Ostens is a new brand with a boutique in London that has created quite a lot of buzz. Reasonably priced – edts range from £85 – 145, but oils cost less; made by star perfumers such as Dominique Ropion and with minimalist presentation, I can imagine these fragrances becoming successful.
Patchouli I is a subtle, yet warm and powdery ciste labdanum and gentle patchouli creation melded to lavandin, lavender absolute and rosemary : ‘Melting wax ; resinous dust from a violin’s old bow. Old bricks, decorative tiles….’ :: it has quite an affecting presence.
Impression Patchouli II is barely there, with its iris resinoid and violet leaf absolute and cypress oil, but has a delicate, natural attenuation to it I can imagine adding an aura of questioning introversion ( ‘look inside’) when the person wearing it walks into a room. Almost too muted to make any real ‘impression’, it is this pure quality, like a breath of fresh air through a window in a white room, that will appeal to certain individuals.
The florals are much bolder. Jasmine Absolute- intense, almost verging on hysteria, is all high notes and indole: ylang ylang, davana and a strangely animalic yet not animalic jasmine note with a ‘sandalwood mineralic accord’ that on myself I find slightly offputting but which would undoubtedly make quite a mesmerizing entrance on the right skin ( or sprayed on a cotton floral dress). Definitely worth trying if you are a jasmine fiend constantly in such of your next fix, this is, I would say, a ‘young’ white floral, like Parfumerie Wilhelm’s Don’t Tell Jasmine (they would make quite a hilariously kooky duo, actually – stumbling self-consciously late into fashion events together) : bright, vervy, and optimistic.
Rose Isparta, the most expensive of the collection, is similarly upbeat and fresh : very much a morning with clear blue skies when you close the door behind you, take a deep breath of rain-cleared ozone and sunshine, and, locking the door behind you make your way breezily into the city. With rose Isparta, a very present Turkish rose with hints of lychee, this deliciously lighthearted first impression cedes to a peppery, woody base that reminds me of ginger – nice, clean, but it is that top accord that is the most addictive.
Cashmeran Velvet will work well with the Santal 33 crowd – a similar scent at a much cheaper price, warm and sensual, with vanilla at the heart, part of the current popularity for affable, clinging woody perfumes that work easily on either sex; Cedarwood Heart reminds me of an old Lynx deodorant I used to have ; with green notes of cardamom, violet leaf and bergamot, this clashes interestingly with the Virginia cedar, orris and patchouli base, and is curiously erotic.
All in all, though none of these perfumes light my inner fire exactly ( they all have a pared down, almost muffled simplicity that is probably too well behaved for my savage self), I would still wear a couple – the rose for sure – and happily smell them on my friends or on strangers. This, in the age of offensively brash and ugly perfumes amounts to high praise. Unpretentious, well made and decently priced for once, Ostens strikes me as quite a pleasing new house : perfumes that are not dredging the antiquity for inspiration, nor desperately overconceptualizing – just fine smelling.