October 23, 2017
James Elliot of Filagree Perfumes
With over 2300 new perfume releases in 2016 alone, it is no wonder that fragrance fatigue can set in very fast. At about the 200th tester this year, I found myself in a scented fugue-state, unable to recall or remember previous scents and crawling towards ambivalence (gasp!). Inevitably something comes along to shake me from my perfumed torpor. This time all credit goes to Seattle natural perfumer, nose, and fragrance “super-collider” James Elliot of Filigree Perfumes with his amazing new 100% natural/vegan white floral Eau de Parfum Unequal. It should be at the very top of your “must try” list.
Holly Herndon via the wire.com.uk©
Filigree perfumes are all inspired by musicians and music, and for Unequal the impetus is the music of Holly Herndon an American composer, musician, and “sound artist” based in San Francisco. Holly is a doctoral student at Stanford University studying composition and her work is primarily computer-based and often uses the visual programming language Max/MSP to create both custom instruments and vocal processes. Hers is the complex music of the future.
Holly Herndon Home still from video
“My first exposure to Holly Herndon’s work was the video for her song “Home” in 2014. I had instant chills absorbing the audio and video. Her album “Platform” was released a year later and I listened to it with equal devotion.
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot installation Clinamen at the Victoria MoMA in Australia.©
When I first heard “Unequal,” I was reminded of the time I randomly wandered into a gallery and discovered an exhibit by the artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot called Clinamen. The entirety of the gallery space was dedicated to porcelain bowls floating on water in wading pools. The bowls would randomly float toward one another, creating beautiful tones with their delicate collisions. It was like church to me. Then one morning I was listening to “Unequal” as I passed a lilac bush in full bloom. The song structures became floral tones that randomly touched and then moved apart. A louder fight, a harder fight for one, as one. A pure floral fragrance inspired by with notes of gardenia, honeysuckle, lilac, lily, jonquil, and violet. The shape of our future, to be unafraid, to break away.” -James Elliot, Filigree Perfumes
Still of Kim Novack’s hands holding flowers in Vertigo 1958
When I first heard and wrote about Filigree Perfumes on a visit to Seattle Niche Perfume and Beauty Boutique House Of Vartan in January of this year, I knew I was discovering a first-class natural perfumer in Seattle hometown-boy James Elliot and his thrilling creations. Unequal is an over-the-top white floral and is proof positive that small Indie natural perfumers can more than hold their own when running with the big dogs. Although here in the Northern Hemisphere the days are drawing in and winter is right around the corner, Unequal is a joyous hymn to the glories of Spring, specifically Jonquils, Lilac, and Lilies.
Scene from Vertigo Kim Novack in Podesta Baldocci Flowershop
The quintessential florist of my childhood, downtown San Francisco’s Podesta Baldocci remains one of my fragrance touchstones to this day. A landmark since the 1800’s and featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal film “Vertigo”, pushing through the door to the shop and walking into that floral wonderland was pure magic to me. The opening of Filigree’s Unequal is that same sensation, akin to burying your face in an armful of spring flowers. The initial blast of cool, clean, and sharp-as-a-whip cold air and nearly swooning from the overt pure “floral-ness” scent bombarding your senses; it’s the whole bouquet, lush, alluring, and drippingly sexy.
Scene from Vertigo James Stewart in Podesta Baldocci Flowershop
Eventually the indole moves in giving that fattened buttery-ripe vibe, a touch of skank to cut the florid overload, before settling down to a scent that drifts and wanders like a slow and languid stroll through a green and white floral-strewn pasture. The smell of Jonquils nodding in the sunlight, the cool perfumed lilac bush, the blowsy and heady lilies growing next to a cool brook, it’s all there and it’s all nothing short of exquisite.
Vertigo Mirror Scene Kim Novack and James Stewart
Not a scent for the faint of heart, this is a white-floral lover’s wet dream, at times virtuous and pure, but always just a short step from the dark side. Unequal is what happens to Chanel’s Gabrielle after two years of protein drinks and CrossFit. A perfume that is pumped-up, beautiful, buff, and badass.
Notes: gardenia accord, honeysuckle, hyacinth accord, lily accord, lilac accord, jonquil, violet
Due to the high cost of the materials and producing this elixir, the initial run of Unequal EdP will only be about twenty 15 ml bottles each at $199.00 Buy one. The bottles are available exclusively on the Filigree website HERE. We hear that more might be made in the future. To learn more about James be sure to revisit his Profiles in American Perfumery Article here.
Disclosure: Thank you SO much to James Elliot for supplying my sample. The opinions are my own.
–Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor
-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
Thanks to Perfumer James Elliot and Filigree Perfumes, we have one hand-poured 10 ml. decant of Unequal for one registered reader In the USA, so be sure to register if you have not done so. To be eligible please let us know what appeals to you about Robert’s review of Unequal, if you are familiar with either the music of Holly Herndon or the movie Vertigo and if you are a fan of BIG BAD-ASS florals. Draw closes on 10/26/2017