I'm still happily working my way through a handful of sample vials from the independent perfumery 4160Tuesdays, and my latest crush from this house is Tart's Knicker Drawer, a "floriental amber" with top notes of bergamot, orange, grapefruit and pink peppercorn; heart notes of raspberry, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, cedarwood, violet, tuberose and guiacwood; and basenotes of amber, musk, vanilla, benzoin and tobacco.
"Tart's knicker drawer" is the phrase that 4160Tuesdays founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney's grandmother used to describe women who wore too much perfume (and whose behavior was therefore questionable); McCartney created this fragrance after she'd spent a long day in her lab and was scented with the traces of six different perfumes-in-progress. When she tweeted, “I'm about to get in the E3 bus smelling like a tart's boudoir,” she got so many enthusiastic responses ("Can I buy some?!") that she decided to concoct a proper perfume inspired by the experience.
Fortunately, Tart's Knicker Drawer doesn't actually smell like a haphazard mélange of six perfumes, yet it does harken back to an era when an excess of perfume (or bold makeup, or short skirts) connoted loose morals. It feels "retro," and it's not brash but it's not shy, either. Despite all that variety in the list of notes, Tart's Knicker Drawer is primarily a smooth blend of powdery violet over silky resins. I also notice hints of something iris-like that works nicely with the cedar, and a slightly sharp musk that evokes the animalic basenotes of many vintage fragrances. (Am I also smelling some ambergris, perhaps?) I've read some online reviews complaining about Tart's longevity, but on my skin it has excellent staying power. During one wearing, it even outlasted a quick shower.
As you may already guess, I'd recommend Tart's Knicker Drawer to anyone who loves contemporary face powder/lipstick accord perfumes like Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, Chanel Misia, or even Love, Chloé and is ready to try something just a little quirkier and more vintage-feeling. Conversely, if you like the idea of violet-y vintage florals like Balenciaga Le Dix but you don't feel you can quite carry them off, this lighter-hearted variation on that theme may be what you're looking for. I'll be finishing my sample and possibly plotting a purchase of a small bottle of Tart's Knicker Drawer, and in the meantime, I'm really going to hope that someone asks me what I'm wearing, on the bus or anywhere else. No judgements, please.
4160Tuesdays Tart's Knicker Drawer is available as 50 ml ($90) and 100 ml ($130) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for 4160Tuesdays under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image is Model with Flapper Pillow and Pointy Shoes [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.