I was recently sent a sample of a new fragrance from REEK. This scent goes to number one on my favourite ever perfume names list, knocking I Fancy You and Fat Electrician off the top spot.
Damn Rebel Bitches was cooked up over a cauldron stirred by Sarah McCartney, who you will know from 4160 Tuesdays. You just know that when Sarah rolls her sleeves up, this will be no ordinary smell-alike mass market popsicle. NB The cauldron isn’t literal- her studio is more test tubes and maceration, but you get the picture.
Opening in dramatic fashion with blood orange that sticks around and doesn’t quit, Damn Rebel Bitches falls somewhere between a cologne and a gourmand. I’m not a fan of gourmands, but when they are sober and unsweetened, like this one, I am all nostrils. The orange is joined by clary sage, malt and pink peppercorn. Pink peppercorn is a berry not a spice and has been used in seemingly endless measure lately with the trend for pink fruity florals. Have no fear, pepper dodgers, here it is muted and adds just enough of a fruity pinch to keep the orange on track.
There is a thread of molasses running through here like a mining seam, which I figured must be the malt and hazelnut. Now, I know I said this gourmand was unsweetened, but sometimes molasses and very dark brown sugar can start to smell like something else when you sniff them up close. It’s almost as if they smell like dark, dried fruit or fudgey nuts. Such is the case here and the combination of sharp orange and nutty malt made me think of the chewy cherry and fruit topping on a Dundee Cake (I could eat a whole one if left unsupervised). The herby note comes from the clary sage- a beautifully green note that I love, but doesn’t always work for me in fragrance. Here though, it works beautifully and that herby touch adds a stretch of countryside into the pot.
There is a middle phase to Damn Rebel Bitches that smells like red Skittles, but it faded as soon as I named it. It’s as if the playful pink peppercorn starts a fight and loses. The final act is an orangey, herby accord that smells like a posh liqueur. Think Cointreau, but with flashes of greenery and dark wood.
I love how the notes evoke a wildness. There is a feeling that the ingredients were gathered many years ago: hazelnuts, malt, clary sage- all could be found by the wild haired Damn Rebel Bitches whose courage went largely unnoticed because, well, because they were women. These brave women deserve to be remembered and I salute REEK for doing so.
You can buy Damn Rebel Bitches from the REEK website or from the shop in Edinburgh. My sample was kindly sent to me by REEK, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own.