Opulent iris butter as thick as cream turned ashen from cinders dropped by smoked woods; grey floral suede and leather wrapped up in vapours of pink and red, first from carnation, and later from roses; the flanks of an animal heated from an afternoon ride, its golden muskiness pulsating softly through its heartbeat to cling to your cool hands as you stroke fur that is as smooth as satin and infinitely creamy — these are parts of the tableau painted by New Sibet, the latest fragrance from Slumberhouse and it’s quite a departure from the brand’s usual style. Gone is the rugged aesthetic of old created from dense, forceful, practically opaque bases imbued with sweetness, spices, or brooding darkness.
Instead of nature-based landscapes slashed with colour and loaded with weight, this is a coolly elegant, sophisticated scent, soft and vaporous, worn with sleek city suits, furs, or cashmere, and constructed in a fashion that is often as much about tactile texture as it is about scent. Often, even more so, because it’s frequently an impressionistic scent where its elements are sensed almost on a subconscious, intuitive, and subliminal level rather than an actual one, its notes a suggestion that pass on the breeze — there and, yet, not there at the same time. It is scent that is often rendered through a filter, notes tinted in sepia hues like an old photograph, and it’s all done in a way that is extremely artistic and sensory.
New Sibet is an extrait de parfum that is meant to be a quasi-chypre but I didn’t find anything chyprish or green about it at all. To me, it is first a pale grey iris woody musk, then a floral leather, before it ends up as a dirty, ambered, animalic musk and, finally, the scent of skin itself.
Slumberhouse describes New Sibet and its notes as follows:
Empires upon empires upon empires
Empresses and embassies and emissaries
Sun goes down
No more games
carnation • mint
leather • iris • cistus
goat fur • moss
I want to make something clear at the start: the “goat fur” is a fantasy accord and there is no actual goat hair or goat hair tincture in New Sibet. Mr. Lobb has confirmed that to me. The specific elements that make up the accord are being kept secret, but I think it contains, at a minimum, Animalis, civet, ambrette, various resins (particularly styrax resin), and quite likely, Synarome’s Ambrarome Absolu, a very animalic, leathery, and musky material redolent of ambergris. I think the middle layer of New Sibet includes rose, patchouli, vanilla, Mysore sandalwood, and some tonka as well.
New Sibet opens on my skin with thick, marbled slabs of expensive buttered iris. It smells like Pond’s cold cream mixed with aerated, sweet butter cream, then covered with piles of velvety iris petals and a handful of fresh carrot shavings. There is nothing dank, musty, fusty, stony, watery, crypt-like, rooty, or akin to chewed cardboard the way low-grade iris often can be. Instead, it’s quietly floral, clean, and immensely, heavily buttered. When smelt from afar, the aroma is actually a lot like a “new car” scent, the clean calfskin leather of expensive new shoes, or the suede of a new luxury handbag. It’s very clearly the top of the line butter absolute form of iris, and it’s extremely elegant.
Other elements are also at play. An icy blast of menthol blows through the iris butter, chilling it, while a slightly watery and metallic shimmer of red carnation imparts a quiet spiciness. The shards of camphor and menthol ice are juxtaposed next to the archetypical symbols of fire: dark, faintly aromatic woods that are singed enough to smell of barbecue (and barbecued meats on occasion) as well as the dust of their ashes. Flickers of mint and a leafier type of greenness dart all around, though the latter never once smells of oakmoss on my skin. In the base, there is a sense of dry earth — sparse, grey, and crumbly — but it’s more of an impressionistic thing than a concrete note. Few of these elements really impinge on my mind, though, when I smell New Sibet from afar in its opening minutes. There, it is almost entirely elegant, chic, and refined iris with its new car smell and its thickly buttered suede flecked by an elusive, ghostly touch of green.
It’s an airy and weightless cloud, significantly lighter in body and more shimmering than any Slumberhouse yet. There is none of the chewy density that was such a signature of the line, none of the practically opaque and viscous oily heft of so many others in the line.
One thing that is consistent, though, is how the amount of scent that I apply makes a noticeable difference to the prominence and strength of the notes that New Sibet reflects. My standard baseline application is generally 2 good sprays (or the smeared equivalent thereof), and that was the amount that gave me the scent profile that I’ve just described. When I applied 3 big sprays of New Sibet, the fragrance was largely the same in its general parameters but the emphasis was on very different notes. The smoke, ash, menthol, earth, and singed woods were significantly more pronounced, pushing the carnation into the background and practically out of sight. The mint freshness was barely noticeable, while the iris’ butteriness wasn’t so thick or opulent. It was thinner, and the aroma was more like floral suede than actual cream. Still, it’s merely a matter of degree as opposed to being an entirely different sort of fragrance.
