It started innocently enough. An e-mail enquiring if I would be interested to try a new fragrance. I get that a lot as we are new and the only niche perfume destination in Montreal and one of the few in Canada. Perhaps “destination” is too big a word right now as with only ten fragrance brands we have a long way to go, but nonetheless I am approached constantly and love the chance to learn and explore as we expand the perfume section of Etiket. Here is the e-mail I received:
My name is Matthew Zhuk and I am a perfume maker in London, UK – I have just started to launch my first perfume under the brand Ex Idolo in April here in London and I would like to put it up for submission to your store. The fragrance is named Thirty-three and it is a fragrance crafted from very special ingredients, each bottle individually poured by hand by myself. The soul of the fragrance is built around a vintage oud – distilled in 1980 and aged until its release in 2013. It is also the only modern perfume to use a significant amount of wild-harvested Chinese oud oil and natural Chinese rose oil to build the scent profile. Contrary to most ouds however, Thirty-three is a surprisingly soft and velvety fragrance, and genuinely fits in an innovative space in terms of the wider oud category. Thirty-three is a deep and dark unisex fragrance, with dry and cold facets. For an official list of notes and a some additional information about the brand, you can visit: www.exidolo.com At the following link you can find the latest review of “Thirty Three” from a few days ago: http://persolaise.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/persolaise-review-thirty-three-from-ex.html I’m a Canadian myself (3 years living away now) and I will be coming back and visiting family in the first week of October – I’m just outside of Ottawa so not too far from Montreal. I’d love the opportunity to introduce myself and my perfume in person at your shop anytime between Oct 4th and 11th if you would be interested in learning more about it….
Now I am very new at this whole perfume thing, an amateur for sure and a passion not as deep as some I have met, a passion that I think leans as much to the story behind the fragrance, the brand or the creator, as much as to the juice. To me there is nothing greater than creation and to have the courage and passion to go beyond merely dreaming about doing something is a huge accomplishment.
I replied with some usual business questions I have and then had to let Mr. Zhuk know: The perfume sounds beautiful and patchouli happens to be my favourite and as I have learned more about oud I have a bit of a fascination with it …..And we set up a lunch meeting in Montreal and Mr. Zhuk came to see me on October 9th for lunch and to show me Thirty-Three.
I wondered what thirty-three year old oud would smell like. I had done some research on oud when I wanted to plant a “perfume garden” in front of the store this past spring and learned all about the Aquilaria tree and where oud or Agarwood comes from. It was about then that I realized I was not going to be planting that garden even if there was a gentleman willing to ship me Vetiver roots from Turkey. Patchouli was going to be a whole other challenge and I opted for perennials. Not nearly as exciting as the Vetiver would have been!
I am not sure what it is must be like when you present a fragrance that has a soul, for if you remember, that is the word that Mr. Zhuk used, but I can only use the word bemused to describe how I felt when I met Mr. Zhuk.
There is not a lot of ceremony or fanfare when you present one perfume and I had to go to the store from my office to get a tester strip to try Thirty-Three. I really hate trying perfume that way though and I had purposefully not worn any fragrance that day so I could try this one.
I let Mr. Zhuk present the perfume to me and I took the bottle and sprayed it on my wrists and below my neck on my chest not really listening, as in the end I just wanted to smell this soulful Thirty-Three.
We walked down the street and made small talk until we were seated. I kept smelling my wrists and smelling the changes that were going on with the scent and then I grilled Mr. Zhuk on his background and why he had decided to make Thirty-Three.
I am going to disappoint you as I don’t remember a lot of the details almost a month after our lunch. I do remember Mr. Zhuk’s passion. Thirty-Three was something he had to do. He had to make this perfume and as he told me the story behind Thirty-Three I could see him in an attic somewhere in London, the only light burning at the top of an old building in the middle of the night, while he was mixing his oud and his patchouli oil and all of his other ingredients until the early morning light would start to come through the window to bring him back to reality. It took him years to get it to where he wanted it to be. I have read and heard others talk about the notes and what it could or might have been if Mr. Zhuk had more experience, but after having met Mr. Zhuk I can tell you he wanted it to be exactly as it is. I have to say that I tend to agree, as I don’t wear anything else these days.
I can’t give you that perfect explanation of the heart notes and the dry down. Fragrance isn’t about that for me. I know that if I am rushing in the morning and I forget to put it on before I leave the house then I get myself down to the store to put some on. I know that I love the way that note of rubber hits me when I first put it on and takes me to some dark and musky place before the other notes take over. I don’t smell the patchouli, but I do linger in the oud all day. Actually, I think I get lost in the soul of this perfume called Thirty-Three and I would suggest that if you can, drop by and spray some on yourself, not on those silly tester strips, and let Thirty-Three find your soul as it did mine.