Brand guide: Pekji Istanbul

Perfume influenced by the history to be found on the banks of the Bosphorous, but made relevant and new by artistic vision.

One of the beautiful things about indie brands like Pekji is that they have the space to really be creative. Pushing the envelope of perfumery, they start trends and explore the boundaries between perfume as art and science. Boldly, they change our perceptions of what a good perfume should be and how it should make you feel when you wear it.

The vibe

Pekji are one of those brands who don’t give too much away on their well crafted website which contains just enough information to hold your attention, but not so much that you feel like you have to wade through lists of what they ate for breakfast before getting to the stuff about the scents themselves.

Pekji describe their scents as “aggressive, emotional, tactile and ambient” and we would have to agree with the majority of that description. The fragrances are all thick, dense, layered and complex. They feel like they’ve been thought about, played around with, iterated. The fragrances seem full of detail, they’re bold and not easy to just chuck on without thought, but that’s a good thing: they demand attention and understanding, pique interest and invite discussion.

The brand

Pekji are independent and Turkish. Their founder, Ömer İpekçi, is a graphic designer and illustrator by trade who has dabbled in many different art forms. The five scents discussed below form the Re:Collection line which is their launch collection.

The scents

Pekji feels like a brand that has drawn together many different strands of influence to make something new, vibrant and current which is both satisfying and exciting. The scents in their line are complex enough to feel well crafted, bold enough to have personality, and vibrant enough to enable you to properly form an opinion of them. These are scents for people who aren’t intimidated by scent and who want to see what possibilities are out there. Wearing a Pekji scent is a really wild ride.

Eaumer – Song of the sea

Listed notes: Ambergris, anise, bergamot, vetiver, herbs, jasmine, lavender, lime, mastic, musk.

Of all the Pekji line, Eaumer feels like the one which has been most honed to a cutting edge. The way the fragrance behaves has a sharp focus to it, like it could slice through skin if you aren’t careful. The ambergris, lime, bergamot and anise collide explosively to give this chilly tone at the start of the fragrance which is almost like chlorine in the way it feels. It leaps off skin and scent strip alike, violently, aggressively but almost with this inferred hint of “I’ll behave if you play nice” hiding behind all that bluster. The trouble is knowing if you can believe it or not. Like the sea, Eaumer feels both fickle and dangerous.

The opening of the scent reminded us of swimming in those pools that are right next to the sea and then leaving a swimsuit in a wet puddle on a wind-blown, salt-drenched wall. It’s cold, bracing and thrilling, the type of scent you aren’t sure if it’s safe to turn your back on. And yet, despite that, there isn’t anything brash or offensive in there. It’s not trite or provocative for the sake of it, it smells clean, fresh, crisp and is wearable. On a hot day Eaumer would provide a very welcome blast of cool relief, and summer is when we imagine this would wear most satisfyingly.

Ruh – Sun rose again

Listed notes: amber, cardamon, coffee, jasmine, musk, oud, patchouli, rose, saffron, sandalwood.

Ruh was our favourite from the Pekji line. A beautiful dark, spicy rose blooms at night, the flower is fleshy, yielding to the touch. The petals are set against a harder, woodier layer of oud and patchouli, but contrasted against the rose they don’t exactly soften, but somehow become more enticing and sexy. The oud is slightly sweaty and the indolic facets balance against the cleaner floral aspects perfectly.

The inclusion of cardamon and coffee in the opening few refrains of the scent was a masterstroke. The cardamon makes everything pop and the coffee rounds the corners off, paving the way to the ambery sweetness which flows beneath the rest of the composition and further linked by the sandalwood. There’s a lot going on here and the fragrance changes significantly depending on the heat, time of day and wearer. Ruh is as beautiful as it is complex, its layers resembling a kaleidoscopic image and revealing themselves as and when they choose.

Odoon – Ode to wood

Listed notes: ash, cedar, guaiac wood, musk, oak, pepper, pine, resins, sandalwood, vanilla.

The overwhelming impression that Odoon left on us was of dry, astringent spices. A blast of pepper hurtles out of the bottle. It’s so dry you can almost feel your cheeks pucker. The pepper settles into a celery-seed type smell or something which reminded us of fenugreek. There’s definitely a herbal thread running through the fragrance, but it’s like herbs which have been draped over bleached bones and sun-blasted twigs. There’s something about Odoon which feels a bit like some magical collection of sticks, dried herbs, bound together with twine and then left in the desert for the sun to scorch and turn to dust. It feels symbolic, it feels powerful, but it also feels slightly unknowable as well.

Odoon is a woody fragrance, but it’s woody in a way which you may not expect. It’s wood inspected so closely that in a way it ceases to be recognisable any longer as a tree or branch. It’s wood after it has ceased to be just wood and become something else. Quite what it will become will depend on the wearer’s skin and chemistry.

Battaniye – Safe inside

Listed notes: amber, honeysuckle, vetiver, labdanum, musk, patchouli, soil, soot and wool.

Battaniye is incredibly rich and unctuous. It oozes out of the bottle rather than sprays, like the thickest, sweetest honey. In Turkish, the name means ‘blanket’ and Battaniye does have the effect of curling around you very much like a duvet. It reminded us a little of sweetened dessert wine, dried fruits, things which are sticky and tooth-achingly sweet.

The accords of soil, soot and wool are again, very clever additions. They give the fragrance a realness, anchor it somehow and temper the sweetness. We couldn’t detect a lot of the soil, but the ghosts of soot and especially wool are there giving a reassuring solidity to the composition.

There’s also a faintly smoky tone to the whole fragrance which is appealing. If Battaniye is a blanket then it is an old woollen one, a loved part of the family, a cover which has been patched and mended and used to wrap up the old and the young alike. There’s definitely a comforting character to this scent, and it is very easy to feel cosseted by it.

Zeybek – Dance of pride

Listed notes: Bergamot, hay, lavender, leather, tonka, lemon, musk, narcissus, tobacco, vetiver.

Zeybek is really interesting. Upon first spraying, the lemon collides with this really dense animalic accord. It smells sour but soft at the same time and the effect on us was vaguely puzzling. Not unpleasant, just like it was something new and previously un-smelled. The lemon retreats and the hay, lavender and what felt a lot like chamomile came forward as Zeybek really hit its stride.

Zeybek doesn’t make you feel as if you are wearing an animal scent. Instead it has the effect of turning you into a shapeshifter and making you feel as if you have become the animal itself. The grassy and floral notes become the breath of your beastly self, the pungent animalic accord your body and skin.

As the fragrance ages a little more it becomes part leathery, part herbal, part smoky and part sweet, alternating between them all on any given breath. Zeybek takes its name from a dance, and the way it reels here, twirling, revolving, and indeed, dancing, it is easy to say why it was named.

The verdict

Pekji fragrances are incredibly bold and not for the faint of heart. These are big, loud perfumes all with excellent longevity and projection. They last for a full day and project to easily beyond handshake distance.

Despite their strength and obvious confidence, Pekji perfumes really aren’t obnoxious. They call to mind that gregarious person who commands attention and is the centre of the party. One can’t help but imagine they’re obnoxious, but when you get to know them, engage with them, you come to see that the reason they command attention is that they are magnetic, attractive, and interesting. Much like a Pekji fragrance.

Buy it

Pekji perfumes are available from their website where they are priced at $140 (approximately £115) for 50ml of extrait strength perfume. They ship worldwide.

We were given a no-strings-attached sample set of Pekji perfumes by the brand, and we would like to thank them for their kindness in doing so.




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