Mohammadreza Kazemian is a relatively new indie perfume brand (founded in 2019) located in Tehran, Iran, with an interesting story about the founder, perfumer, and CEO of the brand – Mohammadreza Kazemian. Starting up an indie perfume brand, the first one in Iran definitely wasn’t easy, but where’s a will there’s a way! And artisan perfume!
In a life of a perfume reviewer, receiving perfume samples and bottles on an almost daily basis from brands all over the world tends to get complicated: many a package got lost, returned for no reason, broken, stolen, or delayed.
I look forward to each and every package and I can relate to many a meme made about an impatient perfumista waiting for it to arrive.
My local postman already knows where to leave packages if I’m not at home, DHL and UPS people have my phone number, and customs officers…well, it takes time to train them to release a package immediately after I pay customs charges – for all non-EU packages, of course.
Sometimes, it’s just plain difficult – this was the case with perfume samples from Mohammadreza Kazemian, and again – where’s a will, there’s a way, and with a little help from perfume friends, I managed to receive 7 fragrance samples: I really wanted to smell the whole line, since this is the first indie fragrances brand from Iran!
Mohammadreza was also kind to answer any questions I had about the brand and perfumes – we chatted, messaged, mailed, and talked for a couple of months, about life, inspiration, Iran, and perfume, of course.
This is his story and my brief overview of the whole collection.
Mohammadreza Kazemian, 28 years old, and born in Tehran, told me he used to work in a perfume shop during his studies, pursuing his passion for perfume.
Before that, his passion was music – he plays flute, bells, and piano, but while working as a perfume sales assistant, one thought kept returning and bothering him: why isn’t there an indie, artisan perfume brand in Iran? Is it so difficult to start one? Impossible?
Now, this is a question to ponder: there were no niche/artisan/indie brands in Iran when Mohammedreza Kazemian asked himself this question, and that is even more frustrating if you look at the ancient history of his country.
The Fars Province was well known in ancient times for the cultivation and growing of plants used in the perfumery, “Golab” (rose water), various kinds of “ghalieh” – perfume composed of musk and ambergris, and preparation of incense, perfumed oils, and creams.
Saffron, just like myrrh and ambergris, was burnt to aromatize the space, Darius and Xerxes were portrayed holding probably narcissus and lily of the valley in their hands, and their troops burned various sweet smelling materials, creating arches made of branches of myrtle and crowning themselves with flowers during celebrations.
Mohammedreza Kazemian decided to quit the job in the perfume store, and start learning: GIP Grasse summer school was the first step.
As it happens, this only opened more questions, and more raw materials to study. Later on, he applied for the 1-year course in GIP Grasse (accepting 12 to 14 candidates every year), he managed to pass, but couldn’t get the visa! What a disappointment.
Again, where’s a will, there’s a way, so Mohammadreza Kazemian, unable to continue his education as desired, decided to do it the hard way: being an autodidact is always the longer and more difficult path… He admits that his first creations couldn’t even be called perfume (I can relate), so he kept working harder on his formulas, buying and studying more raw materials, and two fragrances emerged at the beginning – Like Father Like Son, and Taboo With Makeup.
It took two more years of working day and night, taking chemistry classes at Shadid Behesti University, learning about IFRA regulations, writing down more formulas, experimenting, reformulating, starting all over again, tweaking, and spending countless hours in his lab, until he decided to launch the brand in late 2019.
And then all the fun with perfume bottles, caps, packaging, sanctions, shortages and broken chains of delivery began: all the behind-the-curtains work that all brands face, especially difficult for indie and artisan, but – to be honest – even more of a problem if you’re based in Iran.
Doing everything by hand, in limited quantities, and as he repeatedly told me, not giving up the idea that perfume IS an art form.
Despite all the difficulties, rules, and sanctions, and no international shipping from Iran at all!
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Mohammadreza Kazemian is now working on finding the way to deliver outside of Iran. I have a feeling he’ll overcome this obstacle too, very soon.
Mohammadreza Kazemian (web page in Persian) composes short and vibrant pieces of fragrant poetry, using elements from Iran’s tradition, and interpreting them through his filter of memories. Here is a quick overview of all seven fragrances:
Like Father Like Son
The first fragrance in the collection is inspired by a couple of stories, all revolving around the character of Fereydun, the son of Abitn, as written in Shahnameh – a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi. one of the world’s longest epic poems, quite important for Persian culture and language.
Freshness and youth of sons, earth, and oak moss that connect them to their fathers: Like Father Like, Son opens with bitter green freshness, sparkling and quite verdant in the beginning. Soft woods and very tender patchouli weave their way gently in further development, with a facette of soft spices. The fragrance swirls then slowly into depths of mossy green layers, slightly earthy, and feeling like rich, damp soil. During the dry-down, this mossy, earthy feeling is sweetened by rich, sweet, and warm hues of cistus adding to the depth of the composition.
Notes (listed by the brand): bitter orange peel, green notes, citruses, earthy notes, cashmeran, cistus, cedarwood, patchouli leaves, and oak moss.
Taboo With Makeup
Is a kind of a paradox, questioning seductive aspects of – sin. Taboos, dark sides, animalic aspects lurking from within – covered with alluring makeup.
