If you go to the Ex Nihilo website and read the bios of the three founders; Olivier Royere, Sylvie Loday, and Benoit Verdier you might notice one commonality. They all share a desire to understand the underlying design of things. The very architecture of the world around them. In two of the perfumes for their brand Ex Nihilo you can see their love of the classical with Cologne 352 and Jasmin Fauve.
Cologne 352 is named after the address of the flagship store on the Rue Saint-Honore in Paris. On the website it is said that Cologne 352 is “the olfactory signature” of that address. There is another description on the website more on point, “Parisian cologne”. Cologne 352 is the sophisticated take on one of the very first perfume architectures, eau de cologne. Perfumer Jacques Huclier has taken that classic form and given it a Parisian makeover.
Cologne 352 opens in the cologne style with a brilliant lemon and petitgrain blazing like a sunbeam. M. Huclier chooses a vegetal crushed leaves accord and juniper berry to put some sunglasses on the top notes. The crushed leaves accord substitutes for the more traditional herbal component. The heart takes orange blossom, a usual component of eau de cologne, and brackets it with rose and muguet. As with the top notes the addition of the rose and muguet take Cologne 352 into different territory. The heart is more floral than a cologne is usually but M. Huclier balances it expertly so that it never gets too expansive. It stays buttoned down and compact. This is what creates an aura of floral sophistication which really drew me in when I wore Cologne 352. Those florals persist into the base where a set of clean woods and cleaner musks provide the foundation. Cologne 352 is not an eau de cologne it is at eau de parfum strength and therefore lasts 10-12 hours with average sillage.
Jasmin Fauve is described as a “poisonous leather flower” on the website. Perfumer Aurelien Guichard takes one of the most interpreted florals in jasmine and wraps it in a raw leather. The love of leather is not surprising because two of the three founders of Ex Nihilo mention shoes as a passion and it’s not the woman. M. Guichard creates a fantastic soliflore presented on a swatch of fresh leather.
Before we get to the jasmine M. Guichard pulls in muguet and lily. This doubles down on the green floral quality each of those notes possess. It is an appetizer for the main course of white flowers. Jasmine is in the name and jasmine is the leader of the pack in the heart. M. Guichard adds in orange blossom and tuberose as white flower wingmen. Jasmine is in front but the other two are also present. Finally a raw new piece of unrefined leather is rolled out for these white flowers to be portrayed upon. Ambox makes sure the leather never goes supple and refined and instead stays raw and primal. This mixture of powerhouse florals over leather is a lot of fun to wear. Jasmin Fauve has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I like where the creative team has taken these early efforts to keep them recognizable but also contemporary. Both of these perfumes exemplify classic architecture and embrace modern design.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples I purchased from Surrender to Chance.