Monday 7 January 2019

CAMEL by Zoologist Perfumes

The word “animalic” is often used to describe fragrances that are musk-laden, dangerously resinous, or that exude a carnal sensuality. It’s gone far beyond mere ingredients and instead has almost become a subversive trend of its own. The level of animalic-ness varies from company to company but there is one brand that is pushing the limits to breaking point. With fragrances that don’t obey the “rules” and a concept that, six years on, is still extraordinary, Victor Wong has sailed Zoologist right into the eye of the storm and the results are wonderfully challenging. So, from Bat to Beaver, it’s time to “talk to the animals.”

There are many ways that you can work when creating a fragrance but the majority of perfumers agree that starting with a concept or an inspiration is far more productive than just throwing around some ingredients and hoping for the best. A concrete idea at the beginning of a project can anchor an entire collection and ultimately provides a consistency that customers can latch onto. This is exactly what Victor Wong decided to do back in 2013 and his success can be measured by the fact that he is about to launch perfume number fifteen.

The continuing premise of Zoologist is to take an animal and use it as the inspiration for a fragrance. The final scent is always designed to embody an aspect of the particular creature, or their surroundings, and it’s this wonderful freedom of expression that has kept the collection so interesting and popular. Not having an in-house perfumer means that Victor is free to employ the talents of a variety of creators, matching the perfumer to the project, and this adds a real individuality to each new fragrance whilst still relating it to the previous releases.

The original trio of scents comprised Beaver by Chris Bartlett, Panda by Paul Kiler, and Rhinoceros also by Paul Kiler. This introduced the series with an oriental, a woody aromatic, and a leather perfume, but the collection continued to grow and boundaries were pushed hard by Sven Pritzkoleit’s Hyrax in 2018, which gloriously took “animalic” almost to breaking point. With stunning illustrations still being provided by the talented Daisy Chan, 2019 sees the release of Daniel Pescio’s Chameleon. However, I want to take you back to 2017 and Christian Carbonnel’s beautifully constructed frankincense-heavy Camel.

The perfume was designed to conjure up the dry heat of the desert with long journeys across the endless sand, and it develops in an extraordinary way. Camel seems to ignore the usual hesperidic top notes and instead opens with dried fruits, resinous tones of civet and oud, and a spectacular incense and frankincense pairing. From this point Camel brightens with cinnamon, becomes drier thanks to the perfect dose of vetiver, and even has delicate traces of orange blossom and jasmine. It exudes a fur-like dry warmth on the skin and is a truly refined fragrance. Camel is, in a word, perfection.

Camel is available as a pure perfume from the Zoologist website at priced at $145 (£115) for 60ml. [Sample provided by Zoologist]


  1. Thank you for this review of Camel. I find the perfumer, Christian Carbonnel, has done a great job provoking the feeling of "dryness" in Camel.

    1. Hello Victor, I loved wearing the fragrance and the dry down on the skin was beautiful. The perfect frankincense perfume. Best, Stephan