Wallowa by Xarmony (2020)

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Wallowa by Xarmony (2020) is what one might call a semi-oriental fougère, because it crosses the streams of both genres as classic hybrids of that type do; but really defies most attempts at categorization, since the cavalier way in which perfumer and owner Trill Noel works outside the “orthodoxy” of perfumery seldom yields something that can be placed within its confines. This is one of the earlier designs by the brand as well, so it doesn’t have as much complexity since the perfumer admittedly had less at hand to work with when creating his first fragrances (dubbed “Gen 1” by him), meaning it has some close ties to others within its own range, which I can see with the similarity in opening to Ching Shih by Xarmony (2020). That said, this is not a predominantly floral perfume like that one, and does not dry down the same, it just shares a similar character that could very well make it a “brother” to that scent. All in all, the conceptualism for Wallowa is also more vague and open to interpretation, as it doesn’t recall any historical figure or place, merely that it gives the impression of the perfumer himself returning to his ancestral homeland.

Therein then, lies the reasons for the semi-oriental note configuration, as that is the region of the world from which some of Noel’s predecessors hail. All told this has a certain golden hue about it, not altogether unlike Pasha de Cartier (1992), particularly in a lavender/mint combo in the starring role, surrounded by rich woods and spices to keep it from being sharp. The scent doesn’t have much of a typical top/heart/base structure, it all just sort of comes “out” at you, with different elements receding at different speeds during the dry down, in true rogue-like renegade perfumery fashion. The sandalwood is very clearly here for lovers of that note, alongside patchouli and something that recalls incense, whether real or synthetic. Parts of this scent also remind me of Laura Biagiotti Roma Uomo (1994), especially the woody-ambery finish with a speck of green, but Wallowa is missing the weird orange creamcicle note juxtaposed over it that made me dislike Roma Uomo, so its simpler nature is a benefit here. Performance like all Xarmony scents I’ve tested thus far is absolutely weapons-grade. If you’re a beastmode bro that wants maximum power in your perfume, this is a house for you to check out.

Like with Odinsleep by Xarmony (2020), most criticisms could be lobbed at the rudimentary nature of the blend, but the counterpoint to that is when brands deliberately make simple fragrances to showcase the strength of individual materials, as Areej le Dore, Auphorie, or Bortnikoff sometimes do; and simplicity or rudimentary design can also be shopped as an aesthetic choice with “less is more” style, like with Lush Cosmetics or any number of attar makers out there. The key difference between Xarmony and them in this case is the use of mixed media (natural and synthetics), plus made-on-the-spot per-bottle fulfillment, much like souk perfumers do in major cities within Arabian territories. All told Wallowa is every bit a unisex experience, but I think the focus on lavender and sandalwood with incense may ever-so-slightly nudge out to the men or masculine-presenting folks than the ladies, even if there are no rules. For me personally, something like this would wear best in the cold, rain, or scenario where it could contrast the surrounding air best. A little goes a long way, but it’s a good way to go. Thumbs up


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