O, Unknown by Imaginary Authors

As winter bites, what could be better than cozying up with a cup of tea? Perhaps smelling like a cuppa?

Listed notes

Black tea, orris butter, lapsang souchong tea, moss, musk, sandalwood.

The brand

Imaginary Authors are a brand with a brilliantly imagined concept; their perfumes take the form of books written by imaginary authors. It’s wonderfully storied but has little bearing on their scents which are largely capable of standing alone without any of the smoke and mirrors that good marketing brings. In the main, the fragrances are bold, strong, and very distinct. They’re the type of scents that you either love or hate, and if you love them they’ll become your signature fragrance. This is a consuming type of love affair.

From the Imaginary Authors line up we’ve previously reviewed the sun kissed orange vibes of Sundrunk, the gorgeous boozy-sweet tones of Saint Julep, the thick and syrupy Violet Disguise, and the magnificently ozonic Every Storm a Serenade.

Top notes

When we first sprayed O, Unknown, we expected to be hit with a wave of beautiful cozy tea, but actually what you get here is lots of orris butter. It’s dry, spicy and has that floral edge to it. So far so average, right? But there’s something unsettling here too. Without wanting to plunge into hyperbole this early on in the review, it’s as if the notes that make up the scent have been rendered in matt colours; the fragrance is strangely flat and it seems to inhabit a different, sharper plane than other fragrances which curl and insinuate around you. O, Unknown isn’t like that, it seemed to hover above the skin and run at a different angle to the curves of the body in a surprising way.

The start of O, Unknown is autumn-leaf dry, almost astringent at times, flat and fuzzy smelling. It evokes the texture of a slightly bobbled woollen jumper.

Heart notes

A slight quiver of smoke begins to peep through in the heart of O, Unknown – the smoked tea of the lapsang souchong. It has the vibe though of a jacket that someone smoked near a while ago, immediately before it was sequestered in a cupboard – woody, dry and faintly singed.

There’s also a sweetness in the background of the heart of this scent and as the scent wears it becomes more resinous and sinewy, eventually giving it the olfactive texture of tea-flavoured chewing gum. A very interesting and unusual phenomenon to experience.

Base notes

Throughout the whole of this scent there is a moody, dark vibe. This isn’t a scent which manifests bright colours and gregariousness. Instead it’s dark browns and greens, much like the tea it references, spiked with violet from the orris. There’s something almost refreshing about O, Unknown too, in an odd sort of way. Perhaps this is trickery – just because it’s triggering the part of the brain that thinks it’s about to get a cup of tea with that familiar smell. Either way, it’s pleasant.

The potency of the orris seemed to increase again towards the end of the wear, giving that lovely cyclical reference as it was the orris that was more potent at the start. A nuance of dried fruits also creeps in towards the end of the fragrance, bolstering that chewy sweetness.

The other stuff

The longevity of the scent is moderate – not as strong as we anticipated given some of the notes, it has to be said. During testing, we generally got it to last until around lunchtime or early afternoon before it faded from detection.

The sillage of the scent is also moderate. The fragrance projected to less than handshake distance but further than a hug!

We felt that O, Unknown would be best suited to autumn and winter, when the cozy benefits of tea are at their most heightened. We also found this to be a daytime or an evening in type fragrance, rather than the sort of scent you would wear to a soiree.

O, Unknown sits more towards the stereotypically masculine side of the fragrance spectrum, but take that recommendation with a pinch of salt, it really could be worn by any and all genders very comfortably.

This fragrance is very in keeping with the rest of the Imaginary Authors stable of scents, it bears their hallmarks but isn’t quite as full of character and vivacity as some of their other creations. That said, there is something every day about tea, something beautiful about its familiarity and regularity and perhaps O, Unknown would be better named O, Well Known in homage to this most ubiquitous but enjoyable of beverages.

Buy it

O, Unknown is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £90 for 50ml EdP. It’s also available from the Imaginary Authors web boutique.

A friend and follower of The Sniff kindly sent us a no-strings-attached sample of this fragrance so we could try it. Thank you.


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