Niche Perfumery Ikiryo: When a Fragrance Brand Offers More than Perfumery

Ikiryo: When a Fragrance Brand Offers More than Perfumery

04/15/17 10:29:14 (19 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Vincent of Dreamhouse

Vincent of Dreamhouse

With so many new fragrance brands constantly entering the market, it can be difficult to discern the good, the bad and the boring. Add to that the utterly subjective nature of fragrance and it can be a challenge to know when to follow recommendations of critics or fellow enthusiasts. As such, brands resort to concepts, packaging, and let's face it, gimmicks, that catch our attention and entertain our curiosities. Sometimes, however, fragrance is developed as more than just an aroma, more than an accessory, and becomes a piece of art.

Ikiryo Artwork

Recently, a new American brand reached out to me to introduce their products; the website, name and concept indeed entertained my curiosity - Ikiryo by Vincent of Dreamhouse. Vincent, the founder and perfumer (and really, he wears more hats than simply those two) writes:

The marketing slogan is "Not fragrances for men, not fragrances for women...but fragrances for a man and fragrances for a woman".  The connotation is to imply the uniqueness of the scents and that they are indeed for those seeking something exceptional and to stand out from the general olfactory fare.  I want to transport people who wear the fragrances to worlds seen in my visual presentations.  I want people to take notice, turn their heads and go "WOW".  Far to many times I have seen lackluster presentations and smelled generic smelling fragrances to the point of infuriation.  Rather than turn my head and go "WOW, I'd scratch my head and say "WHOA"...!  My visual presentations will appeal to the artist in everyone and I strive to have their olfactory companion pieces themselves be seen as "wearable art".

To add, among some of the fragrances Ikiryō creates are oils and notes rarely if ever used, making my scents truly one of a kind...

Ikiryō...making dreams of dreams...

"Ikiryō" is the Japanese term for a ghost of a living person (the American/English equivalent to this would be a doppelganger).  Fragrance, to me, is like our ethereal other selves.  A ghostly alter ego that swirls about our person and communicates silently with others. Dreamhouse-Ikiryo.com

Ikiryo Artwork

Upon our initial correspondence, I spent some time exploring Ikiryo's website and was mesmerized by the combination of music, language and imagery. There is a gothic, renaissance, fantasy vibe (with just a touch of steampunk) that well-matches Vincent's explanation of his brand. I soon began to realize that this was no "let's launch a best-selling fragrance" attempt but rather the creative expression of an artist enjoying the pleasure of working in a range of media. Vincent describes himself as follows:

"'Imagine Tim Burton if he were to become a photo editor, make-up artist, a hair-stylist, photographer and costume designer…as well as still being a director…'

I encompass a broad range of mediums such as dance, drama, photography, costume design, set design, lighting design, film, infra-red visuals, even computer generated images (CGI…used to create special effects in films).  Because of my diversity, it is impossible to select just one category for myself.   I write all of the shooting scripts, design and make all of the costumes, I do all of the hair and make-up, I do all of the photography and all of the post edit.  And I am my own perfumer.  I wear many hats/guises: Dreamhouse-my overall "hat"...Otto Phokus-my photographer's "hat"... Ikiryō-my perfumery "hat".  I am basically a one man show.

I have been designing and creating costumes as well as doing photography since I was 14 years old.  I have been into fragrance since I was little, swiping sprays of my father's colognes as well as my grandmother's perfumes.  I studied/followed haute couture with my brother for two years, with designs on becoming the next American couturier in Paris after Oscar de la Renta.  In 2000, I felt the fashion industry became extremely sloppy...so I went back to my first love: costuming.  I soon began designing costumes for opera companies throughout Northern and Central California.  It was here that I began honing my skills as a storyteller.  In 2010 I began focusing developing my own projects, using my skills as a designer, costume maker, embroiderer, make-up artist, wig stylist, photographer, photo editor and storyteller/writer.  

