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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