Perfume Review: LOUIS & SPACEWOOD by THE ZOO

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I do love a bit of nasal excitement here at The Candy Perfume Boy, so for my first post of 2018, I’m reviewing two fragrances that certainly have caused quite of a bit of intrigue for my nose. They come from The Zoo an NYC-based company created by Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel. Now, you will know Laudamiel as the creator of the Thierry Mugler ‘Le Parfum’ coffer inspired by the movie ‘Perfume – The Story of a Murderer’, as well as being the man behind Abercrombie & Fitch’s Fierce, and Amber Absolute by TOM FORD. Truth be told, Laudamiel is somewhat of a renegade and if you don’t follow his Instagram account, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so, because you’ll find lots of content that aims to demystify the world perfumery and unfurl its reality – a rarity in this day and age.

The Zoo create fragrances that sit within four categories (or ‘territories’ as The Zoo call them); fresh, sexy, raw and forbidden. Laudamiel compares them to animals that with distinct and lovable personalities that are either “expected, reassuring or totally surprising”. I was sent two to try: LOUIS, “a pleasant watery masculine”, and SPACEWOOD, a piece of “fresh icy dewy paradise” that encourages one to “trampoline into the future”. They are housed within simple bottles, protected by handsome wool pouches. The presentation may be subtle, but don’t let that fool you, because the descriptions of the scents are off the charts. Let’s take a sniff and see if The Zoo’s fragrant animals are as much fun as they sound.

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The Notes

Cardamom, Clove, Cumin, Orange Flower, White Musks, French Sage, Orris Concrete, Fir Balsam, Galbanum and American Absinthe.

How Does it Smell?

I don’t know who the ‘Louis’ is that inspired this fragrance , but I know for sure that I’d like to meet him, because if the scent is anything to go by, he’s one sexy guy. Described by The Zoo as “fresh”, “positive” and “sensuous”, LOUIS starts out in familiar masculine territory, presenting a wave of spices (with cardamom being the most prominent) but instead of dry, arid warmth, one gets something entirely more fluid. Initially, LOUIS smells like a blue spice paste, but it soon warms up to something altogether more rich and endlessly dashing.

Underneath that cool, calm, spicy exterior, LOUIS has a lot going on – lots of smouldering, sexy things to be precise. I get a strong chocolate-like impression, but it’s a chocolate devoid of sweetness, we’re talking 100% cocoa solids here, people, not your Dairy Milk. This blends with the sweaty cumin to give the impression of a naked body adorned with spices and herbs. A powdery effect (attributable to the 1.8% of orris concentrate) keeps things light and airy, adding a touch of dryness and allowing LOUIS to settle on a translucent base that maintains the effervescent nature of the opening.

LOUIS is a twist on the modern masculine that takes the interesting parts that usually get little airtime and extends them. It’s an essay in the fluidity and juiciness of spice, all wrapped up in an incredibly sexy package. Call me, LOUIS. Call me.

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The Notes

Egyptian Mimosa, White Wine, Acacia Flower and “Interesting Molecules”.

How Does it Smell?

Every now and then I smell a fragrance that leaves me completely dumbfounded as to what I’m smelling. SPACEWOOD is one such fragrance. It was created to showcase the fact that natural materials can smell just as abstract and unusual as synthetic ones – a mission that it most certainly achieves.

So let me jump right in and say that SPACEWOOD is fascinatingly abstract. Initially it hovers between airy and metallic, with a cloud-like lightness and texture. It’s gauzy and somewhat fluffy, but with a distinct sharp edge – like a brillo pad, scrunchiness. There’s citrus and spice, but it’s pretty much undefinable, and that’s what I enjoy about the experience – it takes very few cues from perfumery ingredients one knows and understands, instead presenting odours that aren’t alien, but are experience disparately in the real world.

To my nose, SPACEWOOD appears as the smell of apples, ozone, metallic wires, cool air, neon gas and space rocks. But SPACEWOOD isn’t just a collection of unusual smells, it’s a fully-fleshed out and wearable composition, and an incredibly spacious one at that. It is weightless and expansive with an atmospheric quality, which allows its affable oddness to carry generously. Great stuff!

The Verdict

Intrigued, very intrigued. The Zoo treads that fine line between weird and wearable, making unusual, subversive fragrances that feel like they have a place in everyday life. I love an odd fragrance, and whilst many hold interest, a good percentage fail to do the one that thing all commercial fragrances should: smell good. If LOUIS and SPACEWOOD are anything to go by, The Zoo and Christophe Laudamiel know how to drive the art of olfaction forward without compromising on aesthetic beauty. This makes The Zoo a brand that you need to explore and I can guarantee that you’ll have fun doing so.


LOUIS and SPACEWOOD are available in 50g size for $98 at


Samples, notes and quotes via THE ZOO. Images are my own.