New Perfume Review Fort & Manle Meraki- Nombre Not!

There is an unfortunate hubris among many independent perfumers to decide they can re-create, re-invent, re-interpret, even re-vitalize a masterpiece of the past. They are almost always wrong. It compares very unfavorably. It also has another blowback of just trying to make the same masterpiece perfume of the past with different materials. Like a paint-by-numbers picture where you choose to change the colors called for and them stand next to it going, “Voila!” If you have talent, and experience, you can do this as a singular study for yourself to learn how those classics were built. The commercial impulse usually finds a way to expose these silly comparisons as it has with Fort & Manle Meraki.

Rasei Fort

Rasei Fort has been almost maddeningly inconsistent in the perfumes he has released. Earlier this year Kolonya was one of the first perfumes I reviewed in 2019 and it remains one of the best releases of 2019. It shows all the promise of the independent mindset creating something new. Kolonya stands out for its originality. Meraki stands out because it attempts to be something it is not. Mr. Fort says on his website that Meraki is inspired by the unicorn masterpiece of Serge Lutens and Jean-Yves Leroy; Shiseido Nombre Noir. He further states that he owns a sealed box of Nombre Noir but that he has never opened it to smell it. He also says he is not trying to re-create it. Followed immediately by saying, “based on the notes, I endeavoured to create a vintage-inspired white floral”. Based on that Meraki is a new perfume inspired by a list of ingredients of a vintage perfume Mr. Fort has never smelled. It’s ridiculous. Here is the real punchline Meraki is a good perfume on its own merits without inane callbacks to something it doesn’t resemble in any way. As part of Mr. Fort’s recent portfolio it is another beautiful floral centered on the duality of osmanthus.

Meraki opens with a strong cocktail of aldehydes atop a fuzzy peach. It is a nice textural top accord. Osmanthus rises to use its apricot side to meet with the peach. Rose adds deeper floral tones while honey converts the fuzziness of the peach to a sticky golden viscosity. As the leathery nature of osmanthus is teased out with patchouli an intense sandalwood completes the base accord.

Meraki has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Also on the website there is a definition for “meraki” as “to put something of yourself into your work”. Mr. Fort has done that with this perfume. This is of a continuity of what came before which feels wholly of Mr. Fort’s creativity. If you’ve liked the previous darker perfumes within the collection, you’ll like Meraki. If, on the other hand, you’re drawn in by the comparisons to Nombre Noir; don’t bother. Mr. Fort is not able to come within any distance of the creativity of that perfume. It is a cynical commercial ploy. From that perspective Meraki is Nombre Not!

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke