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          CRA-YON: The White T-Shirt Of Perfumery
          Fragrance Reviews

          by Eddie Bulliqi
          10/20/20 23:29:55 ( 9 comments )

          New Swedish scent brand CRA-YON was launched in April of this year by the same founders of Agonist – a house known for challenging, awkward, and love-them-or-hate-them compositions. Clear from marketing message, aesthetic, and olfactory profiles alike, CRA-YON is the starkest opposite of Agonist – pleasant, easy-going perfumes for which there should in theory be very few haters, accessible to everyone in both notes and price point, designed as an “empowering wardrobe, made of the best quality ingredients.” They make a point to highlight gender-neutral, sustainable, and vegan angles. 

          Crayon brand pic

          None of the three debuts are ground-breaking curiosities nor best-in-class archetypes. If you were hoping for Agonist-level creativity, CRA-YON is not where you’ll find it. If I’m being honest, the first few hours with the new compositions presented very little I could even describe as interesting. But I’m aware that from the perspective of a writer who is looking out for the unexpected and the visionary, I run the risk of unfairly and inappropriately marking novelties against a hierarchy of craftsmanship, creativity, and artistry for which they were never intended; just as a food critic has no place comparing midnight New York pizza against Michelin-starred stalwarts, but can enjoy the slice of pizza with as much enthusiasm and vigour as Heston Blumenthal’s latest mind-playing concoction. 

          Vanilla CEO

          With all of that in mind, I understand the viability of Vanilla CEO, Sand Service, and Passport Amour within CRA-YON’s concept. Would you wear a loud, stripey shirt every day into work or the gym, or choose a plain white t-shirt to get the job done? CRA-YON’s wardrobe is simple and pleasing and nothing less nor more. If you like vanilla, Vanilla CEO will undoubtedly satisfy you. It is sweet and simple, light and floral, showcasing a cool vanilla bean tracked alongside a background orange blossom, with a tropical atmosphere and a salty finish comparable to Juliette Has A Gun’s Vanilla Vibes, Atelier Cologne’s Vanille Incensée, or Diptyque’s Eau Duelle. I think the latter two are far more complex renditions of vanilla, but that’s not saying I didn’t enjoy wearing Vanilla CEO for the day. 

          Sand Service

          Following similar genealogy, Sand Service takes its cues entirely from pre-existing templates; for me, it conjured Le Labo’s Santal 33 most strongly, with hints of Tom Daxon’s Vachetta. As a green-edged leather, it fulfills the job of a dry suede chypre with papery papyrus and drops of violet here and there. I think they missed a trick here, overcomplicating the narrative with the pandering prompt that “Sand Service takes you traveling without moving. Now isn’t that sustainable? A composition of ingredients sourced from all over the world makes this the ultimate feelgood express.” It’s a decent leather that carries well and has considerable longevity — and the best of the bunch — and you can kind of leave it at that.

          Passport Amour

          Passport Amour borrows from the rose-oud trope we’re very used to: Think Louis Vuitton’s Les Sables Roses, Burberry’s Tudor Rose, or Etat Libre d’Orange’s 500 Years. Solid perfumery work, no doubt — the rose is full, the oud is rich, and the patchouli is smooth. It’s very hard to gild the lily further without being disingenuous, as you can probably find better elsewhere (depending on how you define “better”) but, again, this doesn’t stop Passport Amour from smelling satisfying and getting you compliments with a generic, well-done rose oud. 

          Boxes and bottles

          All three scents would work very well as easy-going day wears that you don’t have to think much about, and they all have their virtues. Most people don’t want to sport a blue velvet smoking jacket or ripped, neon orange jeans every day, so in that respect these staple perfumery pieces do parallel comfortable casualwear very well indeed. If you’re intrigued, the sample kit is 10 euros. 


          Have you tried CRA-YON yet?


          Eddie Bulliqi

          Eddie Bulliqi Columnist

          Eddie Bulliqi is a writer and speaker who analyses what people want from their senses, specialised in the interpretation of tastes and smells, with a background in musicology and history of art. He has worked with Coty, the Estée Lauder Companies, Esxence, the Institute for Art and Olfaction, and the World Perfumery Congress. For Fragrantica, he produces trend reports, interviews, raw material studies and reviews.

