I’m taking a look at another discovery set this week, one that I was able to pick up recently and have spent the last two weeks testing out over my evenings. But first, here’s a little information on House of James.
Based in Australia, House of James was founded by Justin James, a graphic designer who grew up around the Victoria area. Due to his mother’s migraines, James wasn’t involved much with fragrances as a child, but eventually began to enjoy strolling through department stores to compare fragrances as a young man.
James is also the nose behind his fragrances, though he is very careful about the distinction of “perfumer”. In his own words:
I would never call myself a “perfumer”, a perfumer is a professional chemist with years of training and experience. I have taken it upon myself to do some basic training in Perfumery, but I am not a chemist, and I do not know enough to be considered a “perfumer”. I am simply an artist who makes perfume… In addition to training, I have and continue to do copious amounts of research both scientific and artistic on both perfume ingredients and the use of each in compositions. I also do many experiments, both in concepts and wearability. I am constantly learning and being taught by many different people within the industry.-Justin James
With that being said, he does enjoy creating olfactory experiences, and has especially focused on trying to expand the art of fragrance.
The discovery set I ordered contains all five fragrances from the Euroflections (evoking the feel of 5 locations around Europe) series, in very generous 5 mL atomizers. How does this artist stack up? Let’s take a look.
Sun King | Paris, France
Top: Sicilian Mandarin & French Bergamot
Heart: Green Tea & Amber Accords
Base: Black Agar & Floral Woods
Verdict: Don’t let the name fool you, this is not a “citrus freshy” scent. The amber and oud accords offer considerable weight to this fragrance, drawing a more realistic idea of the times of the Sun King. Sun, dampness, earthy scents, and a little bit of funk, because, you know, lotta people in the aristocracy dousing themselves in fragrance instead of bathing regularly.
Berlin NYE | Berlin, Germany
Top: Pink Peppercorn & Electric Vanilla
Heart: Fig & Vanilla Sandalwood
Base: Amber, Balsam with Civet
Verdict: To be honest, prior to smelling Berlin I have never really, truly gone “anosmic” to a fragrance before, in that effect that it basically just shuts all your olfactory receptors down. As such, and because of current world situations, my brain immediately went into panic mode thinking I had somehow contracted the ‘Rona and it was magically hitting right then that very moment.
So. That was a fun ten minutes. That said, I still really can’t give this a fair review because I can maybe get 30 seconds from this before everything shuts down. There’s always a first time for everything.
Rambla Del Mar | Barcelona, Spain
Top: Bergamot & Cardomom
Heart: Peppermint Tea & Fig
Base: Balsam & Blue Cedar
Verdict: Don’t spray this on expecting to get a marine scent. This is made for the person who OWNS the yacht, not the people out on the deck surrounded by the water every day. I absolutely adore peppermint notes in a fragrance, and this is no exception. A new twist on an old “power” classic woody Fougere scent.
Tantomonta | Granada, Spain
Top: Orange Blossom, Lavender and Bergamot
Heart: White Musk Accord & Coumarin
Base: Black Agar, Oud & Warm Amber
Verdict: If you’re wanting a citrus scent out of this series, this is the closest you’ll get to one. Tantomonta does start out with a lovely spark of orange blossom and bergamot, but the drydown quickly settles into something much heavier. This fragrance will promise you a hint of fun, but, like the walls of stone from its namesake, holds darker secrets to explore.
Hyde Park | London, England
Top: Winter Flowers, Lavender & Bergamot
Heart: Patchouli, Immortelle & Coumarin
Base: Cedar, Moss & Warm Amber
Verdict: This was my favorite out of the series. While at first, this seems like a traditional classic “cologne”, Hyde Park quickly pulls you into the atmospheric dampness of fall in a major urban city. The patchouli and cedar take turns offering a solid base for the coumarin and moss notes to play off of, and the take on amber here adds just a promise of warmth as opposed to taking a wrong turn into a tacky texture.
So is it worth it?
Overall, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this series, and at AU$64.95 (around $49.76 USD) this is a pretty darn good deal. If you’re eco-conscious, House of James does offer a refill option to help reduce waste, and any fragrances are tested on James himself, and never on animals. The full bottles are also very reasonably priced as well, which is good, because I have a little bit of a pet peeve with brand new houses with no reputation coming out of the gate to try and demand $200+ for their first offerings. A 50 mL bottle will run at AU$110.00 (about $84.82 USD).
I appreciate James’ attitude and approach to fragrance, both in his respect to perfumery and his willingness to build up his reputation through the quality of his fragrances and not hyped-out pricing.
House of James is off to a solid, artistic start and I am looking forward to see what he’s coming up with next.
I’m just going to steer well clear of Berlin.
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The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.