Just like the 90s kids graduated from flavored Lip Smackers and sticky Lancôme Juicy Tubes to sophisticated MAC lipsticks and potent Urban Decay glosses, so too have their fragrance-obsessed counterparts. We started out with Bath & Body Works classics (Cucumber Melon and Country Apple, anyone?) and now we’re in the grownup world of designer and niche scents. And though we’re very content pretending to understand exactly how accords work and what exactly vetiver might be, sometimes it’s good to go back to simpler, less complicated times.
That’s why I adore Demeter Fragrance Library, a collection of unique and singular scents over 300 strong. If it’s got a definitive smell, Demeter’s replicated it. With tons of linear, one-note colognes and even a few complex ones for less than the price of dinner at most family restaurants, there’s no excuse not to check them out. Last month I featured a few of their holiday-appropriate options (they’re great for layering!), but we’re past all the glitter and champagne now (they’ve got a perfume for that, too!). Today I’m analyzing a few of their more complicated, “out there” fragrances, like Bonfire, Mountain Air, and the Colorado-favourite Cannabis Flower.
First up is Elvira’s Vamp, a perfume dedicated to the Mistress of the Dark herself. Elvira is a TV and film character from the 80s, played by American actress Cassandra Peterson. Her persona is sexy, demonic, and super comical – she’s a ghoul who doesn’t take things too seriously. Her fragrance has some of the most unique notes around: poisonous belladonna, Dracula orchid, nicotiana plant, ivy and musk. It smells like a deadly-sweet fruit (grapes and pineapple) and powdery florals (lots of orchid) combination, and lasts well on the skin. A little reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s Fame, it is definitely one of the company’s more likeable female scents.
One I was truly excited to try is Paperback: “a trip to your favourite library or used bookstore.” This bookworm is interested! Having spent countless hours at libraries as a child, their smell was somewhat comforting to me. The smell of books has been replicated before, in Wallpaper Magazine’s Lagerfeld-endorsed Paper Passion ($120*) and CB I Hate Perfume’s In the Library ($100*) to name a couple. What sets this apart is its warm sweetness and mustiness, kind of like the smell of an old scarf or dusty hot earth. In a world of constant “fresh,” this could be your escape ticket from the ordinary. Doesn’t necessarily say “book” to me, though.
Are you an aspiring pyromaniac? If so, you’ll love Bonfire. With notes of maple leaves and smokiness, this takes me back to summer parties and the Jewish Lag B’Omer holiday. It’s a hint darker than The Body Shop’s Brazil Nut, which is nearly the same, but with more spiciness and a hint of BBQ. Distinctly masculine, this one.
Ever wish you could bottle the smell of a great vacation? Demeter CEO Mark Crames recreated a moment in time with Mountain Air, a tribute to Alaska’s greenery and clear water. It’s rather fresh smelling but not clean in the sense of laundry-type scents, and reminds me a little of Creed’s Imperial Millesime ($305*). Along the same lines of timely recreations, Rice Paddy is the smell of a factory in Taiwan, and has notes of rice and buttered popcorn (!).
And last but not least, who could forget the smell of their high school? A mixture of old wood, sweat, and a hint of something not quite legal… Regardless of what you think of marijuana, there’s something to be said about its scent. Cannabis Flower is instantly recognizable and entirely unforgettable, this cologne will do the opposite of what most smokers try to do by masking the smell of weed with, well, more weed! It’s skunky, dirty, and raw – unapologetically improper to say the least.
Verdict: If you are a thrill-seeking fragrance collector, Demeter is a no-brainer. With wearable scents like Elvira’s Vamp and the outrageous Cannabis Flower, there’s something new to discover with every spray. Not to mention, imagine the shock factor of pulling one of these from your bag! Available now on the Demeter Fragrance Library website and in select retailers across Canada and the States in various home and body options. Thanks again to Blair for organizing this review, and keep an eye out for my next Demeter feature on practically edible perfumes!
*Prices true at time of writing.