Close your eyes and imagine Paris at Christmas. It’s after midnight. In the shadow of Sacre Coeur, nestled in a warren of small streets, there is a small, private, members-only theater. It glows like a ruby jewel, decorated in velvet in shades of blood-red and black. A dry smoke lingers in the air, and cranberry mulled wine flows like a river. A buffet is set discreetly to the side, laden with Ruby red port wine, stewed plum compote, tart cherries in burgundy claret, and dark, bitter chocolate. The theatre special is a balsamic vinegar reduction, infused with butter, cranberries, plums, chocolate, smoke, and tobacco. Men in masks like Casanova sit hidden in velvet alcoves, eating spiced cranberry cake, smoking, or smearing their lovers’ skin with the chocolate-cherry balsamic glaze. When morning comes, the theatre becomes darker, the velvet curtains change to brown, the wine dries up, and all that is left is a dry, sweet woodiness. Welcome to the world of Zahd.
Zahd is the newest creation from Josh Lobb at Slumberhouse, the Portland indie perfume house. Zahd is a parfum extrait that was just released in limited quantities. Only 125 bottles were made, all of which were offered for pre-order back in Fall 2013. Such is the popularity of both Slumberhouse and Mr. Lobb himself that Zahd sold out in a mere 24 hours. The perfume was shipped out about 10 days ago, and one of my close friends, Kevin, was kind enough to share a sample with me.
Zahd is a lot more nuanced and complex than it initially appears from the outside where it deluges the wearer in the darkened delights of a semi-sweet, semi-dry cranberry molasses. I’d actually argue that it is the most subtle, well-balanced, and carefully modulated of all the Slumberhouse scents that I have tried thus far. Some of them have always been a little heavy-handed, shall we say, in their bold intensity and concentrated focus. (Perhaps I’m still recuperating from the drydown of Sova Extrait….) Zahd is different. It feels like the incredibly talented Josh Lobb is honing his talents, and learning to appreciate the effects of a more nuanced, subtle approach, while still maintaining the Slumberhouse signature of concentrated richness. The result is a fragrance that may actually be the easiest Slumberhouse to wear, if not the best Slumberhouse to date.
As a limited edition fragrance that is now sold out, Zahd isn’t mentioned on the Slumberhouse website, but Mr. Lobb provided CaFleureBon with a wonderfully detailed analysis of the perfume, his inspiration, and even a poem he wrote on the feelings that it is meant to capture. The long piece is worth reading, but I’ll only quote Mr. Lobb’s description of the perfume and why the cost of its ingredients meant it could only be done as a one-time deal:
As I began creating the formula for Zahd, I realized I was subconsciously sculpting the scent to replicate how I felt crushed red velvet would smell if a fabric could be transformed into scent. I wanted something lush, opulent, alluring, completely gender neutral and ultimately mysterious. From this point I began incorporating other ideas involving heavier elements from traditional middle eastern perfumery to add both weight and complexity. Over the course of these two years I created roughly 80 prototypes of Zahd in my attempts to fine tune the fragrance to the smoothest, most rounded and perfected version of itself. In curating my materials palette, I realized that the addition of lotus, mysore sandalwood and an attar I commissioned specifically for Zahd had bumped this fragrance into not only the realm of excessive cost but also into being nearly impossible to replicate. Realizing that this would be a special release that I would only be able to offer in such a limited amount, it only made sense to offer Zahd for this occasion.
According to Mr. Lobb, Zahd incorporates notes of:
cranberry, champaca flower, benzoin, plum, pink lotus, fir, cocoa, tolu balsam, gromwell, wine ether, mysore sandalwood, cherry, incense and oak to create a dark, velvety berry scent. The perfume itself is a deep ruby red color and is concentrated at 30% to create an incredibly powerful and long lasting extrait.
Zahd opens on my skin with thick wave of cranberries covered with spices that smell like cloves and cinnamon. The tart, sweet, spiced fruits are thoroughly immersed in plum molasses that has a definite liqueured undertone, one that extends far beyond mere wine and into Ruby red port territory. It’s dense, velvety, and a little bit treacly in feel. Subtle flickers of a dark, bitter chocolate lurk at the edges, along with smoky undertones, though they don’t smell like frankincense. The overall bouquet is of concentrated cranberries with plums, dark port liqueur, and spices, all shot through with a vein of darkness.
There are other elements hovering in the distance. There is the subtlest suggestion of something vaguely floral that momentarily pops up its head in the opening 15 minutes, though it is indistinct and muted. It doesn’t smell like champaca to me, and I honestly can’t place it, though it doesn’t matter much as the note is very short-lived in nature. Much more noticeable is a different sort of fruited undertone. Deep in the base are cherries, accompanied by tobacco and what feels almost like a leathered apricot. I know tobacco isn’t mentioned in Zahd’s list of notes, but something definitely creates the smell of Tobacco Absolute for me, particularly later on in the perfume’s development.
