What evokes autumn better than seeing squirrels (basically the UK’s version of the chipmunk) scurrying around collecting and burying their nuts for the winter ahead? Chipmunk (the fragrance) is perfectly positioned in timbre and ingredients to lead us through into the autumn with style and a generous helping of fragrant nostalgia.
Quince, pink pepper, red mandarin, cardamom, nutmeg, camomile, hazelnut, fir balsam absolute, oak absolute, earthy notes, cedarwood, amyris, patchouli, vetiver, benzoin resin, opoponax, guaiac wood, animal notes.
The general tone and character of Chipmunk by Zoologist is of a sweet, woody, and soothing fragrance and indeed that is what scurries from the bottle as soon as you spray it. Warm spices of cardamom, pink pepper and nutmeg are there, but they are gently utilised to provide a fuzzy backdrop to set the rest of the fragrance against.
A surprisingly varied gamut of woods – from evergreen to oaky, a soda-pop sweetness, and a fleetingly refreshing citrus all flit across the face of the scent in its opening few bars giving us glimpses into the chipmunk (or squirrel’s) world.
Once the scent has settled, the chamomile comes sharply into focus. A little weedy, a little scrubby, partly rubbery, partly floral, the image that Chipmunk vividly paints at that stage is of this photograph of a squirrel sniffing a flower. Chipmunk the fragrance has all those facets, the warm furriness of the squirrel’s coat, but also the natural, real-smelling floral aspect too. The chamomile swaithes the scent in a soothing cuddle and all in all we are off to a start which tells us that we will be treated gently, cosseted by this kindly scent.
Moving further into the wear and the real pleasure in this fragrance starts to shine. A nutty, burnished woodiness comes forward. Again, it is quite gentle and soothing with a sort of nostalgic overtone that reminds us of the seasons changing and the passage of time; it’s an antique sort of woodiness which feels aged and solid, polished by the stroke of hands over years and years. The hazelnut is dry, almost verging on the bitter, and picking up the more bitter aspects of the chamomile in the start. The link between the two is almost imperceptible but satisfying and again gives us that nostalgic little echo.
If the chipmunk we started off with was smelling a flower, the creature we are now accompanying has scurried into its nest and is busy rooting around in safety and comfort, moving sticks and twigs to its liking, busying itself, tidying up before the winter.
There is a damp earth accord lurking around in the middle of Chipmunk and if you have been frightened away by the other damp-earth scents that Zoologist has put out, you have nothing to fear here. In Chipmunk the damp earth is deftly handled, it’s loamy, delicate, and surprisingly moreish. At times it comes across as more of a black-tea type note than a soil-y one but it adds a compelling dimension to the woody facets and makes the world that the chipmunk inhabits feel real and tangible.
In the latter phases of a wear, a trace of a smoky vetiver whispers through the trees. It’s as if the chipmunk pops her head out of her nest and scents a bonfire in the distance, on the wind. Hints of a sharp, green twigginess and that thick, leathery greenery of evergreens bend their fronds to protect the entrance to our chipmunk’s home, adding little spikes of contrast to the wood and fur.
Sweetness builds in Chipmunk throughout the length of a wear, and in the base it finds full expression, leaving the scent with a sawdusty, woody hum which is sweet, powdery and resinous, but still, always delicate and detailed. Whilst low in the composition, fuzzy animalic fur provides an interesting and comforting warmth without being screachy or in-your-face. Chipmunk isn’t a scent which will make you smell dirty (either in an animalic sense or in a damp soil sense), but it will make you feel wrapped up tightly in a snuggly warm nest whilst the wind howls outside. In that regard it’s a great scent for autumn and a great fragrance for when you feel like you need a hug.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Chipmunk was Pia Long.
If you’re a fan of Zoologist’s punchier, bolder scents then you may, at first, find Chipmunk leaves you wanting more volume. What Zoologist have done with Chipmunk though is create something delicate, nuanced and detailed, which is likely to appeal to those who find those punchy scents a bit too aggressive. Not everything needs to shout, and Chipmunk isn’t a bolshy fragrance, it’s soothing, cosy and comforting so if it is the bolshy stuff you are after then look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you want a fuzzy hug with oodles of attention to detail, then snap this one up.
As a result of its quieter, more gentle vibe, Chipmunk feels like a predominantly daytime scent but one which would be wearable in a wide variety of circumstances. It’s easy to imagine wearing this for autumnal walks, kicking at leaves, or coffee dates wrapped up in a big fuzzy scarf.
Chipmunk isn’t a very loud fragrance, it goes to just under handshake distance or so, and it lasts around about four to six hours following an application.
Zoologist are a Canadian brand who have been around for a while now. They tend towards producing large, extroverted scents with big profiles and strong characteristics, generally speaking, although lately they seem to be taking a quieter, calmer route with some of their releases.
Zoologist have been around since 2013, and have a tendency to reformulate their scents fairly regularly – so if you find one you like, don’t hang around, get it whilst it lasts.
The brand are careful to stress that whilst they take their inspiration from the animal kingdom, their scents do not contain animal ingredients (the “animal notes” listed here are from synthetic sources).
Chipmunk is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £165 for 60ml of extrait.
Bloom very kindly gifted us a no-strings-attached sample of Chipmunk – thank you to them.
You can also purchase Chipmunk from the Zoologist web boutique.