Cognoscenti’s No. 19 took me by surprise. The line is decidedly abstract, and insists on using very little if any floral notes at all. Add to this the angular, unisex packaging and numerals in lieu of titles and you’ll find what is usually the recipe for being ignored by my nose. Except that this line is different, and the stubborn shortage of frivolity reveals a true artistry and a mischievous, playful style.
Dannielle Sergent, the lady behind the scents, is an architect by training and profession, and studied under Yosh Han. Cognoscenti debuted in July at the 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco - a unique event, first of its kind that although small and quite underground, will be unforgettable as the launching pads of several indie niche brands on the West Coast and where artists who otherwise work rather reclusively in front of an intimidating organ came together as a community to voice their similarities and differences let their voices be heard as one.
But I digress. I wanted to tell you about Dannielle’s work, which I found astounding. Do not let the architectural, cut-glass look of the line fool you to think that these scents will be cold, emotionless or un-sexy. What is behind these crystal walls is a jus so mercurial and expressive that by the time you found your words to describe its scent - its very essence has already changed and become another.
No. 19 is accompanied by a tagline that reads “warm carrot” – which I can relate to much more easily than a random number (and do not expect it to resemble Chanel’s perfume bearing the same number either). If anything, on first impression it will remind you of another Chanel’s classic which I love even more: Bois des Iles. Cognoscenti’s composition, however, revolves entirely around a much misunderstood, underused and under-praised note of carrot seed essential oil. Although, mind you, it is known for its wonders in skin care, containing carotene and vitamin A – both helpful for anti-aging and anti-oxidants. When I first smelled carrot seed I thought very little of it as a perfumery ingredient. And I kinda left it there, neglected in its little corner on my palette.
Wild carrot seed (Daucus carota) shines in No. 19 and brings forth qualities that I have never thought belonged to carrot: mysterious, sexy, soft. It is warm, woody, musky and a little powdery and skin like.
In the beginning you will smell also hints of ylang ylang’s creaminess, lavender’s softness and the rich almost cloying woody sweetness of sandalwood (and as mentioned earlier - together reminding me of Bois des Iles). Other notes – vanilla, musk, amber, clary sage - weave in and out yet the carrot remains true with its beige elegance and creamy soft attitude of caroty intrigue, until the final dry down: vetiver and lavender, smelling curiously musky in the best of ways.
The energetic yet gentle dance of the notes reinforces the strange characteristics of Cognoscenit: the weaving in and out of notes, the return of the same forgotten notes moments later, and an over all dance that might seem chaotic at first but quickly reveals a pattern and a rhythm, perhaps even a hidden reason. The unexpected has happened – a new perfume structure was invented. Dynamic movement spiraling out of an invisible centre. It reflects the beauty of change and speaks of the intrigue of randomness. Abandon the well-traveled path and you will discover an abundance of wisdom and beauty.
Notes: Carrot seed, ylang ylang, lavender, vetiver, labdanum, amber, benzoin, vanilla