The Stories Behind Zoologist Perfumes (Part 3)

Breakfast Television Montreal, Nov 1st, 2016

Just a month ago, The New York Times ran an article on the rise of animalic perfumes and Zoologist Beaver and Bat were mentioned. Such publicity had created a little ripple effect and a Toronto trend spotter contacted me and asked me to send her a few bottles ASAP to be shown on Breakfast Television Montreal. In the show, the handsome TV host, while holding a bottle of Beaver, jokingly said, “I have never smelled a beaver before, I don’t know what it smells like. Have you?” The next night, comedian Chris Hardwick also made fun of Beaver in his TV show, Midnight. I told the trend spotter that I didn’t find his skit that funny, and she asked, “Was the beaver joke lost on you? How long have you been in Canada?”

Oh dear, I know the beaver joke. In fact, I wanted such publicity in the very beginning, but it didn’t happen till three years later. I wanted people to have a giggle looking at the bottle but also love the scent as much as I loved Kiehl’s Original Musk, the scent that inspired me to start an animalic perfume line.

I remember receiving the first prototypes of Beaver from Chris Bartlett in a silver bubble envelope in the mail. My heart was beating so fast as I opened the package… and they were completely not what I expected, and I panicked. (He stated that he would only make two revisions for me and these starter mods really worried me.) I’d expected my perfumes to smell like perfumes that I liked, but what I got was something that I didn’t realize exist – indie perfumes. (Andy Tauer actually started off as an indie perfumer but he was one of the very few pioneers who succeeded to become a popular niche brand. If you have watched enough Youtube reviews, you might notice some people are crazy about his works and some who completely don’t.)

Opens like some light floral fresh air then aggressively turns animalic and musky and smoky, this unusual scent, was Chris’ interpretation of a beaver as a perfume: fresh ozone and linden blossom notes represent the cold wilderness, fresh water note and iris represent the river, woody notes and smoke and ash represent the beaver lodge, and castoreum and vanilla represent the beaver butt. I had never smelled anything like it and neither did the world.

It is easy to dismiss Chris’ creation when his scent is so radical and new perfumes are released every two seconds. In fact, I didn’t know how to appreciate it until enough perfumers had told me how skillful Chris was; people didn’t like it not because it’s badly mixed, it’s just that it’s not their cup of tea.

Fast forward two years, I was chatting with Chris on Facebook, and I asked him if he ever recalled receiving a decant of Kiehl’s Original Musk from me, so that he could use it as a reference. He said yes, but he intentionally ignored it. I didn’t get upset, because “I got it” now, in fact, I am glad that he had stuck to his guns and insisted on his creation. Perhaps his unique indie style, artistic integrity or stubbornness, combined with my lack of experience as a perfume producer/director in the beginning, unintentionally set the direction for Zoologist, turning it into a perfume house that people often refer it as, “niche within a niche”, “artistic and creative”, “I love/hate them all”.

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 or for more info!

3 thoughts on “The Stories Behind Zoologist Perfumes (Part 3)”

  1. I own and love the original Beaver, and was hoping you would discuss the reasons behind the reformulation and the differences in the notes. I assume it was not selling well?


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