Djinn by Marcus McCoy for House of Orpheus 2014


Post by Azar


Greetings APJ!

In mid July I received a fabulous surprise in my post box. Maggie Mahboubian, founder of FRAGments Artisan Perfume Collective, sent me a package filled with samples from the May 30th, 2015 FRAGments event in Los Angeles. An amazing selection of indie perfumes filled the little box, enough to keep me writing reviews for at least another year! I had no idea which one to try first. Searching for a new leather fragrance I found…Djinn by Marcus McCoy for the House of Orpheus.

Marcus McCoy is a Pacific Northwest independent perfumer whose background in psychology, ethno-botany, South American plant based shamanism and alchemy has inspired him to create a line of “talismanic” fragrances carefully crafted from wild sourced botanical materials. Marcus also runs a small distillery, Cascadia Terroir, an apothecary, Cascadia Botanical Apothecary and works with Catamara Rosarium formulating perfumes for Rosarium Blends.

Djinn by Marcus McCoy for House of Orpheus 2014

djinn-house of orpheus bottlePhoto Stolen House of Orpheus

House of Orpheus gives these featured accords in one line:
Haitian vetiver, cade, oud, oakmoss and alchemical oil of mercury.
As usual I have a few of my own “obvious but not present” notes to add to the list. In addition to the cade/oud leather accord I experience the presence of vanilla and/or tonka bean, jasmine and styrax.

Djinn opens with a heavy, vegetal Haitian vetiver that quickly assumes the guise of leather. This is not saddle or tack leather. It is not “biker”, shoe or new coat leather but rather a dark, smoky vanillic glove leather, recalling the specialty accessory shops the have all but disappeared from the North American retail landscape. When I smell Djinn I am transported to the boutique where I purchased my very first pair of fine Italian leather dress gloves. I have not worn beautiful gloves like these for many years but this perfume not only recalls the smells of these rich materials but also the exquisitely sensuous feeling of soft leather forming around hands and fingers.

djinn-house of orpheusPhoto Stolen House of Orpheus

I can’t speak to the last perfume note listed – “alchemical oil of mercury”. From what I understand after reading through Marcus’ websites and related links “oil of mercury” is a non-toxic spirit or essence of the “soul” of Mercury (the planet as well as the metal) somehow extracted or created in an alchemical distillation process. If you understand this or can describe it better please let me know.
Whatever it is, “oil of mercury” seems to add a creative, mercurial lift to the dark, vegetal leather.

Regarding sillage and longevity: At first this fragrance is quite bold but retreats quickly, fading to smoky jasmine and oakmoss before disappearing completely after four hours.

Djinn is available on the House of Orpheus website as well as on Etsy where a sale is now in progress

I have a few questions for my fellow APJers: Do you have a magical perfume, a fragrant djinn that you can count on to put a spell on everything and everyone around you? Have you tried perfumes from the House of Orpheus? Do you own (and wear) dress leather gloves in shoulder, elbow or wrist lengths?

Azar xx

14 thoughts on “Djinn by Marcus McCoy for House of Orpheus 2014

  1. Hey Azar,
    The imagery for this stuff is seriously disturbing. It feels eerily like hanging out with junkies from the 1990s.
    You say the fragrance fades to “smoky jasmine and oakmoss”, does it still remain fragrant or does it go skin scent at this point?
    Another lovely review.
    Portia xx


    • Hi Portia,
      It goes to skin scent. I wish it projected longer and farther, but has the typical projection and longevity of most botanicals. I really like the opening. Just wish it lasted longer. I would like to try something from Marcus’ Cascadia Botanical Apothecary too. I don’t know of any other indie perfumer who creates everything they use, including the perfumer’s alcohol.
      Azar xx


      • I meant to say that I think the apothecary uses all in house ingredients. The House of Orpheus does source botanicals from other suppler.


  2. for me that magical perfume has to be Kouros but I know it would be polarising..btw, not current formulation of kouros which is kouros only in name


    • Hi Fazal,
      I remember the old Kouros as cumin, civet and aldehydes, sort of dirty and soapy at the same time. I wore a lot of YSL in the 70s and 80s, mainly Rive Gauche but also Opium and Paris. How does the old Kouros compare to the new? Was it totally reformulated? Does it still have that almost washed but still sweaty smell?
      Azar xx


  3. Hi Azar!
    House of Orpheus sounds intriguing. I’m gonna check them out!
    Hmm – my fragrant djinns would be vintage Chamade, and Madini’s Henna.
    Gloves – oh yes. Mid-forearm to elbow, lined in cashmere. My favorite pair is black with discreet shocking pink stitching, worn with a black coat lined in shocking pink. I know the matchy thing is totally out of fashion, but my coat lining is my naughty secret. 🙂


    • Hi Holly,
      I love both of your fragrant genies and I can just image your glamourous gloves! I think they would be smashing with that coat! Here is something I would love to wear again but am too old: Black opera length gloves (not necessarily leather) with a straight, bright crimson silk strapless gown. I remember my mother doing something like this in emerald green silk with ruched black gloves.
      Azar xx


      • Azar, that “too old” thing is tricky, isn’t it? I’ll be sixty in November, and these years feel kinda like a second adolescence to me. A bit awkward and in-between. I’m not yet ready to be a Red Hat lady or Vivienne Westwood, but I do have an awareness of my changing body and nothing feels quite right. In the meantime, I enjoy perusing the blog Advanced Style for inspiration!

        Holly xo


  4. Nothing magical comes to mind as far as perfume and I don’t think I’ve ever had leather gloves. Unless you want to count work gloves but I don’t think those qualify. I wish things like elegant gloves and frilly hats would be fashionable again.


    • Hey Poodle,
      I think “elegant gloves and frilly hats” may be still be fashionable in some other world far removed from mine. I suppose I could always get all dressed up and then have no where to go. In Seattle you can get by wearing jeans to the opera. Maybe I should try jeans and opera gloves…
      Azar xx


  5. Hi Mom – Leather gloves are the best gloves! I’ve had a couple pairs since I’ve lived in NH but I don’t think they had the fragrance you’re describing. They were definitely not high end boutique gloves:)! The leather glove smell does sound familiar to me though. Maybe you had that pair when I was young? And sadly I don’t think I have any magical perfumes… do I?


    • Hi Lauren,
      Maybe the perfume I sent for your B’day will be magical…but in case it isn’t I can send you some of House of Orpheus or Rosarium Blends…not really your style though as they are full of resin and incense. Like Holly says, vintage Chamade is pretty magical stuff, if you like galbanum, that is. The bottle at the left top of the APJ banner is Chamade. Unfortunately I think I ran out of mine but there may be a drop left. Just enough for sniff.
      Mommy Azar xx and X


  6. Apologies for sending you a box out of the blue! But I’m thrilled you had a chance to experience some of the the work at FRAGments. The House of Orpheus perfumes were amazing and Marcus is the real deal. You can sense the magical alchemy pulsing through his work. I love your imagery of elegant opera gloves as your impression of a leather perfume.

    How nice would it be to meet you at the next event?!


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