Orpheus fragrance notes

    • Citrus, Incense, Smoke, Tobacco, Hawthorn, Vanilla

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Latest Reviews of Orpheus

Orpheus by Clandestine Laboratories is a wonderful perfume that's overall effect reminds me of a spicy amber rose fragrance...but wrist to nose reveals much more than that going on. As mentioned below by Brooks Otterlake, there is a bright but more subdued citrus element that is like a toned down version of the citrus in Madrid by CL. I'm really enjoying that citrus element a lot in today's wearing on Orpheus as it brings a brightness to the boozy amber feeling it conveys. There are also spices that dance and peek through the booziness in a very pleasing way. I'm thinking the incense mixed with the hawthorne which brings a spicy almond aura, along with the tobacco, is creating this wonderful spiced infusion that to me dances through and around this fragrance. I really enjoy Orpheus. It reminds me of some of Russian Adams work in some ways. I would say that Orpheus is more sheer or transparent...like stained glass as opposed to RA's work which is generally thicker feeling, like a solid wall. This does not mean that Orpheus dosent' have sillage and longevity, because it definitely does. It lasts for 10 - 12 hours on my skin. As mentioned, Orpheus is a wonderful fragrance...two thumbs up!
13th January 2023
Orpheus by Clandestine Laboratories (2022) is an herbal boozy tobacco that doesn't feel entirely out of place as a designer release from around 1994-2002 when this style was prevalent among large-scale commercial releases; but since we're already twenty-some odd years plus away from that prime era for the style, it's no surprise at all that it re-emerges here as an artisanal perfume from an independent house. With the cold and unfeeling claws of late-stage capitalism via corporate greed dug into every endeavor from commodity production down to traditionally more artistic endeavors such as luxury products like perfume, something as culturally irrelevant as an ode to a past style would have once been perfect fodder for up-market "niche" brands or exclusive "private" lines of designers; but these days not even those brands would touch the kind of subject on display here with Orpheus, as even "niche" these days is just code for slightly higher-risk or unproven designs up-charged three-fold or more to offset cost of production; so something with a vibe like Orpheus could only -be- done by an artisanal perfumer. As an aside, this was once called Chiron before it was put into production, and I had the pleasure of sampling it in workprint/mod form before the final product, although this one has been gestating since 2013 according to the brand, and I wasn't around for that (nobody was).

The opening is a bit spicy and to my nose minty, with ginger playing off of sweet citruses and bitterish mate. The boozy notes mixing with clove and what feels like a fizzy cola note perfectly surround the dry tonka, with leathery nuances and a bit of fruitness that to me reminds heavily of an absolute favorite tobacco scent: Michael for Men by Michael Kors (2002). That discontinued gem composed by Harry Freemont has some things this doesn't, and vice-versa, so it shouldn't be said this is at all a copy; but I do believe anyone with a history wearing the Kors could very much fall in love with Orpheus for pretty much the same reasons. This has smoky wood notes and incense which Michael for Men absolutely lacks, and more rounding vanilla as well, forming into a finish that feels more like booze and cigars over burning incense sticks in the back of a conversion van parked somewhere in a grimy strip mall parking lot in Ohio after dark, which screams more Bohemian vagabond than the Thin Man. Matt Foley the motivational speaker has a new signature scent for his van down by the river. Performance on Orpheus is very good, and for the most part, I think the sweet spiciness and booze over the sparkly dry brittle tobacco and woody incense make this feel appropriate as cold weather fragrance, while other examples from this erstwhile genre were a bit more neutral in context, like Baldessarini Cologne by Baldessarini (2002).

The added bottom end here and the complexity of the scent, including a swirl of floral notes that are pretty tough to identify with any accuracy flitting and flickering throughout the wear, make Orpheus truly an artisanal independent perfume experience, as even when this style was prominent, most examples were "keep it simple, stupid" in order to sell en masse. Remember, this isn't necessarily intended as an homage to anything by perfumer Mark Sage, as he hasn't had a ton of experience smelling commercial perfume new or old, and is more likely to wax nostalgic on a long-gone variety of deodorant stick than a discontinued perfume or formerly-popular style. The fact he can reinterpret older styles on a subconscious level without ever truly knowing where he's pulling from is part of his charm, and makes them completely new again. That said, if you're not willing to dig into an obscure back-catalog of discontinued designer or niche tobacco fragrances from the 90's and early 2000's you can just scoop up Orpheus and be delighted with a new take on a long-missed old favorite that had its Warhol-approved 15 minutes of fame before walking into the sunset. Or you could be like me and conjure images of big-sideburned hipsters with Buddy Holly glasses living out of rusty conversion vans filled with smoke and shag carpets stained with spilled cans of ready-made mixers. Thumbs up
4th December 2022

Orpheus has a grand opening. A lovely floral citrus chord that sounds and parts to make way for a big herbal breeze, a genuine licorice and sweet pipe tobacco.

A light leather comes together after about 30 minutes. The other elements swirl and pop, reminiscent of fizzy cola. It clicked what the licorice evokes, exactly the smell of black jellybeans, that clove-anisic licorice. Very assertive and long lasting.

Orpheus feels like southern bayou. The late drydown brings the patchouli out, and it's appropriately earthy.
1st November 2022
Orpheus is evocative of my childhood - in particular, the moments I spent with my heavily Italian grandmother and grandfather who spent a good deal of their lives living in a cool little apartment on Hughes Avenue in the Bronx.

Just mere steps from the immersive experience of all things Italian on Arthur Avenue, Orpheus is a reminder of the small, ice cold little cans of bitter soda my grandparents used to by me - Chinotto-esque flavors like anise, deeply orange citrus and green herbs - it's herbal qualities mixing with an almost effervescent tannins from the tobacco at the base of this fragrance.

This is a highly approachable offering for fans of sweet tobacco fragrances in the cold weather but it also offers some complexity that you won't get from other more one-note offerings. It's really good.
29th October 2022

The name here strikes me less as a refence to classic Greek myth than it does to Nick Cave's bayou-tinged "The Lyre of Orpheus."

This boozy tobacco is right up my alley. My wife remarked that it smelled like a cocktail. I agree. Something in dark brown shades, with a bit of amaro ala Vecchio Amaro del Capo or its ilk.

The tobacco here is similar to the tobacco used by Andy Tauer in Vanilla Flash and Sundowner, a lightly sweet and rich pipe tobacco. It's framed by citrus (a softer version of the citrus that shows up in CL Madrid) and some cola-ish herbs and spices that create the amaro effect.
26th May 2022