Saturday, July 18, 2009

SOIVOHLE' is inspired

SOIVOHLE' is the perfume line created by Liz Zorn. Soivohle' is an acronym standing for: Sending Out Inspired Vibrations Of Healthy Loving, pronounced “see-vo.”

Liz Zorn is an indie perfumer who is making waves in my perfume wardrobe. I often read other perfumistas lamenting that “such and such new perfume is just ‘meh’ it isn’t different or edgy enough.” Here’s my suggestion: if you want to smell some unusual and difference fragrances, that are obviously made with the highest quality ingredients, get yourself some Soivohle’.

Zorn makes two different perfume lines; a natural line (100% natural without synethics) and a moderne collection (mix of both naturals and some synthetics). Personally, I’ve found treasures from both lines, and I’ve also found the longevity of her fragrances to be very good, especially for the naturals.

Zorn seems fearless. She creates some funky, edgy, artistic perfumes. Soivohle’ scents are breathtakingly realistic and abstract at the same time. I know that might not make sense, but I’m confident it will, once you her smell her work.

GREEN OAKMOSS – from the moderne collection
Green Oakmoss is the fragrance I was most excited to try. Initially, I was concerned it would be bland and flat, because oakmoss is generally used as a basenote, not meant to be the whole ensemble. But this is, indeed, a whole perfume, based upon the idea of the scent of green and oakmoss. It doesn’t just smell like the essential oil of oakmoss but instead contains it’s own top, middle and basenotes.

This stuff is genius. It starts off with an earthy green, almost black tea/bergamot vibe atop a mound of moss. Green Oakmoss isn’t particularly dirty or skanky, it’s a clean rendition of oakmoss, much like dirt doesn’t actually smell “dirty” when you’re gardening and scoop up a handful of soil.

I love Green Oakmoss, I think it’s brilliant. I enjoy wearing it solo, but it also occurs to me that you could layer it with other fragrances that you think need an injection of green earthiness. Sillage and longevity are very good.

ACOUSTIC FLOWER – from the moderne collection
Acoustic Flower is a fragrance originally created by Zorn a few years ago as a bridal scent, then reworked a bit and introduced as it is now. She describes it as a gardenia soliflore but I smell much more going on here. In fact, call me crazy, but for a millisecond, it bears similarity to Amarige by Givenchy, which is a floriental, created by Dominique Ropion. Now, many people hate Amarige, but I happen to love it, so any similarity with Amarige is an enormous compliment coming from me.

Acoustic Flower is potent, sweet and sassy. I think it smells like gardenia, jasmine and tuberose, although I know from reading Zorn’s notes that tuberose is not in the mix. As much as I love Amarige, these days it seems I adore the memory of it, because it’s a bit cloying and synthetic smelling. Acoustic Flower strikes me as a stripped down natural version of Amarige, one I can wear. Sillage and longevity are very good.

HONEYSUCKLE BIRD – from the moderne collection
Honeysuckle Bird is a sweet, floral, uplifting and joyful fragrance. The notes are listed as honeysuckle and white lily but once this fragrance dries down I smell the most delicious golden honey elixir. I mean thick golden amber colored honey in one of those ball mason jars sitting on the window sill with sunshine gleaming through it. Honeysuckle Bird is luscious.

GENUS ORCHIDACEAE – from the moderne collection
Ok, this is one of the strangest perfumes I’ve ever smelled. I really like it, and yet it sickens me a little bit. It causes me to keep smelling it over and over again, because I’ve never smelled anything like it before.

I hardly have the words to describe it, but here goes. Vanilla comes from an orchid plant. It is an orchid which produces the vanilla pods and long threadlike “beans” that are used in cooking and perfumery. Therefore it’s natural to combine vanilla and orchid together in a fragrance. Genus Orchidaceae seems organic and alive and causes me to visualize a gigantic vanilla orchid plant, much like the monstrous plant from the play Little Shop of Horrors.

Genus Orchidaceae smells sweet, vanillic, and green; but this is a textural green, one I can physically touch, the meaty soft petals and thick pale green shoots jutting out of the moss and bark. This green is very far from your usual perfumery green, it’s more like the feeling of bamboo shoots or hearts of palm in your mouth.

Surely this seems odd. An explanation might be that I grow orchids, I have about 26 plants, so I’m well acquainted with them. Zorn has captured an orchid plant in an almost supernatural way. I’m a bit haunted by Genus Orchidaceae. It is very sweet – about the same level of sweetness as Serge Lutens Chergui – and perhaps there is a similarity between these two scents – because while I also like Chergui, I find it a bit sickening, too. Maybe sickening isn’t the right word – perhaps a better word is haunting.

Another Soivohle' fragrance that I'm working on finding the words for is Purple Love Smoke. This stuff is very interesting. I need more time with it before I can write anything though. I'm also trying Tobacco & Tulle as well as Violets & Rainwater and her newest Mexicali Rose. Zorn has created an amazing palette of fragrances that just seem to keep getting better and better.

PHOTO CREDIT: above photo by Nathan Branch of


Unknown said...

You know, there's a reason I'm tending toward department store fragrances and away from smaller niche ones recently. It's the dang preciousness. The only Zorn frag I've tried was Grand Canyon, which is firmly in "meh" territory to me. But I'd wondered about the name. The fact that a) it's an acronym for a New-Agey statement; and b) is pronounced completely differently from how it's spelled (is she inventing her own language here?) turns me off completely. Thanks for the public service you've done me here! That's money I can save to spend on something less affected.