One of my favorite parts of Zahd is the strong undercurrent of something darkly balsamic in the base. For once, I don’t mean “balsamic” in the sense of a dark, thick resin. No, I mean something that is like actual balsamic vinegar that has been reduced down (with a ton of butter) to make a dense sort of glaze or demi-glace. It smells like sour cherries and chocolate, while still retaining a lingering trace of something wine-like. (If you haven’t tried a balsamic reduction, I highly recommend it. It works beautifully with everything from filet mignon and duck to fruit, especially strawberries.)
My least favorite part of Zahd is something aromachemical in the base. The first time I wore the perfume, I applied only a little bit of the burgundy juice, and the primary bouquet was of heavily spiced cranberries with an incredibly powerful, super arid, woody synthetic. It was very difficult for me, so I contacted Josh Lobb on Twitter to ask if Zahd contained any aromachemicals. Mr. Lobb was extremely gracious, and courteously walked me through Zahd’s other elements. He quickly determined that the troublesome nuances I was describing had to be something he called “Trisamber” which turns out to be an IFF creation with a very woody, dry, somewhat ambered aroma profile.
You may find Mr. Lobb’s Twitter discussion of the aromachemical interesting, as it also helps to underscore that Zahd’s core is about darkness, not sweetness:
Mr. Lobb also added:
- The trisamber is an interesting note, to me it smells like blackness, like someone turned the lights off, a bit mysterious
- I definitely see it as a divisive scent. Without trisamber Zahd leaned a bit too gourmand for my liking
I was extremely touched by how he took the time to so courteously and patiently explain Trisamber to me, as well as by his understanding for my particular sensitivity. I know most people have no problems whatsoever with aromachemicals, but my nose is really finely attuned to them, and a few are really difficult for me to bear when they are extremely desiccated in nature.
The thing that is interesting about the Trisamber is that it really was not as profound an issue when I applied a lot of Zahd. In my main test, I used 3 times more perfume, a little over half a 1 ml vial but less than 2/3rd, and fully expected the aromachemical to be worse. I was shocked to find it was better. Much better.
Oddly enough, the greater quantity seemed to downplay the harsh aridity, probably because it allows Zahd’s other elements to shine more brightly. As a result, the Trisamber doesn’t feel like a wave of dryness that hits you in heavy amounts from the first sniff. Instead, it slowly seeps out after about 15 minutes, and, even then, it is very well-blended within the overall bouquet, appearing mostly as a very subtle dry darkness that wafts about. It is remains an arid note (though not so much as the Norlimbanol that I’ve encountered in the past), woody, and faintly ambered, but it is counterbalanced by the other elements. Still, the Trisamber feels very jangly at times and, I have to admit, it gives me a small twinge in the head whenever I smell Zahd up close for too long a period of time.
Despite all that, I really like the dark touch that Zahd exudes. Mr. Lobb is undoubtedly correct that, without the Trisamber and the other darker touches, Zahd would have skewed too gourmand in nature. They cut through the sweetness, provide a balance, and ensure that the perfume never veers into diabetic territory. Yet, I think the dark foundation does much more than just that; I think it actually makes the perfume. It’s not merely the Trisamber, but also the liqueured, balsamic, cherry-and-dark-chocolate tonalities, mixed with that subtle suggestion of something smoky. Mr. Lobb thought of crushed velvet curtains, and he does succeed in creating that visual. He also goes beyond, to conjure up that cozy jewel-box of a theatre with dark shadows, that mystery he referred to in his discussion of Trisamber. The overall effect is to make Zahd very much of a mood fragrance for me, a mood that goes beyond the expected holiday smell of simple spiced cranberries.
At the end of 30 minutes, Zahd slowly starts to shift. The black chocolate becomes more noticeable, and is accompanied by a tobacco accord that feels a little leathery. The darkness is further underscored by a greater sense of smokiness, though it never smells like incense to me. Rather, it’s more akin to burning leaves in the fall.
As a whole, Zahd is extremely potent up close, with initially huge sillage that fools you into thinking that the perfume is very dense in weight. As it wafts about 4 inches around you, the liqueured and molasses accords make you imagine something as chewy as a red velvet cake. Yet, the sillage drops after 40 minutes to about 2-3 inches, and the perfume continues to soften with time. Zahd actually ends up feeling almost delicate and light, despite its richness and the density of its notes. To borrow the term of one of my readers, Tim, it has “weightless heaviness” at the end of the first hour.
I thoroughly enjoyed Zahd opening the 2nd time around, especially as the greater dosage amplified the perfume’s velvety richness. The Trisamber was not as dominant, and the overall bouquet was really pretty. I love how Zahd replicates the smell of a very expensive port wine, only made from cranberries, plums, and cherries instead of the usual grapes. I’m a sucker for port, both the Ruby and Tawny varieties, especially when served with chocolate, so the overall combination is really a hit for me. (It also makes me wonder if Mr. Lobb is a secret foodie.)