In both cases, and regardless of the quantity that I applied, the thing that consistently struck me was how rapidly New Sibet cycles through micro-phases or stages during its first four hours. It always takes about 20-30 minutes for the scent to turn into a floral woody musk dominated by creamy iris that is far more woody than floral. It’s infused with wood smoke, fluctuating degrees of ash, dust, and a clove-ish spiciness, the latter being all that really remains of the carnation. The carrots drop away, replaced by a touch of powderiness, a hint of tonka plushness, and a delicate halo of ambered warmth.
With the larger 3-spray amount, it was the same story but, again, there were differences of degree. A pale pink rose popped up occasionally in tiny specks in the background, albeit elusively and fleetingly amidst the wood smoke and ash which were both much stronger in this instance. They grew in force with every passing moment, trailed by the barbecue tonalities and the touch of camphorous menthol. The result reminded me at times of Naomi Goodsir‘s Iris Cendré, minus its intense greenness and clean musk but with these other additions instead.
Another difference between the two versions of New Sibet (as well as between New Sibet and Iris Cendre) is the speed with which the smoked woods take on an undertone of leatheriness. It’s almost tarry, but not quite. As the smoke and darkness begin to rise, they cut through the iris’ buttery density and that sense of Pond’s cold cream, thereby transforming the fragrance at the end of the first hour. This version of New Sibet feels as though it’s 40% woodier and smokier, 40% less buttery, cool, and floral than the version that appeared at the same point in time with a 2-spray dosage.
Once again, I have to emphasize that it’s merely a question of degree because both versions of New Sibet chart the same course. It’s merely that the 2-spray version takes much longer to get there, and the iris remains more heavily buttered and floral for about 60-90 minutes longer. Still, at the end of the second hour and the start of the 3rd, both versions are in the exact same place: a heavily wooded iris, dusted with ash, powder, and a hint of carnation clove-ish spiciness, then cocooned within a cloud of wood smoke over a quiet layer of leather in the base. There is no oakmoss, menthol, camphor, carrot, mint, or floral carnation.
What’s really lovely is the micro-stage that appears about 2.25 hours into New Sibet’s development when I apply a 3-spray amount. The creamy woody iris is laced with smoke but also, when I smell my arm close up, tendrils of rose, menthol, spice, and silky vanilla. With surprising speed, the rose and vanilla grow stronger, expanding until they transform New Sibet at the end of the 3rd hour into quite a different fragrance, one that is centered on a dry, ashen, but velvety rose layered with woody iris, woody smoke, leather, and vanilla cream. It doesn’t last for long, but it’s gorgeous and I say that as someone who puts both rose and iris right at the very bottom of my list of favourite florals. But this short-lived phase of New Sibet is elegant, polished, ineffably chic, and with just enough warmth and sweetness amidst the darkness and ashes to both inviting and interesting. It coats the skin like a silken glove, texturally elegant as well as olfactorily so. Things were quite different with a 2-spray amount, though. There was some rose and a subtle streak of vanilla, but both notes sat on the sidelines in a very muted, muffled fashion, and the rose certainly didn’t push aside the iris.
In both versions, however, the leather and animalics slowly rise to the surface from the third hour onwards, then make their debut on center stage late in the 4th hour. The two notes are very much intertwined, resulting in a leather that smells smoky, musky, peppery, warmly animalic, a little spiky, and, yes, a little furry and equine as well. My guess is that Animalis, civet, and probably some Ambrarome Absolute are at play, along with other elements. The iris feels as though it’s subsumed within the leather. It’s never floral in aroma now, but is mostly a tactile thing that feels like suede and velvet. The cumulative effect of the changes is an impressionistic sense of an animal’s warm flanks but, if I had to choose an animal, it would be a horse, not a goat, and the focus is more on the leather saddle on his back than on the animal itself.
Everything feels impressionistic, like skin-hugging auras that have been captured from a distance and photographed in sepia-tinted hues. One has the almost subliminal sense of stroking an animal’s warm flanks, absorbing the tremulous vapors circulating from the earth below his hooves, like the tufts of dried, mineralized lichen moss growing sparsely under a veil of ashes on the dusty ground, the smoke spiraling from the forest he just rode through, or the tiny clump of spicy carnation dotting the distant horizon. It’s all tenuous, emotive, almost subconscious, as if one’s mind is quietly picking up on muffled chatter from the distant, fuzzy background rather than concrete reality. If I sniff up close, focus intently, and squint my eyes, I can just barely make out the contours of patchouli, dried oakmoss, quietly peppered (carnation) spiciness, dusty earth, charred woods, wood smoke, smoky styrax resin, and something vaguely ambered, but they’re mere wisps that brush upon one’s senses rather than clearly delineated, distinct, conclusive notes. The only thing that is truly unquestionable, solid, and real on my skin is the leather festooned in its clouds of animalic muskiness, laced with wood smoke, and bearing a surprisingly tactile, textural feel as a whole.