Abigail said...

PB Friend,
I'm sorry you feel that way.
Zorn's fragrances really are precious. I wouldn't give something an extremely positive review if it weren't.

And, from my personal interactions with Zorn, she's anything but affected.

But seriously, do you think the folks that create those department store fragrances are *not* affected? Really, truly?!

We all get turned off by things aside from the juice in question from time to time. I went about 12 months without smelling anything by Tom Ford because his ad campaign peeved me. It happens.
- A

bursztyn said...

Not all Soivohle scents are wonderful on everyone (name one line that is!), but the overall quality of the line is excellent. Two I particularly like are Underworld and Cumberland Ti. In an increasingly mass-market world, hers is a unique voice. Bravo to her for being so fearless!

Brian said...

Oh, Pitbull Fiend. I couldn't agree more. Spelling is crucial.

I hereby delete the French, whose words do not sound like they're spelled. Furthermore: I've only met one Frenchman, and he didn't impress me much, so I have banned not just the language but the race. God help Dior if the only perfume its consumer bothers with is Midnight Poison. Now that I mention it, what kind of name is Dior, anyway? And Givenchy? Please. I wrote Mugler to let them know how affected it is that Terry's name is spelled with an i and an h. They never answered me. I deleted them.

In other news, a friend of mine found a pit bull in the abandoned apartment building behind his house. He fed her for weeks until he could get someone to rescue her. The new owner named her Pong. Names are funny. The dog did not appreciate being called such a thing and returned to the squalor of the abandoned apartment building.

Happy Sunday everybody. I started with Zorn's Underworld and was anything but underwhelmed. I appreciate the risks niche perfumers are willing to take. Not all of them will please everyone, or even me. When they do, they're incomparable.

I kid. I kid.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this review. I have several of Zorn's perfumes and I think they are terrific. My favorites are: Citrine Rose, Daybreak Violin, Violets and Rainwater, Moroccan Orange and Purple Love Smoke. Each one is unique and they last a long time on my skin. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these perfumes to anyone. Jen

ScentScelf said...

I slowly became a fan of LZ perfumes...well, slow curve at first, then BANG! when a number of options hit me within a short period of time. There is a d/c scent called "Journeyman," a leather, that I find divine comfort (I keep it next to PG L'Ombre Fauve and SL Chergui--somewhere, there is a Venn diagram showing where leather and comfort overlap, and those three are in there).

But then I found Green Oakmoss...and your take on it reverberates with me. Love it. Violets & Rainwater was one of those that evolved for first was just about the violet, then it was a progression that included dirt and green rain, and now there is some sort of drydown thing happening on me that evokes what I got out of Journeyman. Happy to have that. Tobacco and Tulle is a plonk of tabac and castoreum (with other stuff meshing it all together) that both hangs oddly in your news and has you huffing over and over again.

To think that I started thinking Writing Lyrical Poetry would be my LZ is *so* different from those...white flower plus...

I can understand finding the brand name affected, but the scents are really well done, and have awesome lasting power. Nobody is suffering in a sweat shop, no corporate entity is watering down the recipe for the shareholders, and an artist gets paid for their work. I wouldn't buy a product from an artisan just because they dare stand alone...but if I like it, you bet I'm buying it, no matter whether or not I like their hairstyle or their brand name.

Nathan Branch said...

Abigail -- well deserved review of a few of Zorn's works. Like you, I'm getting more and more wowed by what she's putting out there. We seem to be watching her talents bloom and flower before our eyes.

I like her deeper, darker works, such as Underworld and Tobacco & Tulle, but I now find myself increasingly drawn to her more modern compositions (Daybreak Violin is one of them) as they seem to exhibit less quirk and more flair.

Your description of Honeysuckle Bird has me raring to get at it.

Tammy said...

I have to say, if it smells good, I'm buyin' it, provided I can afford it, of course. And that goes both ways....I still slap on Evelyn Rose from Crabtree & Evelyn all the time, often bypassing Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare for it. Precious can be a little irritating, but ultimately, it's all about the fragrance for me.

So far, many of the really fancy ones don't work on me, thank God, (or maybe my nose just isn't sophisticated enough to appreciate them!) but I do have my eye on a Rich Hippe fragrance that they have the nerve to be selling for $535 for a half-ounce, so my time may be coming.

Abigail said...


$535 per ounce - that's physically painful!

I read on MUA today that Rich Hippie is having a BOGO sale (buy one get one free)

Brian said...

oh scent self. I admire your straightforward diplomacy and philosophical attitude. I could use some of that this week--already!

Trish said...


Most of the time when I read your blog comments I just want to write, "yeah...what she said!"


Tammy said...

Abigail, that was per HALF ounce!

But I must tell you...I am on their mailing list, and placed an order as soon as I saw the BOGO sale. I mentioned in my email that I was saving my pennies for some Kalachakra, and do you know they were gracious enough to include a free sample?? And they also refunded my money after I was stupid enough to add the free item to my cart, instead of just mentioning it in the comment section.

Super nice folks....

I am terrified I'm going to want the spendy juice, though. Perhaps the roll-on bottle will be enough. A little does go a long way with this line.

Brigitte S said...

Abby I love your blog. I love your lack of snobbiness, and that you have sci-fi nerd tendencies. I really like the Soivohle line. I love Purple Love Smoke, Solistice, and the discontinued Jo Jo and I need need need to try Underworld, Tobacco & Tulle, and Corodovan Rose.