Blackbird, formerly a menswear clothing store based in Seattle, WA, has morphed into a design studio and perfume house in 2015 with 9 fragrances that reportedly took 9 years to research. They are: Triton, Pipe Bomb, Mizuchi, Hallow, Tinderbox, Iroko, Moto Oud, The Wendol, and Zola Jesus Taiga X Blackbird...
Founder Nicole Miller was interested in particular by so-called "progressive" fragrances wanting to explore the cutting-edge of the perfume industry. The result is characterized as defining a perfume style which "is transportive and modern, yet easy to wear."
The palette of notes reveal a predilection for cold, mineral, metallic and incensey notes contrasted with warmer, especially smoky notes. The note of oud is offered due homage with three perfumes containing it.
There is a manisfest love for real-world smells incorporated into fine blends, which sometimes recall the advances made by Comme des Garçons with notes such as ink, blueprint, paper, nails - a "progressive" lineage which was reprised more recently and systematically by Byredo in particular. Unlike Demeter however, the scents aim to blur the references to reality to create a self-referential personality.
Another aspect of the new fragrance house is the way in which they like to mix futuristic and primitive imaginings, going from outer space to the Neanderthals' caves.
Triton edp: violet leaf, iris root, cedar, aldehyde, incense, mimosa, carrot seed, dry amber, vetiver, styrax, black pepper.
Pipe Bomb edp: salt water, metal, amber. The composition shows a work on slow, delayed diffusion and development.
"At first, all you can smell is a faint spark; something sharp and bright leading down the fuse to a fragrant explosion. Literally, this perfume starts very quiet and takes about ten minutes for the fuse to burn down."
It's smells like the oddity that is a wet firecracker burning, even odder if bottled,
"Like an underwater firecracker bundled with incense, light saltwater notes meld with hot metal to create an inviting, warm glove that shapes differently to fit each wearer's hand. Legal in all 50 states."
Mizuchi edp: ink, paper, mild tobacco, dry woods.
Hallow edp: incense, benzoin, frankincense, oud, marzipan.
Tinderbox edp: fresh cut cedarwood, metal, white pepper is perhaps the one most about the Seattle lifestyle,
"Tinderbox speaks to our home, the Pacific Northwest, and to our affection for manual labor laden with hammers, saws, screwdrivers and nails. Not far from the hypnotic scent of a sawmill sawing through freshly cut cedar trees, only closer to our modern urbane world. Guaranteed to start fires."
Iroko edp: sandalwood, teak, dry cedar.
Moto Oud edp: oud, leather, burnt rubber, spice. This attempts to renew the oud genre. The royalty allusion might be more an allusion to the Middle East sense of luxury than to the simple life in Seattle, arguably,
"Said to smell like a broken down motorcycle in the desert, in our rendition of the popular oud fragrance, warm and sappy oud wood melds with the scent of a motorcycle, from its leather saddle bags to smell of burnt rubber tires. Soft but with a seductive edge, balanced and lasting, Moto Oud is a robust woody fragrance fit for royalty."
The Wendol edp: vetiver, rain, dirt, moss.
"Neanderthals once dwelled in deep caves garbed in the pelts of bears, rarely vacating their dark abode. Outside the caves, thick mist coated sodden dirt and grass for miles around. Those beasts to which we refer have all but ceased to exist. Fortunately for those longing for a real sense of adventure absent from city life, we present The Wendol, a perfume that contains all the mud, bones, pride, and pelts of our savage ancestors. Dig in."
Zola Jesus Taiga X Blackbird edp: Guaiacwood, Teak, Oud, Copaiba Balsam, Indian Frankincense, Cedar, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, Choya Loban, Nagarmotha, Omani Frankincense, Sandalwood, Green Peppercorn, Smoke, Oak, Cistus, Ambrette, Myrrh, Davana, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, Caraway, Opopanax.
This is a collaboration with singer Zola Jesus and names her album, Taiga. The scent is about,
"...the ancient scent of smoke born from the first fire. Taiga honors the lineage of our nomadic ancestors who traversed the far corners of our world in isolation, living in perfect communion with nature. Taiga represents the sovereignty of the woods and stone, the burning curiosity of human nature, and man's responsibility for the fate of our changing earth."
This type of perfume house creation continues to show how the United States are a vibrant scene for indie fragrance labels, with points of view to express in perfumery form as one of the arts.
Prices: $38 for a 10 ml roll-on; $88 for a 30 ml spray; $5 for a 1 ml sample.