I have every intention of returning to opera soon..." Dreamhouse-Ikiryo.com

Ikiryo Artwork

When Vincent asked if I might want to sample his creations I enthusiastically thanked him for the offer. I decided not to read about the fragrances (other than their titles) so that I could experience them without any preconceived notions or expectations (aside from the anticipation instigated by the pleasure of browsing the website).

When my (large) package of samples arrived, I thought that Vincent must have made a mistake! But when I opened the box I found a tall, handmade, cylindrical container that looks like the one at left:

Ikiryo packaging

I was surprised by the handmade cylinder. "Wow, this guy puts A LOT of thought into his products," I remember thinking. Inside the cylinder was a book (!) of photographs that told the story of my fragrance and a bottle with leather and metal corset adorned with silver sealing wax. I had to break the wax to open the bottle. But more on the scent and the samples tucked away in the cylinder in just a moment.

The book for my fragrance, Fugue, was truly impressive. The story and images created quite a rich context in which to consider the aroma. I began to realize that for Vincent, fragrance is but one part of the larger experience when being a customer of Ikiryo.

Artwork for Fugue by Ikiryo

Fugue Ikiryō for women and men

FUGUE by Ikiryo

A tale about a chemist creating a base for an incense which sends him into a "fugue state".

A hypnotic scent of boozy and fruity incense that is sure transport you to a dreamworld filled with lustful nights in exotic cabarets...”

Notes: Clearwood, sugar beet, benzoin, iso e, honeysuckle, black currant, pineapple, rum, castoreum, incense

Fugue could best be described as a floral, smoky cider. There is a high-pitched fruit note that dominates the first 30 minutes of the composition followed by a sweet, boozey aroma that anchors the base. Between these two levels is a woody-floral accord that unites the fruit and booze. Behind these prominent notes, lingering at the edges, are tendrils of frankincense and myrrh. The fragrance is unusual and I can't really think of anything else to compare it to.

Artwork for Fugue by Ikiryo

But Fugue is even more unique after reading the accompanying book that reads like a graphic novel. It's impossible not to associate the scent with the otherworldly, often creepy images designed and costumed by Vincent. As such, wearing an Ikiryo scent, if one has had the privilege of enjoying the full packaging, is akin to stepping into an art installation or witnessing a performance. The aroma is but one part of the overall experience. Ikiryo is an invitation to enter Vincent's imagination.

I enjoyed many of Vincent's creations, and found his florals - particularly Tree of Sorrow - and the ambers from his forthcoming "Ambre Ange" series most to my liking. The fragrances are all rather complex with strong development and excellent longevity.

Vincent offers sample packs of 4 fragrances for $24 USD ($30 USD for Canada delivery) and prices of his fragrances range between $80 USD and $160 USD for a 50ml spray depending on the ingredients of each scent.

A big thank you to Vincent for sharing his artistry with me. Visit Ikiryo online at Dreamhouse-Ikiryo.com

 

 

Image of the author

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to BeautyAlmanac.com and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting:  www.MarlenHarrison.com.

 

 



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kinetisphere
kinetisphere

I see a lot of you are quick to judge a book by it's cover.

Have you even taken the time to read the book? Do you even know this man?

Vincent is a good person and does create some fine fragrances. Don't be so quick to judge. The sad part is close-minded people will always keep our evolutionary process at bay.

May it be in science or arts.

You have to experience it and learn it before you truly can understand it.

I bid you all a good day.

Marlen and Vincent..

Great article.

Kind regards, Lawton j.

Apr
22
2017
alittlebrittle
alittlebrittle

Okay. okay okay okay....I was thinking the same thing as some of you, in fact my first thought upon reading that Vincent considers himself Tim Burton-esque..yawn..listing all of these sort of romanticised hobbies as things he actually excels in, makes a living doing...the wordiness that indicates he's a good tale-spinner, but hasn't really done anything of note, and everything he lists himself as "being", is overtly Baroque, "Gothic"...."opera"? Really? "Otto Phokus"...cringe...at least you're not referring to yourself in the third person...YET... So my first thought was "oh gawd, not another pseudo-Lestat, vampire-obsessed Byron & DeSade worshipping twit...probably claims to play the harpsichord as well, went to Art Center or FIDM for a semester..." Then I thought...yeah...what's with the cheap bottles with homemade little belts around them, covered in sealing wax...the packaging is ugly, looks like papier-mâché and glue-collage...

