If there were a dimmer switch on a perfume's notes, allowing you to turn the lights down and saturate its colors, perfumer Cécile Zaroakian has used it with Private Label. Connoisseurs of leather scents will want to flock to this brooding yet seductive perfume.
A vetiver leather dosed with patchouli and papyrus sedge, followed by a creamy, woodsy base, Private Label is bone dry and only lightly sweetened yet soft and seductive. Papyrus sedge adds a kind of vegetal bitterness to the already challenging and austere vetiver/leather combination. This formidable accord is balanced by the rich, buttery base of sandalwood and vanillic labdanum (cistus).
/Described by Jovoy François Hénin as his ideal Oriental scent, he continues that it is “the archetypal parfum de sillage: it leaves a distinct trail while remaining consistent over time.” Earthy, elegant, and stunning, Private Label is sure to appeal to vetiver and leather lovers, as well as any perfumista who wants to walk on the dark side. With notes of papyrus, vetiver, leather, patchouli, sandalwood and cistus labdanum.
An excerpt of a review from Kafkaesque:
Mad Max in black leather, burning up the roads. A bomb blast that left bubbling, tarry, rubbery asphalt. Vetiver on steroids, then nuked with napalm. Peppermints and candy canes at Christmas. Peaty single-malt Scotch, and aged cognac. The quiet, firm, confident masculinity of Gary Cooper or Rhett Butler which hides a sensitive heart. And, beatnik patchouli from the 1960s “Summer of Love.”
Each and every time I smell Private Label from afar, my immediate first impression is peppermints. To be precise: twisted, deranged, napalm-smoked, nuclear, apocalyptic, smoked peppermints in the middle of the snowiest pine forest somewhere in Siberia. It’s an impression that I can’t shake off, and it’s one I generally like.
When I smell Private Label up close it has a consistent structural backbone of burnt rubber and bubbling tar from a hot, melting asphalt road. The note is there in Private Label’s development from start to finish, varying only in its prominence, order of appearance, or forcefulness. It is always mentholated and camphorous, with a subtext of eucalyptus and peppermints, but also of sharp smoke and burnt rubber. Whenever I think that it has been tamed by patchouli, whenever I think that Private Label has been softened with labdanum amber and a big splash of aged cognac, I’ll smell another part of my arm, and that rubbery, Mad Max, medicinal, burnt napalm smell will suddenly pop back up.
Private Label lists “leather” in its notes and, yes, the fragrance is often summarized as a vetiver-leather fragrance. To me, however, that description doesn’t tell the whole story. On my skin, Private Label isn’t a leather fragrance so much as it is birch tar one. There is a huge difference to my mind. Huge. Birch tar is a resinous extract that has been traditionally used to coat and treat rawhide and, as such, the camphorous, pine-y, phenolic, sometimes sulphurous ingredient is often used in perfumery to replicate the aroma of a certain type of black “leather.” The perfume is a vetiver scent in many ways, but it is vetiver transformed into one living in Mad Max’s world, a scent that the Road Warrior would wear with its uncompromising smoke, tar, asphalt, and rubber facets. If any of you love the toughness of Robert Piguet‘s vintage Bandit and the birch tar smoke of Andy Tauer‘s Lonestar Memories, but want both taken up a notch and infused with smoked vetiver, then Jovoy’s Private Label is for you.
The core essence of Private Label doesn’t change for hours on end. All that happens is a fluctuation in the prominence of certain notes, and a dropping of the fragrance’s sillage. After 60-minutes, Private Label hovers about 3 inches above my skin; by the end of the fourth hour, it is a skin scent, though it remains extremely potent when sniffed up close. The prominence of the smoke elements varies, with the birch tar seeming softer and more manageable for a brief period around the second hour. Then, suddenly, at the start of the third hour, Private Label somehow seems even smokier! Though the mentholated notes are much less, the vetiver has overtaken the birch tar as the dominant element, and my word, is it dark! I’ve never encountered vetiver that is quite so smoked. This is not smooth vetiver like in Chanel’s Sycomore, but some sort of mutant hybrid created in a peaty bonfire. The vetiver continues to dominate the rest of Private Label’s development. All in all, it consistently lasted over 12 hours on my skin, with soft sillage but sharp notes.
I generally believe that all fragrances are unisex in nature, but I think Private Label definitely skews more masculine. However, I think that there is a narrow group of people who may very much enjoy Private Label: men and women who adore vetiver, but who also love birch tar, smoky fragrances, mentholated eucalyptus blends, and black leather notes. For me, it’s as though Andy Tauer’s Lonestar Memories and Naomi Goodsir‘s Bois d’Ascece had a swingers’ orgy with bucketfuls of tarry cade, a very hippie Woodstock patchouli, Santa Claus’ peppermint-eucalyptus muscle rub, Olivier Durbano‘s Black Tourmaline, and Serge Lutens‘ Fille en Aiguilles. Nine months later, the baby that resulted was Private Label.
On Fragrantica, guys seem to love Private Label, calling it a fragrance that is unapologetically masculine, or perfect for a true vetiver lover. Take one commentator, “Alfarom,” who writes:
Probably my favorite among this line…at least so far.
A no-compromise, extremely woody-earthy, peatchouli-vetiver concoction enriched by warm leathery undertones (castoreum?) and dry sandalwood facets. What’s not to like? Absolutely assertive and straight forward. It has an overall “familiar” vibe which I can’t currently put my finger on but the general feel of the composition, is of something “pushed to the limits”.
If you like unapologetic, masculine, dark-&-dry fragrances, you have to try this.
Outstanding projection and extremely good lasting power.
Others echo his words and general impression:
- Probably one of the most true to life vetiver fragrances out there. the leather creates something dark and smoky that is balanced by a good dose of sandalwood.
- One of the best fragrances money can buy, fullstop.
- As if a sandalwood/champaca/patchouli incense stick has been liquefied. Resinous, smoky and altogether as perfectly done as any fragrance can get. There is a hint of sweetness that makes me reminisce of another fragrance, but I can’t put my finger on which one it is. Guaic wood isn’t mentioned but it seems to make an appearance.
- A very sexy, dry and smoky vetiver. This is a fragrance for true vetiver lovers. Very well balanced and a truly finished product. Excellent sillage and longevity. This one is a 10 out of 10 for me.