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Eau de Parfum

PRE-ORDER: Ships from NYC next week!

This unique perfume is a collaboration between Marissa Zappas and the poet M. Elizabeth Scott, a hazy narcotic scent inspired by the avant-garde 1963 film Flaming Creatures directed by Jack Smith (1932-1989), an experimental monochrome collage of visual suggestion, sexuality and angsty camp melodrama. Jack wanted his oddball film to showcase the underground vivacity and vital difference of his milieu. It is an intriguing window into queer counter-culture, drag queens, artists, intersex and trans performers. Elliptical and deliberately non-linear, the film is more akin to a skin-strewn fever dream than what was expected of traditional cinematic tropes.

Marissa’s heady perfume is appropriately a chaos of hazy desires, and careful kitsch punctuated by an unapologetic carnival of Jack Smith’s monde de transgression. Viewed now, Flaming Creatures seems not tame exactly, (it still has a strange beauty) but something of the time capsule, a disconnected essay of orgies, earthquakes, a vampire Marilyn Monroe, drag queen and the hankering for blowjob proof lipsticks. These days people aren’t really that interested in experimental cinema, now as then it is a marginalised art, flickering away at the edges of society. Derek Jarman, Jane Geiser, Jonas Mekus, early Lynch, Ron Frick, Kenneth Anger and Germaine Dulac, all exploring the hinterlands of cinematic technique, narrative and form.

All of this is electric inspiration for a perfume, not exactly a gender plaything, but a composition that delivers our expectations in unexpected ways. Smelling it has a similar effect to seeing someone you know well and then suddenly realising it isn’t them, in fact nothing like them. But for a moment you are utterly convinced. It is fascinating to smell this in a perfume and wonder what the notes are and how you feel when they shapeshift and alter on skin.

Pink pepper and juniper’s peppery gin profile open Flaming Creature and support a note of Orange Ring Pop, an imagined recreation of a cult American facet candy worn on the finger like a giant garish gemstone and packed full of sticky and sweet artificial flavours and gaudy colouring agents. It’s a very Zappas note, playful and nostalgic and it works well with a lush night blooming jasmine or lady of the night as it is sometimes known. Not a true jasmine, but the flowers emit an intoxicating scent to attract night pollinators like moths and bats. This heady note is allied to artemisia or wormwood, a green, pungent ingredient that varies in aroma profile from herbaceous to icy absinthe bitterness. The two aromas both contradict and fuse.

Woods, earthy patchouli, and rum decorate and lift the base. Most of Marissa’s perfumes have thoughtful bases that serve to prolong the heart and sky of her work. Occasionally, wafts of chosen materials (rum, gunpowder and solar notes for instance) float up to subtly influence the mood of the compositional whole.

The strange, disordered visions of Flaming Creatures are cleverly reflected in the ambitious texturising of Flaming Creature. Using a singular instead of a plural seems to somehow accentuate Marissa’s personal skillset. But after all, perfumers are judged on the actual juice rather than multitudinous inspirations and this is eccentric and memorable perfume making.


  • Pink Peppercorn, Juniper, Orange Ring Pop
  • Night-blooming Jasmine, Wormwood
  • Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Smoke, Patchouli, Rum

Perfumer: Marissa Zappas, 2021

inci list: alcohol, benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, citral, citronellal, coumarin, eugenol, geraniol, isoeugenol, cinnamic aldehyde

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