In 2004, there was a fashion design house neatly tucked away in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, which also ran a retail store. Today, the heart of the brand Blackbird still beats fervently as its triad of alchemists provide the brand its blood, or in this case, perfume. The brand’s stomping grounds are now predominantly digital, and Blackbird has shown us that you need not abandon your roots when you’re uprooted. Continuing with its minimalist aesthetic, the brand preserves its presence in nearly a dozen countries and more than half a hundred dot coms that stock its scents.
Since 2012 the brand has released 13 fragrances, most of them unisex. Currently, Blackbird extends their services to providing their customer base with merchandise that includes incense cones, beard oils, scarves, and various other accessories. Despite their deceptively simple presentation, Blackbird fragrances are not for the faint of heart.
To start, Targa, a composition laden with the smokiest of perfume notes, evokes its incense counterpart without the need for fire. This frankincense-and-myrrh-driven creation would be the brand’s poster child, if there ever were one. The resins of the composition build a base of warmth while the woodsy notes, ranging from cedar to sandalwood and even agarwood, capture the fragrance’s virility. Like the creases in worn-in denim that have contoured themselves to the wearer’s silhouette, Targa embraces its distinctiveness and sets itself in opposition to the mass perfume market.
Another personal favorite is Anemone. Like its water-dwelling namesake, Anemone greets the wearer with a marine-like undertone accomplished through the use of ambergris. Ambergris is a regurgitation of the sperm whale, and it is harvested by sea farmers who occasionally, with no small degree of luck, find the opaque-colored matter floating in the middle of the ocean. A single gram of the perfume ingredient can sell for as much as a thousand dollars, depending on how fresh it is. This aquatic note is made accessible in this fragrance because it’s paired up with plum. The latter ingredient is often achieved through the use of synthetics such as prunella (Firmenich), butyl anthranilate, and beta-damascone (Firmenich). The end result is an unusual, effervescent scent that envelops the wearer with its aroma of overripe, salted fruits.
If you decide to sample the line, make sure you don’t overlook Hallow. Hallow’s resinous note of benzoin delivers a medicinal and smoky essence with a vanilla overtone. The fragrance is strangely addictive and unapologetically different. Or, if burnt rubber is your thing, try Moto Oud. Mizuchi is another one that shares the same gravitas with its notes of ink and paperbark.
All in all, the diversity of scents in the Blackbird line is as wide spanning as the range of notes arpeggiated on McCartney’s fretboard in his eponymously titled hit. We hope you have a chance to try some for yourself.
We have highlighted some of our favorites of the collection. Below are the notes on the full lineup:
Anemone – developed by perfumer Nicole Miller. An oriental floral fragrance with notes of plum, pink lotus, champagne, honey, tobacco, ambergris, styrax, and labdanum. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Broken Glass – developed by perfumer Aaron Way. A floral fragrance with notes of jasmine, geranium, rose, opopanax, amyris, angelica root, violet leaf, chamomile, davana, bitter almond, cardamom, and pink pepper. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Hallow – An oriental spicy fragrance with notes of incense, benzoin, frankincense, oud, and marzipan. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Iroko – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. A woody fragrance with notes of sandalwood, teak, and dry cedar. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Mizuchi – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. An aromatic spicy fragrance with notes of ink, paper, mild tobacco, and dry woods. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Moto Oud – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. A woody aromatic fragrance with notes of oud, leather, burnt rubber, and spice. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Ophir – developed by perfumer Aaron Way. An oriental woody fragrance with notes of sandalwood, tonka bean, amyris, siam wood, muhuhu, rose hip seed, cedarwood, guaiacwood, myrtle leaf, cypress leaf, rosewood leaf, frankincense, saffron, pistachio, hazelnut, opopanax, lavender, ambrette seed, bay, rose, black pepper, and nutmeg. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Pipe Bomb – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. An aromatic aquatic fragrance with notes of saltwater, metal, and amber. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Pipe Bomb Intense – An oriental woody fragrance with notes of saltwater, metal, smoke, amber, and oud. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
Targa – developed by perfumer Aaron Way. A woody spicy fragrance with notes of guaiacwood, teak, oud, copaiba balsam, Indian frankincense, cedar, black pepper, nutmeg, choya loban, nagarmotha, Omani frankincense, sandalwood, green peppercorn, smoke, oak, cistus, ambrette, myrrh, davana, helichrysum, geranium, vetiver, caraway, and opopanax. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum.
The Wendol – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. A woody aquatic fragrance with notes of vetiver, soil tincture, moss, and aquatic notes.
Tinderbox – developed by perfumer Eliam Puente. A woody aromatic fragrance with notes of cedar, metallic notes, and white pepper.
Triton – developed by perfumer Aaron Way. An aromatic fragrance with notes of violet leaf, iris root, cedar, aldehyde, incense, mimosa, carrot seed, dry amber, vetiver, styrax, black pepper. Starting at $58, in Eau de Parfum