Flashback in New York sits at the intersection between hot and cold notes, using them both to fascinating effect. It feels strangely appropriate for this Spring in the UK, which saw both snow and sunshine in equal measure.
Cumin, clary sage, white linen, saffron, violet, leather, jasmine, birch smoke, papyrus, vetiver, tonka bean.
Olfactive Studio are one of the big hitters in the world of niche and artisan fragrance, despite only being launched in 2011. Their perfumes are inspired by photographs, and generally have large, well-formed personalities. Flashback in New York continues this tradition.
We have previously reviewed Still Life in Rio which is a bold, leathery citrus scent from the brand, and one of our favourites.
If you like scents that have a herbal, spicy quality then you are going to love the start of Flashback in New York. Cumin and sage lift from the skin in big, aromatic clouds as soon as it is sprayed. The predominant feeling within the top of the fragrance is of a cool and confident clarity. The sage is really punchy, but it doesn’t smell like Christmas dinner, which is a relief. The cumin undercuts the purity and expansiveness of the sage with a brisk, warm, skin-close timbre.
At first the scent feels like it has two distinct layers: the warm and the cool, but this very obvious design feature doesn’t feel disharmonious. Instead it feels like the two poles of a magnet: different but part of the same thing. Kudos to the perfumer (Jerome Epinette) who has managed to pull this off quite so successfully. The saffron present in the top notes seems to act as a bridge between the sage and the cumin, tying them together just enough so that the perfume makes perfect sense.
Flashback in New York is one of those fragrances that seems to get bigger as it ages. After half an hour it seems to project further from the skin in an aromatic aura. The two distinct layers seem to dance closer and closer together too, as the perfume goes on, until eventually they blend and blur.
Throughout it’s wear, Flashback in New York has a woody, herbal, highly aromatic quality. It would be easy to compare it to a spice shop or market stall, but there’s too much clarity between the individual notes for that analogy to entirely work. This is a beautiful, un-muddied scent that hums along with a bright energy throughout.
When we tested Flashback in New York, the saffron came out in greater depth in the heart for us, along with the leather. There’s an earthiness here which is an interesting contrast to the airy feeling of the sage which is still just about discernible. This use of layers upon layers within the scent give it a real sense of sophistication and elegance and really do make it feel almost as if it is dancing.
The violet that appears in the heart doesn’t smell strongly of violet flowers, but instead adds a layer of clean, powderiness – almost greenness – to the fragrance. It’s an interesting little nuance, but unlikely to put you off if you aren’t a fan of a violet scent.
Imagine that you are walking along a city street in the winter. The air is cold, crisp, making your lungs tingle as you breathe it in. You’re wrapped up nice and warm but the end of your nose is cold. Up ahead is a youth in a battered leather jacket smoking a marijuana cigarette and you get a second-hand whiff of it as he exhales a plume of smoke. That’s exactly what this perfume reminded us of.
The base of Flashback in New York has to be our favourite part of the composition. There’s that highly aromatic, nose-prickly marijuana-type scent that you sometimes get from other spices like dried ginger, along with a ribbon of leatheriness, faint hints of smoke, but all set against cooler notes that evoke crisp winter air, slight dampness, the city at night. This really is a smellscape of a scent, it doesn’t so much tell a story as evoke a place. But that’s exactly what the brand sets out to do and the fact that they manage this so consistently has to be one of the reasons they’ve managed to achieve such success.
The other stuff
The longevity of the scent is excellent. It lasted from morning until evening without the need to reapply. The sillage of the scent is interesting; it’s significant but not overpowering. Those heady, aromatic vibrations could be a bit headache inducing if they weren’t tempered so well by the sage but as it is they are, so the scent projects well but not aggressively.
In terms of the gender that this scent would most suit, we found it to be a very masculine wear. The saffron in particular seems to lend this well-tailored-gent-in-a-fine-suit vibe to the perfume. The scent is complex enough to be fascinating, but also has enough manliness about it to be sexy. It smells traditional enough to confer solidity and timelessness, but also has enough modernity to remain relevant. It’s a scent which it is very easy to admire, both in terms of the clever artistry of it, but also just because it smells really nice too.
Flashback in New York is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £84 for 50ml EdP or £124 for 100ml EdP. You can also buy it online via the Olfactive Studio web boutique where it is priced at €140 for 100ml. It’s worth noting that this price was on the UK version of their store and prices may change depending on where in the world you are.
We received samples of this scent from Olfactive Studio (at Esxence 2018) and also from Bloom Perfumery London.