Hidden Gems: The Perfumes of Ys Uzac

Dear Scent Diary,

I happened upon the Swiss niche perfume house, Ys Uzac, in late 2011 when I was just starting to compile my ‘perfume houses with good sample programs‘ list. Since they offered generous samples of all their fragrances for a reasonable price, I placed them at the top of my list to try. Finally, after almost two years of other more urgent lemmings getting in the way, and prompted by their very interesting sounding new releases, Immortal Beloved and Satin Doll, I tried the line for the first time.photo-1 copyNow, I’m generally not the gushy or declarative type, but just this once, I’m prepared to go beyond my comfort zone. Ys Uzac, I feel is completely underrated or overlooked or both, and are a must-try niche gem. I very rarely hear them talked about and I just plain don’t get it – all their fragrances are interesting, original, high-quality and generally, smell fantastic. It also doesn’t hurt that their packaging is beautiful and their bottles, chic and modern.

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Vincent Micotti and Vera Yeah, co-creators of Ys Uzac.

The house was founded in September 2011 by husband and wife team Vincent Micotti and Vera Yeoh – he an ex-concert musician (which explains the the musical reference in each perfume’s name) and she a designer (which explains the artful packaging). Vincent himself is the house perfumer and prefers to work with a high percentage of natural raw materials. “It is true that all the fragrances have a very high naturals content, and this is mainly because I appreciate working with naturals very much and try to keep close to a style of aesthetics in perfumery I appreciate. But many molecules that aren’t natural are absolute keys in perfumery, of course.” Unknown-6

Born into an artistic family in Lausanne, Switzerland, he has been fascinated by perfume creation since his teenage years. “To sketch an exquisite wonderland with imagination and creativity is my biggest passion in life.”

In my opinion, all six of the fragrances the house offers are worth sampling, but here is a run down of each of them so you may pick and choose as you wish.

Unknown-1Immortal Beloved –  Easily my favourite of the two new releases and probably my favourite of the entire line. It opens with an incredible booziness contrasted with what feels like a dry leathery note. There’s a sweetness in the background thanks to plum and what I interpret as an orange note, as well as a hint of spiciness thanks to some black pepper. As it dries, a butteriness develops and it enters its most gourmand stage. It’s never completely edible as the dry, leathery opening note takes on a buttery sandalwood character that reminds me of Serge Lutens’ Santal Majuscule. If you like that one, Immortal Beloved will most likely steal your heart. Up close, the now boozy, buttery, woody blend has a rough, prickliness to it, but as it starts to project and waft, the outward impression is of smooth, aromatic cognac and sandalwood. Kill me now and I’ll die happy. This would be considered masculine by many but any woman who likes deep, cognac soaked woody perfumes will love this. It projects extremely well and lasts for seven hours, though it becomes faint at around six.

images-5Satin Doll – Their second new release, Ys Uzac describes it as a ‘modern iris chypre’. On my skin, the open is a somewhat abstract blend of fresh florals contrasted nicely with a dry patchouli base. The fragrance sweetens slightly as it develops and after ten minutes becomes dominated by tuberose and jasmine. The white florals are never heady or rich – instead they’re clean and ‘dispersed’ by orris powder, giving it a light, watery effect overall. In terms of being a chypre, Satin Doll doesn’t have an overabundance of oakmoss or the chypre trademark ‘perfumeiness’ – it’s just very feminine, wearable and lovely.  It stays fairly close to the skin and has excellent lasting power. Satin Doll was recognized as being one of the two best perfumes at Esxence 2013.

Pohdaka – Opens fresh and appealing in a very original way. It’s green and herbal, with mint and shiso leaf (smell the adorning greenery on your plate the next time you have sushi) contrasted with tobacco leaf and leather. It’s fresh, minty, bitter, odd and quite wonderful. Best on a man, I’d say, but one of my favourites nonetheless. Very good lasting power.

