Sometimes I imagine perfume creation can be likened to an episode of Master Chef: you’ve got a highly skilled, passionate individual who just wants to cook without confines. But there’s a few potholes in the road to creative fulfilment: a panel of judges to impress (who’s tastes might differ from your own), finite access to raw materials and a bottom line that the finished product has to feel somewhat commercial – it’s got to appeal to the masses. But what would happen if you let those cooks go free, with no one to impress but themselves and a limitless supply of the world’s finest produce?
Such is the concept (kind of) that led to A.N. Other Fragrance – a perfume brand that gives some of the world’s finest perfumers no brief, no guidelines and no budget, allowing them to create their version of olfactive perfection. But I hear you say, wow, they must cost a small fortune, right? The short of it is no. Lack of marketing, story-telling, or other non-essentials (“gimmicks, mood stories, travel tales, or inflated brand egos,” to use the brand’s words) keep them all below $150 AUD. The result is a family of gender-neutral scents that feel niche but wearable all at once. Furthermore, the brand champions sustainable practice, with each formula being vegan, cruelty-free and housed in an almost completely recyclable vessel.
Working in the business of beauty, it takes a lot for me to feel wildly excited by a scent. I am also silly for a potion from Le Labo or Byredo or Frederic Malle, making me the toughest of critics. But I was quite literally knocked off my pedestal (couch) when these landed on my desk (kitchen bench). They feel like a fresh take on perfume and an accessible way to enjoy the wonder that is niche fragrance. And while I’m a sucker for a brand story, the lack thereof in this instance feels just as exciting.
Read my thoughts on the lineup (that just launched at Mecca) below.
A.N. OTHER FL/2018 PARFUM
Is FL/2018 sweet or is it spicy? By some kind of black magic, it’s both, thanks to the pairing of aged leather, cotton candy and jasmine. It’s a scent that feels sexy and unusual, like it knows something you don’t. I would call it a fitting entry point for those who feel overpowered by woody redolence, or a roughed-up version of an all-appealing sweet floral. While not as deep and esoteric as Santal 33, it has that similar, “who are you and what are you wearing” quality.
A.N. OTHER OR/2018 PARFUM
OR/2018 is warm and vanilla-y but not clichéd. An oriental by definition, it feels more like a place than a profile. Imagine the way Cindy Crawford would smell in her husband’s cashmere, by an open fire on a clear Malibu night, sipping on a crystal tumbler of expensive whisky. Maybe she was baking cookies earlier and it’s still in the air. Anyway, it’s the perfect sweet, warm, spicy (but not saccharine) scent. Yum.
A.N. OTHER WD/2018 PARFUM
WD/2018 feels lush and expensive and well-rounded, like an exclusive wellness retreat or an overgrown garden somewhere in the South of France. Pear, cardamom and sandalwood come together to create a fragrance that doesn’t shout, but more or less smiles at you from across the room. It’s not too bold or punchy, just the perfect woody middle ground.
A.N. OTHER FR/2018 PARFUM
FR/2018 is described as fizzy gin and frankly, the description couldn’t be more apt. On impact, it seems effervescent, like it’s vibrating inside the vessel. With top notes of melon pop rocks, grapefruit zest and G&T, it’s light and citrus-y and just a little bit metallic. This is the kind of gin cocktail that comes at $36 a pop in a 5-star hotel bar. But better.