It’s always a treat when you get to find indie niche houses to explore, and it’s even more special when the nose behind the fragrances is willing to listen to you word vomit at them on what your thoughts are. That’s commitment, y’all. COMMITMENT.
I was able to experience that particular delight (via the magical connector tool called Instagram) with the perfumer behind Seattle-based Âge de Querelle Perfumes, Chad Bylsma.
One of the great joys those in fragcomm partake in is the hunt for discovering new houses and new fragrances to get their noses on. It’s not uncommon to hear folks asking for suggestions on niche or indie houses to try, especially in Facebook groups or on Instagram. One of the houses we discovered along the way was Âge de Querelle Perfumes. While Bylsma just released his Blacklisted series of fragrances, I decided to try the Eau de Cologne scent, because… well, I have a very hard time saying no to anything resembling a Fougère (especially a barbershop) fragrance.
What is a Fougère fragrance you ask? This olfactive family is typically a very herby, aromatic scent that often includes vetiver, oakmoss, lavender, bergamot, geranium, and animalic notes. The scents can range from sweet to very, very dry. A classic barbershop fragrance is most typically from the Fougère family and tends to stray to the sweeter side (though not always). Barbershop fragrances typically contain lavender, at least one type of aromatic note, some level of sweetness from vanilla or tonka bean, and could have either a boozy or animalic element to it.
Let’s take a quick look at the notes in this scent.
Âge de Querelle – Eau de Cologne Notes
Bay leaves, clove, petitgrain, bergamot, peppermint, lavender, geranium, Virginian cedarwood, ambergris, patchouli, and vanilla.
You can see many of the notes I listed above that go into making a barbershop fragrance. You might also see this note called ambergris and are thinking “Kori, you’ve mentioned this before but I don’t know what it is!”
Long story short, it’s bile duct buildup a whale vomited up that made its way to shore. Ambergris is synthetic depending on which country you live in (ie in the US and Australia the possession and trade thereof of ambergris is illegal). It’s also what the synthetic Ambroxide compound aka ambroxan is derived from.
By itself, ambergris is not particularly pleasant, but when blended in perfumes it can help serve as a fixative of sorts, helping scents last longer and can also add a sweet, animalic element.
So what’s the verdict for Eau de Cologne now that we all know what’s what?
I love it. Keep in mind, I fall into the camp of people who think Altoids could be stronger. I LOVE PEPPERMINT. I was the little weirdo as a kid who would go for straight-up peppermint oil. It’s one of my bigger pet peeves in fragrances that many perfumers seem to shy away from really letting this note shine in their scents but have no problem adding the dirtiest animalic and ouds possible.
Âge de Querelle Perfumes had no such compunctions and what resulted was a lovely barbershop scent that tingles the lungs on the inhale.
Now don’t mistake my waxing poetic about the peppermint note to mean that it overpowers everything else. Far from it. The aromatics ride a wave of chilly peppermint to sizzle all the way up behind your eyes, and bergamot top note is a wonderfully potent spark. The woodier, grounding notes in Eau de Cologne are blended to give you a nice depth as the dry down continues, with the cedarwood and patchouli giving the fragrance a nice earthy quality. The vanilla adds just enough sweetness without overwhelming the rest of the notes.
Projection-wise, you’re going to be noticed when you walk into a room if you’ve just sprayed this (thanks peppermint!), but it’s not all-consuming. Better the sillage cloud is outright delicious and worth following after just to get an extra whiff of. As far as longevity goes, this lasts around 3-4hours on me, which for an eau de cologne concentration is pretty darn good.
Now, obviously, you probably won’t want to wear this in the middle of a heatwave. But for most other occasions? This’ll get you in a pinch.
Prices are very reasonable, especially considering this is an indie house. You can grab a 50 mL bottle of Eau de Cologne for $68, or the 10 mL travel size for $27. If you want to sample first, you can pick up a sample set of three fragrances in 2 mL atomizers for $18.
Overall, Âge de Querelle is a fun, up and coming fragrance house run by a perfumer who cares about quality and is happy to chat with you about your thoughts on his work. Definitely worth at least checking out.
The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.