I first learned of Chris Rusak’s fragrances through instagram. He’s an indie perfumer based in LA. Chris is pretty open and honest on social media about the challenges of being independent in the fragrance industry. And he shares raw materials he comes across (as in some tree resins he recently gathered from the San Bernardino National Forest). On his website, he states that all of his fragrances are “built for women, men, and non-binary skin” which is fabulous and inclusive! I think his fragrances are still flying a little bit under the radar, but they are well worth seeking out.
Quasi Una Absurdia: This one is the star of the set for me. QUA recalls classic Guerlain compositions like like L’Heure Bleue with the powdered floral accord and Jicky with the civet. Yet, QUA is modern and daring, even. The civet is right up in my face (and my nose) on first spray. I love it, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, especially when paired with a huge spiced lily note as it is here. QUA is simultaneously a classic and feels like a breath of fresh air.
Bluer Skies (Whenever You’re Around): This one took some time to click for me. Bluer Skies is subtle on my skin, but it’s not without impact (especially in hot weather like we’re having right now). The main impression I get is a subdued cloud of peppered musk. There’s some coriander and even a salt accord sprinkled in the mix. Depending on your skin chemistry, this one could be much more loud and tenacious. I would recommend Bluer Skies in particular for someone looking for a scent that’s off the beaten path.
Io: This is a gorgeous balsamic and resinous incense and smoky cedar wood scent. Io comes across as elegant to me. And yet, there’s some actual dirt mixed into the composition. Yes, one of the accords is dry soil! I love the contrast, and who says we can’t be both elegant and edgy, anyway? I enjoy wearing Io in the evening when doing some meditation to wind down before bed. The dry down makes for the perfect meditative scent.
33: This is another one that has taken time to click. The vetiver is so smoky on first application on my skin that it’s almost too much. I really have to be patient with 33 and let it settle into my skin. The patience is worth it, though! There’s a crackled, dry orris melded with a funny kind of green vegetal accord. Fragrantica lists angelica as a note, which always manifests as a bitter celery scent on me, which may explain the vegetal note. For me, 33 requires further wearing because there’s a lot to unpack here. It’s much more than a typical vetiver scent.
Timbre: This one is limited edition and I’m not sure if full bottles are still available. Timbre is an EDT concentration and I believe the only EDT from Chris so far. It’s sharp and aromatic. There is something about it that feels very well-tailored and elegant. I think it’s the balance of notes here. The yuzu in the opening is the star for me. I must admit, I have oud fatigue, but the oud is deployed in a clever manner here. It anchors the composition while keeping everything in balance. I appreciate that Timbre is included in the discovery set so that people can experience a limited edition scent!
Overall, I highly recommend the discovery set! The spray vials are a good size to get some quality wearings out of these scents. I’m not sure yet what I would choose for a full bottle simply because each scent gives me so much to think about.
There are times when I’m in the mood for something more effortless and easy to wear (like my Tocca Simone or Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte). Then, there are times when I’m in the mood for an intellectual challenge and Chris Rusak falls into that category. I have to spend time with each individual scent in the discovery set and really get to know it. It brings out the literature student in me — studying the text and subtext! I appreciate Chris’ cerebral and thought-provoking approach to perfumery.
I purchased the discovery set directly from the Chris Rusak Perfume site. Nothing in this post was gifted.
The photo was taken by me.
All of the Chris Rusak scents have been added to the Fragrantica database, so you can conveniently browse them there!