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          News Comments

          Write your comment

          sanders76 10/22/20 06:19

          Love the energy and colors of this brand. My favorite is Passeport Amour because I'm a woody rose person....
          Néroli Facètie

          lavender_wind. 10/21/20 07:10

          Nice review Eddie. From an aesthetic point of view, I do like the outside packaging of CRA-YON.

          myricle 10/21/20 06:48

          Ah, for a return to the late '90s / early '00s, when (many) niche houses' visual design (we'll leave the scents themselves for another day) was all about playfulness and whimsicality - vivid colors, fun imagery and patterns, interesting bottles, and a perpetually youthful attitude. Then came Mr. Industrial Stoic and his plain, rectangular bottles crashing the party and it's been boring every since. You can tell Cra-yon is trying to stand out with some sort of invocation of carefree fun (via the pastels), but I think the Agonist bottles were actually more playful.
          Mirror Mirror Collection - Miroir des Joyaux

          Houdini4 10/21/20 06:36

          By the way I wrote my comment without even reading the article....haha.
          Eddie... I love the no nonsense approach of your writing, it's very useful, especially comparisons to other perfumes and the like...so bravo, I think your reviews/articles are superb.
          It's worth noting that Eddie also see's Santal 33, the Eau duelle (but not as complex...ain't that the truth)
          and so wonderfully un-diffuse in his summary, saying it as concisely and diplomatically as I could only dream of doing...
          "None of the three debuts are ground-breaking curiosities nor best-in-class archetypes. If you were hoping for Agonist-level creativity, CRA-YON is not where you’ll find it. If I’m being honest, the first few hours with the new compositions presented very little I could even describe as interesting"

          If Fragrantica article featuring your perfume is luke warm then it doesn't bode well.

          Perhaps I can learn to write more positively and to see the (literal) kernels of good stuff in the massive heaps of shit!!!
          Mirror Mirror Collection - Miroir des Joyaux

          Houdini4 10/21/20 06:23

          Okay, so judging by the comments here, I'm not the only one who is being negative about this brand. I feel vindicated slightly (I know it's only 3 comments or whatever and people are nasty on the internet lol) because I've been criticised for giving an honest opinion about the look and feel of Cra-yon. It's not my intention to bash anyone or their brand and leaving the branding and packaging etc aside for a moment and just focusing on the scents themselves, I found them very underwhelming. The rose one is poor, derivative, lacking ideas, and that was my favourite of the three! The CEO one is a cloying vanillin 'thing'...not a fan. Then there's a lack lustre interpretation of a kind of modern, papyrus sandalwood which is NOT in anyway an attempt to evoke Santal 33, don't even think that you cynical lot!
          I'm not obsessed with being horrible about this brand honestly I'm not....nor am I with perfumes in general...I'm a lover not a hater and I definitely don't want to negatively impact a indy brand (as if I ever had the arrogance to think that my opinions would!) but if I don't like something I just say it! If the branding annoys me...I say so.
          Even if I 'know' (internet know) or like the perfumer or brand owner. I still say I don't like stuff.
          Don't take it to heart.
          Shalimar Eau de Parfum

          chinook 10/21/20 05:48

          The packaging is really trendy but it also makes doubt what’s inside

          hedward 10/21/20 02:04

          The fragrance industry is already drowning in mediocrity...
          Girl of Now Forever

          latafan 10/21/20 00:08

          I had such bad luck with these guys. Only last November I discovered Agonist in a Tokyo department store and I know many people don't like it, but I love Onyx Pearl and got a medium sized and a big bottle at the beginning of 2020, very much planning to make it my signature. Actually both me and my husband love it so much that we were both starting to use the fragrance.
          Then a few months ago on a whim I wanted to check out Agonist's brand page and I'm seeing they're abandoning the brand for this frankly a bid bland and uninspired appearing project. On top of that I'm back in India from where I can't really get my hands on Agonist fragrances in a reasonable manner - not planning on paying 100% import tax - and who knows if there will still be bottles left in the online store I last bought my Onyx Pearl from by the time I make it back to Germany again. Either way, I hate having found a fragrance that I felt was signature worthy for myself and then the brand just... stops. I could really flip a table... sigh...

          katrin.niisuke 10/20/20 23:35

          All three were so poorly constructed unfortunately. They all have some synthetic airfreshner vibe to them. Feels like unfinished sketch rather than a masterful painting. Cra-Yon should have followed the leading example of Essential Perfumes where price point is even less and the scent quality/blend/balance is waaay more superior than in some of the most sophisticated niche houses.

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