Ofactive Studio Flashback in New York OR Narth’s Time Traveling Adventure

City scents! I think we’ve all felt the attraction. Could this scent transport me to my beloved Marrakesh? Will it be the ultimate armchair travel to exotic places? I have my olfactory associations, whether real or imagined, but I’ve often been disappointed.

I laughed out loud when I tried Santa Maria Novella‘s Alba di Seoul. Perhaps the outskirts of Seoul smelled like this in the Joseon era, all conifers and freshness but Seoul smells absolutely nothing like that today. Does Kyoto really smell like sakura? No, because most varieties of cherry blossom have no scent, and those that do are very faint. But we now have a sakura note in perfume which oft times is just left of peony with a dash of jam. You can bet any fragrance with Kyoto in the name will either be an incense or a light, pretty thing featuring “sakura”, that magical Japanese word.

The first time I saw Olfactive Studio’s Flashback in New York, I was excited. I grew up in New York, and having left it a long time ago, the word “flashback” captures the impact of my olfactory memories perfectly. They’ve faded over the years, but there are some odd smells that make me intensely nostalgic. Bus fumes is one. I associate the smell with the Port Authority bus terminal, a dark and greasy cave of a place choking in diesel. The smell of bus fumes still makes me wildly happy and full of anticipation of traveling. I rarely smell buses where I live now, so these memories have never been replaced with new ones.

Olfactive Studio pairs each scent with a photograph. The photo for Flashback in New York is of the Chrysler building in a blizzard, very atmospheric, but with one sniff the scent flashed me right back to New York City in the high days of summer, a much more pungent season. Flashback in New York smells like fruity garbage, exhaust and the skunky weed that filled the air before the young ones turned marijuana into an art form. The cumin phase is nicely sweaty and I can almost feel the sooty sheen on my face again. My city of Melbourne, Australia does not smell like any of these things. I have not been back to New York City in many years, perhaps it smells very differently today.  I found Flashback in New York wonderfully evocative, a whole bunch of crazy memories flooded me (oh excuse me, flashbacked me) and continue to do so every time I wear it. I went through a sample, and I knew if I didn’t have a bottle I would dearly miss it. It’s the clearest olfactory place memory connected to perfume I’ve ever experienced.

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York

I’m sure some of you are wondering why you would wear perfume described as fruity garbage and weed. Let me assure you they are my very personal notes, my memories. For you Flashback in New York might smell like clary sage and leather, smoke and saffron and a dose of cumin. The clary sage is dry, herbaceous and tweaks Flashback in New York into something quite interesting. Unlike many of the Olfactive Studio fragrances, this scent has good lasting power. Just like New York, it will make an impression.

Tell me about your favourite city perfumes, which ones really speak of the city to you!

Olfactive Studio Flashback in New York (Jerome Epinette, 2018)

Top Notes: cumin, clary sage, white linen, saffron
Middle Notes: violet, Tuscan leather, jasmine
Base Notes: birch smoke, papyrus, vetiver, tonka bean

Photos of New York City taken by teenage Narth


10 thoughts on “Ofactive Studio Flashback in New York OR Narth’s Time Traveling Adventure

  1. Hey Narth,
    I’m so excited you love Flashback in New York. I 100% agree that it’s marvellous and very high on my To Buy List. My first time in NYC was already the 1990s and it was already gentrifying itself out of the bohemian, thug riddled, scary place into the shiny, priced out of control, buttoned up place it is now. I was happily walking the streets at night in drag and partying like crazy. Stayed with friends down on W14, which was just becoming wealthy gay land.
    Even interviewed the Australian Ambassador in drag and did a very That Girl inspired video montage of all the famous streets.
    What a city!
    I can see how Flashback in New York would be a perfect smell fit for your memories.
    Your review has just given me a fabulous rush of my own memories. Thank,
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh I’m glad your memories and Flashback in NY clicked! It sounds like you had the BEST time! I never felt unsafe in Manhattan, used to walk home down 42nd st because that’s where all the lights and safety were. My dad taught me, walk where the people are, doesn’t matter that it was all strip clubs at the time. The fruity garbage was always there in the summer, especially during a garbage strike! Holy heck!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know that I’ve smelled Flashback in New York, but Masque Milano Times Square gives me the same feeling. :-). I would love to find a perfume that smells like the high desert of the southwestern US.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wore a sample of Flashback in New York on a work trip to New York last year during the summer and quite liked it, despite feeling self-conscious worrying that people around me might think I’d just smoked some weed (nobody commented). As I’ve never lived in New York, can’t say that I had any associations with the smells. Food smells wafting from the stands at the sidewalks, maybe, but I don’t think it was reflected in this perfume.
    I’ve had the reverse experience, of visiting a city and smelling a particular perfume in the streets again and again, not knowing what it was, and frantically sniffing everything at duty free on my way home hoping to find it as an olfactory souvenir (this was before I was even obsessed with perfume). In Paris, it was something smoky and rosy, quite enchanting. In Brisbane, it was a fresh, men’s cologne – nothing special, but I was surprised by its seeming ubiquity. I never found either of them, but I suppose they could have been anything within a style of fragrance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that would have driven me mad to have those scents standing out so much. As you say, perhaps just a style that is currently popular but perhaps something brand new that a lot of people embraced. Smoky and rosy, so sad you don’t know what it is!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. New York is one of my top 3 favorite cities in the world. But I don’t think that I like its scents… Well, as much as I’m a “city girl,” smells are definitely not what I like about cities :) Probably that’s why I was never attracted to perfumes named after cities or other geographical entities.

    I think I smelled the original Flasback, but I don’t remember how it smelled. With “your” perfume you lost me on cumin: there are just a couple perfumes where I can tolerate this note, but in general we’re enemies. Which doesn’t stop me from trying perfumes with that note ;) So, probably eventually, if I come across it somewhere, I’ll remember how much you liked it and give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Undina I used to loath cumin. I remember when McQueen’s Kingdom was a darling in perfume land, smelled like someone’s armpit. But out of the blue I developed a tolerance and then a craving for it. I would still proceed with caution, who knows when cumin can turn on me?


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