Every time I host the Sniffapalooza Sunday Emerging Artisans Uncorked lunch I seem to meet a new independent perfumer. This past edition at Fall Ball 2014 was no different as I met Lisa Wallos and David Cantor the brother and sister behind Kiori Perfume Oil.
Their story has come to be a typical story for someone who comes to making perfumes later in life. Ms. Wallos found her introduction to fragrance came while she was studying at the School of American Ballet in New York City. As she watched the senior dancers powder themselves in preparation for performances she loved the smell of each ballerina who seemed to carry her own signature scent. After her dance studies she went on to become a special education teacher and a mother. Throughout this time she would obtain and work with natural ingredients to make her own personal fragrance. As she had settled on a mixture she felt was hers she also started to be asked what she was wearing and where could it be bought. Her brother Mr. Cantor had built a career in the health and wellness industry and he encouraged her to try and market her perfume. Together they have produced Kiori Perfume Oil.
David Cantor and Lisa Wallos presenting Kiori at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014
Kiori is a Japanese word meaning “inner strength” and it is an appropriate description for the fragrance itself. Kiori contains a tenacious core which shows strength but because it is a perfume oil it also seems very personal and introverted. Having had Ms. Wallos tell me about her dance history I definitely smell a hint of the iris scented powders of the prima ballerinas in Kiori but it is primarily a vanilla perfume with florals and resins.
That bit of iris I mentioned is where Kiori starts. It is the powdery version of that note and it is subtle. There are some other delicate florals like neroli all floating around like a cloud of powder as the corps de ballet rushes on stage. The vanilla shows up next and it is the keynote for Kiori. The remains of the florals are still around but the vanilla is matched with patchouli. This turns Kiori into a darker earthy vanilla. This could be an abrupt change in a more traditional alcohol composition but because Kiori is an oil this transition happens in smaller increments. The base notes are a mix of incenses and they add a bit of chill austerity to the grounded sweetness of the vanilla and patchouli.
Kiori has 12-14 hour longevity with almost no sillage.
Kiori is an impressive debut by Ms. Wallos and she hopes to have a new release sometime in 2015. Kiori shows the patience of getting to know the materials really paid off as it allowed Ms. Wallos to have a comprehensive feel for using them. Kiori has summarized the long and fragrant road Ms. Wallos traveled until she could share her perfume with us.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample of Kiori I received at Sniffapalooza Fall Ball 2014.
If you’ve been following along you have figured out that I have many things I am interested in. Over the weekend of October 9-12, 2014 two of them combined to give me one gigantic weekend of immersion into my passions. Over these four days I attended New York Comic-Con and Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. Two years ago the same confluence of events happened and I dubbed the weekend ComicSniffaConPalooza. I would spend Thursday and Friday at Comic-Con (Comic). Saturday would be a day of perfume in the morning and comics in the afternoon (SniffaCon) finishing on Sunday by spending the whole day with my friends downtown sniffing new releases (Palooza). Since this is the sequel to the first one it needed a catchy subtitle which really makes no sense except Kilian really was there.
I awoke at 3:30AM to catch a 5:00AM bus to NYC from DC. By Noon I was walking on to the show floor at the Javits Center headed for the Marvel booth to get an NYCC exclusive Rocket Raccoon plush doll. Others around me were dashing for their particular obsessions as well as Green Power Rangers sprinted to the BanDai booth for a statue. Others headed to the Hallmark booth for the exclusive Star Wars holiday ornaments. Others actually headed to comic brands to pick up exclusive printings of specific titles. It is fascinating to see what each person really wants because you can only really get one and the way everyone spreads out is a fascinating exercise in consumerism and the desire to have something exclusive.
With my bag of Marvel swag under my arm I was ready to walk around a bit. One of the things which has expanded greatly at Comic-Con has been people who walk around in costume. Costume Playing or CosPlay for short. This year I saw one of the sweetest moments I have ever observed. I was walking next to a woman dressed as Elsa from Frozen. A brother and sister I would say were both under 10 screamed at the top of their lungs “Elsa!!” and ran headlong for her hugging her around her knees. The children’s mother was horrified but the young woman in the costume leaned down and fully in character talked with the kids. There were smiles everywhere.
I would spend the next two days seeing panels with one of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison. One of my favorite TV shows Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. One of my favorite comics The Walking Dead. One of my favorite personalities in all of media Kevin Smith. I was soaking it in but as I went to sleep Friday night I knew it was time for the perfume portion of the weekend to begin.
Kilian Hennessy at Bergdorf Goodman
At 8AM I showed up at Bergdorf Goodman and sat down in the café with my fellow perfume lovers to have the wondrous new releases displayed to us while sipping coffee and eating croissant. There were a lot of things new to me this year. The most impressive collection of the morning was the new Diana Vreeland perfumes. Ms. Vreeland was the person who created the editrix position at Vogue when she joined in 1962 and shepherded the magazine through the remainder of the decade before moving to the Costume Institute at the Met. She was influential and she was dynamic. I am happy to say the new collection of five fragrances capture the essence of what Ms. Vreeland was all about.
The other new perfume to me was the new B Balenciaga, It stands out for the use of an edamame accord on top which actually works well with the rest of the perfume.
Our final presenter was Kilian Hennessy who presented his Addictive State of Mind collection. Because I had already tried it I had a lot of fun watching others in the room reacting to the three perfumes for the first time. Based on my unofficial consumer research I think all three hit the mark for someone in the room. He also presented the wearable jewelry which can be scented. A couple of the necklaces were gorgeous. There really was no wrath here just well-done perfumes and accessories.
Next it was off to lunch where I heard from multiple speakers the highlight of which was Karen Dubin putting Chandler Burr through the questions James Lipton uses on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. It was very funny when Chandler turned the tables on Karen when he had a hard time answering and asked her the question. Very fun way to see a different side of both of these people.
The clock was ticking and I had to bolt for the Javits Center so I could catch the panel for The Walking Dead TV show. The panel was completely crazy with the crowd roaring and screaming as everyone was introduced. My favorite moment was actress Melissa McBride talking about how the cast is a family and without that support she couldn’t have the courage to hit her performance week after week. It was sweet to see the love for a cast and crew in a show about a zombie apocalypse.
One last panel to see a preview of the upcoming Netflix series for Marvel’s Daredevil. I was giddy with excitement how one of my favorite comic book characters might just get done the way I want it to get done. The clips we saw have me ready to binge watch as soon as it is released in 2015.
Sunday began at Osswald downtown where Carlos Huber of Arquiste took the crowd through the entire Arquiste line of perfumes ending with the fantastic new release The Architects Club. Next stop was Sue Phillips’ The Scentarium. It is where she will guide you through the process of making your own personalized perfume using pre-blended accords. This is all done with a wonderful joie de vivre which makes the experience feel very personal.
It was my turn to be the entertainment at lunch as I introduced the speakers. The two speakers who had perfume were the new brand Kiori and the young brand Phoenix Botanicals. Both perfumers presented perfume oils which are starting to become more common and desired by the consumer. Both new perfumes were very good and I will be reviewing both shortly.
It was now time to head for my bus to take me back home but I will be dreaming of superheroes and perfume all the way home.