Six Scents Series Three Ascent and #087 ~ fragrance review

Six Scents Series Three Fragrance 4 Ascent

I was intrigued by the Series One debut collection from the Six Scents Fragrance Initiative when it was released in 2008, and I purchased Smells Like Teen Spirit (a collaboration between perfumer Mark Buxton and designer duo Preen) and wore it with pleasure for the next year or so. I somehow missed out on Series Two; last fall and winter was a chaotic time for me, so it may have just slipped past me. I've been much more aware of Series Three, although I'm not as familiar with the fashion participants this time around; on the other hand, most of the perfumers' names were familiar to me right away. Two of the of fragrances from this group that piqued my interest, in particular, were Fragrance 4 and Fragrance 5.

Fragrance 4, Ascent (shown above), is a collaboration between fashion designer Rad Hourani and perfumer Christophe Raynaud, with notes of pear, violet leaf, ylang ylang, rose, cedar, leather, incense, powdery musks, tonka bean and benzoin. This fragrance fascinates me because it has evolved differently nearly every time I've worn it over the past week. One time, it shifted quickly from greenish violet leaf to powder to dirtied leather and musk, as sequentially as a stop-action film of the sun rising and setting, or — as articulated by Hourani and Raynaud for the "childhood" theme of this series — a transition from infancy to adulthood. Another time, it was mostly baby powder with musk, like a slightly deeper cousin to I Profumi di Firenze Talco Delicato. And the last time I wore it, the watery green top note was followed by a clean leather note, and then a sensual rose note emerged from a base of smoky powder. Hourani is known for his androgynous "transforming" garments (zippered black-on-black layers, jackets that can be turned into vests, etc.), so maybe it's fitting that Ascent has been so varied on my skin. (It would also intrigue lovers of the naughty-classic Molinard Habanita.)

Six Scents Series Three Fragrance 5 #087

Fragrance 5, #087, is a collaboration between fashion design label N. Hoolywood and perfumer Stephen Nilsen, with notes of hiba tree, sugi leaves, green cypress, motor oil, salty-icy water accord, nutmeg, rosemary, hinoki wood, sandalwood and fir balsam. Daisuke Obana, the designer behind N. Hoolywood, has gained a cult following for his functional-looking menswear, which brings careful craftsmanship and detail to high-concept interpretations of uniforms and workwear; his memories of certain Japanese locations and Japanese foliage were the inspiration behind Nilsen's composition. For me, #087 starts off as a very leafy, piney fragrance; at first, it almost seemed too much like a sophisticated conifer-scented candle or room spray, but then it opened up to release the "salty-icy water" accord. I've never seen a hinoki or sugi tree, or been to the Kurobe Dam, but this contrast of dense greenery and cold, fresh air and water seems uncannily realistic. The fragrance's base is a polished, slightly sweet take on sandalwood and the wood of the above-mentioned trees, with the scent of the trees' leaves and needles continuing and deepening a bit. A fragrance like this one falls outside my familiar floral zone, but I found it unexpectedly calming and yet invigorating at the same time. In a video interview for this project, Obana expressed the wish for a fragrance that could provide the inhabitants of busy cities with a mental space for relaxation. I'm a city-dweller, and this idea makes total sense to me.

Have you tried these or any other fragrances from Six Scents' Series Three? Feel free to share your impressions in the comments section.

Six Scents Series Three Fragrance 4 Ascent and Fragrance 5 #087 are available in 50 ml Eau de Toilette ($149). A portion of the proceeds will be donated to War Child International. For buying information, see the listing for Six Scents under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Dolly2 says:

    Jessica-I’d love to try the Ascent. Great description.

    • Jessica says:

      Dolly2, I need to try it yet again, to see what happens! I usually enjoy powdery notes, and this fragrance is more gender-neutral than most of the powdery ones I own, but I’m so intrigued by it.

  2. krokodilgena says:

    I’ve tried No. 2 from Series Two (Ende/Anfang) and I really like it but the lasting power is horrible, on me at least :(

    Rad Hourani is one of my favorite designers so I really want to try Ascent, and #087 interests me as well.
    I still want to try Gareth Pugh’s from Series One (No. 4?) too XD

    • Jessica says:

      Krok, I didn’t know anything about R Hourani until this series was released, but now I really like his designs! I think you can still get most of Series 1 and 2, if you shop around a bit.

  3. Dolly2 says:

    I haven’t thought of a fragrance in the same terms as you described it- evolving from infancy to adulthood. I suppose mechanically speaking, the first spritz would be infancy, then after 15 or so minutes, childhood, then teenager, young adult,etc., but to actually take smells that evoke that and have them travel from one scent to another piques my curiosity.

    • Jessica says:

      Dolly, R Hourani and C Raynaud have spoken of each note in the composition as a different phase of life… powder for infancy, leather for adulthood, incense for death, etc. … here’s a link to their video!
      It all ties into the series theme of childhood memories. :)

  4. Haunani says:

    Thanks, Jessica! I have not tried any of the Six Scents series. The #5 sounds very special, I think.

    • Jessica says:

      Thanks, H! I’d recommend the N. Hoolywood fragrance to anyone who has been looking for a piney-woody scent that doesn’t smell Ye-Olde-Christmas-Shoppe-ish. It’s quite wearable, and not overwhelming.

  5. rlikestosmell says:

    I have a few from Series 1, but also missed Series 2. I have to say it’s disappointing that the prices jumped so radically. I’m pretty sure that Series 1 was 50 ml for $80. Seems hard to justify a 70 dollar increase in 2 years.

    Part of what made this bizarre line fun was its “semi” affordability. Word to perfumers everywhere: $150 is NOT the new $75. Come back to earth and you will sell more bottles.

    • Jessica says:

      The prices have gone up, it’s true… that seems to be the way of the perfumery world (and the economy?), alas.

  6. Rappleyea says:

    Great review, Jessica – very interesting and enjoyable! I haven’t tried any of these – too many perfumes and too little time! – but I think the charitable aspect is a great and much needed idea.

    • Jessica says:

      You’re right about too many perfumes and too little time, in general! I did find almost all of these interesting, and I’m glad I had access to samples. And, yes, the charitable aspect is very worthwhile.

  7. Tama says:

    Ascent sounds fabulous. The only one I have tried is Solar Donkey Power from the second series. I remember liking it but it has gotten buried in my sample pile.

    • Jessica says:

      Tama, that one certainly had the most memorable name in the whole series! hah. ;)

  8. buzzlepuff says:

    Jessica. I was also very impressed with Series 3 – No. 5 (#87) by Stephen NIlsen. I smell the green woods, the hint of motor oil, some salty sea water – it is strange but comforting.
    Also I want to recommend SS3 – No. 3 “Can’t Smell Fear” by parfumer Natalie Garcia-Cetto. “Can’t Smell Fear” starts as a dry woods and evolves into a light leather scent with some odd musk notes that add an unpredictable facet. It continues to become a very dry cool leather scented musk- worthy of test drive!

    • Jessica says:

      Buzzle, I need to retry No. 3! I remember thinking it was well done when I tested it quickly. Thanks!

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