Starting a new perfume brand in the current saturated market takes quite a bit of determination, a deep love for a scented idea. And probably some chutzpah. Hollis Schwanz, founder of Vessel Parfums has all that, topped with a healthy boredom with mass-market perfumes. She hired perfumer Natasha Cote from Givaudan and the result is Occult, Vessel Parfums debut fragrance.
While the inspiration for Occult was "the allure of nature and West Coast back-to-nature movements of the 1960s", aka dirty hippies, the perfume is actually a refined effort that's much more about sweet incense than it's about headshop patchouli and/or a three week road trip in a falling-apart Volkswagen van without taking a real shower.
The reason I like Occult so much is the mix of very dry notes that give an impression of a faraway desert with the sweetness and mystery of honeyed amber, dark woods and a lot of sweet incense. Light and dark, warm and cool; if you like incense, you'll appreciate the way it's presented in Occult. I wish I got more of the promised animalic notes, but even without them this is a full-bodied and pleasurable perfume. I've been wearing it to bed often to enjoy the calming effect. Wearing it to go out at night I discovered Occult is also a great antidote to the smell of NYC in August, the not-so-appetizing blend of smoke, sewage and Chinese Food.
Vanilla Bean (Madagascar)
Occult by Vessel Parfums comes in two sizes: a 2 oz EDP spray bottle ($95) and a travel size 1/2 oz splash bottle that's fastened to a necklace with a silver padlock charm ($20). They're available from vesselparfums.bigcartel.com. The press sample for this review was sent by the company.
Image: Aorta Productions for Monki.com via Trendland.