However! I get all poet-y and deep sometimes too, and like my fantasy and appreciate "Gothic" stuff too, and this guy just went for it, guts and all, is willing to be a bit of a ponce to have his "craft" taken seriously...HE'S DOING IT, when a lot of us have only thought about it. Ref: cupboard full of scent-making supplies that have likely expired, unused. Good for you, Vincent, but remember that people who take themselves far too seriously end up terribly depressed, and can come off as unapproachable and po-faced, so get yourself some sun, have a giggle (Brent (Brett?) at Smell Bent can help you), read some lighthearted chick-lit or something, but DO lighten-up a little! People LIKE a nice, appreciative guy behind the "art" (see: Andy Tauer, nicest niche-creator ever), otherwise I fear you'll end up in the "deleted" Facebook profile pile...with a cupboard full of unused fragrance-making supplies.

Apr
21
2017
lyngbh
lyngbh

100% what Annie said. I'm baffled by the rage and condescension as well. I see this sort of attitude fairly often here at Fragrantica and find it sad and disheartening. When being condescending and/or hateful and/or insisting that all fragrances fit into exclusive parameters becomes more important to someone than the actual joy of huffing the juice, then what's the point, really?

I'm also not sure what exactly "theLady" tested, as the fragrances I purchased, and enjoying a great deal, aren't the least bit "watery", weak or "cheap" smelling by any stretch of the imagination. To each their own, I guess.

Apr
20
2017
Annie_OK
Annie_OK

What is with all the hate???

Darkness is a part of all of our psyches, and hating on someone else's talent is only evidence of that, imo.

I can easily see these costumes, photographic artwork, and handmade packaging in a gallery. This is the stuff of mythology, literature, historical art, theatre, and fashion.

Here's a budding niche perfumer who's clearly multi-talented and seems to me to be working on multiplying every talent he's got. Haters, on the other hand, tend to be the same people that are sitting on their own talents, burying them in the ground, instead of facing their fears and pursuing their own dreams.

So disappointed in some Fragranticans right now.

Apr
20
2017
canny1234
canny1234

Emperors new clothes /aka pretentious twaddle.

It's only perfume......

Apr
19
2017
theLady
theLady

PS: @BloomPerfume - exactly.

PS, Vincent - your photos are too dark.

Apr
18
2017
theLady
theLady

Mmmm, no. TBH, these things smell like some watery essential oil blend you'd buy at a Ren-Fair, and the branding supports this. There's a lot of focus on questionable visual aesthetic, versus the juice.

Not in my wardrobe, thanks.

Apr
18
2017
scarlett.angel
scarlett.angel

BloomPerfume thanks for that comment; makes me feel better about not being able to sample these. I got so caught up in the imagery of it all; forgetting this is about an actual perfume I want to smell good also! This was the response from the artist's Facebook page; in regards to purchasing the scents internationally, "Dreamhouse / Ikiryō
I do. But 1) only to a select few...and 2) I am currently only shipping full bottles. Shipping costs are pricey though and it is against the law to ship alcohol based products internationally (though some of us do) If you are willing to take the chance with shipping, I can ship to you..."

Blind buy an expensive full bottle? No thanks.

Apr
17
2017
BloomPerfume
BloomPerfume

a bit hard to obtain to try, I asked a friend to bring them all the way from San Francisco to London and... meh. Lack the technical component you would expect from a "perfume" rather than an oil blend i.e. sadly they do not last and the brand seems to have been carried away with materials experiments and forgot the behind the scenes support components which provide structure and longevity.
However, Londoners are welcome to judge for themselves as we have have the samples in our London shop at Covent Garden.