This is the first part of New Sibet’s long drydown and it typically begins around the 5th hour. The animalic musks and leather vie for supremacy over the course of the next few hours, and the animalics usually win. There is no iris or floralcy, no moss, dust, ash, dry earth, spice, patchouli, woodiness, or sweetness. The civet and Animalis are its most distinct parts but, even so, everything feels quite blurred and abstract, an animalic haze that is greater than its individual parts and that is mostly golden, musky, heated, faintly peppery, sometimes prickly, and minimally smoky. The civet imparts a urinous undertone to the proceedings, but that’s often impressionistic, too. Plus, it’s mixed with the more vegetal muskiness of ambrette which dilutes the urinous aroma with something fuzzier. For me, the overall effect frequently resembles extremely sexy, warm, musky human skin after light exertion more than anything either powerfully leathered, intensely horsey, or heavily sexual, ripe, or “skanky.”
It’s an extremely different drydown than most Slumberhouse fragrances. There is none of the brand’s old signature bases, stickiness, or spice mixes. There isn’t even much resinousness, only an occasional but wholly abstract and fleeting sense of darkness tinged with smoke, like shadows falling across the furthest edges of an old sepia print.
The best part of the drydown is its later stage, when the iris butter makes a surprising return about 8.5 hours into New Sibet’s development, augmented by buttered Mysore sandalwood and perhaps also by a drop or two of tonka and vanilla. I’ve tested New Sibet three times now, and the same thing occurs each time: a buttered creaminess seeps over the ambered, animalic, dirty muskiness, rendering it, once again, tactile, richly textured, and like skin that’s been turned into creamy velvet. The overall result is simultaneously warm and cool, just barely sweetened, golden, and animalic — but not powerfully so. Imagine if an extremely mild, refined, tamed, and non-cumin version of Les Liquides Imaginaire‘s Peau de Bete in its drydown phase were mixed with a slug of Frederic Malle‘s Musc Ravageur in its drydown phase; now imagine thick slabs of iris and sandalwood butteriness were slathered over that combination, and you’d have the drydown of New Sibet. It’s like running your hands over the cooled-down flanks and beating warm chest of a horse that was lightly ridden an hour ago, just enough to be lightly musky and subtly urinous in scent, except your hands have been coated with cool, thick, expensive cream and that aroma is as strong as everything else. I want to emphasize, though, that, in many respects, New Sibet is actually not horsey, per se, not in the way of Peau de Bete, and it doesn’t take me back to my old riding days the way that the other fragrance did, but horses are the closest animal that I can think of given the highly impressionistic, fluid, and emotive nature of this tableau. So, don’t worry, you won’t smell of the stable at all. In fact, I don’t think any part or stage of New Sibet is redolent of actual stables.
There isn’t much else to New Sibet beyond this point. It simply becomes more and more like skin. For an hour or so, it continues to be plush and musky but, then, surprisingly, it becomes more like actual skin that is, simultaneously, clean, musky, heated, warm, and… scentless. In short, the scent of skin has become one’s skin. Where one ends and the other begins is impossible to tell; there is merely the elusive feeling that there is something there beyond one’s own dermal cells, but it’s intangible. New Sibet dies away much the same way, a bit over 10.75 hours from its start when I used 2 sprays, and roughly 14.5 hours with 3 sprays.
Such longevity is much lower than the old Slumberhouse beasts with their dense, heavy bases and their bold intensity, and New Sibet’s sillage and longevity are different, too. With 2 sprays, the fragrance typically opened with around 3 inches of projection and about 5-6 inches of sillage. The numbers dropped fractionally after 40 minutes, then more so. At the end of the 2nd hour and the start of the 3rd, the projection was roughly 0.5 to 1 inch, while the sillage was close to the body unless I moved my arm. New Sibet became a skin scent 5.5 hours in, but wasn’t difficult to detect until the middle of the 8th hour. At that point, I had to put my nose right on my arm to smell it. It seemed to fizzle out a few hours later and, as noted above, died away a bit after the 10.75-hour point.
