A Few Questions for Libertine Fragrance

A review of Burrow by Libertine Fragrance, and some questions answered by perfumer, Josh Smith.

I had the pleasure of meeting Josh in person at Esxence in Milan, where he was attending as an enthusiast, just like myself. I had followed Josh on social media for a while and had sampled his perfumes, and it was funny to be meeting him “in the wild” even though he lives a couple of hours north of me in Edmonton.  Libertine Fragrance is a one-man show, with Josh making the fragrances, bottling them, shipping them out, and doing the social media. Follow him for the perfume content alone because he talks about perfume ingredients, and it’s information that can be hard to find.

A review of his perfume, Burrow, follows this Q and A…

  1. Congratulations on the re-launch of Burrow, which originally came out in 2021. What made you bring this perfume back? Why now?

It was originally launched as a limited edition with a sister fragrance, Chlorophyillia. They were both vetiver forward scents focussing on a different element of vetiver. I decided to bring Burrow back into the full line up mainly because I just couldn’t stop thinking about it after the limited release was sold out. I did a little bit of touching up the formula for the full launch as the limited release formula was purposely created as more of a sketch.

  1. There are many vetiver-centred perfumes, but Burrow is different – it seems warmer and cozier. Was that intentional?

It was definitely intentional as I was contrasting the other vetiver release in the pair which was more damp and grassy using haitian vetiver. With Burrow I used Indonesian vetiver which is much smokier, earthier & almost nutty. I wanted to really push those aspects of the material.

  1. I’ve smelled many of your perfumes, and from the ones I have smelled, they all have a naturalistic feel.  We live in the same province, and I can’t help but think that the environment has shaped Libertine Fragrance, even though the ingredients come from all over the world.  How does the setting of Alberta shape the Libertine perfumes?

Being from Alberta has really shaped the brand and the scents, in some ways I have only recently begun to realize. Primarily, it means that I hadn’t had a deep connection to perfume before falling into the world. Alberta is distinctly non-cosmopolitan and doesn’t have much of a perfume culture so my exposure to the perfume world was fairly superficial. Because of this when I started to get excited about making scents my interests and view point for good smells was really the landscape and natural world. I have a forestry background and part of the work is always trying to take myself back to the Canadian backwoods.

  1. You went to Esxence for the first time this year – as a perfumer, what’s the biggest lesson you learned there, and do you recommend that other perfume brands check it out?

It was a ton of fun to meet and visit with perfume people I have only had online connections with. Still being in Alberta it was very invigorating to be around so many people with a similar passion. I was mainly going as I am starting to work on getting Libertine over into Europe and I wanted to get a better sense of the landscape but it was a great experience just to see all of the brands out there. The biggest takeaway I had was realizing how much there is out there. Brands, launches, art direction, there are so many options for all sorts of tastes. So much of it wasn’t for me and that’s ok. It is great to get to know that stuff and let it be for the other folks that do love it. 

  1. Aside from being a perfume composer, you are also a perfume wearer.  What are some perfumes that you think everyone should smell and why?

Gosh, Hard question! My preferences are basically either indie lines or cold, bougie classics (mostly Chanel). Some work I really love from people I also am lucky to consider friends would be Rosenthal by Hendley, It is a very rich incense rose that give Portait of a Lady a good run for it’s money. One I smelled while in Milan was Honey Body by Syd Botanica, A delightful gourmand tuberose that lasts forever.

  1. What’s the perfume you’ve fallen in love with most recently?

Seduction Theory, the newest from Universal Flowering out of Toronto. It is a soft and sultry fruity jasmine, myrrh & tobacco. I was gifted a sample while in Toronto last and it made a real impression. Before that was Spring in Bome by Hima Jomo a bright, damp galbanum floral that I was surprised to find out is all natural. 

  1. What perfume material would you like to include in a perfume, but you haven’t yet?

 There are a few materials I would love to work with that haven’t found their way into anything yet. The one that is really calling me is balsam poplar absolute. It is probably the most nostalgic material I have. It is the absolute of the sticky yellow buds that fall off of poplar trees and smells just like home on a hot summer day.

Burrow is Libertine perfume’s latest fragrance, a relaunch of a discontinued scent from 2021. This is the perfect spring scent because it evokes a liminal space – an underground dwelling that isn’t quite all the way away from the world, but still hidden enough to provide refuge. Is Burrow named after a place to hide, or is it a place to emerge from? Is it named after a verb, the action of tunnelling, of finding a space for oneself? Either way, Burrow provides comfort but not heat.

Burrow evokes the ground. It’s earthy and woodsy, reminding me of soil, dirt, roots, and grass. There’s a sense of smokiness like the air before a thunderstorm. A delicious crackling in the air that’s tense with dry dust. All the Libertine Fragrance perfumes I’ve tried evoke a sense of being connected to nature, and Burrow is no exception. Wear Burrow when you’re in that in-between space and you want to stay in it and it’ll carry you through.

You can find Libertine perfumes at https://www.libertinefragrance.ca/.

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