Thursday, 10 December 2020

FAUN by Thomas O'Brien

The inspiration behind a fragrance can often be the anchor that holds a whole project together. If you have a solid foundation then you have room to experiment, but a tenuous grasp on an idea can see you quickly drift off course. I admit that sometimes this can result in unexpected discoveries, but that doesn’t always help the project at hand. However, having a clear vision of how you want your finished fragrance to smell is not always easy. Thankfully, when Thomas O’Brien decided to launch his first commercial perfume it literally was the stuff of legend, but how would he translate the mythical Faun into fragrance?

Thomas O’Brien is a well-known face amongst the fragrance community thanks to his Facebook and YouTube Channel Ouch110. He began reviewing on 10th November 2012 with Kate Moss’ self-titled fragrance and the following eight years have seen him tackle everything from niche to mainstream. During this time he also studied natural perfumery, as a means of better understanding the whole process of creation, but decided not to pursue it as a career when he graduated. Instead he literally became the face of the London fragrance community through his work as a perfume specialist, quickly establishing himself as the “go to” expert.

When a global pandemic arrived in the United Kingdom it unfortunately meant that he became one of many to find themselves out of work, but this reignited his creative side. He reached for his forgotten stash of ingredients and began creating what would eventually become Faun. His graduation fragrance had been the fantastic Marari, which took its inspiration from the Mararikulam area of India, and I was lucky enough to receive a sample to review back in September 2019. This fragrance had been completely natural but, for Faun, Thomas wanted to expand his palette to include synthetics.

Using the faun as inspiration is not new, and the most famous example is probably Bouquet de Faunes by Jacques Guerlain. Created in 1922, it summons up the mythical forest god by offering a skin scent at one end and an animalic fur at the other, but nothing in the centre. Long discontinued, it can now only be smelled at Guerlain’s Paris boutique. In Thomas’ interpretation we see more of the forest environment, almost through the eyes of the faun, and it’s a brave combination of ingredient overdosing and expertly structured support. This might be the first commercial outing for Thomas O’Brien, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Faun opens with a rush of crisp aldehydes, almost like sunlight streaming through branches, before a watery bouquet of floral notes arrive headed by freesia and jasmine. The bergamot helps to keep them bright, also giving a galbanum-like quality, and seems to draw in the note of tobacco to give an impression of dry vegetation. With the scene set you then start to get the faun’s fur-like quality, that stole softness, from the resinous opoponax and the merest hint of oakmoss. Alongside a touch of peppery patchouli, it seems that Thomas has gone for a more vintage style musk in the base and this, in conjunction with the tonka bean, gives an added cashmere texture that is enchanting. Is it a floral chypre or an aromatic amber? You decide.

Faun is available from Thomas’ website at thomasobrien.co.uk priced at £50 for 30ml or £4.95 for 2ml. [Sample provided by Thomas O’Brien]

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