Xyrena’s Basic Bitch & Cinemanic (2015)

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Xyrena at AIX Scent Fair, Los Angeles, May 7th, 2016 © Victor Wong

You went to your kid’s grade school gymnasium to support their annual science fair, and as expected, everything was glued-together-cardboards and cutout letters sprinkled with glitter dust. Suddenly you saw a table, no, actually a booth with a canopy, decorated with professional presentation graphics and style. The kids were all wearing black polo shirts with their own logo stitched on as a team, cheerfully presenting their topic of study to everyone, and there’s a cameraman that they hired, shooting footage to be uploaded to different social media channels. Now you thought the PowerPoint presentation you made last week with sliding transition effect wasn’t that cool anymore.

That’s the kind of feeling I got when I saw Xyrena’s booth at the AIX Scent Fair in Los Angeles two weeks ago – surprised, in awe, inspired and a little envious. The owner, the perfumer and the staff were in their mid-twenties (young and energetic, anyway), and I was very impressed by their presentation, packaging and concept. They used custom-moulded VHS clam shells to house their perfume bottles, and each scent came with a 80s’ style B-movie poster sleeve insert. With their limited budget (bigger than most startup indie houses, in my opinion), they really took the “go big or go home” route, and no, just affixing a simple label on the bottle wouldn’t cut it. (Ironically, their labels were pretty bad, but they said they would improve it.)

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Xyrena’s Basic Bitch & Cinemaniac © Victor Wong

Their scents all have funny names and smell half joke and half serious. Priced at around $40 to $70, their target audience is not you, who buy Amouage body cream. They are targeting people who buy novelty items, people who love pop culture and don’t care whether if it is politically correct or not. They are selling gags in a perfume format.

On the show floor they had Cinemania, a caramel popcorn scent (my favourite kind of popcorn); Hellanut, a hyper-realistic Nutella hazel-chocolate scent (just smelling it raises insulin level); Dark Ride, the scent of water theme parks featuring chlorine and mouldy smell; Basic Bitch, a pumpkin spice latte, paperback and UGG leather boots scent (subtitled, “This Sunday Funday She Literally Can’t Even!”) is actually very good despite a bit synthetic smelling; and finally, Pool boy, a sun tan lotion/cocktail drink/pool water smell. Quality and composition wise, all these scents are distant relatives of $300 perfumes; with proper polishing, more sophistication and better ingredients, they aren’t that different. (Well, except Dark Ride, you can stay at the park.)

I think you get the point – they are ridiculous. Ridiculously creative and shameless, and they are proud. Their presentation, despite imperfect, blew most standard indie brand away, in my opinion.

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Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit www.zoologistperfumes.com or www.facebook.com/zoologistperfumes for more info!

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