Zahd has sweetness, yes, but it is very carefully calibrated sweetness that is kept fully in check by the darker, drier elements. The subtle suggestions of tartness and of oaked woodiness also help. Those of you who are phobic about fruit scents, let me reassure you that Zahd is not some commercial fruit cocktail with diabetic syrup. It is instead a very deep, rich scent whose spiced cranberry focus is dominated by shades of burgundy and black. Speaking of which, the colour of the juice is beautiful with its mulled wine resemblance. It is also the reason why I must warn you not to wear white or light-coloured clothing if you plan on spraying on Zahd. The fragrance stained my skin to a port wine shade that remained for hours. While I love the colour in general, I imagine it would be quite difficult to get out of clothing.
The Trisamber aromachemical grows more dominant by the start of the 3rd hour, thoroughly infusing its dark dryness into the cranberry-plum cocktail. It’s a hard note to describe in-depth, but its power feels steely, hard, and jangly, almost like an abrasive roughness that is quite textural in feel. It sets up a dichotomy where you have the velvety plushness of the spiced fruit, port, and balsamic reduction accords, on the one hand, and something that is drier, tougher, and not as smooth, on the other. The contrasts make Zahd feel like some sort of avant-garde, modernist take on fruitiness that completely up-ends its usual characteristics in commercial perfumery.
Zahd is rather linear in nature, and doesn’t shift twist or turn in a massive way throughout its lifespan. Initially, all that happens is that the perfume softens even further, turning into a blur of dry-sweet port wine that hovers about 1-2 inches above the skin at the end of the 3rd hour. But slowly, very incrementally, Zahd turns drier and woodier. Over the next few hours, the plummy base feels as though it’s becoming darker and more resinous. On my skin, the cherry and plum actually seem to overtake the cranberry. As the spiced note weakens, the Trisamber woodiness increases. Zahd feels like a liquid that has evaporated to an even deeper concentration, devoid of the extra frills and embellishments. Yet, it is very soft in feel. And, about 4.75 hours into its development, it turns into a skin scent.
The notes continue to realign themselves in fractional degrees. At the start of the 7th hour, there is as much of a dry, tobacco-like aroma as there is plum. The aroma is dark, vaguely dirty and earthy, and feels almost like raw tobacco juice that has been stewed. The cranberry now feels even more muted than before. Even the balsamic, cherry glaze feels weaker, not to mention thinner and milder. The Trisamber’s dryness and darkness remains throughout, adding to Zahd’s woody feel. At the same time, a dark golden touch appears. It doesn’t feel like amber so much as an abstract, very dry… well, goldenness. That’s about the best I can do to describe it.
As a whole, Zahd smells of dark, fruited sweetness with dry woods and darkness. You can still detect the spiced cranberry if you sniff hard, though my skin seems to emphasize the plum, but the fruited elements feel increasingly abstract. So do the dry elements, which can’t really be singled out as oak, tolu balsam, or even Trisamber in any hugely distinctive, individual way. The perfume is really well-blended, and coats the skin like a rich but gauzy coating. Zahd continues in that vein for a few more hours until it finally fades away as a mix of dry sweetness. All in all, Zahd lasted just under 15 hours on my skin with the large dose (a little more than 1/2 of a 1 ml vial, or about 2 good sprays), and about 10.75 hours with 2 small smears.
As I stated earlier, I find Zahd to be the most wearable of Slumberhouse’s fragrances that I’ve tried thus far. I wasn’t hugely impressed by it in my first go-around, primarily because of the way that the Trisamber was such a huge part of the scent, but I have a particular issue with aromachemicals that others don’t have. (Lucky devils.) The more important point, though, is that Zahd unfurled its subtle nuances and layers when I applied more of it, which is something you may want to keep in mind. For whatever reason, it was generally just a simple, spiced cranberry fragrance with aromachemical dryness when I used only a small amount. The lovely plum, dark chocolate, port, balsamic cherry glaze, burnt leaves, and that inexplicable tobacco tonality all shone through with the larger dosage.
Zahd feels firmly unisex to me, and it seems like something that both men and women would enjoy. I don’t know how versatile it may be for daily use, but then, Zahd is very much of a mood fragrance, in my opinion.
I think it’s rather a shame that Zahd is a limited-edition scent. I really think it is one of the best Slumberhouse creations to date, and seems to really reflect Mr. Lobb’s personal evolution as a perfumer. I’ve said repeatedly that he has enormous talent, and that I both admire him and respect him. It’s really hard to believe that he is wholly self-taught, because he’s very good at this. He is also someone who is driven by a genuine passion to make perfumes that are outside the box, something that I always think should be applauded. On top of it all, in his interviews and interactions with others, he always comes across like a really nice guy. All of that is why I’ve always wanted to love his fragrances but, alas, none of them have suited me personally.
The primary reason is that many of them felt a little over the top with their monolithic, untrammeled intensity. (I haven’t tried Norne, which I suspect would fit my tastes much better, but I’ve tested 5 Slumberhouse fragrances thus far.) I think the best example of my point would be Sova Extrait, which I haven’t officially reviewed because it was pulled from the line soon after I bought my sample. Sova reflects something that I’ve experienced with a number of Slumberhouse fragrances, only taken to an extreme degree: a glorious, almost addictive start, but a development which just wears one down with an increasingly loud, bulldozer-ish quality and with such hyper-saturated richness that it becomes thoroughly exhausting.
