Visiteur, a perfume brand founded in 2018 by Janne Rainer Vuorenmaa from Sweden, is now present with three fragrances: Cabaret Nocturne was the first one I reviewed, even before it officially launched.
Janne did take his time, a perfectionist, working on each and every detail until he was ready. And guess what? He was ready amidst the worst lockdowns – in 2020!
Here’s my review of Cabaret Nocturne, a wonderful fragrance created by talented Cecile Zarokian. (First published in Cafleurebon, edited)
I met Janne at Pitti Fragranze in Florence. “Tap me on a shoulder when you see me in Florence” – so I did, and listened to him talk about his childhood days spent in Finland, sauna rituals, dark lakes, travels and perfumes, the influence of bits and pieces from the past that we carry into present, and distortion of memories. Janne talked, and I listened and sampled his perfumes. I was instantly smitten by this trio (and I have reviewed them all, check out the links below).
Janne chose to trust three young perfumers with his ideas and briefs: Cécile Zarkoian with Visiteur Cabaret Nocturne, Patrice Revillard (co-creator of Fath L’Iris de Fath) with Beach Bizzare, and Marie Schnierer with Thousand Lakes.
Janne was kind and patient to answer some questions so you might get to know him better:
Why did you decide to start up a perfume brand?
JRV: I have been strongly affected by scent ever since my early childhood, and as a little boy I played around with anything smelly. It could be rubbing a cassis leaf between my fingers, and smelling the aroma which reminded me of a crossbreed between an innocent little berry and cat piss. It was, however, not until my early teens when I started to discover perfume. The idea of a brand was present in my mind for many years before I finally had the resources to approach it in the Spring of 2017.
What are you trying to say, and what makes your perfumes different from all the other niche brands already present in the market?
JRV: Visiteur became my form of self-therapy where I could finally fully express what I have been carrying with me throughout the years. So far each fragrance is based on a moment and a place in time lived by yours truly.
When thinking back on these events I see them through a blurry lens. Memories fade with time and can become distorted and incoherent. Each sensation does also has its own inherent balance between darkness and light. None of those deserve to be put in the corner. We are all full of contrasts between darkness/light, happiness/sorrow, and love/hate and that is what will bring forward.
Contrasts of life for better or worse.
Describe the idea behind this trio in one sentence, please.
JRV: “Sensations are temporary and memories are fleeting. In the end, we are merely VISITORS in our own reality”.
Tell me more about Cabaret Nocturne Cécile created for you. What olfactory memory triggered its creation?
JRV: Years ago a group of friends and I spent a long weekend in Lisbon. By recommendation, we ended up in this place (Pensao Amor Club) which you could hardly see from the outside. The only object showing a sign of life was a tiny red lightbulb above the door.
The entrance and the stairs up were worn out and trashy but once upstairs the decadent interiors revealed themselves. It turned out that it used to serve as a brothel in the past and judging by the interiors they did not try to hide it today.
It was a bizarre mix of the dark days of the past and the contemporary upbeat of today. The venue was filled with young boys and girls dancing, drinking, and smoking. The scent of body odor spilled out alcoholic drinks and cigarette smoke was almost tangible. Then in the middle of it all, I could feel the smell of tuberose.
Only there was no tuberose around to be smelled!
Years later when Visiteur was about to take form I knew I had to do something about this scented memory from Lisbon. The first perfumer that came to my mind was Cécile Zarokian, mostly because of the way she handles bombastic florals.
I met her in her lab in Paris and showed her the briefs of the three first perfumes. I showed her all of them because I wanted to know if there was a particular one she felt the most connection with. I like to think I appeared calm but in the back of my mind,
I was screaming “Pick Cabaret!!! Pick Cabaret!!”. And I am so glad she did! It took us three trials before we agreed upon it. The two other perfumes required a longer time, about a year each.
She did, indeed. I was immediately drawn to Visiteur Cabaret Nocturne first, by name only (working title: Pensao Amor) because I’m a big fan of cabaret and burlesque performances, costumes, music, atmosphere, and artists.
That specific form of escapism, a distraction from real-life, are worlds within this world providing a momentary reprieve from daily circumstances – just like perfume sometimes before you snap right into a reality!
Life is a cabaret, my friend, Lisa Minelli, night clubs in Berlin and Prague, Christina Aguilera singing in the movie Burlesque, “Comme ils dissent” sung by Charles Aznavour, obscure bars in dark corners of harbors in Portugal, and images, tastes, sounds and scents racing through my mind as Cabaret Nocturne developed on my skin.
enters the stage with an inviting atmosphere of here and now, present times, warm nights and cold drinks in Lisboa, Portugal: glasses with gin-cocktails and orange juice are mixed up on a table before you and your friends, the scents mixing up and flowing around you in the warm air inside of the club. Relaxed, inviting, an atmosphere full of promises. Florals are white and tenderly smooth as freshly picked buds, with a clean and greener facet of tuberose – the one that’s almost herbal, singing in a higher-pitched voice. The night is still young.
It’s obvious right from the start that what Zarokian does to tuberose accords used in this perfume is very much like what Spring does with cherry trees: Cabaret Nocturne is an opulent floral, tuberose-suggestive rhapsody, and all the ardent tuberose fans will surely rejoice in it, while some detractors of the same might find it interesting for a change.
Lou de Boudoir Cabaret Performance, photo by Severin Dostal
In later phases of Cabaret Nocturne, after all the drinks are gone and as the night progresses, the heavy red velvet curtains have been pulled aside – the show is now in full swing. It feels like the two parallel worlds have met, present and past, with a very smoothly delivered transition, a change in rhythm, and the atmosphere of the fragrance is easily discerned.
Cabaret Nocturne slowly reveals layers that come with strings attaching them to the past, unmade beds in empty rooms charged by an hourly rate, smoky trails of tobacco still lingering around closed curtains that visiting sailors left behind, cabaret backstage dressing rooms soaked in sweeter and darker, the ambery scent of silk gloves and stockings on naked, slightly sweaty skin, complicated burlesque costumes laid out and prepped-up for the show, black eye-pencils, red lipstick, and white powder, and the cold sweat of stage-fright/excitement.
This slide into a darker, inner side draws you in, you become a part of this exuberant marriage of present and past: more dramatic facets of the composition slowly but inevitably take over. The presence of tuberose is felt, not plainly visible or openly served, lurking beneath layers of carefully applied makeup, lingering among furniture, floors, walls, and ceilings – you can see its shiny carnal teeth in the dark, its robes elaborately designed and seductive, with a dominant allure, asking you to come closer and experience it fully, to enter its world.
It’s decadent but promising, extravagant with an animalic, slightly sultry-bitter finale that eventually gets thick and creamy, and lasts for hours and hours – the longevity of this fragrance is exceptional. It also never tips over to the “vulgar“, overly sweet, or uncontrolled-indolic side that many may find unpleasant.
Cabaret Nocturne is seductive and decadent, but it remains elegant and classy at all times, with a finely executed, overall bold and modernist, unisex wearable take.
Life is a cabaret, my friend, and Visiteur Cabaret Nocturne delivers an exceptional experience and performance!
Notes (listed by the brand): Gin accord, Pink pepper, Orange, Smoke, Sandalwood / Powdery notes, Tuberose, Tobacco, Cumin, Animalic notes. Available as 75 ml EdP at Visiteur.
The Plum Girl
I received a sample set from Janne as a gift in Florence then and there, opinions are – as always, of my own.
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