Thursday 16 May 2019

IO and QUASI UNA ABSURDIA by Chris Rusak

With an increasingly crowded niche perfume market, companies are having to find inventive ways in order to attract customers to their brand. This is very challenging for the true artisans because, however they choose to become more visible, it still has to fit in with their beliefs. An interest in the creative process has seen many perfumers open their labs to the public but Chris Rusak has taken this one stage further by releasing a series of “works in progress.” These snapshots of his formula book have resulted in a collection of five scents that encourage introspection, and which also smell spectacular.

Chris Rusak was born in New England and, from an early age, tapped into his creative side. A slight detour into a more academic occupation caused a short interruption but he soon returned to his artistic roots. After working in mixed media art, he eventually discovered the world of perfumery and says that the medium’s “intangibility and invisibility forces one to adapt their critical and creative faculties in ways that don’t often apply in other fine art mediums.” His creations are very personal and he aims to make the wearer look inside themselves whilst also creating wearable scents.

A way of making his customers feel more a part of the journey is through the release of his Studio Series. The idea behind them is that Chris allows his followers to smell “works in progress” and the sets often contain variations on the same theme. The most recent collection, Studio Series 6, continues the journey of the previous set by showing the ongoing development of three of those perfumes and it’s a wonderful way to see the real evolution of a scent. Two fragrances that came out of these sets were the evocative Io and the floral Quasi una Absurdia, and these truly soar majestically above the others.

Io takes the very widely used note of incense but presents it in a completely original and captivating way. The inspiration was the Californian hiking trails and this is very present in the hot pepper and dusty opening. That surrounding environment is provided by the wonderfully spruce-like cypress and the huge dose of cedarwood, but a resinous labdanum really makes you feel like you’re actually there. It also feels as though Chris Rusak pushes the frankincense almost to breaking point and it’s this boldness that makes Io a contender for the title of “the ultimate incense fragrance.”

Quasi una Absurdia is an unashamedly vintage floral with a powerhouse in the base. It opens with an incredibly engaging, aromatically touched, orange blossom but the triumph of this fragrance is in the floral heart. Chris Rusak manages to blend a classic combination of ylang, jasmine, rose and lily into a richness that is just not seen anymore. The perfect dose of clove gives a carnation touch to the blend, but the animalic civet and resinous benzoin both anchor and push that glorious floral. It is absolutely stunning and definitely puts you in mind of the classic Guerlain, Dior, and vintage Worth fragrances.

The full Chris Rusak fragrance collection is available from his website at and also at Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco priced from $10 to $190 [Samples provided by Chris Rusak]


  1. What a wonderfully enticing review Stephan. What more of a compliment could a reviewer give, than to liken his creation to those classic houses? Wonderful! I've got to know Chris a bit on Facebook and Instagram since you did the Stephan's Six with him a few years. He's a genuinely nice guy.

    1. Hello Barry, I loved trying Chris' fragrances and would definitely recommend the Studio Series as well. Best, Stephan