Today Berlin stands as one of the world’s foremost production sites of contemporary art. In 2005 it became the first continental European city to be named a City of Design by UNESCO and Berlin produces one of the most popular biennials on the global arts calendar. Berlin’s creativity spans across various media from photography to music, where artists like Kraftwerk pioneered a new genre of electronic audio. In recent years, German perfumery has taken a seat of prominence in a creative field that has traditionally been dominated by the French. Perfumers such as Geza Schoen and Mark Buxton (British/German) are talked about in the media, and perfume brands such as Escentric Molecules and Biehl Parfumkunstwerke are extending their global reach. On a recent trip to New York, I discovered another German perfume line called J.F Schwarzlose Berlin, which is sold by Aedes de Venustas in Greenwich Village. Although the Schwarzlose name has existed in perfumery for well over a century, the brand has a unique position, offering contemporary perfumes that link back to Germany’s perfumed past.
The J.F. Schwarzlose Story:
The story of J.F. Schwarzlose begins in 1856 when piano-maker Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose opens a drugstore for his four children, Max, Franz, Hedwig and Eduard. Shortly after the Schwarzlose family begin making their own perfumes. Max and Franz leave the retail side of the business to their sister and the pair focus solely on perfumery. In 1870, the family name is acclaimed Purveyor of the Royal Court. Through the industrial age, the Roaring Twenties and two world wars, J.F. Schwarzlose Sohne – Treu & Nuglisch enjoy success with creations such as Rosa Centifolia, Royalin and Finale, an exclusively masculine scent. This first chapter of the brand’s story comes to an end in 1976 when the Schwarzlose family retires their business.
The current chapter of the brand’s story begins more recently when perfume bottle designer, Lutz Herrmann, takes an interest in the Schwarzlose name and sets about to revive it. In its revived form, J.F. Schwarzlose is a modern creator, inspired by a contemporary Berlin, as well as the city’s colourful past. Herrmann seeks out the technical and creative abilities of International Flavors & Fragrances (I.F.F) perfumer, Veronique Nyberg, bringing J.F Schwarzlose into the 21st century. Assisting Herrmann and Nyberg with the communication of their message is a third business partner, communication expert Tamas Tagscherer.
The portfio consists of four eau de parfums, 1A-33, Treffpunkt 8 Urh, Rausch and Trance. Zeitgeist is the house’s fifth release and was unveiled this weekend at Pitti Fragranze in Florence. The collection is comprised of new creations as well as modern interpretations of classic formulas from J.F. Schwarzlose’s archives.
1A-33: Vintage lime blossoms
This is the first of J.F. Schwarzlose’s reincarnations and the unusual name originates from the Berlin license plates of pre-WWII automobiles. If the brand’s concept is to present a contemporary Berlin mixed with the past, 1A-33 is a great example. In its modern form, 1A-33 is not a sentimental fragrance. Lime blossoms give a vintage feel, perhaps a respectful gesture towards the German heritage of Eau de Cologne. Perfumer Veronique Nyberg has layered her version with candied flowers and modern woody textures, making 1A-33 unmistakably 21st century. With Nyberg’s watery “Spree” accord, notes of magnolia and the greener variety of jasmine, jasmine sambac, it is an energizing floral scent that is perfect for daywear. 1A-33 dries down to a layer of powdered iris and cedar.
Treffpunkt 8 Urh: Naked vetiver
“Rendezvous at 8 o’clock” is about the anticipation of a rendezvous. The name is as flirtatious as it sounds and I had to ask myself; who is wearing this fragrance? Is treffpunkt German for booty-call? Treffpunkt 8 Urh is the second reinterpretation of a classic J.F. Schwarlose perfume. There is both a masculine and feminine energy in this perfume, which plays to the soundtrack of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Yes, Daft Punk are French, but isn’t Paris the city of love? The perfume is built around contrast, the softness of mango and Nyberg’s “Naked Lady” accord dances wonderfully with the rough edged masculinity of clary sage and vetiver. The perfume’s herbaceous opening has a minty quality, like that of freshly brushed teeth. The dry down fades to a transparent vetiver that lingers beautifully on both male and female skin.
Rausch: Amber martini
Rausch or Rush is the first modern perfume launched under the revived name of the house. It is a playful fragrance that brings to mind Berlin city after dark. The perfume begins with gourmand notes of vanilla and candy. As it evolves Rausch reveals a complex heart of amber and precious woods. A touch of oud cloaks the fragrance in mystery and perfume fans that enjoy a rich sillage should enjoy Rausch’s dark resinous trail. Amongst niche perfume houses, this style is very much en vogue at present and Rausch stands beside the best of them. If I planned to wear 1A-33 to the office, Rausch would serve as my evening scent and is perfect for a night out with a cocktail in hand.
Trance: Embroidered rose
Trance is a fragrance that talks about modernity versus tradition. I like this juxtaposition because the perfume is underscored by rose, a raw material that has been used for centuries and continues to be relevant in the perfumes of today. Trance’s rose has a satin-like quality with Eastern nuances. Paired with labdanum resin and exotic woods, the innocence of rose is tainted with the darkness of vegetal undergrowth. Trance could be a traditional Eastern perfume as much as it is a modern Western one. Like Rausch, Trance features all those notes that make niche perfume lovers do cartwheels, and it stacks up against the best of them.
Samples and photos provided by J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin.
For more information on the brand, visit www.schwarzloseberlin.com