Never wanting to do things by halves, challenging and creative brand Pekji have released not one but FOUR new fragrances. Making up their Reset line, these scents push the brand forward whilst retaining that strong sense of identity that the brand has cultivated from the start. Challenging, strange and confident, these scents are as much about the future as they are about the past. Pekji continue to underscore the fact that they are a brand that will not compromise on their creative vision.
Pekji initially sold their Re:Collection of five fragrances which you can read about in our first feature on the brand. Although modern and well characterised, there was something about these scents which hinted at them drawing inspiration from the past, from nostalgic memories (Eaumer), from childhood safety and comfort (Battaniye), or from cultural traditions (Zeybek).
The Reset line feels like it is founder, Ömer İpekçi, has turned his creative eye to the future and is now taking inspiration from what might be. There’s a certain sci fi vibe about the new fragrances which intrigue, unsettle and betwitch. According to the brand they are an “exploration of the “self” under culture and identity” but it’s also interesting to consider them as an exploration of humanity in the face of the future.
Pekji are bold and artistic. This is not polite perfumery. They will not compromise. Pekji scents are often challenging, defying of convention and refuse to be squished into traditional boxes and moulds. These are the sorts of scents which you may well find yourself struggling to understand, but when one captures you it will most definitely weave its magic and you might find it worming its way into your life as if it had always been there.
If you would like to find out more about the brand and their creative process, please check out our interview with Ömer İpekçi on The Sniff Perfume Podcast.
The Reset line has that strong character that we have come to expect from Pekji fragrances and they all possess really good projection and longevity of scent on the skin. As mentioned, there is a futuristic (at times dystopian) feel about the fragrances and it’s easy to be sucked into the worlds that they create, given how strongly imagined they all are. The friendliest scent in the line is most probably Flesh, and the most challenging being Purpl with Yes, Please and Blacklight somewhere in between.
Listed notes: Aldehydes, black pepper, coriander, iris, leather, licorice, smoke.
Blacklight opens with a fizzy licorice note which quickly turns into hot tarmac. Imagine the Yellow Brick Road only now it is paved in mashed up licorice sweets and you might start to imagine what this scent evokes. There’s a plastic vibe which starts to emerge as the scent ages on skin, and again it is quite hot, evocative of some sort of futuristic shrink wrap manufacture perhaps? The licorice facet runs through the composition and manages to attract and repulse in almost equal measure – in the way that licorice itself does as a foodstuff.
Although Blacklight is a fragrance which comes rushing out of the bottle, chases around for a few minutes waving its hands in the air and screaming, it does eventually settle down. A sour, rubberiness threads through and at times it feels as if we have been subsumed into this world of tarmac, black licorice and leathery rubber binding everything together.
If you’ve ever read The Running Man by Stephen King, or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, then you may get a sense of the sort of world that Pekji have conjured here. You could never in a million years accuse this brand of being boring.
Listed notes: Ambrette, apricot, civet, iris, musks, osmanthus, paint, sandalwood, vanilla.
The second scent in the quartet, Flesh, has us transported to Westworld, and continues with the sci fi feel. Flesh is a luxuriously creamy, apricot-osmanthus warmed by a touch of civet. The sandalwood is there, the iris is there, as are the musks. It might smell like one of those no-scent scents were it not for the fact that it is really rather large in the way that it wears, projecting very well indeed and still having that Pekji backbone that wouldn’t ever allow it to blend into the background.
Flesh has to be, at least at first glance, one of the easiest, most relaxed and most commercially appealing scents that Pekji have made, and yet there is a strangeness in it which is really hard to pin down. It’s almost as if something discordant is buried in the formula. As if something is very much, and very deliberately, not right. This really conjures up Westworld, and Flesh made me think of the way that the androids must smell at the moment when they realise that they are trapped in that hellish world. Don’t get me wrong, Flesh isn’t hellish in the slightest, but it is the sort of scent that someone, or something, would wear if they were trying to pass as human. Pretty, creamy, almost relaxing, but with lurking strangeness, Flesh has rapidly risen up the ranks of our favourite Pekji compositions. It is that intersection between imagined and real that leaves you wondering which side of the boundary you fall down on.
Listed notes: Grapefruit, iris, frankincense, pear, pink, rose, sichuan pepper, vanilla.
The last two fragrances in the quartet: Yes, Please and Purpl feel almost like a duo in their own right. There is some echo in their compositions which makes them feel related, more so than the other fragrances in the line.
Yes, Please starts with a sticky, sweet juiciness, reminiscent of childhood sugar-filled drinks. It’s almost sickly and, at least at first, feels naive and childlike. As it wears though, this matures and the scent becomes firstly more refreshing and then grittier, spicier, more solid somehow. The mid phase of the wear is where the sichuan pepper really pops out full of warmth, invigoration and dryness. This chimes interestingly with the sour grapefruit to give something which feels unexpected and fresh.
Although it isn’t a sci fi as such, Yes, Please immediately made me think of Alice in Wonderland because of that duality of cutesy vs macabre that it has. Yes, Please is half “eat me/ drink me” and half “off with his head”.
Listed notes: Carnation, grape skin, iris, moss, musk, strawberry, strobes, sweat, vinyl.
Whilst Yes, Please starts off easy and gets grittier and more grown up, Purpl feels like it journeys in the opposite direction. The sweat and vinyl accords are the first things which struck me about the scent, mixed with a sweet and sticky strawberry. This is no natural strawberry though, it’s a strawberry grown in a lab or synthesised by a computer a thousand years into the future when no real strawberries exist and someone is trying to make one after reading a description of the fruit in a book. The opening is a riot, it whirls you around before spitting you out, disorientated and dizzy to come to terms with the new reality you find yourself in.
As the scent ages on skin it mellows significantly and goes to a similar sticky and sweetness that Yes, Please opens with, before swerving into a salty, tangy dry down that has echoes of the legendary Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange, but perhaps worn near a swimming pool – there is a chlorine tang occasionally here. This is bound to be a polarising fragrance, but that salty, chlorine feel will definitely win admirers.
If this scent were sci fi then it would be something like the films The Matrix or EXistenZ or the TV series Altered Carbon. Somewhere where technology and the future coexist with the human body and human appetites. A place that is half intoxicating and half vulgar, part satiating and part destructive.
With their new line Pekji continue to really push the envelope of creativity in fragrances. Make no mistake, these scents will not be for everyone, they may not even be for the majority of those who try them, but that doesn’t matter. They are bold, full of creative expression, and brimming with confidence. Pekji fragrances will knock your socks off and whether that is something that will delight you or push you away will depend on your own particular perfumed proclivities. What is most definitely certain though is that the Reset line will surprise and challenge you, and what is an interesting life if not full of surprises and challenges.
All the new Pekji fragrances are available from their website where they are priced at $165 (about £120 at the time of writing). This gets you 50ml of EdP.
Pekji also helpfully supply a list of stockists on their website should you wish to visit one to try the scents in person.
We were very generously gifted samples of the line by the brand, with no strings attached.