My admiration for Kerosene perfumes is no secret, I own both R’oud Elements and Creature (yes, it has now been added to my Full Bottle collection). With his follow up releases John Pegg establishes his own style in perfumery with a very recognisable olfactory identity.
Santalum Slivers is not a straightforward sandalwood perfume as the name implies. It is more of a woody citrus. The most summery and cool of Kerosene releases opens with sweet orange, sweet and natural. The opening accord is the smell of your hands after making a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. The association of this smell with the perfect breakfast is enough to put a smile on my face. Especially since the interpretation of orange is so vibrant and photorealistic. It doesn’t last long though because the undisputed presence of orange takes a back step allowing lemon and grapefruit to create a more relaxed, cool citrus accord. As the development progresses into the heartnotes a delicate rose note creates a more solid construction for the delicate topnotes. However everything remains light and softly dusted. Sandalwood is there but it never becomes the centre of attention. It is the dry but creamy base for a cool breeze of citrus and rose. However as development progresses Santalum Slivers takes a darker twist. A semi-clean musk with a smoky undercurrent lurks. It
reminds me the whiff of cigarette smoke you catch when someone smokes a cigarette in open air. It is a very interesting almost-fresh scent that maintains the quirkiness of the house while offering a more approachable option for the summer. My only complaint is that I would like a bit more presence and sillage, on a par with Creature less say.
Whips and Roses is the closest to my heart of the two releases. It showcases John Pegg’s incredible talent for creating very evolving fragrances that make me want to refresh my wearing just to re-experience the transition through all the stages of the composition. Straight from the test vial it smells like a very green banana but this does not come through on skin. The initial impression on application is that of a very fresh, “green”, white rose. It evokes the very young blooms of white roses, where the scent is subdued and cool. I get a slight anisic note in the opening making this rose even stranger. The green flower effect lasts throughout the opening but is slowly undermined by a dusty, almost mildew-like note. At this point I am reminded of the smell of an attic that has remained locked for years and the effect of the dust in the nose when the wind rushes in with the intruder. I find a lot of common lineage in Whips and Roses and Santalum Slivers. They both share the dry but creamy sandalwood note which here creates the illusion of the smell of an old library. Coupled with the rose and dust, sandalwood takes a very mysterious twist. The leather note that dominates the base creates a rather gothic atmosphere. I tend to divide leathers in two broad and very personal categories. One being the floral leather like Cuir Mauresque and Cuir de Lancome, and the other being the man-made leather, highlighting the process of tanning with notes of petrol and birch, like Cuir Ottoman and SMN Nostalgia. Knize Ten stands somewhere in between, The leather note in Whips and Roses also strands the two categories. Its lack of orange flower and spices keeps it from belonging to the first group while the very gentle birch/leather note creates the illusion of an old white leather coat. I guess the best way to describe it is as an albino leather. And what I admire most is that the rose never becomes trivial or cliché. Instead of rolling in the proverbial bed of red roses John Pegg created a solitary white rose trapped in the pages of an old leather bound book.
Having tried all Kerosene releases to date I can say that a style definitely emerges, characterised by a purity in the composition, a discreet arrangement of notes in a succession that unfolds the fragrance slowly but in a very specific direction. Nothing is cluttered and yet images are rich. There is a transparency in the composition that does not translate to weak projection or short life on skin (especially not that!). And admiring John Pegg’s compositions I cannot help but think: if an amateur perfumer with a day job can create such evocative perfumes why professional perfumers keep boring us with the same old game of notes that happen to be the flavour of the season?
Kerosene Perfumes available from House of Kerosene