Seeing as we spent yesterday talking about perfume and photography, it makes sense that our first fragrance review of the week is one inspired by that very art form. Now, if you’re not familiar with Olfactive Studio you really should familiarise yourself. I think it’s one of the most exciting and well thought-out niche brands out there and where so many try to do something different but do so in a muddled way, Olfactive Studio avoids gimmicks and succeeds in creating a strong narrative in each of their perfumes. So yes, they’re an exciting niche brand that you should really explore!
For their latest scent, Close Up, Olfactive Studio has taken inspiration from a photograph taken by Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan. The shot is a close up of an eye that questions one’s perceptions. As Olfactive Studio ask, “is it an eye wide open or a miniature world replete with lands and oceans?”. Close Up is inspired by these contrasts and presents in stunning detail, the opposition of warm, fuzzy notes against vibrant fruits. Is it a soft blanket of amber, or is it a bowl of alcohol-soaked cherries? The question persists.
Top: Santos Green Coffee, Fresh Spices and Griotte Cherry
Heart: White Tobacco, Patchouli, Atlas Cedar and Centifolia Rose
Base: Amber, Musk and Tonka Bean
[Dior Hypnotic Poison, Lolita Lempicka & Guerlain Bois d’Armenie]
How Does it Smell?
Close Up unveils an opening accord of dried fruits. The boozy warmth of cherries is the initial impression and upon first sniff I thought to myself, if I had sniffed this blind and you’d asked me who the perfumer was, I’d have answered ‘Annick Menardo’ without a moment’s hesitation. This is totally her style. What I love about the opening is the fullness of it. The cherry is so vivid and round. It feels like you are smelling every molecule of its circumference; it’s colour, it’s shape, it’s red sheen. To contrast, there is a hint of dark coffee and a dash of pepper and cinnamon, all of which serves to bring out the many facets of the cherry.
Underneath all of that cherry vibrancy is a weighty, but not particularly dense blend of rose and tobacco. This accord really elevates the top notes amplifying the sourness of the cherry, providing a rosy link, whilst also bridging the gap to the base by using tobacco as a link from cherry to amber. At times, the dryness of patchouli appears to almost illuminate the composition, piecing apart the denser facets to create space for them to join together. For an amber, there is a surprising amount of air and transparency to enjoy.
The base is largely amber and I think it’s fair to classify Close Up as an amber created in the ‘Musc Ravageur‘ school of thinking, which is to say that it pairs the sweetness and the gauzy texture of the accord with animalic musk. Close Up isn’t quite as beastly as the Frederic Malle (nothing is, let’s be fair) but it does have a soft purr to it in the base. There is a rich and complex texture here, like the fur pattern of a Bengal, with a base coat of marzipan-esque tonic bean, spots of dark amber and flecks, and stripes of funky leather-like musk. It smells as good as it sounds.
I love a macro shot, there’s something about the detail they reveal and there’s fascination to be found in seeing a part of an image in isolation. Close Up feels perfectly in tune with the idea of this kind of image and it is an incredibly clever perfume. You really do feel as if you are smelling each and every one of its elements in a macro shot. There’s an intimacy to it but also a great amount of detail – detail that would not be seen (or sniffed, should I say) in another perfume. I’m not a massive fan of amber. I often find it too linear and after a while, the sweetness bothers me (yes me of Angel-addiction fame, I know) but there is so much complexity in Close Up that it never feels one note. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and wearing Close Up is exactly like staring at that Suren Manvelyan photograph – each time you’re going to find a new detail. What more could one ask for?
Close Up is available in 50ml (£84) and 100ml (£124) Eau de Parfum.
Sample, notes and quotes via Olfactive Studio. Images are my own.