Yosh Sottile 1.61

...fragrance is feeling.

With perfume, sometimes it’s hard to make myself try something new when the Old Faithfuls give me so much satisfaction. There’s whole mess of freshies, fruities, and florals out there that I’m dragging my stilettos on getting to know, only because I already love more incenses, ambers and musks than I’ll ever wear in ten Queen of Sheba lifetimes.

Sometimes, the only thing that budges me out of my musky rut is other people being annoying. As in, enthusiastic about perfumes I have no interest in smelling. The other day, I was at my local perfume boutique with a rigid agenda of fragrances I was intent on trying. Another customer, sunshiny with the pleasure of connecting with a fellow fumehead, began making recommendations.

Her tastes were completely contrary to mine. Even though we were standing next to each other, our noses occupied different universes. I could feel myself mentally resisting as she began talking “natural perfumes”, and began banging on about someone called Yosh.

Yosh Han is really cool, Sunshiny Lady told me. An olfactory artist. Her fragrances have no alcohol, only perfume oils and natural essences.

Sunshiny lined up Yosh’s tiny glass bottles of scent on the counter for me to try. She was so excited for me to experience them, I felt my “bah humbug” attitude softening into curiosity. Sunshiny really wanted me to love U4EAHH! (say it out loud), but while this tart, candied pear is kicky and cute, the one that really stopped my nose in its tracks was Sottile 1.61.

Sottile is the Italian word for “subtle”, but a more fitting handle would be “pretty”. Or, “Prettyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!” as I exclaimed, to Sunshiny’s satisfaction.

Sottile smells of tea rose and lily of the valley and...that’s it. Just tea rose and lily of the valley. Tea rose is a yellow rose that veers slightly off in a warm, earthy-mossy direction. Lily of the valley is bright and green - soapily-sweeter than rose, but with nuances of it.

Together, they’re a flower garden in the morning -- dewdrops and tender leaves and an indefinable spice in the mist. The perfume is linear, with a shift towards the dry down as the flower garden recedes: the lily of the valley stays in sharper focus while the tea rose fuzzes out.

I was grateful to Sunshiny for her unsolicited Yosh pep rally. Sottile unmoored me from my expectations, and gave me a whole new feeling for the day. As Yosh points out in the mission statement on her website: “The French verb “sens” means to both smell and feel. If seeing is believing, [then] fragrance is feeling.”

Number one, I’m peeved that French has better verbs than English does.

Number two, I’m jealous that that Yosh came up with such a pithy epigram. “Fragrance is feeling” -- love it, gonna steal it. Don’t tell Yosh.

Sottile 1.61 is available from retailers including LuckyScent and Barney's at $130 for 8ml

Image by Denise Grunstein


  1. I totally agree that Sottile can be summed up by = tea rose + LOTV. When I first sampled it I appreciated most how uncluttered it was by other notes, and I liked it too, but moreso for the novelty of it. I haven't worn my sample again.

    My favorite YOSH is Kismet, a nice narcissus and hay scent, grassy. La Contessa also has a few diehards, but I find it soapy and that cucumber note weird.

  2. Ok, you may have convinced me to try something by YOSH. I have forever held against her that she made a fragrance for JT LeRoy, "her personal friend," whom we all now know was fictitious. But then, we all put up with a lot of fiction around perfume (flowers that don't exist, space-age accords, etc.) so I guess I should finally give her a break.

  3. Angi, have you seen Nathan Branch's latest blog post about Trompeur? I hadn't really been up on the whole JT LeRoy thing, but I thought his post put YOSH's fragrance around it in context.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation-- My best friend *hates* perfume, but she loves me, so she keeps asking me to find something all natural and super-nice smelling. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Yosh I go...
    Rita @leftcoastnose

  5. Ahsu--thanks for alerting me to that! Yes, that does put it all into perspective.

  6. Thanks, Ahsu, for the heads-up on Nathan's thought-provoking post. Here's the link:

    I urge anyone not yet familiar with Nathan Branch's fine writing to check out his blog.

  7. Thanks for the name-check, Ahsu, and Katie, I like your introduction to Yosh Han. The natural perfume oils can be really hit and miss (even among the Yosh line itself), but I agree that Yosh succeeds most brilliantly when she keeps it simple.

    I checked out her Omniscient 0.96 a while back, and it was too Everything But the Kitchen Sink for me to handle. Sottile 1.61 sounds a lot more relaxed.


  8. Nathan! Quite the Yosh coinky-dink with our posts today. I'm just on my way over to yours to comment. Meet ya there.

    And yes, with Sottile, the loveliness is in the simplicity.

  9. Katie (and Nathan): I have actually met Yosh Han, who is a lovely, thoughtful, down-to-earth, charming woman. She exudes peacefulness. I had the great privilege of being part of a small group, which included Yosh, and a couple of other (lucky) fumeheads, who were invited by Ineke Ruhland to participate in the very early development of her latest release, Field Notes From Paris. To have been in the company of such talent while watching the creative process happen was an amazing experience.
    Sottile is my favorite from Yosh's line, what I find so interesting about the perfume oils is how they communicate their scent. This is not a foghorn-leghorn kind of delivery; it is much softer. One has to get fairly close within someone's personal space to really appreciate the full perfume, stand back a little and all you are aware of is a non-directional olfactory presence. There is a subtlety that I appreciate very much.
    My complaint about natural oils is the same as everyone else's. Because of the lack of crisp boundaries between scent components, they can frequently smell like a hot mess -- way too much going on without any apparent structure.
    Like Nathan said, it works best when kept simple.
    Luv ya Katie, never change.

  10. What a great opportunity, Scott, both to meet Yosh and to be a part of the creation of a perfume. I've been hearing and reading plenty about Ineke's Field Notes From Paris, and am very keen indeed to try it.

  11. And I might change, Scott, just a little. Perhaps in increased saturation level for greater vividness.

  12. 130 dollars for 8 ml?? Katie, this is very expensive, I wouldn't buy it even if I had the money.

  13. I know, linda! It's pricey! It's an artisanal perfume, not mass-produced, with fine ingredients, all natural, and it's a pure perfume oil. But even still, that's a lot of dough.

    And I have to say, I was wearing my Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose on the other arm as I was writing my Sottile review, and damn! That Tea Rose is unremittingly gorgeous: a lovely rose that sings a sweet song from first spray to dry down. And all for under $10 for 120ml!

    It didn't last quite as long at Sottile, and it's a straight tea rose, without Sottile's lily of the valley, but anyone enamored with Sottile would certainly find satisfaction with Perfumer's Workshop Tearose.

  14. Ah, Perfumer's Workshop Tearose! Good call, Katie. This is like being surrounded by a gorgeous garden of multi-colored roses. Reach in your pocket and pull out ... petals, and lots of them! To know a rose is to love P'sW Tearose!

  15. ScentsofSmell, I've come the the conclusion that PW Tea Rose is just...perfect. It's perfect. It says "Tea Rose" on the bottle, and "boop!" there you are: in a rose garden. And shockingly inexpensive.

  16. katie, this was one of the three you recommended to me though a correspondence on your youtube channel. i got a sample of it from luckyscent, and it is divine. i am wearing it today and feel lonely for something new like love, this fragrance is the fragrance for a sweet new
    straight from the heart sensitive romance. i would say i am wild about it, but theres nothing wild about this fragrance, only suffice it to say i am touched. intensely touched.

  17. ShoeBitch - oh, I'm so pleased you got a result with Sottile! And what a perfect perfume to scent your cloud of hopeful possibilities!