Off-White™'s debut beauty collection, "PAPERWORK," is one of the last projects Virgil Abloh touched. So when news broke that the pioneering label would launch the new category with four fragrances, the fashion industry collectively swooned.
Rightfully so — the scents, billed as "Solutions" numbered one through four, are some of the last Abloh-designed masterpieces that customers can get their hands on. (Currently, they're available at Off-White™'s website for $185 each.)
As a budding fragrancehead, I couldn't wait to try each Solution. The effortlessly cool branding and industrial-inspired bottles piqued my interest, as did the roster of perfumers Abloh recruited to work on the collection: Jérome Epinette, Sidonie Lancasseur, and Alexis Dadier.
As happy as I was to whiff away an hour our two, I wanted to get a bonafide expert's input on the launch. Naturally, I hit up Emma Vernon, #PerfumeTok star and host of Perfume Room, a podcast on everyone and everything that matters in fragrance.
After a 45-minute-chat and a few detours, we landed on a definitive ranking of Off-White™'s fragrance collection. Here's how we got there.
Pauly: So, the bottles are inspired by the knobs on chemical vats in factories. They’re very much in-line with Off-White™’s whole aesthetic. This is Solution No. 1.
Vernon: This smells like a cologne that you would get in Abercrombie & Fitch. It actually reminds me of California by Hollister. This one smells a little bit more commercially masculine.
Pauly: My immediate reaction when I smelled this was CK One. But that's so funny, because I’m getting flashbacks to Abercrombie now. This is what Off-White™ says about it: "A sporty, sexy fragrance with main notes of ho wood, sand accord, and patchouli."
Vernon: It’s giving me Abercrombie & Fitch.
Pauly: Let's move on to No. 2.
Vernon: That's pretty. I feel like there's lily and pink pepper. And there's something in here that's almost like tangerine. I'm definitely getting citrus, but I'm also getting water lily… also maybe a little musk. Definitely musk.
Pauly: When I first smelled this, I thought of lilies for sure. I was like, this is floral. Like you said, tangerine leaves are the top notes. Orange blossom is the heart note, and vetiver is the base.
Vernon: When I first sprayed it, I didn't smell citrus. It smelled really watery to me. But now I can only smell this musky citrus. It’s pretty and happy and easy to wear.
Pauly: Yeah. I feel like though, if I put too much on, I would smell like cleaning fluid.
Vernon: It definitely has that detergent feel. Now that you said cleaning product, I feel like I'm in the back of a hardware store.
Pauly: Totally. And not in a bad way. I don't want anyone to think that I'm being shady.
Vernon: It opens with this sort of fresh, musky, watery, tangerine. The power of suggestion and fragrance is so important — you said cleaning product and I can’t un-smell it. There's an ingredient that's in Davidoff Cool Water… it’s called dihydromyrcenol and Cool Water was the first popular fragrance that used it. It was was typically reserved for cleaning products. That's why everyone thought it was so fresh and watery.
Pauly: Oh, you know what? No. 2 smells like the orange Neutrogena face scrub.
Vernon: Yeah. There should be beads in this.
Pauly: This is No. 3. Also, I'm curious — is fragrance naturally clear, or did they add these colors?
Vernon: I think it's coloring. Sometimes fragrance will be a little amber-y in color, especially if there's Madagascar vanilla. But if you're getting blue or something like that, it's usually a dye. I'm curious what your thoughts are.
Pauly: I like this one a lot more than No. 1 and No. 2.
Vernon: To me, it's a very petal-y rose. It's going away now, but I smelled a little acetone in it. Couldn't you see a bougie nail salon taking your nail polish off with it?
Pauly: I definitely smell the rose, like you said, and then also baby powder.
Vernon: I feel like there's something a little peppery in it?
Pauly: So, No. 3 is by Sidonie Lancesseur. They're calling it a modern romantic and the top note is pink peppercorn, the mid-note is damascena rose, and the base is amber.
Vernon: It smells like rose petals to me. It’s not a sweet, jammy rose. It’s kind of buttoned-up. I get the peppercorn.
Pauly: Tell me about this note ambroxan.
Vernon: So ambroxan is basically a synthetic version of ambergris, which is secreted from a whale that washes up on shore. It smells like bandaids and ocean and musk and skin. It's not unethical, but it’s very rare and hard to find. So ambroxan is the synthetic version — it's a fixative that helps extend the life of perfume.
Pauly: What are your thoughts on No. 3 compared to the other two?
Vernon: It's a pretty rose. It feels more coiffed than the others. It's opening up in a really nice way.
Pauly: Alright, this is the last one…
Vernon: Okay, immediately, this feels like Santal 33 attempt.
Pauly: You took the words right out of my mouth.
Vernon: There’s something else in here too. There could be a mate note in there. I'm getting sandalwood and some sort of tea, or a rice accord. There could be a leather note in here too.
Pauly: So they describe this as a contrast between freshness and warm woodiness. Eucalyptus and lavender at the top… leather notes at the base.
Vernon: It reminds me of a few things. It reminds me Commodity Book. It reminds me of Santal 33. It reminds me of the One Hotel.
Pauly: When I smelled this, I immediately flashed back to partying at the Public Hotel. I believe they've switched to a different Le Labo scent, but they used to literally pump Santal 33 through the air vents. Which one is your favorite?
Vernon: Hmm. I would say [No. 4]. No. 3 is second, No. 2, then No. 1. What’s your order?
Pauly: I really like rose scents, so No. 3 is my favorite. Then No. 4, No. 2, and No. 1.
Vernon: [To Pauly's dog] Oh, my God. He's so cute, I can't take it.
Pauly: [To dog] Smell this! What does that smell like to you?