Discussing ingredients, exploration and composition with Joshua Smith of Libertine.

The popularity of Libertine Fragrance continues to grow at the shop so we thought it was time to tell you more about this fantastic independent Canadian brand. Hand-blended by perfumer Joshua Smith, a former forester and industrial designer, each eau de parfum in the collection is formulated using seriously high-quality ingredients. It's been fun to surprise and delight even the most avid fragrance aficionados with this impressive brand. We asked Josh to tell us more about his top three sellers at our shop — Sex & Jasmine, Gilded and Fin de SiecleHere's what he had to say...

#1 Sex & Jasmine was composed as an ode to jasmine and in exploring the material, finding interest in the attraction/repulsion that many white florals possess with their high indole content. Jasmine sambac in particular, which is what is used in this scent, is so heady and alluring but the indoles naturally contained within the flower can smell very bodily.

The name and final form of the scent came as I explored that push and pull of attraction and sex, which while being beautiful is also a very bodily, animal affair. The animalic aspect was heightened with ambergris to add a salty, sweaty sheen. Overall the scent is still very wearable and pretty but those animalic notes are there coming in and out of focus during the wear.

#2 Gilded is a spice laden incense scent that teeters between sticky and dry. Initially inspired by my partner's morning spiced tea, it unfolded organically as an exploration into balsamic/incense notes which are some of my favorite materials. It can be a bit of a shapeshifter as many people really take note of the dry woods that are used as the anchor of the scent while other find the sticky sweetness of benzoin and opoponax resins much more prominent.

The material that binds the spices, resins and woods together is immortelle absolute, an impossibly sticky paste from helichrysum flowers that can smell like sickly sweet root beer undiluted. In the right dose though, it has elements of spice, woods, tobacco and sweet resins and can be used to bridge all of these things. 

#3 Fin de Siecle is a rosy chypre inspired by the Fin de Siecle cultural period in France in the late 19th century. It was a very unique period marked by large cultural shifts and a great modernization across society that was exciting but also anxiety provoking. I see many similarities to the world we live in now and wanted to create a sort of neo-chypre, a vintage scent that belongs in a Parisian cafe in the 1890's but modernized with sheer synthetics that speak to our current existence.

The patchouli and oakmoss — the base of the chypre — are typically heavy and complex. Here I used a blend of mainly two synthetic molecules, Clearwood and Evernyl, which airs out the density and creates a vintage feel that is much lighter and more angular.

FYI: Clearwood is a patchouli note, Everynl is an oakmoss note.

The upcoming rebrand is still early days so I can share that I'm renaming the brand but am still working through everything past that point. The name [Libertine] had felt perfect in the early days of the brand. The rebellious connotations helped provide me the confidence in my personal life and also in starting a brand with little knowledge of the workings of the industry and that was the energy I wanted to share.

As I and the brand have grown, the confrontational connotation of a Libertine feels much less genuine to the message I want to bring to the world. Where a Libertine acts as a middle finger to the conventions of society, what I want more of in the world is less confrontation, less alienation and more people simply living and finding pleasure in their lives. I want the new name and direction to be a beacon for people to retell the stories of their lives through a connection to scent and the senses. 

Thanks Josh!

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