Zahd is none of those things. It still isn’t me, but this is a perfume that reflects a much more delicate touch. The Slumberhouse signature of rich boldness is still there, but it is more carefully calibrated. Even better, the richness doesn’t feel unctuous, oily, overwhelming, or cloying as it does in a few of the scents. (Pear + Olive, I’m staring at you.) You also don’t feel burnt out by linear heaviness, as though you’ve just ingested six rich cakes, when you merely asked for a single slice. (Ore, that one applies to you. How I could have loved you, if only you hadn’t force-fed me!) With Zahd, the Slumberhouse singular focus still remains, only now it is leavened with more complexity and more mature depth.
It’s as though Mr. Lobb has learned to simultaneously add more nuanced layers, while also editing himself. The best example of the latter would be the spiced nature of the cranberries in Zahd. The spices are a subtle undertone, not a full-on blast. In my review of Mr. Lobb’s Jeke, I talked about the overpowering nature of an accord made from spiced apple, mulled wine and potpourri-like elements. That spiced potpourri aroma could easily have happened here with Zahd as well, with just a different sort of fruit being the focal point. But it didn’t — thanks to very careful editing. Mr. Lobb’s growing maturity and confidence as a perfumer shows itself in the fact that he manages to express his signature voice or identity without having to resort to Rammstein-like levels of loudness.
I realise that Mr. Lobb has said it wouldn’t be cost-effective to put Zahd into general production, but I think admirers of his fragrances may want to beg him to reconsider. Perhaps he can price it a little higher than the $150 he charged for the 30 ml Extrait. I suspect really hardcore Slumberhouse fans would pay it gladly. It also seems rather a shame that those new to the line won’t get the chance to try Mr. Lobb at his best. All in all, I have to say, “Job well done!”
Wow! I am one of the lucky few who ordered this last fall and now my bottle is waiting for me back in the US (if I can pry it away from my mom….). I am sooooo far behind on my blog reading (hence my lack of comments recently) but, I had to see what you had to say about this one and now I am even more curious, if that is possible, to get my bottle and try it! I am with you about the house in general, while I really enjoyed sampling all of this line and I own a bottle of Pear & Olive I find that the others are very intriguing but, not something I could wear often. That said, I truly admire what Josh is doing with the artistry of perfume and I was happy to support him on this venture so that he can continue to grow the business. Plus, I know I would have some takers on decants should I decide it is not for me 🙂 Thanks for another gorgeous review!
Off topic – I hear that Opus VIII will be released here in Dubai within two weeks. Amouage seems to be very secretive about the notes with the only thing the store knows being that it is a “woody floral”. Can’t wait to see what Christopher has helped create now!
I think you should gently nudge Mama Dubaiscents to get to the post office, and just send it to you. Perhaps a little more than a nudge even? lol. Zahd isn’t something that I think you (singular and cumulatively) could wear every day but, on the days that you do, I think that you and most people would greatly enjoy it. Especially anyone whose skin doesn’t amplify sweetness, though I think that the Trisamber thing generally takes care of keeping the cranberries in check. But it’s the OTHER stuff in Zahd that’s the really nice part, imo.
As for Opus VIII’s release, it does seem to be a general mystery for the most part. 🙂 I should be receiving my sample soon from Mr. Chong, and I confess to checking the mail box every day with increasingly frenzied anticipation.
As Mama Dubaiscents, I need to give Zahd a few more tries before giving it up to its rightful owner. I was glad someone else got cherries from it, like I did. I will also give it a try with two big spritz’s instead of a measly one and see if it affects my impression.
Ha! Hello, Mama Dubaiscents. 😉 Zahd may be the only Slumberhouse where I think more is actually… er… more. At least in terms of the nuances showing themselves, and not just getting spiced cranberries. On my skin, at least, it helped show the layers. The cherries being one of them, the plums, chocolate and balsamic vinegar reduction vibe being others. Let me know if you see a difference. 🙂
Even after decades of wearing and enjoying perfumes I still struggle to ‘speak’ what I smell, so I’ve been desperate to have someone else put my thoughts about Zahd into words and your review came the closest I could hope for.
My nose must not be as sensitive to aromachemicals; I’m not noticing any ill effects from the Trisamber. I, also, haven’t noticed any skin staining, but I’ve been careful not to spray on light-colored clothing, just to be on the safe side. Other than those two points, our experiences are quite similar.
It took several wears, and a bit of trial and error for me to realize that I enjoy Zahd most if I spray lightly on my neck and then dab – or apply large smears (to use your apt lingo:)) on my arms; that way I can’t get my nose directly onto the bright, tart smells and can use it instead to Hoover up the delicious buttery base notes!