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Monodie – Opens with a sweet grapefruit note and ends with a sweet grapefruit note. In between, its blended with plum, freesia, rhubarb and green, green galbanum. Overall, it’s a fresh citrus scent that isn’t tart or crisp. The fruit seemed to mascerate on my skin with the sweetness being softened and rounded by the florals – and there’s something about the intensity of the galbanum note that keeps it  pleasantly strange. Once again, unique and lasts 5 – 6 hours.

images-8Metaboles – Opens green and fresh with tomato leaf, ivy and geranium. There’s a hint of an ambery base when it dries down, giving it the overall impression of a fresh, wearable, green and clean fragrance. Completely unisex and pleasingly unlike other green or clean fragrances. This one had the shortest longevity on my skin.

Lale – Opens with familiar notes but is blended in an unfamiliar way. Grapefruit and bergamot come on strong at first, but soon the unique blend of osmanthus, white tea, rose, saffron and apricot combine to create a sweet yet light and gauzy, modern, fresh scent. Amber and incense in the base give it some atmospheric umph. It lasts and projects for 7 hours on my skin and I’m completely charmed for the entire length of it even though fruity florals are not usually my cuppa.

Well done, Vincent. Well done.

images-3Samples are available from the Ys Uzac website for shipping worldwide, as are 50 ml and 100 ml bottles of each fragrance (100 ml bottles only for the new releases). Shipping is free within Europe and possible worldwide, though the new postal regulation headaches make it worthwhile to contact them first to see if there’s a distributor in your country. The North American launch of Immortal Beloved and Satin Doll is still upcoming (consider this a preview if you live on this continent) but the other four fragrances are carried by both Luckyscent and Osswald NYC.

*I requested and was provided a set of samples. This review was not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with the link.

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11 responses to “Hidden Gems: The Perfumes of Ys Uzac

  1. Das

    Odd, strange, wearable, unisex. And boozy :). These are the keywords that have sealed the deal for me. Thank you for bringing this line to our attention. Lately I’ve been lazy and ignoring any line that I didn’t have access to in local stores. I’m really looking forward to checking out the hidden gem you’ve unearthed!

    • Hi Das,
      That’s an oddball collection of words! Glad they helped 🙂 It’s nice to see a brand that’s unafraid to be original, but still manages to stay within modern tastes.

  2. I’ve hear of this brand and it’s available in one of the niche perfumeries in Poland. I remember liking the review of Pohadka written by Birgit at Olfactoria’s Travels.

    • Hi Lucas,
      It sounds like you have very good shopping options in Poland (judging by this and your recent posts :)) I’ll have to read Bridgit’s review!

      • The options are quite nice.
        Plus many things I get come from the swaps with people abroad as many of them are not available in Poland

  3. It’s very true that I do see this and then get distracted by something else! I wonder why . . . maybe it’s because I do read so much about everything else so when I am in the shop, my hand reaches for everything but Ys Uzac. Thanks so much for this post! I won’t pass up the line again.

    • I so envy your perfume browsing options in New York. Sigh. Hope you find something you like!

      • I would be lying if I said that we weren’t very spoiled over here. That being said, there are also a lot we don’t get either (Puredistance, Ormonde Jayne, Jo Loves, I’m looking at you!).

        I hope that I find something I like too! I probably will, that’s the dangerous part 🙂

  4. So far I tried only Pohadka – and it wasn’t my cup of tea (we can still discuss a plate of sushi 😉 ).

    My reason for not trying this line is very simple: I do not buy samples and since nobody I know liked anything from the line enough to buy a bottle I can’t do a swap. But maybe one day I’ll come across these in a store and try them.

    Are you planning to get any of them to wear?

    • Do you really never buy samples, Undina? You do have a vast network of perfume friends so I can see how you’d be able to manage. I’m afraid I can be too impatient and my network too small to avoid buying samples regularly 🙂

      I have put Immortal Beloved on my FB list but I think I’ll wait until 50ml bottles are available at Luckyscent.

      • Last time I bought some samples was a year ago but I bought a bunch of 2.5 ml samples from a member of one of the FB perfume groups so it was at cost. Sometimes (2-3 times a year) I buy 5 ml decants of perfumes I haven’t tried but since I do it through splits they cost only slightly more than 1.5-2 ml sample from a decanter service. Other than that I’m still following my NY resolution for 2012: until I have less than a month-worth untested samples I’m not paying for more (with just a couple exceptions for favorite brands if Iabsolutely have to).

        I still spend money on sampling: decanting supplies, labels and postage are still money but it’s still cheaper than paying to any service.

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