Civet 
Zoologist Perfumes (2016)

Average Rating:  14 User Reviews

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About Civet by Zoologist Perfumes

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Zoologist Perfumes
Fragrance House

Art and Olfaction Awards finalist, 2017.  The company says: 

As the sun sinks over the dense tropical forest, civets emerge warily from the thickets. Under a carpet of narcotic flower blossoms, a smattering of coffee berries peppers the ground. The moist air is heavy with mossy aromas that penetrate every crevice, but the musky scent of the civets dominates; their marked territory daring one to enter at one’s own risk.

Zoologist Civet pays homage to the age-old ingredient, civet, as well as chypre perfumes of bygone days – perfumes that refused to be intimidated by raw, alluring, animalistic musks. Civet is a moody and complex brew entwined in mystery. It opens with a spicy floral accord, threaded through with dark coffee tones. Slowly it prowls forward, unraveling base notes of leather, moss and vanilla that combines with distinctive civet musk to create a bewildering, sophisticated scent with the promise of a sultry nighttime rendezvous.

Fragrance notes

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  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of Civet by Zoologist Perfumes

There are 14 reviews of Civet by Zoologist Perfumes.


Zoologist Civet (2016) had all the makings of something horny and horrible, or horribly good, depending on how you want to look at it. Either way, I expected a shock to the nose and an entertaining ride. Well, that's pretty much the opposite of what En Voyage Parfums perfumer Shelly Waddington delivered in Civet, which ends up not being a whole lot about the note of civet at all. Now make no mistake, this does contain civet, or at least the synthetic civetone replacement molecule, but there is so much else going on here that really this could have been called "Zoologist Chypre" and have been more apt. For the most part, Civet tries to follow the Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) school of chyrpe design, being more floral than green, but adding significantly more fruit to the mix to make this feel a tad more modern. I use the term "modern" pretty loosely, because this is a chypre, and there is really nothing modern in a taste sense about the genre. The base has all the prerequisite mossiness, muskiness, and aromatic leathery tones that at one point in history could be attributed to De lare's famous "Mousse de Saxe" base, but now is conjured only in memory by synthetic proxy due to IFRA. The slightly urinous warmth of the civet starring note itself does finally emerge after the fragrance settles, but with so much fruit and floral prettiness on top, you won't be looking for it. Considering the overall obtuse nature of Zoologist compositions in general, and the brand being known for tossing out and remaking its own fragrances when they aren't well-received enough, I'm not surprised.

The opening is a blast of citruses and spice, replacing what would otherwise be seen as the dated aldehyde opening of chypres past. The sweet tangerine, orange, and lemon play well with the black pepper and tarragon, bringing us easily into the fruity-floral core that defines most of Zoologist Civet. Tuberose, frangipani, and carnation form the heart, and here is the biggest reason I ultimately feel indifferent about it. I'm not the biggest fan of peachy, fleshy tuberose, nor am I the biggest lover of sweet frangipani either, so with both overdosed as they are here in Zoologist Civet, I struggle to overcome the apricot nightmare they create in my mind. This is one osmanthus note short of making me run to scrub however, and they do gradually soften with the carnation, backed by hyacinth and musky ylang-ylang, although it's not enough to save it for me. The claimed wisps of coffee are also noticeable here, which adds yet another gourmand facet in addition to the fruit blast which I am not super okay with, even though the rest of the base is nice. Patchouli, birch tar, oakmoss, labdanum, and the rest of the classic chypre vibe is here, recreating some of the Mousse de Saxe beauty that merges with the latecoming civetone to bring a slight urine quality to the finish. Notes of fresh cedar polish it off, and the far dry down I actually enjoy. Performance is stellar, and use where/when you want, because the affable nature of the arrangement really does belie the musky growl underneath, although it stops shy of being a modern day red light fragrance.

