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Top 5 Most Underappreciated US Independant/Artisan/Niche Perfume Houses

When I started really getting into Perfume as one of my hobbies several years ago, there was very little of interest going on in independent/artisan/niche perfumery in the US. Since then, that has really changed and I've been thinking lately about which houses get the most attention and which houses get largely ignored. Slumberhouse and Imaginary Authors are two of my favorites that appear to be deservedly thriving. House of Matriarch seems to be adopting the Clive Christian model of hoping that having super-high prices makes people value your product. I have no idea how well this is working for them. I've tried several of them and found them perfectly nice but not anyhing I found original and compelling enough to purchase at those prices. I have similar feelings about Bond No. 9. Now, to move on to my top five most underappreciated US small perfume houses.

#1. Juniper Ridge. I have to put Hall Newbeglin's company at the top of the list because his perfumes have been so unappreciated, he has recently discontinued them. Over the years, he released several different fragrances often calling them colognes, even though they were more concentrated than that. Finally, he whittled them down to what were the best three and refined the formulations. Those were Siskiyou, Big Sur, and Mojave and I love them all. They are all-natural, and smell utterly unlike what anybody else is producing, which unfortunately might have been part of the problem. He also initially tried to distance himself from the perfume community, portraying his perfumes as sort of anti-perfumes for people who don't like perfume, which probably was a mistake. I have back-up bottles of all three, but I'm still sad he's no longer making them. You can still track them down a few places though, if you're interested. I think Twisted Lily and Lucky Scent still have a few of them, for example. He does still plan to do fragrances in small batches in his "Field Lab" series, but the three regularly available ones are no longer being produced, which I think is a shame.

#2. MadHat Scents. A couple of years ago, on a whim, I bought one of Ryan Eugene's limited edition fragrances called Engin. I enjoyed its smoky weirdness but lost track of the little 15 ml bottle in the back of my perfume cabinet and moved on to other things. Recently, I read about his perfume, Fur, which is basically lots of animalics and fir and other tree resins. I wound up buying Rosa Resin and MMXVIII, but when I received them I liked them both so much I contacted him about whether or not he had any leftover Fur, and luckily he did. I did some tallying and realized that I could purchase everything else in his current line in little 15 ml bottles for under $200 so I did and was not disappointed. Judging from his production being on such a small scale and his almost complete lack of distribution, I can understand why he's off the radar for most people, but I think he's one of our best American independent perfumers. Also, he uses all kinds of ingredients that few people do anymore - real deer musk, oak moss, etc. when he can. I realize this might be a pro or a con for people depending upon your view of the use of those ingredients. I definitely think this house belongs at #2 on my list.

#3. Olympic Orchids. Ellen Covey runs a customer-friendly unpretentious house that produces some original and beautiful fragrances. My favorites are Blackbird, a woody blackberry perfume, Woodcut, which is what is sounds like, and Dev One, the first in a series of perfumes inspired by the devil (?). She recently was the nose behind the award-winning Zoologist Bat perfume, which I'm sure is far out-selling anything in her own line. She also sells her fragrances in a variety of bottle sizes, which is very helpful. Her distribution appears mostly limited to her shop and website.

#4. Euphorium Brooklyn. Stephen Dirkes' company makes perfumes that have ridiculously large numbers of notes but all manage to somehow be coherent despite their complexity. Wald and Suedois are my favorites but really I've liked everything they have produced so far to varying degrees. This house is probably the closest I'm aware of to the Slumberhouse aesthetic. The fragrances are often strong, rich, and surprising. Twisted Lily is their primary distributor.

#5. Smell Bent. I know that Brent Leonesio's house is mostly dismissed by perfumistas, but I think that to some degree that is because he has embraced a strongly whimsical marketing plan which emphasizes the quirky fun of wearing perfume and he keeps his prices low. Much of what he's doing is much further out of the mainstream than his prices and marketing would appear to suggest. Commando is a fine musk with just enough body skank to make it sexy yet easily wearable. Other fragrances like the discontinued Otter Luvr (a skanky and sweet bay rum) and Totem Eclipse of the Heart (a harsh wood and skunk cabbage) are bizarre concoctions that I find surprisingly appealing. I don't wear his fragrances all that much but whenever I do, I find them interesting, original, and exciting.

What do others think?

This post first appeared on Grant Osborne, please read the originial post: here

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Top 5 Most Underappreciated US Independant/Artisan/Niche Perfume Houses


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