I should also mention that I’ve sampled all of Josh’s other perfumes and found them to be really interesting, but too intense for me to wear – all except for Norne, that is. Sounds like you need to try it; and I need to invest in a full bottle. 🙂
Thank you for your thoughtful, and balanced review of my new favorite perfume.
Hi Cymbaline, nice to see you. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the review. With regard to the staining issue, I noticed it primarily when I used a lot. Tiny dabs weren’t a problem. But the big smears and a large quantity…. it definitely stained my skin for at least 4 hours, perhaps a little more. It was interesting to me because some people have mentioned that Serge Lutens’ Fille de Berlin stained with its light pink liquid, but I never had that problem. Zahd’s juice is much darker, deeper, and thicker, so I’m not completely surprised it had that impact when a lot of it was used.
Zahd’s base is very pretty, isn’t it? 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying it, and that you’ve found one Slumberhouse to call your own. Your “new favorite perfume” is quite a compliment, and I’m sure he’d be very happy to hear it. As for Norne, I will get a sample one of these days. A lot of friends have told me personally that they think that would be the Slumberhouse for me, so it’s definitely on my list of things to try. 🙂
I really like Slumberhouse. My favorite was Baque which was also a limited edition. I didn’t realize that at the time and took too long to decide I wanted some. When I went to buy it, it was gone. 😦
I’ve come close to buying Ore but it doesn’t have much lasting power on me and that’s holding me back. I’m glad I’ll probably never get to smell Zahd because if I loved it, it would make me sad to know it was a limited edition that’s already sold out. Your review of it makes it seem amazing.
How frustrating about Basque. The line does seem to change with some speed. I remember that Sova came out in the Extrait form and then, less than 6 months later (5 months?), it seemed it was yanked from the line and discontinued entirely. All of that must be the result of being a one-man operation, as none of this can be easy to do on one’s own, let alone unfunded. In his shoes, I might yank the least selling creations too, though that last bit is my own assumption about Sova.
I didn’t post this in the article, though I had meant to at one time, but Zahd may have been ESPECIALLY difficult to make, judging by the rundown on this blog: http://moreinside.blogspot.com/2013/12/how-zahd-was-made-by-slumberhouse.html That goes through things like the Cranberry concrete (absolute, I guess), the resins, and the rest of the many ingredients.
I think that blog post may even have been by Josh Lobb himself, as I cannot imagine anyone else having the inside information and details to know about the process, or to be able to take step-by-step pictures of the stages. Regardless, after seeing that, I can kinda understand why he made Zahd a limited, one-time thing. My only hope is that he will reconsider after seeing the reaction to Zahd which, judging by others on Twitter and comments elsewhere, seems to be very enthusiastic.
Understand that sourcing the materials for Sova and Zahd is the reason for 1 run and done. From a pure $ standpoint, 1 and done and back to the drawing board is an expensive way to operate. Assume that would be avoided, if materials were still available.
About Sova, it took me a few tries–you know how I feel about sweet notes–but once I came round, I went on the hunt for a bottle. Really interesting stuff.
Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Drool…want. The only other fragrance I know of that has a port wine vibe is the original Kors. I so hope Slumberhouse either does another limited release or takes Zahd permanent but at a higher price point to cover ingredient costs.
I hope he does the latter, and makes it permanent. Perhaps he can take a page out of Roja Dove’s manual and create a special category for one or two of the more expensive to create Slumberhouse scents. A Slumberhouse version of the Imperial Collection, if you will. lolol 🙂
As for the Port wine vibe, it’s definitely a result of the cherries and plum which were actually as dominant on my skin at times as the cranberries. It may be a skin chemistry thing, but I was very grateful for it, as it was a super undertone to have.
It is indeed, and precious few fragrances have it.
Kafka, nice review. I ´ve got the Slumberouse sample Kit from Parfum1. There are very original in their composition and I like also they use hops in fragrances. If I can I will try Zahd.
They’re very original, without doubt. I hope you find a few that you love, Walter. 🙂
I wish Zahd weren’t limited edition so that more people (myself included) could have a chance to try it and maybe fall in love with it. As it stands now, I’m not even looking to try a sample for fear that I may like it and then not be able to find it.
I sympathize for the very reasons you mention. One can only hope that people will beseige Mr. Lobb on Twitter to beg him to consider making the perfume permanent, even if he has to make it some sort of “Special” at a higher price.
I thought Zahd had sold out in less than 24 hours! It felt that way to me; I got the email, thought about reasons I should not purchase a full bottle – and poof! They were gone. I am not so patiently awaiting a 1ml sample that I purchased from someone. With all the raves I’ve been reading & now your review, this will become akin to purchasing black market goods!
I love Norne. I have a small full bottle collection, but it’s in it, and I’m glad. If you want a sample, I’d be happy to send it to you. It’s totally wearable to me, but I live in a place where smelling like the sap of trees is preferable than smelling like “perfume” to others (by a long shot). I haven’t 1/100th the talent for analyzing scent that you do, nor the knowledge to tell you much about it, but I suspect you’d find it linear. It smells pretty much the same from start to finish to me, only less intense as time goes by. If you want a sample, I’ll send it to you.
