated into a ghost of its former self. Then having a smell-alike cousin is awesome.

    • cinnamon says:

      That’s an interesting idea. However, if LDDM were discontinued I don’t think I’d buy this to replace it.

  • Tom says:

    I haven’t tried these and they read interesting, but I think I have enough birch tar- Lonestar, Kolnisch Juchten, LdDM, and some by Roxana Illuminated have that covered for me for the moment.

    • cinnamon says:

      Actually, the birch tar was sort of an aside. I am curious to see if some of the others remind me of other perfumes … ie, is that what he does, whether consciously or not.

  • Maya says:

    I’m in MzCrz’ camp about this line but with more of the “some misguided journey” part. I can only remember one sample. It had a great name (forgot it now) and smelled like a creamsicle, not even close to what I expected. As to the others I tried, all I remember is that I didn’t like them.

    • cinnamon says:

      Sometimes I wonder if houses release stuff that is supposed to smell like X but never quite got there simply because they can’t be bothered to have another couple of goes…

  • alityke says:

    Yes I get these connections between perfume X being similar to perfume Y.
    If possible I try to do a side by side. Frequently they aren’t literally alike but share a similar vibe, or atmosphere rather than sharing notes.

    • cinnamon says:

      I didn’t phrase that ending of the post well. I was wondering more if this was ‘consciously derivative’ and if there are other fragrances, beyond perfumes that frame themselves as dupes, people have come across in this category.

      • alityke says:

        I see what you mean. I think many perfumers have preferred styles or genres & use these frequently.
        There are also the requests of “make me something like LADDM but your budget is 50 cents”.
        With indies & artisanal houses, unless they work in a vacuum & don’t sniff or read about other perfumes, will always be unconsciously influenced by their personal tastes. Of course they maybe aware of this & to avoid this bias so much that they actively work against it.
        I admire those who openly ask the question of themselves and those who produce a formula they actively dislike but meet the client’s brief.

        • Musette says:

          I agree – and I also think there are totally unexpected ‘synchs’ – mine used to be Angela @ NST – I would write what I thought was a completely unique post… only to find she’d written about the persack same thing (alas, usually way better researched and written than mine)

  • MzCrz says:

    I have been trying to like this line since it first launched-and I don’t. Everything I have sampled reminds me of either insect repellant or some misguided journey that has (just rewatched the movie “Amadeus”) too many notes.

    While I still occasionally enjoy wearing an off the wall scent, something that I know I’m not going to smell on the bus, in the library or at a local happy hour, I do draw the line at smelling like someone came at me with a can of Raid.

    When I encounter something like this line, my go to “olfactory cleanser” is several spritzes of Tauer’s Cologne du Maghreb.

    • cinnamon says:

      Insect repellant.

      I do plan to try a few more of the Kerosene line — simply out of curiosity and due to the names.

      Agree with you about enjoying off the wall fragrances as long as they smell interesting and not just unpleasant.

    • AnnieA says:

      @mzcrz also haven’t warmed to Kerosene perfumes. Part of it is their name, like Acne jeans. Edginess Before All is not a motto I can get behind.

    • Musette says:

      Sometimes ‘Raid’ (and its ilk) can be both compelling and definitive, though

      40 years on… the original Pierre Cardin for Men… whenever someone has sprayed a can of insect repellant I’m immediately transported back to the 80s!