June 10, 2010
I discovered Xerjoff fragrances about a year ago and was sent samples of the entire line at the time by the company. Xerjoff was positioning themselves to be the ultra-luxe Italian fragrance equivalent to Amouage and their French-Middle Eastern influences. Of this initial group of fragrances I admired the quality of all of them. As with Amouage when you sniff a Xerjoff fragrance the quality is evident in the ingredients and that helps makes these fragrances stand out.
Back then, there were two fragrances that really stood out for me one was Xerjoff Homme. Xerjoff Homme is one of the finest leather fragrances I’ve worn and the quality of the birch tar used to make the leather come alive is really amazing. The other that caught my attention was Kobe. Kobe benefited from the luxury a perfumer has when using quality ingredients to allow for a slow development and, from citrus to woody amber, it felt like a true indulgence. Both of these fragrances were composed by Robertet perfumer Jacques Flori as was the majority of the earlier collection. The hard thing about these fragrances was as good as I thought they were they were very difficult to find. The availability problem has been solved, especially in the last couple of months, as Xerjoff has started a significant US presence with a redesigned website and availability through online retailers like Luckyscent.
Now these fragrances can be tried by any who are curious. There are twenty fragrances in the Xerjoff line, currently, and they are all worth sampling as I think there is at least one that will please any perfumista in the line. I am going to focus on the two most recent releases from December 2009, Oroville and Oesel.
Oroville and Oesel are both part of the Shooting Stars collection within Xerjoff. This collection was inspired by a meteor shower in Siberia in 1947 where a trail of meteor fragments were left behind and collected. All of the names of the fragrances in the Shooting Star collection are of places that have had a meteoric event. As part of the presentation of these fragrances a piece of that “shooting star”, the Sikhote-Alin Meteorite, comes with every gift box. I rarely comment on the bottles of the fragrances I review but the bottles for the Xerjoff fragrances are really amazing pieces of art from Murano glass to etched Tuscan glass to bronze sculpted bottles the containers are as much an indulgence as the fragrances inside.
I’ve seen this advertised a Tobacco Oroville as if one needed to be told this had tobacco in it. I’m not sure who thought that needed to be done because Oroville is nothing if not a tobacco centered fragrance. The beginning is something very different as Christian Rostain, the nose, chooses to open Oroville with a mix of clary sage, orange blossom and neroli. Usually orange blossom and neroli carry a bright and sparkly nature to them. M. Rostain manages to take those notes and make them a tad more intense and thus enhance the floral nature. This is one of the most indolic nerolis I’ve tested and that is only right because it is a white flower but M. Rostain has managed to make that indole nature come to the foreground. Along with the clary sage the initial moments of Oroville don’t have me waiting for the tobacco. This is a good thing because, as I mentioned before, all of the Xerjoff fragrances develop at an almost languid pace. This pace allows for the wearer to really experience each phase of development as a distinct entity.
The heart of Oroville is the tobacco and it is that narcotic dried leaf version of tobacco; slightly woody and intense. It is paired with carnation and the clove aspect that brings adds spicy contrast before galbanum picks up on the woody quality of the tobacco and enhances it. The transition into the base allows for a lightening of the mood as a sheer white musk opens the finish before vanilla and amber come along to lend a slightly sweet finish picking up on the sweetness inherent in the remains of the tobacco accord still present. M. Rostain has done a nice job at getting the most out of all of his ingredients and Oroville is a beautiful dark star.
Richard Melchio is the nose behind Oesel and you almost feel that at least at the beginning he and M. Rostain were working adjacent to each other.
Where M. Rostain chose to take his orange blossom and neroli and accentuate the more intense aspects; Sig. Melchio instead takes his orange flowers and pours the sunlight in as he pairs it with petitgrain which adds some heft but doesn’t diminish the sparkle. Again the similarity to Oroville comes as Sig. Melchio uses tobacco flower as the core of the heart of Oesel and this is the lighter, brighter counterpart to the full tobacco leaf accord from Oroville. The tobacco flower in Oesel adds a hint of the narcotic tobacco quality but paired with greenness and in combination with rose, jasmine, and acacia it makes for a floral heart that never becomes cloying because of the presence of the tobacco flower. The base really adds a woody foundation of sandalwood and cedar bolstered by patchouli. The creamy sandalwood and clean cedar are complementary to the remaining floral notes particularly the jasmine and acacia. Oesel is a bright shining star.
All of the Xerjoff fragrances are Eau de Parfum strength and they have outstanding longevity and sillage.
The whole line of Xerjoff fragrances are what perfumery at this ultra-luxe level should be about; quality ingredients, artistic attempts, artistic bottles, and memorable fragrances. Oroville and Oesel are excellent examples of all of this.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Xerjoff and Luckyscent.
-Mark Behnke, Managing Editor