I love ancient history, so I was excited to hear about niche perfumery line D.S. & Durga’s offshoot HYLNDS. It’s based on ancient European cultures. So far there’s three fragrances: Bitter Rose, Broken Spear (warriors on the Scottish Isles); Isle Ryder (Celtic); Spirit Of The Glen (in collaboration with The Glenlivet whiskey); and Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake (Northern Ireland’s mythic mountain, Armagh). Isle Ryder was the first one I tried, and it smells wonderfully different than any other perfume I know of.
HYLNDS’ owners, David and Kavi Moltz, are romantics. They included poems for each one, which read like something out of Lancelot. They told The Cut that they’d love for Bob Dylan to wax poetic about their fragrances.
Here’s my Isle Ryder sample, from Barney’s.
The poem reads:
To the Blessed Isles,
past the Manx seaman’s myst
and thundering valour,
past Balor’s blackened bulrush
the Summer Raider in ashwood shyp
his northern woods, saps, cones,
honeyed mead, wax,
golden gorse, meadowsweet,
to inner loch, of inner isle,
always ryding west
The note list is poplar bud, fir cones, meadowsweet, golden gorse, jasmine, Norway spruce, mead, woodruff, bulrush straws. The notes are obscure and the names fit the theme perfectly, but they’re all real things. It made me happy that this note list is both accurate and still as poetic as, say, Beyond Paradise.
Isle Ryder has me picturing a hot warrior ryding west to slay a dragon (always ryding of course because he’s a tireless hero). I haven’t read up much on Celtic myths, but Arthurian legends are said to be influenced by them so I’m thinking my imagery is still warranted. Isle Ryder is tough and restless and actually makes me feel the way the warrior feels. I can’t think of any other perfume that makes me empathetic.
This bra describes the outward part of the warrior’s attitude:
(Sculpture by metal artist Scott Cawood. I saw it at his art show in Shepherdstown, WV back in 2009, when I interviewed him for The Shepherdstown Chronicle.)
What stands out most at the beginning is a mealy honey note: in other words, mead. Because of this and the mythology bit Isle Ryder would be the best possible fragrance to wear to the Renaissance Faire.
The other notes I picked up on in the beginning were hay (there are several different notes in here that could qualify as hay but most notably the bulrush straws) and the fir cones. The effect is a vague but powerful longing.
Moltz told The Cut about how he conjures up feelings with fragrance. He explains Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake: “‘I’m generally not going to try and capture the smell of hope or fear,’” he says about his blending process. “‘So I’ll try to make an accord based on something, like the heather shrubs that are growing on this one mountain, some are natural, some synthetic, to kind of conjure that foggy feeling; you layer [notes] and it’s a lot like sculpture. For instance, it took 300 different iterations to get the one I wanted.’”
Isle Ryder also smells a little like marzipan. Gorse is a thorny plant with flamboyant yellow flowers that grows in Western Europe and smells like almonds. The cleverest addition to Isle Ryder is the jasmine, which comes in at the heart and makes the fragrance more wistful. The jasmine doesn’t stand out much but it fleshes everything out.
My skin eats perfume, so it wore out in maybe 2 hours. I sprayed it on my shirt and it lasted for days. Isle Ryder’s drydown recedes the same way it crashed in, except the florals weigh more strongly against the honey/hay double hitters. It’s $180 at Barneys and worth every penny if that’s in your budget for beauty products. And it’s unisex. It works in the club because it’s loud, but it’s also a smart perfume so I’d wear it to something like a poetry slam. And if you’re going on a quest then by all means bring it along. The closest I’ve come to the Blessed Isles and the Manx seaman’s myst is Lake Michigan:
but I had a great time anyway.
Isle Ryder would be a good perfume if any two of these original notes were combined. If it weren’t for the florals, Isle Ryder could be a gorgeous but solemn scent for a banker or a business journalist. But at heart it’s a romantic scent, and it really does jibe with the image that the copy brings to mind.
Bob Dylan, take note.
Perfumer: David Moltz
Price Range: Expensive
Recommended Occasion: Any
Release Year: 2013
My Rating: 10