The only scent Josh Lobb has made that I do not like is Pear & Olive, and it’s interesting to see what you wrote about it. I really like him and his passion & seeing him grow as a perfumer, on top of which, he seems to be a really nice person, with the mind of a truly dedicated artist in the best possible way. It’s really wonderful in a world where ego seems to sometimes trump talent to be able to get behind a product made by a person one likes. It’s marvelous, actually.
Yes, Zahd did sell out in less than 24 hours. I think I mentioned that once or twice. 🙂 I know the response seemed to startle even Mr. Lobb himself, judging by a comment of his that I read on Twitter (?) or elsewhere.
As for Norne, I am sure it can be somewhat linear, as that I’ve noticed that with a few Slumberhouse scents. It’s not a slam, as I always say that there is nothing wrong with a linear fragrance if you like the particular scent in question. But there is no doubt that his fragrances don’t twist and morph like a Serge Lutens.
I’m very touched by your offer of a sample, Jules. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and generosity. I’ll have to decline right now, only because I am inundated with SOOOOOOOOOOOOO many samples that I’m struggling to actually keep up. I had finally worked my way through my pile of 60-80 things to get through, and gotten it down to about 50 when I received about 15 samples from one perfume house just this last Saturday. My reviews take so long to research and write, that I simply am not as fast as others. And I rarely never smell something before I’m ready to actually write about it. So, I hope you will not take it personally if I decline right now. I wouldn’t want you to waste some of your precious bottle.
As for Pear + Olive, I absolutely LOVE the start. It’s fantastic. Really and truly fantastic. But then it all just becomes too much for me, especially when the freshness dissipates into a really unctuous, almost oily heaviness. For me, with my tastes, it’s too cloying in its hyper-saturated nature. What was your difficulty with it?
I figured you had all the samples and scents you could possibly need, but when I heard that you didn’t have Norne, I simply had to offer! I didn’t think linear is a slam, but I do see that you seem to like scents with twist and turns, as you put it. I happen to be a big Lutens fan, by the way. Your reviews, I must add, have made me appreciate fleeting top notes more than I had done, and I am wanting more surprises in my scents since I started reading you (which was longer ago than it seems from my comments, lol)!
What was my problem with Pear & Olive? I will have to try it again to tell you the answer. I wasn’t feeling analytical at the time. I ordered a sample set of slumberhouse after receiving a sample of Ore and reading about Josh Lobb. I found all the scents mesmerizing, but all I can tell you months later is “I didn’t like it.” I remember thinking it was neither pear nor olive, but I drink a small glass of olive oil every day, and have a big collection of it, so perhaps I don’t want it in a scent? And I am fan of pears (to say the least). It was a gut reaction. I will revisit it one of these days when I’m tired of the tobacco note fanaticism I seem to be going through right now.
When I wrote “I thought it was sold out in less than 24 hours” it was part of my writing poorly (mentioned above). I think I meant 12 hours. Well, it felt almost instantaneous that day. Should I buy blind? Should I not? Um. Hmmm. All gone!
Believe me, I was very touched that you offered. I rarely get presents, so really, thank you for the very sweet thought! As for Zahd selling out in 12 hours instead of 24, that wouldn’t surprise me at all. He really has a very passionate fan base — which is why he should bloody well sell this perfume for a higher price, since I know they’d buy it!!! lol 😀
With regard to Pear +Olive, the gorgeous pear note lasted for less than 15 minutes on my skin, if I recall correctly. It may have been even less than that, but I’d have to look up the review for the exact degree of brevity. Very sad, all around. And I agree that it wasn’t olive oil, per se, either in the base. At least, it wasn’t on my skin. Definite gooey unctuousness, though. Coconut and chamomile flowers, and… well…. goo. Lots of very sweet, heavy goo. But my skin amplifies both sweetness and base notes, so perhaps it was less arduous on others.
Are you going through a tobacco phase right now? Then I hope you get the chance to try La Via del Profumo’s Tabac! 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed that one.
BTW, how kind of you to let me know you’ve been reading longer than you’ve been commenting, but I’m most pleased by the fact that you’ve finally come out of lurkerdom.
It was your review of Tabac that got me started (again)! But no, I haven’t got any (yet). I have many samples and old favorites that I haven’t worn in ages to keep my nose and mind occupied until I get my grubby little hands on that gem.
You’ve inspired me to be stronger (from your last review) and wear something I’m not liking to analyze it more deeply. Though sometimes, I must admit, I just want to run and scrub asap! Pear and Olive wasn’t one of those, however. I can’t imagine anything Josh makes would do that. I’m, obviously, something of a fangirl. Cheers!
Oh dear, no way to edit that poorly written written comment, lol!
I sampled 4 different Slumberhouse perfumes yet neither work for me. This one sounds delectable though.
