In February, Seattle-based perfume line, Phoenicia, by David Falsberg launched at Blackbird Ballard during the Northwest Indie Perfumers Circuit. Here’s my overview of the event:
A little about the line: I can not tell you about the line without talking about David. And I’ll try to keep it short because it’s one hell of an inspiring story. After suffering from terrible complications with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome*, a syndrome that affects the mucus membranes and literally causes the skin to slough off, David temporarily lost his sight. I wish I could say this is all that happened to David, but it wasn’t. He had to have his skin grafted and go through some other medical procedures. During this time and during rehabilitation, David noticed that his sense of smell became stronger than ever. This was the start of his experimentation with perfume. David hits me as the type of person that has always had good taste so it isn’t surprising that he’d be attracted to perfume, most of us sensory people end up here; however, it’s how he ended up here that makes this story exceptional. He took this newly found gift and starting sourcing ingredients and making perfume. I think the world will be happy that he did. He’s got talent.
Mixed media or natural? – David works with both naturals and synthetics. Please note that certain blends are 100% natural.
My impressions of the line: Incomprehensible in the best way imaginable, slightly psychedelic with an eye-opening ruggedness. Think JAR with a Northwestern temperament.
Skin Graft is an autobiographical perfume inspired by David’s time spent in a coma while getting his skin grafted. It’s hauntingly familiar but unlike any perfume you have ever smelled. It opens with bright hospital lights (florals). You then get this gauze accord mixed with Vaseline. And then there are woods and lots of jasmine. Expect a full review in the near future. This is a perfume that will stir your nerves and your senses. We’re almost halfway through 2013 and I can tell this may be my favorite launch of the year.
Ultra Flora is an all-natural floral perfume that uses zdravets which I love. There’s also a local pink lavender in it that adds a fruitiness. It’s a really sensual vintage modern floral. It may not grab you at first, this one works on the skin.
RealOud is David showing us what real oud smells like. So many blends use this “trendy” note to sell expensive blends but most of these juices don’t contain the real stuff. RealOud is real barnyard, chicken shit oud with vintage sandalwood and lots of other amazing, authentic stuff like saffron, fermented clay pots and rose. It’s an aggressive fragrance but that’s the damn point. It’s not for the timid. As far as aggressive oud blends go, this one is perfectly balanced. With time, this one has really grown on me. FYI – It smells awesome under any of the frou-frou florals in your collection.
Overall, this is a line that is truly original and tells more stories than Scheherazade. It’s not a line for beginners as it could be considered a challenging line to wear. But, that’s why I love it. Here we have an indie being truly independent, creating art and blends that won’t please the masses. I see this line appealing to the hardcore fumies (we’re always looking for the “hard” stuff) and honestly, art collectors.
The packaging: The packaging is rather simple which is not unusual for artisanal, indie perfumes. The bottles are small and are etched with the logo. The line is currently working on larger bottles due to popular demand.
My favorite: Skin Graft. It’s one of the most hauntingly beautiful perfumes I’ve ever sniffed. I have not experienced what David has went through. A part of me does when I smell Skin Graft. The other part of me confronts my mortality and well-being. This may sound depressing, but strangely this leaves me optimistic and feeling alive. At the same time, I enjoy it because it smells like flowers and gauze pads with Vaseline. What else on the market smells like this? Yeah, it’s a contemplative fragrance but it’s also a novelty. Let’s face it. There are many niche perfume launches but most of them smell the same. They don’t appear very original. I mean I smell Skin Graft and I’m like “How does he do this? How does this have hints of gauze and blisters?” I still don’t know how he does it so I’ll just say it’s all magic.
I can’t wait to see more from David and this line. If you like lines like JAR, O’Driu, Slumberhouse or CB I Hate Perfume, you’ll want to try this line.
*Info on Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.