Two opposites meet a fresh, sweet, and floral-fruity opening, slightly honeyed, but with bitter nuances at the beginning softens down to powdery tones, framed by darts of green surrounding the lush floral bouquet. Taboo With Makeup feels dense and flowing, and the milky-coconut-musky intermezzo is quite interesting, as it breaks up the initial impression, leading the fragrance toward the dry down, which turns into an animalic direction.
This sinner is enjoying the sin, it seems, exposing naked, musky, and slightly salty skin, rolling in very refined, castoreum-scented silk sheets – with still visible traces of makeup powder left upon them.
Notes (listed by the brand): champaca flower, blackcurrant, powdery notes, green notes, coconut, cashmeran, labdanum musk, ambroxan, castoreum
This fragrance is dedicated to Mohammadreza Kazemian‘s memory of his vacation in Cannes when he visited a perfume shop. What especially impressed him was a perfume with a strong coconut note, and when that scent on his skin mixed with the surroundings, the scent of the sea, beach, and sight of palm trees – it reminded him of the beautiful beaches in southern Iran.
Khalij 626 opens sharp on my skin, with piercing citrusy notes underlined almost immediately with a very dry coconut, tamed by iris and vetiver. It does remind me of walking around the Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes, with a touch of sea breeze rolling in, the shade of palm trees, and mixing with scents coming from posh boutiques, and the beach clubs, cocktail bars, and swanky eateries.
Perfect for summer, smooth and refreshing – given the heatwave we are going through right now, I might wear it tomorrow!
Notes (listed by the brand): neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot, iris, coconut, tropical fruits, vetiver, guaiac wood, sandalwood, tobacco, aldehydes, cedarwood.
A lush floral bouquet is reminiscent of walking through a flower shop or buying flowers on a busy, hot city street. Dark red, honeyed, dense, and opulent fragrance, rich and almost overwhelming.
Mohammadreza Kazemian leaves no prisoners here, you are surrounded by floral opulence and it’s hard to pick your choice of flowers for a bouquet, you better leave it to the florist to arrange them, wrap them up in red paper and hand it over to you with a smile.
I like the gourmand touch in the further development of the fragrance- it’s very elegant, with syrupy vanilla that feels sensuous and voluptuous.
Later on, the biscuit and vanilla combo prevails, feeling drier, as the level of sweetness rises.
Notes: honey, jasmine, red and white roses, hyacinth, honeysuckle, green leaves, biscuit, vanilla.
A bit more abstract fragrance, quite interesting with an opening of powdery mimosas underlined by a rooty iris, smooth and subtle.
I think this might be one of my favorites from the collection, and beige as a color suits it well – like beige, soft leather, like the beige of almonds cracked open, like a beige frosting over ambery tones, it feels very dense but in a bitter-sweet tone, I even feel traces of incense in the depths, with hints of smoke.
Lovely. Strange and lovely.
Notes: mimosa, iris, suede, almond, butter, vanilla, myrrh, amber, woody notes.
Sugar Daddy (Sweet Delusion)
Mohammadraza Kazemian told me he played with some new accords in this fragrance, with the effect of Shirazi thyme (a city in Iran), with an accord resembling traditional Iranian candy – with all the photos of Sohan he had sent me, I was left mouthwatering.
Sohan, a genuine sweet from Iran is something every village and town has its unique recipes for. The main raw materials include honey, sesame, almonds, pistachios, saffron, and cardamom.
Sugar Daddy is a sweet delusion indeed – because the accent is more on cardamom almost from the beginning, a fine and dry-roasted feeling one, soothing, comforting, and slightly lemony-feeling, like halva with cuts on lemons on top, and sprinkled with jasmine flowers.
Sugar Daddy isn’t sugary-sweet at all – it is rather spicy-sweet, quite opulent, seductive, and very nice-mannered and pleasant.
An interesting take on cardamom, with a pinch of aromatic-leathery thyme, just to give it a bit more masculine character.
Notes: traditional Iranian candy, pineapple, Iranian pennyroyal, cardamom and spices, jasmine, Shirazi thyme, leather note, smoke, cedarwood, sandalwood.
Night in Yazd
This is the fragrance I wanted to know the most about and kept asking Mohammadraza Kazemian to tell me more about this city in the heart of the desert, long nights in tents raised behind the bazaar, and all the mud-brick houses of the city. Yazd – I now wish to go there! Oh, yes, I wish to see the Zoorostiran fire temples, cisterns, and underground canals and wander around the marketplace, eating Persian cotton candy, and stopping by to have a cup of tea now and then!
Night in Yazd is inspired by impressions of a party in one of the tents in Yazd, where tea and Sohan (specific for the city) are served, while scents hovering above the spices market still fill the air.
This also might be my favorite fragrance from Mohammadreza Kazemian’s current collection – the blend of tea meeting spice is wonderful! The opening is lovely, so refreshing as I write this, with whiffs of fresh tobacco adding warmth and a very soothing amber accord beneath the refreshing, spicy, and delicious opening of Night in Yazd on my skin. I must say it feels much deeper on the skin than on blotter, although I wish it lasts longer.
Notes: black tea, cardamom, spices, traditional Persian brittle toffee (Sohan), tobacco, amber, and woody notes.
This is a very interesting collection, with seemingly simple but finely blended and original perfumes – all are projecting moderately, and I do wish that some of them last longer. I also hope that Mohammadraza Kazemian will manage to regulate the shipping issues, and find some good retailers – he certainly follows his own path in perfume creation.
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