When I used 3 sprays, New Sibet fared better and the numbers were higher, but not by much. The opening projection was between 4-5 inches, while the sillage extended 7-8 inches in reach. The latter dropped to around 5 inches after 90 minutes. Roughly 2.5 hours into its development, the projection was at 1.5 to 2 inches, the sillage at 4. At the 3.5 hour mark, New Sibet turned soft, the projection hovering about 0.5 to 1 inch above the skin, the scent trail extending about 3-4 inches. It took New Sibet 6.5 hours in total to turn into a skin scent, and it lasted just under than 8 hours after that
New Sibet is was just released a few days ago, so there isn’t little discussion for me to share with you except for a wonderfully detailed one by “Deadidol” on Fragrantica. I urge you to read it for yourself because it’s too long for me to quote except in snippets. Essentially, he, too, found New Sibet to be different from prior Slumberhouses and to be a sensory thing that one must feel to understand as opposed to doing a “drive-by” sniff on a scent strip like typical perfume. He phrased it beautifully when he said New Sibet “smells ambient, like the air of a space in which multiple scents intertwine but without any muddiness whatsoever.” It’s a perfect choice of words. Yes, New Sibet is extremely ambient in feel. It’s the same intuitive, subliminal, subconscious, and impressionistic thing that I wrote about — more auras, feelings and senses than actual “perfume” or a set of concrete notes.
To the extent that one can have specifics for such an “ambient” landscape, Deadidol compared New Sibet to the American Midwest, calling it “a dusty, dry atmosphere buzzing over a huge open space.” In another part of his detailed review, he writes:
[New Sibet is] highly cerebral, jaw-droppingly sophisticated, packed with subtleties, but the initial impression I get upfront is of sandy / beige colored leather — perhaps a vintage leather jacket done in a western style. The leather is wrapped around scorched florals and a buttery musk that splits the difference between skin, hair, and baked earth. If there’s a hay-like feel to it at all, it would be dry, clean hay. What is extraordinary, though, is how dovetailed these notes are. I could never say “this is a leather scent” even though leather is clearly present (I’d peg the genre as somewhere between leather, woody-oriental, and chypre, but it’s a scent that debunks the very concept of genre classification). If anything, I’d be inclined to say that it’s a sandalwood-based scent as there’s a distinct bubble of buttery-rich blonde woods and mysore carrying the low end. It smells ambient, like the air of a space in which multiple scents intertwine but without any muddiness whatsoever.
[¶] Unlike Slumberhouse releases of the past, there’s no wall-of-scent going on here — nothing syrupy, goopy, or particularly dark / aggressive; it’s open, spacious, and very dry. […] It’s dusty, barren, distant — yet calming once you dial into it. It does smell like a thing from the past, but not quite a vintage perfume (even though there seems to be a considerable vintage influence at work).
My experience may have been more elegantly floral and, later on, more animalic than the “western” heartland scent that Deadidol encountered, but I very much agree with him on the overall feel of New Sibet and on the continued innovation that it represents for the brand. So, if you’re expecting one of Mr. Lobb’s “wall-of-scent” fragrances, to use Deadidol’s accurate phrasing, with their old might and heft, you may be disappointed.
On the other hand, if that earlier aesthetic was too difficult for you, then New Sibet may prove to be a happy surprise. It is certainly much more versatile and easy to wear on a daily basis than such intensely powerful, atmospheric scents as Norne with its perfect rendition of Tolkien’s forest. The latter is a fantastic fragrance, but it’s not something that one can wear every day and irrespective of whether one is in a boardroom or a PTA meeting at your child’s school, having lunch with friends in the sweltering summer heat or dressed up for a dinner date.
I think New Sibet does fit that range. Its fluid, changeable scent profile crosses many different fragrance genres, starting with an opening that oozes sophisticated chic and refined urban elegance, thanks to its copious amounts of expensive iris. Its subsequent woody floral and floral leather phases are more rugged, but still polished. The animalic and drydown stages are immensely sexy, but in a restrained, subtle way, rather than a loud, “in your face” raunch or dirtiness. As Deadidol noted, it bears a definite vintage sensibility in its aesthetic, one that wouldn’t be out-of-place next to the vintage (non-cumin) version of Femme, for example. Yet, every part of it smells unisex; and every part of it feels both wearable and practically tactile. Some of it is pitched at a throaty rumble, but most of it comes in at a sotto voce purring which adds to the “ambient” or intuitive, sensory auras created by the scent. And all of it shows great technical finesse.
I strongly recommend New Sibet to people who love iris fragrances, dry floral or iris woody musks, floral leathers, animalic leathers, and minimally dirty, animalic musks. If you love several of those categories — including light animalics — combined into one scent, then you really need to order a sample of New Sibet and try it for yourself.
Disclosure: My bottle was provided courtesy of Josh Lobb and Slumberhouse. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.