For those of us who get serious about acquiring perfume there are many stages. One of the later stages is after you have devoured what is current someone presents you with a discontinued vintage fragrance. What tends to happen after that is there is a lot of conversation about how they don’t make perfume like that anymore. Eventually you start scouring online and actual auctions looking for these elusive treasures. Anyone who has many bottles in their collection inevitably has a few which are older than they are.
Barbara Herman was one who went through this phase too. Except she harnessed the fervor and expressed it in some very different ways. One of those ways was the blog she founded in 2008 called Yesterday’s Perfume. Over the last eight years she has written about the classics of the past. She would then take that drive a step further and authored a book called “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume” which she published in 2013. One significant thesis in both her blog and her book is Ms. Herman believes the mainstream perfume industry has abandoned the pursuit of both art and commerce in favor of solely the latter. So she took it one step further if the mainstream wasn’t going to do it; she was.
In 2014 she got started with an Indiegogo campaign to design and produce a single scent with perfumer Antoine Lie. After making her goal she began the process of turning her design into a reality. A funny thing happened on that path the single release turned into three releases. Earlier this year she released three perfumes under her new brand Eris Parfums. I really like all of the three debut releases but the one which really dug itself deep was Night Flower.
One of the great tragedies of contemporary perfume is the cleaning up of the majority of it. The strong components that make vintage perfume so unique have been waylaid. It is a casualty of focus groups who associate those stronger notes and accords as being synonymous with their grandmother. It Is the one thing Ms. Herman and M. Lie got spot on as they dust off those powerful ingredients and bring them back into play. For Night Flower the three notes are birch tar, tuberose, and leather.
Where Night Flower captured me was from the top accord of bergamot, cardamom, and birch tar. Every time I wore Night Flower this early stage felt like the most exotic tar baby imaginable. The heart is a soft leather accord mixed with a very restrained tuberose. I wonder how many mods there were with different volumes of tuberose before deciding on a less exuberant effect. The reined in tuberose is the most contemporary part of Night Flower. An earthy effect is created in the base by patchouli, tonka, and musk.
Night Flower has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I want to comment a bit on the sillage. In most vintage perfumes they are very likely to leave a vapor trail. All of the Eris Parfums, but especially Night Flower, have a much quieter demeanor. They are not skin scents but you also won’t leave a reminder of where you’ve been walking behind you.
I have a great deal of admiration for what Ms. Herman has achieved here. Lots of people talk; few actually do. Ms. Herman has done what all of us who have fallen in love with vintage perfume say we want to do. She has made one like they used to in Night Flower.
Editor’s Note: If you live in the Washington DC Metro Area Ms. Herman will be making a personal appearance at Arielle Shoshanna (2920 District Avenue Fairfax, VA 22031). She is having a trunk show displaying all three of the Eris Parfums line on Saturday June 11 from 1-5 Pm and Sunday June 12 from 12-4PM. It is a great opportunity to meet Ms. Herman in the intimate setting of Arielle Shoshanna.