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Project Renegades Line is Perfumers’ Rebel Yell

A supergroup of perfumers united to create the new unorthodox fragrance brand.

If Quentin Tarantino had a perfume line, it might look something like Project Renegades. The new set of fragrances is the creation of a talented three, not a Dirty Dozen or Hateful Eight.  The scents from independent perfumers Bertrand Duchaufour, Mark Buxton and Geza Schön, are as full of attitude as they are high-quality ingredients.

The three all worked for large fragrance houses before breaking out their own; together they’ve contributed classics to the annals of scent for brands including Comme des Garçons, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Clive Christian. Now, they fancy themselves outlaws — images for Project Renegades portray the them as cowboys with six-shooters and 10-gallon hats.

“The brand is essentially a reaction to what’s going on the market,” explained Schön at a recent German launch event, citing the influx of same-smelling, dead-serious, over-marketed fragrances from big luxury brands. “Yes, we’re the renegades, we left [the industry], but nonetheless, we absolutely wanted to put quality in the bottles. Each of the three scents is made with expensive ingredients, things that a normal brand simply can’t afford to use. It would blow their budgets.”

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Using the standard fragrance industry cost index, he said, Project Renegades would have to sell for 500 euros. Instead, the price is closer to 200 euros, which Schön, who initiated the project,  called “democratic.”

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Buxton’s Project Renegades fragrance blends basil, galbanum, vetiver, rose, pepper and labdanum. Within its warm, animalic notes and smoky elements, lurks a marijuana accord. “The top note — there’s a little bit of horse in there,” he laughed. “Just a touch of horse sweat. Like meeting a cowboy; there’s also a leather note from the chaps.”

Schön takes inspiration from the Peruvian pink pepper tree (Schinus molle) he keeps on his Berlin balcony. His wish was to fully explore it — the fruit, the leaves, the bark. He used 15 percent in the blend — both an essential oil and a CO2 extraction — then added green and woody notes, and Iso E Super, the substance behind his top-selling Escentric Molecules.

In fact, all three scents use pink pepper — a coincidental common thread, insisted Duchaufour, who said it is a favorite, though expensive, tool of many perfumers. “It’s very recognizable, it’s very fresh, it’s very sparkling. It’s something lovely in the top note,” he said. In addition to the 10 percent pink pepper that opens the fragrance, Duchaufour’s scent has gin notes, and a driftwood accord he has evolved project by project, together in a heady sensual blend redolent with incense.

Project Renegades fragrances clearly exhibit the individual signature styles of each perfumer; the trio’s free-spirited approach extends to the complex packaging. The perfumes’ base bottle shape is standard, but hosts a bevy of quirky embellishments. Foremost is a removable magnetic caricature head of the perfumer.

“We don’t take ourselves seriously, as you can see. But we wanted to do something different, something with value, and therefore we needed our heads on the bottles,” Schön said. “Mark’s face is on Mark’s perfume. But you can also take it off and stick it on the fridge.”

Bottles are encased in glossy boxes printed with comical psychedelic mandalas, which are in turn covered by slipcases featuring a large letter ‘R’ perforated with bullet holes. Despite the macho touches, the scents are positioned as unisex, drenched with fun factor.

Project Renegades is rolling out in select perfumeries and department stores in Europe, where the 100-ml. fragrances have a recommended sale price of 195 euros. In the U.S., the brand is new at Lucky Scent, retailing for $210. And the trio plans to keep the posse going. The next Project Renegades launch is a couple of years away, but they’ve chosen a theme with a galaxy of possibilities — “the renegades go to space.”