Problem for me personally, is it's not really worth waiting for the far dry down while putting up with all that tuberose, frangipani, and swirling sweet citrus notes which dominate for the first four hours or so of this fragrance. This is strictly a taste thing on my part, as I really do not like sickly-sweet fruity florals, "fruitchouli" orientals, or candy fruit ethyl maltol gourmands. What Zoologist Civet effectively does, at least in my mind, is mix this very popular modern style with the form factor of a classic early 20th century chypre, then tosses some cat pee on top to justify the name of the perfume. For lovers of far feminine-leaning perfumes, this might just be a perfect blend of new and old, bringing all the youth bounce and sweetness of a modern day designer women's fragrance, with the gravitas and come-hither allure of a classic chypre once worn by mature take-charge women who knew what they wanted and didn't ask for it. I can really appreciate this vibe, as it's something we need to see more of (and not just in expensive niche land), it's just not something I could particularly enjoy wearing. I tend to like my bold women's chypres full of butch leather and smoke, or resplendent yellow florals filled with blooming aldehydes, real Bette Davis or Catherine Hepburn stuff. By comparison, Zoologist Civet is more like Joan Rivers, who was in a perpetual state of cosmetic revision her whole life, in that it feels so face-lifted as to be more about its own revision than about what originally lied under it all. Still, if you like fruity sweet animalic chypres, this is of a rare breed not to be missed, and samples are easy to come by. I'm just not a fan of the style presented, but can appreciate the work put in by Waddington herself. Neutral
Oct 25, 2021


Civetone, while a staple of perfumery past, isn't much appreciated in the modern era. That's why I was a bit at unease with the concept of a Civet-based fragrance. That's of course until I tried it. Looking at the notes list you can see that this gives the impression of the lifestyle of the cute little cat, far more so than the molecule it's known for could. The flowers and greens give and idea of the habitat, and the coffee nods to Kopi Luwak.

This isn't a heavily animalic fragrance, and I appreciate that. I can only really notice the harsh parts of the civet note in the first thirty seconds. Past that, everything blends really well together. I will say though that this really needs warmth to bring out some of the special aspects. My wrists dim into dry resins and incense quite quickly whereas my chest projects sweet honeyed florals for longer.

Overall I would say this is a modernized version of an older era of perfumery, and done well. The kind that makes me appreciate things I wouldn't normally. It's not one of my favorites, personally, but I definitely see the value here.
Jan 24, 2020


This opens up with a blast of florals. Tuberose is one I can pick out prominently. After the initial blast of flowers spicy resin incense comes out... and there it sits. I guess this is just a floral incense fragrance. The civet in this is a quiet background player, its shines a little more in the heart, but never rising to prominence. The incense hangs on after the florals have burned off. I would not call this at all animalic. Floral opening feels feminine, drydown of incense and quiet quiet civet is unisex. Performance seems good on all the Zoologist fragrances I've tried, each performing well for the type of fragrance they are.
Feb 19, 2019


I've no experience of real civet, but this is definitely animalic, although it's furry, rather than pissy.
A bittersweet coffee and vanilla opening with a full texture, leather and a furry musk coming up dry and a little dusty through florals, predominantly tuberose and heliotrope with a tropical frangipani/ylang-ylang accord. Although each of the florals are identifiable, they're blended to give just an edge of softness and beauty to a somewhat grainy texture. Within 20 minutes, it's settled into a vanilla-coffee, ambery musk with the florals drifting by on a soft breeze. Cool, smooth labdanum is a great base for spicy frankincense with vanilla keeping the basenotes from becoming too dry.
In low doses, it's powerful but stays close to the skin. After 6 hours, it's barely there. It's totally gender-neutral and I find it very sexy. Scent is often akin to framed moments of foreplay - like the glamorous, saturated city lights of Tom Ford, or the rich mystery of vintage Guerlain - but this is the smell of *actual* sex, not the evening that came before it.
Dec 30, 2018


Interesting this, a three-dimensional scent typical of this house with plenty to keep the wearer interested. What is doesn't have in an obviously authentic animalic component it makes up for in clever composition, not least the gourmand aspects, notably the coffee - it's fairly widely known that some of the most expensive coffee beans are those pre-digested by the civet, so that is a good if self-referential turn. On application, it is musky and assertive. Returning to the room where I sprayed it, I found loud florals and spices that had somehow escaped me. After many hours, there is a leathery dry-down with some stiff woods suggesting vetiver and birch tar. Although long-lasting, it's never over the top or aggressive. And it lasts and lasts. I think Zoologist are one of the better houses for actually delivering on the promises of "niche", in the sense of boldness, risk-taking, and quality, and this is a good example.
Nov 11, 2018


Starts out modern. Finishes in a retro style. Begins with fruity, spicy, lively notes. Moves into somewhat smoky florals. Drifts away into a familiar base of aromatic, oriental notes. Resinous, a slight of animal. The base reminds me of perfumes made in the middle of the last century.
Jun 24, 2018

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