Education; what does it mean to you?
After all, most of us spend at least 12 years in the traditional ‘education system’ and many more go on to ‘higher education’ afterwards. Still, does it end once you shake hands with the principal and get your diploma in the mail? The short answer is that it shouldn’t! The smartest people in the world know what they don’t know, and rely on experts to teach them what they’re missing. It was Albert Einstein, one of the most celebrated and brilliant minds ever, who said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
So why do people think they know everything there is to know about fragrance? Why does a woman walk into a department store thinking that she’s tried everything and all the options are the same? How come a man goes his whole life thinking that perfume is for ladies and cologne is for gentlemen? The key issue is that the people who educate the general public about perfume – the what, why, who, where, why and how – are few and far in between. Many sales associate in the business know little more than the average enthusiast, and that poses a danger for the communication of this artistic yet scientific medium.
Olfactif is a company that seeks to bridge this gap between the retail of fragrance and its education. Like Scent Trunk, they are a monthly subscription box for niche fragrances (available in traditionally female, unisex, and male variations). Each box retails for $18*, contains 5.25-6.75 ml of fine fragrance, and aims to increase the visibility of under-appreciated brands and educate subscribers on what they smell.
I wanted to wait with my review of this August box until even those with the slowest mail delivery got a chance to be surprised, because each month is a brand new adventure and sneak-peeks are a definite no-no. However, this is a chance for interested customers to gauge the value of the box and see if they’d like to try it for themselves.
One of the things Olfactif prides themselves on, besides the education bit, is their packaging. They worked hard to ensure that their tightly sealed vials, padded boxes, and external envelopes make for a smooth delivery, and I was most impressed with this commendable effort. Olfactif’s samples are all the same size, typically filled just above the halfway mark, and have mini atomizers that make application super breezy. I also like that the fragrances slide out on a small tray from the box.
The theme for this box was “Earth, Wind, Fire,” a curated collection inspired by the end of summer. I’ll tell you this much, with the recent weather I wish it really was summer again! The first fragrance comes from Atelier de Geste, a Manhattan-based performance studio that creates colorful and unique shows that honour the body and its senses and often feature scent. The Good Earth opens with a very fresh laundry and pine note, like a car that just went through a thorough cleaning. It is a very sharp soapy scent, and though I could see this as a pillow mist or room spray I would not wear it on its own. Full size is $120*.
The second perfume is called What I Did On My Holidays by 4160 Tuesdays. Founder Sarah McCartney wrote LUSH Cosmetics’ The LUSH Times for 14 years, after which she decided to write her own perfume-inspired fiction novel. When she couldn’t find the right scents she was describing, she began making them! What I Did On My Holidays is a similar concept to Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica Beach Walk, however it also adds a fruity note and a rubbery suntan. Kinda gross, I have to admit! Full size is $90*.
The third and final scent for this box is Dark Horse by Dame Perfumery. They’re a father-son duo creating “modern American perfumery,” and I think you’ll agree that son Cullen has pretty great hair. Dark Horse is a super soft skin scent (think MMM Replica Lazy Sunday Morning), so much so that I could barely smell it or identify any notes. Would be good for someone who doesn’t like traditionally strong scents but wants to smell nice (because it unarguably does). Full size is $65*.
Verdict: I think that subscription boxes are a wonderful idea in general, and love that this one features carefully selected, story-based pieces that are meant to be just the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Every box is also your key to $18 off a bottle purchase from their website, and the selection is quite impressive. If you think that Scent Trunk and Olfactif are similar, you’re right – the only difference I can tell is that the latter uses custom sample bottles instead of manufacturer-issued ones. The question of which box reigns supreme remains, but regardless of which one you choose you’ll smell wonderful. Thank you to Tara of Olfactif for arranging this feature!
*Prices true at time of writing.
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