Outside of Beverly Hills and Dubai, one of the only places to physically experience FKA twigs' favorite fragrances is a vodka distillery in SoDo.
Want to smell like a high diva at the nearby immersive Van Gogh exhibition? Crave a sensual spritz of holiness in your daily walk? Need a gift for the special spiritualist in your life? Head a walkable block south from T-Mobile Stadium, and Glass Vodka's distillery and tasting room will be next to Showbox SoDo and across the street from Hooverville Bar and Slice Box Pizza. Visitors must be 21 to enter, but they don't have to pay the tasting fee to visit the gift shop. Along with grape-distilled vodka and aromatic candles poured into recycled bottles, Glass Vodka carries rainbow-tone decanters from the Tacoma Museum of Glass and various fragrances from Seattle halal perfumer House of Matriarch (HOM). Among that set—not available for sampling, but emitting odor under glass bell jars—are some of the perfumes worn by singer/producer, actress, and pole-dancing Ezekielan angel FKA twigs, aka Tahlia Barnett.
Christi Meshell founded HOM in 2011, prioritizing rare, natural ingredients over synthetics. HOM bottles its scents in royal blue flacons modeled after antique lacrimosa vases, crowned with copper caps and adorned with metatron decals. Mysticism and symbolism factor heavily into HOM's offerings, which largely share an ash-free incense quality. Some might find incense perfumes hard to pull off, but others align perfectly with the olfactive family's global blends. HOM's ingredients, including rare ones like oud, ambergris, and civet, are 88–100% natural. HOM considers fragrance like smoke, wafting cyclically instead of structured in the traditional perfume pyramid often used to describe how scents unfold when worn.
An allegedly premature announcement came out in 2016 that HOM and twigs were working together, which reportedly irked both artists (neither Meshell nor reps for twigs responded to The Stranger's emails). It was the last anyone caught wind of the project until late 2020, when HOM took orders for twigs' fabled fragrance. There were supply delays that at one time yielded a refund offer. But Magdalene, named for twigs' acclaimed 2019 album, made its way to 180 lucky fans this past September. Magdalene's perfume story says it's "not polarizing in its femininity," which could be their way of calling it unisex.
Unlike HOM's more traditional officially licensed release for Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017, Meshell wanted to buck the traditional business model for celebrity fragrances with twigs' scent. Some characterize that arrangement —pioneered by Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley, perfected by everyone from Dalí and Warhol to Britney and Paris—as personalities cosigning a mass-marketed licensing deal, without inspiration or involvement from their subject. Reality TV judge Adam Levine is a prime example. A decade ago, he called celebrity perfumes "punishable by death," then released his line six months later. Others, from twigs herself to Shaq, critique the outsized perceptions of celebrity status and the power and privileges afforded with it.
Celebrity perfume's appeal still makes sense, and not just because "public figure perfume" isn't as catchy. Celebrity perfumes give people a more accessible introduction to fragrance families than playing sampler roulette with mass-broiled labels. Even as more celebrities turn their attention to full-range skincare and makeup lines, lux-indie fragrance designers continue to benefit from their collaborators' fan bases.
HOM collects emails for "future vintages," but don't bank on a Magdalene restock. Only 180 Magdalene bottles were filled. In numerology, 180 represents inclusive, self-reliant energy for all humankind —or for the 180 orders filled, however one sees it. According to its sillage cycle, Magdalene opens florally with French rose otto and Nepalese spikenard, an oil Mary Magdalene could have poured in her hair to wash Jesus' feet. She wafts balsamic with myrrh cistus, opoponax (a resin more sweet and leathery than myrrh), and copaiba (an oil similar to black pepper, said to promote healing). Her base is incense woods, a holy forest of precious sandalwood, cedarwood, and ethically-sourced oud burning with oubanum (an ancient Eastern frankincense mixture) and copal (a resin from Oaxaca, Mexico used in pre-Columbian rituals). Magdalene arrives wrapped in yellow fabric remnants twigs wore while touring Magdalene.
Meshell curated a collection of over a dozen perfumes, body oils, and incense cones that twigs has reportedly purchased over the years. The collection was announced in late September, and returned in November after going offline for over a month. HOM offers sample kits and discount codes to make their haute potions more affordable, but as of print time, SoDo's Glass Vodka is one of the only places outside of Philadelphia, Beverly Hills, or Dubai where someone can experience HOM scents without a required purchase. Of the ten scents in stock, Glass Vodka carries four of twigs' favorites: Kazimi, Black no. 1, Madrona, and Sex Magic.
Madrona smelled the woodiest and grassiest of the four scents, its lavender top notes subtle enough to avoid a laundry soap comparison. Black no. 1's leather and oud notes seemed like its strongest, blending with fir, pine, cannabis, and seaweed to create a pleasant, unique scent that doesn't evoke a stoner's coastal Christmas tree. Sex Magic seemed more classically feminine and floral than Kazimi, which felt surprising.
Kazimi is a mix of seven unique rose ingredients alongside white ginger, red cedar, "exotic spices," opoponax, agarwood, oakmoss, ambergris, and hyrax—likely hyraceum, an ancient ingredient and ethical musk alternative sometimes found still potent after 50,000 years. Hyraceum is derived from the petrified excrement of the cape hyrax, prairie dog-like mammals more closely related to elephants. Sex Magic, meanwhile, could get its femme potency from damiana, a yellow flower long considered an aphrodisiac, mixed with some of Madrona and Black no. 1's core ingredients (leather, cedar, pine, oud, and other wood notes) along with violets, amber, sandalwood, moss, green notes, and choya loban, Indian frankincense formed in a clay choya.
The four scents smell like a goddess' altar, living well within the incense scent profile. Holy smokes immediately came to mind, a ritualistic addition to any beauty regime or self-care routine. Travel size vials are the best bet for casual fragrance fans, while devoted perfume fiends won't mind paying extra for HOM's expert alchemy and luxurious natural ingredients. But no matter their devotion to atomized glam, twigs' acolytes will smell like the most consecrated oracles at the SoDo Krispy Kreme if they visit Glass Vodka first.
You can shop FKA twigs' favorite scents on House of Matriarch's website.
FKA twigs is currently promoting an awareness campaign supporting victims of domestic violence. New Beginnings, The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and The NW Network are some of many locally-focused resources available to people experiencing domestic violence.