Panda is part of a trio of scents from niche house Zoologist Perfumes. The creative mind behind the house is Victor Wong, a scent enthusiast who decided to take his love of animals and create a line of scents that captured the animals' interesting and sometimes playful behavior. Panda along with the other scents from the collection Rhinoceros and Beaver, have all made quite a stir on the perfume scene, and I am really happy to say that they've all made quite an impression on me as well. It's not very often that a scent feels 'new' to me, but maybe that's the beauty of having a scent created by a working 'mortal'. There are no hard rules to follow or previous lessons in scent cluttering the creative process, and sometimes that results in the most intriguing and pleasant works of olfactive art.
Panda opens up in a gorgeous blast of a very cold green tea note and the light sweet green of bamboo. There's a plate of a sliced, very cold, fresh from the garden cucumber which may be the zisu leaves. I usually hate cucumber, so I'm suspecting that this surprisingly beautiful impression is being created by zisu......and I love that it's part of the opening. Zisu, also knows as perilla, is an herb typically used as a culinary spice or medicinal herb in China, Korea, and Japan. Here, it adds a cool, herbal , almost water-like mint tone. I definitely get the sensation of a dense bamboo thicket by a cool stream, with a light spring breeze blowing through the upper leaves. Nothing else is visible for awhile through the thick greenery and you sit, calmly waiting while being surrounded by serenity.
In a short while, a citrus notes glows through the stalks. It's quiet and peaceful and slightly warms the fragrance so that it feels like a delicate aura. I get the sichuan pepper, adding its bite to the cool notes. The feeling is akin to the sharp sensation of biting into a raw green pepper....you're momentarily taken aback until your senses get used to it, then you find it pleasant and return to experience that same small initial rush, until it becomes enough a part of the composition to be a faint reminder of spice. The florals in this scent start blooming early on, but are slow to build as they slowly unfurl through the layers of other notes. They take their time so that when they're fully apparent it takes you a minute to realize they were there all along, seducing you slowly with their fragrant white petals. A hint of mimosa is apparent and orange blossom adds an ethereally sweet thread. The osmanthus lends a lovely, bitter black tea feel and the impression of fuzzy apricot skins. There's no smoke or spices in this teapot, it's an almost perfect rendition of how loose, unadulterated, dry black tea smells, and i'm enjoying the dry cold aspect that it lends to the composition. It feel cool and put together, yet refreshing and approachable. It's a beautiful foil to the green and balances the sweeter floral element perfectly.
Now the tea element increases in intensity while the dirt fades. The leafy enclosure opens up a bit and invites a mild touch of wood and grassy vetiver to join the notes. I feel like it adds a buoying effect to the relatively strong top notes which are still very present. It's a great reflection of the entire bamboo plant itself, and how the root systems of bamboo are so thick that it gives the effect of walking on a system of wooden springs. There's a slight 'leather' element, I attribute this to the osmanthus. I"m grateful that the cedar is this scent is relatively subdued. Cedar can really overtake a scent but here is is a quiet whisper threading through the base. The extension of this fragrance over the next few hours is a gorgeous swirl of osmanthus, greenery and a soil-like musk that lasts and lasts.
Panda is a great name for this scent.....I feel like it represents the panda perfectly. And what I love is how I become the panda in this scent rather than someone standing by as an observer. I want to be in the bamboo grove, chewing on leaves and taking advantage of the shaded haven and the forest lives on outside of my hiding spot.
I have been looking for a scent like this for awhile. I love the scent of tea, but most 'tea scents' and spiced and sweetened and made into something I would get as part of a dessert. Much of the world enjoys their tea at all meals and without spices and sugar. This scent is exactly that.....a palate-cleanser that cuts through all of the excess perfume noise in my closet. It's a 'reset' scent, one that is detectable but restrained and takes me back to a beautifully composed center. It's highly original and absolutely one that I want to purchase. Thank you, Victor Wong, for created such a beautiful, tangible scent space.
Reviewed from my own sample which I purchased myself.