Apr
17
2017
scarlett.angel
scarlett.angel

You had me at gothic fantasy... wow my kinda imagery. This is art. I need a sample pack at once but Of course they don't ship overseas :( Just kill me now plz. I'm obsessed with the website and whole concept!

The person below me; you are so lucky!!!

Apr
16
2017
lyngbh
lyngbh

I have the The Sinful Three and they're really exquisite! 4 fairly large samples of their other offerings were also included. It was a blind, total impulse buy, which I fretted about quite a lot, but it was shipped in a relatively timely manner (very well packed as well), the handmade packaging of the actual product was top notch, and the scents are outstanding. No regrets. I'm trying to put reviews into words but the fragrances defy my ability to describe them beyond the most simple terms even though they're quite complex. They're luscious, and unlike any other fragrances I've tried. Very special, indeed.

Apr
16
2017
corkscrewcurly
corkscrewcurly

Fascinating article, Marlen. I am really drawn to the images you have uploaded; I find them haunting and very intriguing.

I shall be spending some time on the brand website.

ETA: The website has beautiful and compelling images - fascinating. The company doesn't ship outside the US, unfortunately, so I won't be able to test any of the fragrances. I've just read lyngbh's comments (above mine) and am even more intrigued, dagnabbit.

Apr
15
2017
SchopenhauersNose
SchopenhauersNose

This guy embodies everything that's wrong with contemporary perfumery.

Apr
15
2017
Annie_OK
Annie_OK

Compelling imagery and photographic artwork. Love the concepts and presentation: the costumes, the unearthly quality, as well as the handmade packaging and the bottle "dressing."

When I saw the dripping wax, I wondered if you would have to break it! I thought maybe it would be a flexible latex, but no, you have to commit to opening a bottle like when you cut into a beautiful cake!

So interesting and unusual across the board. Thank you, Dr. Harrison. I look forward to checking out the Dreamhouse website and Vincent's scents!

Apr
15
2017
K1
K1

@Q80
+1 to your comment. I was once highly intrigued to try their fragrances and maybe write an article on my blog. But my mails remained unanswered.
Bloggers and journalists are free tribunes for artistic perfumery. When someone neglect them cannot expect others come and find him in his cave.

Apr
15
2017
Q80
Q80

DISCLAIMER
Ikiryo does NOT give away free samples.
Ikiriyo does NOT supply samples for reviews/blogs
Ikiryo does NOT ship to Russia or Belarus.
Ikiryo does NOT ship to mail forwarding services.
All such inquiries will be deleted

That what they have written in their website! it's quite offensive! i really wonder what if we want to buy some samples!?

let's just hope their fragrances worth it and they won't close within few months for poor services :)

Thanks Dr.

Apr
15
2017
SuzanneS
SuzanneS

Thank you Marlen for spotlighting a deserved indy house. Vincent -folks he is the creative real deal. He presents his creations in a cutting edge 4D environment. As a fellow professional in the creative field I feel his talent in a multitude of areas will bring something unique to the fragrance community. Congratulations Dreamhouse and their unique vision.

Apr
15
2017
VanillaTabbyCat1963
VanillaTabbyCat1963

Thank you kindly Marlen for this informative article!

I love how Vincent of Dreamhouse understands our desire for our perfumes to be much more than scent. Sometimes we are transported to places we haven't been to yet. They can be places within us or out in the world and this can be really eye opening and pleasing.

It brings me happiness to see the TLC that Vincent puts into his products. I love that he loves the finished product he is creating. This makes me wish to try his beautiful creations as I see them, even more so!

Apr
15
2017
the big totoro
the big totoro

I found Vincent's website last week and have been debating on which creations to sample first, they all look amazing to say the least. To be honest I was hoping that nobody would draw attention to this house until after I had done my exploring...I rather enjoyed the idea of venturing into relatively uncharted territory... ;)
We need more of this kind of artistry in perfumery instead of all the "sell-outs" and mediocrity. Thanks for the wonderful article Marlen!

Apr
15
2017

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