One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Questionable: Odin 01 Nomad

A clothing concern in New York called Odin has released (well, six months ago, but that's how long it takes me to catch up with these things) three scents, unisex but skewing masculine. They're numbered for your convenience: 01 is called Nomad, 02 is Owari (a Japanese word meaning "The End"), and 03 is Century (for some reason). They all sound interesting to me, and Century is supposedly a chypre, which always piques my interest, but I'm taking them in order.

From Basenotes, the list of notes:

Top Notes: Juniper Berries, Himalayan Cedar Leaves, Bergamot. Middle Notes: Palmarosa, Spicy Black Pepper, Heliotrope. Base Notes: Tonka Bean, West Indian Sandalwood, Grey Musk.

(Palmarosa is an oil from a relative of the geranium with a rosy overtone.)

From Now Smell This, the company's advertising fluff:

“Under the spice trade routes comes an exotic wealth of rare scents. Orient attracts rich notes of juniper berries and cedar leaves from the high regions of the Himalayan Mountains with mysterious Palmarosa and spicy black pepper. Lingering in the air is the warmth of tonka beans blended with the sultry seduction of sandalwoods from the West Indian shores.”

Knowing these things, then, and looking at those blocky, forceful bottles full of enigmatic brown-gold juice, what do you envision? A rough-and-tumble masculine scent with a peppery core and a monumental sandalwood base?

You know that this is a trick question, because even though these are the things I thought of before I tried Nomad, here is what I got:

Coconut. I don't care what the list of notes, or anything or anyone else, says; it smells of coconut. The top is a bright little jingle-jangle of citrus and greenery with a bit of not-too-harsh spice which segues into a warm gourmand-oriental heart with coconut in it: the theoretically floral heart (palmarosa and heliotrope) reads as a soft vanilla pastry-cream confection with maybe, maybe a hint of rose. The base: more vanilla (that tonka bean) and some creamy, blurry wood. It is very pleasant, but overall it doesn't make me think of nomads, or the orient; it makes me think of a patisserie. They could have poured this concoction into any number of bottles with any number of names and you wouldn't bat an eye; it could be a celebrity scent aimed at teenage girls or the newest Comptoir Sud Pacifique island fragrance or a flanker from Ungaro.

Does that tactic work? Telling people what something is by the look and the name and the description of it, and then putting something completely different in the bottle? Do people buy with their eyes and not their noses? If Yves Saint Laurent had spent all that time and money establishing Opium as the absolute quintessence of orientalia, and then put a pretty floral inside the Japanese inro bottle, would anybody have bought it back in the 1970s? Would they buy it today? And isn't that what Odin has done with Nomad, really?

I am sorry for all these questions. This is not a test. But I am so baffled by the disconnect between what the scent purports to be and what it actually is.



  • I am so glad you posted the comment about coconut! I thought I was crazy, because this smells EXACTLY like Thai coconut milk soup on me (I think the actual name is Thum Gum Gai). I actually really like the smell, and it's easily my favorite of the three (I am partial to coconut), but couldn't figure out why it smells the way it does without listing the ingredient.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:17 PM  

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