A darker side of light. Or is it?
Bergamot, shiso leaves, apple blossom, heliotrope wood
Pierre Guillaume’s White Collection is now a group of six fragrances (the latest, Dialogue with Venus, was announced at Esxence in June and our review of that will be coming soon). These fragrances are all inspired by the Summer, sunshine and feeling good. Given that, it is probably true to say that these scents are, as a group, on the easy-going side. They’re bright compositions which just make the wearer feel good and exhibit just the right level of complexity; enough to be satisfying but not so much that they become a chore to wear.
Enter Oshiso. The enigmatic cousin to the rest of the pack!
Oshiso opens with an almost biscuity dryness. It isn’t overly sweet, but it calls to mind something like a water biscuit crumbled up. You can feel the fragments, particles, and texture of the fragrance under your nose. It’s softer than grit, but not as fine as talc.
Right from the get go this crumbly, powdery tone gives Oshiso an interesting and lively diffusion. This is further powered by the lift of the bergamot which feels like it propels the scent away from the body and off the skin, to hover like an aura around you.
The bergamot gives a lurking fresh crispness to the scent. You may not immediately notice it because of the dry, powdery element which takes up more of the space, at least initially, but it is there underneath providing a bit of snap as a counterpoint to the diffusive dryness.
Oshiso is indeed a fragrance with a degree of duality about it. A two-headed scent which on the one hand is all powdery and light and floaty, but on the other has this presence, this darker side too. It’s very easy to imagine how different skins will expand or contract some of these elements uniquely.
The shiso side of the fragrance comes out to play once the scent has had time to settle and warm, and this is where the idea that this scent is the enigmatic cousin of its stable mates comes in. The shiso is intriguing, fascinating, and itself laiden with contradictions. On the one hand the shiso possesses a similar open expansiveness to mint (which is indeed a relative). There is a vaguely watery tone to it, and with the bergamot lingering around in the background like a mugger in a carpark, the two together do make part of this scent crisp, clean, fresh.
On the other hand, the shiso has a leathery kind of feel, dried leaves, dense, almost tobacco-like. It’s moodier, darker, deeper than you might expect, even a touch earthy at times. If someone told me that these leaves were dried and rolled into cigars on the thighs of Japanese maidens, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised at that.
These two, rather different aspects of Oshiso make it an interesting wear that keeps you on your toes.
We need to talk about the apple blossom in Oshiso. It is more noticeable in the latter part of a wear and whilst a direct sniff of the scent may not necessarily make you think “apple”, when testing it, there were times throughout the days when a tendril of rather lovely apple would appear. Fleeting and nebulous, yes, but a perfect addition to the scent – and an example of why Pierre Guillaume is so good. The apple blossom bridges the bergamot and shiso parts nicely, and, alongside the woodier elements, provides a background “glue” to make this dual-natured scent work in harmony as one fragrance. It’s a very neat trick that Pierre has pulled with this scent in managing to hold those two sides at once.
The lingering impression of Oshiso is of dry powderiness, a clean vibe, and – in the final phases – a nice woody murmur. Oshiso doesn’t necessarily have the immediate bang that Intime.Extime has, but wear it a while, allow it to show you all its different faces and you may indeed end up falling in love. The darker side of Oshiso really allows its lighter side to shine, and the tension between the two – although ultimately harmonious – is an interesting journey to experience.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Oshiso is Pierre Guillaume.
Oshiso is a fairly measured and polite fragrance. It does hover beautifully away from the body in projection, but only to handshake distance or so, and it trails effectively but politely, dying away before it chokes out other people.
The longevity of the fragrance is good, lasting around six hours following an application. It has that sort of sense of a fragrance which will perform better on some than others though, so we suggest trying it out before you buy a full bottle if that is something which is important to you.
In Oshiso, the DNA of the Pierre Guillaume brand is very evident. It’s possible to see elements of Intime.Extime in the scent, as you may imagine, but also Animal Mondain, Aqaysos and others besides. So if you have tried any of those and found them just not quite right for you, then try this one because it may be just the ticket.
If you’ve visited us at all previously then you will know that Pierre Guillaume are one of our firm favourites here at The Sniff and we have reviewed a vast array of his fragrances which combine interesting, modern compositions with a wide range and ease of accessibility. These aren’t the esoteric end of the spectrum, but instead are wearable scents which fit into your daily life with ease, whilst giving you that slice of luxury and uniqueness you may have come to fragrance to find. Pierre Guillaume scents are designed to make you, yes you, feel good and have a little bit of joy in your day, and they do that so well.
We’ve previously reviewed Intime.Extime, A Une Madone, Alphaora, Morning in Tipasa, Animal Mondain, Lune d’Eau, Sunsuality, PG 9.1 Komorebi, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, PG 04 Musc Maori, PG 5.1 Suede Osmanthe, PG 16 Jardins de Kerylos and the exceptional Bois Naufrage. Also by Pierre Guillaume we’ve looked at Superlady, Sucre d’Ebene, Shermine, Aqaysos, Jangala, Tonkamande, Anti-Blues and Hapyang.
Oshiso is available from the Pierre Guillaume web boutique where it is priced at €105 euros for 50ml EdP or €155 for 100ml.
We were very kindly gifted a bottle of this fragrance by Pierre Guillaume, and our thanks go to him and his lovely team for their ongoing support.