Slumberhouse’s creations are intense, and they’re not always for everyone, so I can understand if the prior 4 didn’t work for you. I haven’t found one that is “me,” either. 🙂
Exactly. Nothing is me. That is the thing. I will sample this one though 😉
I missed the Zahd release, to my regret. Have been wearing Vikt extrait a lot this winter. Don’t find it heavy handed at all. DO find it addictive.
Oh and, do try Norne also. Great stuff
I will keep Vikt in mind when I order my Norne sample. Thanks.
Better hurry on Vikt. Dc’d also, although still in stock at a couple online establishments.
Vikt was one of my faves, too. Used up the sample and by the time I finally got around to ordering more it was no longer offered. Never saw Vikt discussed much online, so it was fun to read you comment today. 🙂
Wonderfully written review! And it fairly closely sums up my experiences with Zahd. I absolutely agree that Zahd is the most wearable of Josh’s scents, and the best, and my personal favorite to date. I haven’t tried everything he’s created yet, I don’t think, but I have tried 4 (Jeke, Norne, Sova, Pear + Olive) and they all are simply too much for me. Which is saying something because I love rich and heavy scents. Though I was one of the lucky few to get a bottle, I’m not sure Zahd is really something I would have bought otherwise. I don’t think I’ll sell my bottle, and I can see wearing myself wearing it around the holidays (it’s really hard for me, as an American, to separate the smell of cranberries from Christmas/Thanksgiving). I also worried about the staining issue. I’ll have to be cautious about applying this one prior to putting on my clothes, otherwise I’m quite certain it will stain them!
I have to say it was super cool of Josh to respond to your questions in such a direct and helpful way! It sheds a lot of light on the scent as a whole, I think, and your experience with it particularly. Nice to have that level of transparency from a perfumer.
I thought it was incredibly nice of Josh to take the time, and the way he was both so honest, detailed, and understanding definitely took it to the “super cool” level indeed. I loved how he explained “the black vein,” as he saw it, and the whole feel of the “lights out” to him. It really made more sense of what I was smelling and feeling.
Up to then, I couldn’t figure out WHAT this weird, dark dryness was, because it really is substantially different from anything listed in the notes. Obviously an aromachemical, but for once, there was something different about this one, beyond just the super dryness. I can see that “black vein” as he put it, but it actually was much more like “black shadows” to me. Shadows on the velvet.
What was really interesting about Zahd was the textural feel of the whole thing. Perhaps I’m simply imaginative and taken by his description, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel like that crushed velvet he intended. It actually did, when it could have simply felt like a thick cherry-plum-cranberry compote instead.
Anyway, I have to thank you again for your sample, your generosity, and your thoughtfulness in sending it to me. It was great to have the chance to try Slumberhouse at its best.
I’m a sore loser – I missed out on getting a bottle. I (no longer) secretly wanted you to hate this, but NO, it is the best and most wearable Slumberhouse, says you! If Josh is now at the height of his creative years, he has many many more years to come and I will eagerly await Zahd 2.0!
LOL, at the bitterness at having missed out on the bottle. But I do agree with you that Mr. Lobb seems to be evolving creatively in a way that ensures he’s just going to get better. So, here’s looking to the next thing on Slumberhouse’s horizon! 🙂
Oh, this sounds wonderful. I love the smell of cranberries. Like the trip to Paris and all the bread and cheese, I’ll just have to appreciate the experience vicariously through your writing. Thanks for the review.
You’re very welcome. I’m sorry that you and others won’t have the chance to try Zahd.
Well, I’ve got a bit of Zahd on my wrists right now. This is one of the few perfumes my husband has gotten excited about. He loves it, though he says it reminds him of childhood candy. Then he changed his mind and said it was jelly rolls. Either way, he says, “childhood, but beautiful.” So far, that’s my take. I was instantly reminded of the smell of the tubes of sugar we used to eat (Lick ‘Em Aid?) or Sweetarts, but there’s also two other reactions at once: a feeling of “This is gorgeous” and “There’s something I don’t like here” which is, I’m guessing, the trisamber. ‘Tis true, also, that it’s more noticeable on the wrist with the lighter application. Still, I’m enjoying this greatly, and the sense of childhood treats has lessened since I started writing this. I feel lucky to have a sample!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading both your and your husband’s reactions to this. It really made me smile to see the debate about which childhood sweets Zahd resembled. I also was interested to read about your feeling of “there is something I don’t like here.” It probably *is* that Trisamber, as Mr. Lobb said it was one of those divisive love it/hate it things.
I have to admit, I went “HA!” at how you noticed it more with a smaller application. 🙂 It’s crazy, isn’t it? Especially as how a larger quantity masks it so much better. How much did you apply with the larger dosage? Rough estimate, in terms of smears?
I put two big wet smears from a 2ml vial on my left wrist and one dab on the other. I often simply dab when testing *just in case.* My dab lost the sweetness quickly; I’ve had this experience with many scents, actually, that the top notes need a bigger application. I do hope I’m phrasing that correctly!
