Whenever a new luxury line of niche fragrances launches the main question at the back of my mind ~and often on my lips too~ is "why". Isn't the niche market already saturated? Is there something beyond formulaic that is lacking? Why do new brands bring out a "collection" in one go? Is perfume business the latest it-maker, coached by perfume labs churning juice in a niche degeneration phase? Some examples might point out that entrepreneurs are often tricked into believing that yes. One might wonder what type of business schools these entrepreneurs graduated from.
The latest incriment in the perfume market bidding game comes from an exotic sounding brand by the name of Xerjoff. Now before you misread this as Jerkoff, a plight that is plausible for native English speakers (thankfully I have escaped that peril, thanks to my non Anglo-Saxon credentials), let me spell it out to you: X e r j o f f. Something tells me we'll see a lot of misspelling on that one. Anyway...
The point is I came to try the line through the enslaving kindness of one of my loyal readers, the lovely Mystic Knot. She kindly assembled a comprehensive collection of ample samples of the whole Shooting Stars line (and included other treats as well), so it was a mini-Christmas in the warmth of May. Thank you dearest! But I digress yet again.
According to the official blurb regarding the Xerjoff luxury Shooting Stars fragrances: "In frosty Siberia in 1947, a glowing fireball illuminated the dawn before elongating and shooting over the horizon. In its wake shimmered a trail of meteor dust. This meeting of heaven and earth inspired Xerjoff to create the Shooting Stars collection of twelve exquisite fragrances. Each Xerjoff scent is a modern classic, painstakingly crafted with old world artistry and the finest raw materials. Among the collection is a fragrance to reflect every mood, from serenity to seduction. Each selection comes in an etched Tuscan glass bottle with a heavy gold-plated top, and is enveloped in a silken pouch". The collection is promised to "lie at the perfect nexus of luxury and fantasy".
The fantasy sounds like it was conceived in the mind of Italian businessmen who have a thriving Russian and Arabian clientele; hence the names, I'd venture.
What is immediately striking about the packaging is just how gorgeous and (yes!) truly luxurious the Xerjoffs are: They -supposedly- include a piece of a meteorite in each. Someone with more connection in NASA than I do, should perform the test I guess. If you really want to dazzle your eyes with beauty and brilliant photography nevertheless I urge you to go visit this and that link on the worthwhile site hesmellsshesmells.com where the bottles shine in all their glory. Beautiful, no? It's an utter pity that the fragrances inside do not justify the high prices asked, however.
Not that they're not competent or smell bad. But I did not detect that special something that would make them the stuff of dreams; at least in what concerns the Shooting Stars collection (I will return for the rest of them which haven't hit the US shores yet...).
Right in the midst of them there are at least two which remind me clearly of other things: There is the ubiqutous Angel sister in the exotically named Dhajala: a little less dense in patchouli and instead suffused with galbanum, but the fruichouli skeleton clearly legible. Ibitira is a violet laced with a smidge of orange blossom and rose and a hint of spice (like in carnations, but much lighter), "reading" on skin like a Meteorites wannabe. Lua is another fruitchouli, proof positive that the genre has legs and is not set to die any time soon. It's pleasant in the Coco Mademoiselle meets Lys Mediterranée mould and I predict it will be well-received, its most interesting subfacet a light salty note in there, like lilies wafting in the sea breeze. Modoc will probably prove quite popular: It has the smooth ambery sweet character that produces cooing recognition voices from perfume aficionados around the world: amber is a popular theme after all; but nothing revolutionary is hiding here. It's a decent, spicy amber with subtle floral and citrus notes. Oesel reminds me of Fleurs de Citronnier by Lutens: a soapy floral with orange and lemon blossoms, musky honeyed base with a little patchouli thrown in to be a little different, quite nice actually.
I found the masculine Dhofar interesting, if a little thin: Supposedly a "complex oriental chypre", it has the nice aromatic bite of pine needles and laurel, but not sweetened. Nio is a standard aromatic fougère, with a weird -to me- ozonic middle stage. You could grab some vintage Paco Rabanne Homme and be set. Tobacco Oroville smelled as if it contained higher naturals than the rest of the line, clearly discernible tobacco and quite a bit of sandalwood.
On the whole they're conservative, well-behaved and just the thing if you want to have something flashy looking in your wardrobe. No moral judgements on that last bit whatsoever and I was very excited to have been able to sample them.
The Xerjoff line includes the following fragrances:
Esquel - Floral Fougere
Shingl - Sparkling Floral
Dhajala - Green Oriental
Ibitira - Woody Powdery Floral
Lua - Juicy Gourmand Oriental
Oesel - Intriguing Woody Floral
Modoc - Spicy Amber Chypre
Uden - Tantalizing Marine Fougere
Dhofar - Complex Oriental Chypre
Tobacco Oroville - Rich Fresh Tobacco
Nio - Refreshing Woody Aromatic
Kobe - Sweet, Tart, Woody Citrus
The sampler of all Xerjoff scents retails at Luckyscent right now: 50$ for 1ml samples of all 12 scents. Each bottle of 50ml/1.7oz of Eau de Parfum retails for 345$ (or 470$ if you want the whole caboodle of the gift box presentation). Something tells me there will be travel sets and refills in about a year or so...but it's just a hunch.