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Norne – Much more than a walk in the forest - September 28, 2012 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikipedia - Atavar Grove, Douglas Fir and Cedar old-growth - Port Renfrew, B.C.

NOTE: Norne is temporarily unavailable until new stock arrives.


How did I get into niche perfume?

Easy answer: I love great perfume. I have a good nose, and a good scent memory.

More thoughtful answer: I love art. Not an artist myself, I live in a family of artists, so on a daily basis I share creative perspectives which are outside the mainstream. I’ve always veered toward the unusual, unique, and sometimes outright weird when it comes to artistic expression.

Especially in perfumes.  Which is why I when I discovered Slumberhouse, a small indie perfume house created by a group of young artists from Portland Oregon, I did a little celebratory dance and got down on my knees to the perfume gods for answering my prayers. For months, I’d been craving something different, something brilliant, a surprise, but I didn’t know what it would be. Now I do.

The Slumberhouse website  homepage has their logo with the  description “ Strange and Unique perfumes”, and features five of their newest scents. I decide to sample them, and when they arrive a week later, I spend an entire day going through them, testing on my skin, going back and checking, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing. The quality is exceptional, the scents revealing unexpected beautiful facets – there are many “ahhh moments” throughout the day.  Strange and unique describes the house style, no doubt about it, but there is a gifted nose, or noses, at work, and it’s obvious to me that there is definitely an “unequivocal love for the art of fragrance making” at Slumberhouse.

My favourite of the samples is Norne. It is probably the most uniquely beautiful perfume I’ve smelled in a long time. Slumberhouse describes it: “Fog caked needle, lichen, fern and moss perfume the nocturnal air beneath grandiose canopies of fir and hemlock - a headspace captured in perfect equilibrium…. luxuriously composed entirely with 100% pure forest absolutes; a connoisseur grade fantasy/surrealist recipe of incensed coniferous woodsy resins inspired by the catharsis of self worship”.

In the bottle, Norne is dark dark green, almost black, and very dense, and when sprayed on my skin, the dark juice must be smoothed carefully. My first impression is incredibly pungent evergreens, the scent of sticky cones crushed underfoot, shiny resinous needles rolled between fingers, scents from my growing-up years on the West Coast, where the forest started at the end of our back yard. Douglas fir, cedar, pine, hemlock.

Norne’s smell is intensely sharp, green, and cool in the first couple of minutes, with a hint of camphor that gives it a slight minty vibe. That slight note quickly changes in the next few minutes as green moss adds softness, sweetening the resins with something that smells like new-mown hay, a vegetal sweetness which develops a spiced fruit aspect, reminding me of a Serge Lutens as the scent dries down.

The Serge image fades, and in the heart Norne becomes less resinous and more woody, lightly smoked and herbal, with bits of clove and nutmeg, but the huge conifers are still the towering stars in Norne.  The powerful scent of their big-forest resins changes even more with the addition of frankincense, with its distinctive church-mould, temple-incense, smoky sweetness which seeps in slowly through the drydown, turning Norne from a tree-lovers holy grail frag to a perfume lover’s gift from heaven. On my skin after six hours, Norne still smells foresty, of resins and woods, but these notes are perfectly balanced and softly sweetened from the mix of spices, mosses and incense which in the end, make Norne a contemplative, almost spiritual, scent.

So after sampling Norne, the Slumberhouse statement that Norne is a “fantasy/surrealist recipe of incensed coniferous woodsy resins inspired by the catharsis of self worship” makes sense to me. It may be somewhat purple-ish in the prose department, but the statement pretty well sums this frag up.  It smells very natural to me, but at the same time, it's surreal twist elevates it to much more than simply the smell of a forest. This frag to me is about our past, and about our future - without trees, we won’t exist.

Norne is not for everybody, because it most definitely is strange and unique, but I think everybody who is interested in niche perfume should experience it. It’s art, it’s creative and inspiring, and god knows we all need a little creative inspiration in our multi-tasking lives once in a while. I’m sending a big “thank you” to the young artists at Slumberhouse.

Norne is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

 Thanks to D.B. of Templeton, California, who requested a Slumberhouse fragrance. We hope he likes the decant sample of Norne which we've sent to him as a "thank you" for participating in our "We Take Requests" event.