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Fragrance futurists, scent explorers and all those who simply want to discover the very best of modern niche perfumery know that ‘avant-garde’ is where it’s at.

Avant-garde fragrances need not be strange fragrances. But they cross boundaries and open up new potential for exploration. They challenge our perceptions of perfume genre and they reveal untold perfume narratives. Bogue Profumo Lita is an avant-garde perfume for an avant-garde love story. Lita blends white florals in ways never seen before, as jasmine, ylang ylang and gardenia unite to form a seductively dark and inky accord akin to a vinyl record. Meanwhile, rich and spicy champaca and a smoked treacle amber note recalls a decadent jazz club. Lita is cigarette fuelled erotica for lovers with a complex romantic history. Avant garde fragrances are often hard to classify, Le Mat by Medittorosa does not fit easily into predefined categories. It is a little bit boozy with notes of dried fruit and Marsala wine. This richly perfumed ambrosia is infused with pollan-sweet resins and a tantalizing blend of smooth spices. During drydown, the sweet splendour of sunkissed hay transports the wearer into a sunset on the far side of reality.

Just because a fragrance is avant-garde, does not mean that it cannot be timelessly beautiful. The collection of Paris based Senyoko includes a number of avant-garde niche perfumes which despite their pioneering approach have eternal appeal suitable for a universal audience. Migration de L’Arbre is a sophisticated and delicate scent balancing floral and herbaceous notes which oscillate around a balsamic, woody core – giving the arrangement a dynamic structure. A subtle animalic base gives the scent an almost feathery muskiness – soft, yet with a beating heart. Madame Butterfly II is an effortlessly elegant feminine fragrance of florals, fruits and musk. Balance is key here and no one element dominates this perfectly blended beauty. Madame Butterfly II is instead a complex and sophisticated niche perfume which chooses demure restraint over the shouty intensity of the pseudo-luxury market.

Some perfume houses have made avant-garde perfume their bread and butter. Scottish breakthrough brand Jorum Studio can’t help but release one trailblazing fragrance after another. Atheneum blends dried honey, lavender and dry herbs with the dusty aroma of an ancient library. Memories collide as the earthy leaves in sun-scorched fields become mixed up with the musty pages of old volumes. The contrasts between sun and shadow, summer crops and fermented fruit, golden honey and beeswax on aged wood should make this a central perfume for any fragrance archive. Fantosmia is a niche perfume that transcends traditional sensory boundaries. This herbal tincture is based on peppery barks, Carribean spices, stimulating leaves and narcotic roots. The crazy ingredient list includes such rarities as cascarilla bark, aetoxylon, annatto and mate and this is reflected in the fragrance’s almost hypnotic olfactory rhythm. Phloem is sexual excess in a bottle. A juicy explosion of red berry in the opening recalls a note of smudged lipstick and sticky cotton candy. Sweetness and the woman’s body coalesce as a briny animalic note offers salty contrast. The effect is Venus rising from her shell out of the water.

Some avant-garde perfumes challenge the concept of perfumery itself. Showcasing the cutting edge potential of iris, Neanderthal them Eau de Parfum is a progressive niche perfume, that is luminescent in buttery iris. The skinlike, waxy tones elude classification, but one thing unites opinion – it is addictive. Neanderthal light Eau de Parfum sparkles like air. A fizzy mineralic opening feels like prehistoric man unearthing exposed gems, metals and ores from pungent soil. light, is raw yet pretty, and refined in its primitivity. Sometimes we must discover the ancient to be cutting-edge again.

Avant-garde perfumes enable transformative experiences. Extrait D’Atelier permits us to recreate the atmosphere of space surrounding artisan work environments – uniting the high end niche perfume world with the hands-on culture of workshop craftsmen. Maître Joaillier, Maître Céramiste, Maître Jardinier, Maître Chausseur and Maître Couturier are varying atmospheric niche perfumes that take us to precious spaces of artisans at work allow us access to the often addictive fragrances they encounter every day. The forward thinking fragrances are elegant and easy to wear. Fizzing with citrusy aldehydes, they are somehow highly reminiscent of Chanel’s groundbreaking early fragrances, but with a postmodern twist.

No stranger to fragrance exploration, Meo Fusciuni looks at gourmand fragrances with an avant-garde lens in his Notturno Extrait de Parfum. Notes of rum and leather seep into a woody base, which when experienced unfolding on the skin, reproduce a wonderfully dark chestnut accord. One to savour poetically.

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