Liz Zorn and Soivohle: An Appreciation

John James Audubon

John James Audubon

Ever since I began this series of posts on US perfumers- which is now reaching its end-I’ve had one thing in mind, to convince folks that yes, US indie perfumers are sophisticated enough to produce some top quality perfume.

Liz Zorn is a case in point.  When I started sampling I hadn’t tried all the perfumers.  In fact hadn’t read reviews of their scents either, except in the cases of Mandy Aftel and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, so the work of Shelley Waddington, Ellen Covey, Neil Morris and Liz Zorn came out of left field for me.  Liz Zorn’s line is one of the most interesting, because the complexity and delicacy of what she produces is so marked.

Yup.  I said delicacy, and yes, I mentioned complexity too.  Liz is one of those perfumers who seem to have an instinctive sense of where to begin and where to end with a perfume.  Believe me, not everyone does.

She must have some considerable knowledge of old French classics.  You can smell that much from everything she composes, but what she makes is not the run of the mill retread of an old hit.  Rosa sur Reuse is an example of what I mean.  To me RsR is reminiscent of the old Opium competitor Teatro Alla Scala, but Rosa is not so heavy on its feet as the Italian perfume.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like Teatro, but that parfum d’un certain age is a bit more robust than Rosa, and Fragrantica calls Rosa a fruity floral.  I’d say it crosses the line slightly into floral/oriental territory and like Teatro, is based on some harmless badinage between rose and tuberose, camouflaged by fruit, like an argument between Lana Turner and Carmen Miranda at a Hollywood cocktail party. But Rosa is its own perfume, it’s not Opium lite.

Audubon Black -billed Cuckoo

Audubon Black -billed Cuckoo

Centennial, one of Liz’s chypre perfumes is another real success, with not only a beautiful rose-jasmine beginning, but one of the best chypre dry downs I’ve smelled in some time. Her Honeysuckle Bird is a thickly leafy honeysuckle (and that’s not easy btw, even Francois Coty never managed to recreate honeysuckle) draped over a linden perfume.

So, just how sophisticated are Liz Zorn’s perfumes?  The Non-Blonde once reviewed her Purple Love Smoke “ It’s (at least) equal in beauty and complexity to a very vintage Jolie Madame in extrait…”  she thought.  I haven’t smelled Purple Love Smoke. (PLS is back on the Soivohle site incidentally . Rumors of its demise were apparently exaggerated.) I’d concur with Gaia about Liz’s talents as a perfumer.

My own practical experiment was with Rosa sur Reuse tried against a Dior Limited Edition: New Look 1947 (courtesy the generous Undina).  Both of these are tuberose rose bouquets with green and vanilla touches and some fruit.  There just is not that much qualitative difference except that after ten minutes neither I nor my Hub could smell the French LE.

The Dior is purportedly Francois Demachy, but guess what? Makes no never mind honey. You might just as well go with the Soivohle and  buy an 11 ml. bottle for 25.00 USD instead of a big honking 4.25 oz. Dior LE for 190.00 USD that you can no way empty in this lifetime. Also guess what? No one will notice or care in the least.

soivohle bottleMy own love in this line was Black Pepper and Raspberries, but again, this does not much matter because you are in safe hands with Liz Zorn.  Almost everything is very sophisticated and in perfect proportion to everything else in her perfumes.  She really is that good.


The artwork is John James Audubon although Liz is herself an artist. I chose Audubon for the precision of his renditions which reminded me of Liz’s exactitude with her scents.

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5 Responses to Liz Zorn and Soivohle: An Appreciation

  1. mals86 says:

    I have to blame (thank?) Musette at Perfume Posse for goosing me to try some of Liz’ output – I think Musette lives (relatively) close and has been to the shop, lucky duck… She was talking about how wonderful Violets and Rainwater was, and I went to the site and sampled several things, including V&R, Cumberland Ti, Writing Lyrical Poetry, and Daybreak Violin, which I especially liked. Since then I’ve also tried Green Oakmoss, Harbinger, Love Speaks Primeval, Lilacs and Heliotrope, Lilacs and Roses (d/c – reminded me a bit of the old Coty Paris), and Lilas et Narcissus. There was another one, too, d/c now… a jasminey one… can’t remember. But it was Miss M’s description of Centennial that really goosed me into actually buying something bigger than a sample there.

    I love Centennial. It’s not really my usual sort of thing, being a very *hefty* chypre, but it is just floral enough to keep me satisfied, while also having this very fuzzy texture. It always reminds me of this angora blend sweater I owned in college, this being a sort of burnt-coral/deep peachy-orangey-light rust color. It was softer than soft, but substantial… and, you know, fuzzy.

    Rosa sur Reuse is my other favorite from the house. Funny you should mention Opium, because I. Hate. Opium. Good LORD, do I hate Opium and all its ilk, with a hate keener than an icy north wind. HATE.

    Ahem. I will calm myself. Haven’t smelled Teatro alla Scala at all, probably wouldn’t like it, but I find Rosa sur Reuse (very far from your typical fruity floral, if you ask me) also not very “me” but rather addictive. It’s lovely. When my first sample was gone I bought another.

  2. mals86 says:

    PS: Best perfume names EVER, taken as a whole. Clever *and* descriptive.

  3. Blacknall Allen says:

    I remembered you writing about Centennial. As a matter of fact that was one of the reasons I investigated Soivohle, and am so glad I did.

    The names are pretty apt, but the perfumes are even …apter. Some perfumes (not mentioning names you understand) are like the old bumper sticker that reads “If only closed minds had closed mouths.” You just wish the darned things weren’t so effusive. But Liz’s perfumes are perfectly pitched, never bore you, and are perfectly lovely.

    Put it this way, if you were wearing “US Niche” to Paris and had to fess up to the locals about what you were wearing, I think they’d say, “Pas mal.”of the Soivohles and ask you to please get them a bottle :-)

  4. Liz says:

    This is wonderful. Thank You so much! It has taken me from here to the moon to get around to reading these posts. You capture it all so well and the artwork, I am humbled that you chose such beautiful work. LZ

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Glad that you like the Audubon. Somehow it seemed like a very good companion for your work, although probably your artwork would have proven a better match, but your posts came out well despite everything.

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