It was a sweet and lovely surprise how much my husband got into this scent. I asked to smell the drydown – he got “nothing – is it still there?” I have lost anything but the dry powder which smells almost exactly like a non-talc powder I sometimes use that is supposed to smell like honey. That’s a nice smell, but I also feel it has that difficult to describe texture of the powder. As if it’s in my mouth still. I did not scrub! I was reminded of an Imaginary Author scent, btw, though I can’t remind which one. Maybe Cape Heartache?
Back to my husband; this is the first time I’ve seen him be enthusiastic about a scent. He said it was “an experience.” That opening is fantastic; I agree with him. The blast of childhood sweetness and beauty all at once is so unexpected. I wish that would morph into something equally as beautiful.
Awwww, the drydown on you sounds like such a disappointment! Well, on both of you, actually. Both your skins really ate everything up, in his case in particular. As for you, having nothing left but the powder and the Trisamber…. 😦 Such a shame.
You know, a number of these aromachemicals add a textural feel more than anything else. I think the dry ones in particular, so what you’re describing as the texture of powder might be the last effects of one of Trisamber, while the feeling of dry, not wholly sweetened honey might be the side-effect of something else. It’s just a guess, but perhaps they’ve combined to create that overall impression in your nose.
Yes, you’re phrasing things wonderfully. As for the Imaginary Authors fragrances, for me Cape Heartache has ISO E Super, but the super arid, desiccated one was The Cobra & The Canary with its “asphalt” note. I found both fragrances to be very difficult for very different reasons.
I am enjoying learning from you what I’m smelling and experiencing! Glad I decided to stop lurking. I haven’t tried The Cobra & The Canary but I don’t think I will now.
I will try Zahd again with an even heavier application and see what happens. Anyhow, I look forward to smelling those top notes again.
And it’s very interesting indeed how dry and powdery it has become in contrast to the effusive sweetness of all the jamminess. In fact, it’s rather shockingly dry; I feel a bit parched and thirsty. Either a bit of synesthesia or there are, in fact, some scent molecules fooling my brain into thinking it’s dry enough for thirst and a tickle in the back of my throat and nose.
Okay, so the sweetness and jamminess have totally vanished now? Or has the dryness only gotten *that* much stronger?
It’s odd the way the ultra-dry aromachemicals (like, for example, Z-something, and, for me in particular, Norlimbanol) can really impact one, isn’t it? Norlimbanol in large doses actually makes my throat seize up and swell. Like, really, really swell. And it feels as though a razor blade is being run over the surface of the skin inside my nose. I am guessing it is, in part, because the size of the molecules in a lot of these aromachemicals is so much larger.
I found Trisamber to be very dry, but nothing like Norlimbanol or whatever thing it was in Imaginary Author’s Cobra & the Canary that caused such a massively sharp, extreme physical reaction. But it’s definitely a parched note, so it may not be your mind fooling you into thinking that your throat has a tickle at the back of it.
It sounds to me as though your skin is amplifying the Trisamber over the sweeter, jammy, plummy notes. Interesting how you’re getting a lot of powder from Zahd, too. Is your husband experiencing anything similar?
The dryness did not get stronger; it just lost all sweetness, though there is a bit of smell akin to honey (but I’m talking raw buckwheat honey).
I just KNEW I was going to be thoroughly kicking myself for missing out on a bottle of this. I just, JUST (by mere minutes apparently) missed out getting on the list at the time. Then I wasn’t too perturbed, as try as I might (& boy had I tried!) I’d not yet managed to get samples of any of the SH ‘fumes. But had I known back then it was to be a deep & dark cherried/choc’ woody affair (gasp!) I’d certainly not have dithered. It sounds very much just like my kinda thing. And now after your review I’m all the more certain I’m bound to adore it – DAMN !! 😦
Plus I must say I’m totally turned-on by that gorgeous new bottle – I LUV it – I’d want one just for that alone even. … Let’s just say that right now I’m pretty much contemplating trading my precious 1st-born for even just a tiny sample. Any takers ?? 😀
I think your best bet for getting a sample would be a place like Basenotes in their splits group, or perhaps eBay? It’s going to be hard, I’m afraid.
If Julz is on Facebook, Facebook Fragrance Friends is a great place to chat and perhaps procure sample.
This was an amusing, slightly confusing comment to read as it came from Jules to Julz. 😀 😀 Thank God for the rest of your screenname, honey, or else I’d have blinked even more. LOL
Especially since I didn’t proofread it. I’ve got too many tabs open on my computer and people trying to converse w/ me via instant chat. I’d be happy to swap with Julz if there was an easy way to introduce us. I’m on FFF.
LOL – Sorry Kaf’, I really didn’t mean to be ‘soliciting’ as such – (or causing any unnecessary confusion). 🙂 *grin*
Howwwever – I’d also certainly not be able to resist Jules-2’s (or should that be Jules-1’s ?) 🙂 well, my ‘name-twin’s wonderfully kind & much appreciated offer. As, as it happens, I am indeed on FFF – (will certainly try hunt u down then.) 🙂
– & MUCH thanx to both of you !!