The Stories Behind Zoologist Perfumes (Part 5)

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At the Art and Olfaction Award on May 7th, AIX Museum, Los Angeles

On April 14th 2016, Luca Turin reviewed Zoologist Bat and gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. I emailed the good news to Ellen Covey, the perfumer of Bat, and she replied, “I think Bat is a rare case of all the stars aligning just right (no pun intended!).”

Bat, unintentionally and unexpectedly, airlifted me to pass several milestones that I didn’t even set for myself and my fragrance house. Shortly after Luca’s review (whom I idolize), I had got a notification from the Art and Olfaction Award 2016 that Bat was a final candidate to win the Independent category – and win it did, beating 8 other candidates!

I remember fondly that shortly after Ellen had initiated the collaboration via email, she won the 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan category for her scent, “Woodcut”. We had not even started the project yet, but I thought, wow, that’s pretty amazing.

The Bat project started when summer began. In the first set of prototypes, one stood out – the one when I first smelled it, I burst out in uncontrollable laughter. It smelled like a cave. A scary, hollow cave. I showed it to my friend, who loved perfumes, and she said, “wow, what a perfumer! How did she do that? But how are you going to turn it into a perfume that people want to wear?”

And so we spent the summer designing and fine-tuning the perfume, until we reached revision cycle 7, and we both agreed that was a dead-end. Summer was ending and Ellen had to go back to university to teach, and I said let’s use version 6B – it opened with some tropical fruits and banana notes, not too sweet, then moved on to a wet, damp, earthy cave full of minerals, and ended with leather, furry musk and vetiver.

Just before the launch, I wore it to work and a coworker asked, “Did the kitchen pipe burst? It smells mouldy here.” I sighed, but I clenched my fist and thought, “There’s no turning back. Let’s launch it on New Year’s Eve.”

I started sending samples to reviewers, and on Christmas Eve, Miguel Matos, a Fragrantica journalist, messaged me, “I am in ecstasy.” I replied, “Do you like it?” “Like it? I am madly stunned. This is not perfume, it’s a work of art.”

I know Bat is a scent not for most people, and I have read polarizing reviews. But in a recent conversation with a storeowner in Dubai, he told me that Bat was their bestseller, because Arabs in the 70s were poor, and they lived in wood huts and caves. Bat reminded them of their old days and history. And so, this proves that there’s no universal great or bad perfume.

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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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