Thursday, December 22, 2011
Likewise, functional food conveys the image that its "conventional" alternative somehow fails to function in terms of providing specific nutrients, which the latter, as a redesigned industrial product sold at a premium supposedly does perfectly. Of course, the primary function of functional food is to generate profits for the food industry and little else. Again, nobody in the prosperous parts of the world requires complements of this sort to a regular, intelligent diet.
In fragrance, the distinction between functional and "haute" perfumery is old and seems entirely sensible. The former employs perfumery a means towards modifying (theoretically: improving) a product, be it cosmetics or car seats; the latter constitutes perfumery as an aesthetic end in itself aimed only at titillating our noses. But there's the rub. I doubt this distinction is still capable of being maintained in view of the nature of the perfume industry today. For one there is not much "haute" in most "haute perfumery" these days. The great mass of releases are formulaic, redundant, assembly-line concoctions made from the cheapest available materials and the only way you can tell them apart is by the Potemkin image campaign they are dressed up with. In fact, it is often hard to tell a perfume from a cleaning product, because both use the very same materials. Thus, to me, Jean Claude Ellena's Jardin series for Hermès smells in no way like gardens, or like luxury, but like a series of airport toilets heavily deodorized with various fruit-and-floral scented sanitary products (Frankfurt "uses" Un Jardin sur le Nil"). And this is the work of one of the grand present-day perfumers, so it is said, who has more time and funds on his hands than most.
Besides industry policies dictating the cheapening of perfume, there is also a problem on the consumer end. A lot of people's noses have been entirely denatured. We all know of the tests with children who prefered artificial strawberry flavors in yoghurt to the real fruit, because they had been socialized into viewing the former as "strawberry" and could not handle the complexity, refinement and sensory challenge of the real thing. Well, most people are so overexposed to functional perfumery that apparently they no longer realize how strong and far from natural smells fabric softener, cleaning, and cosmetic products smell. When I sleep in so-treated bedsheets, I have to wash my pyjamas - sometimes twice - because from contact alone they reek to the heavens of "April-fresh" dihydromyrcenol infusions.Consumers seemingly don't mind or even demand of their personal fragrance to reproduce the virtual smells of their chemicalized environment - a vicious circle from an outside perspective, but a wet dream for Symrise or Givaudan. Ultimately, 99.9% of perfumery today is functional - it's primary function is generating "haute profit." Like everything (and everybody) else in a neoliberal system, that is the criterion by which it will be judged. Happy 1984, err, 2012 y'all.
Monday, December 5, 2011
While an end of Montale would not be a dramatic loss to pefumery at this point, it will be interesting to see whether further facts emerge from a possible mud slinging contest (apparently Messrs. Montale and Atmeh are doing battle over the trademark, which is why Montale perfumes have been recently appearing under the name "Tanelli" - so now it's an Italian front?). Also one can safely anticipate the appearance of lots of Montale perfumes on ebay and other grey market outlets, so fans will be able to stock up.
Monday, November 28, 2011
The simple course of time with its inevitable transformations of tastes, the hegemony of accountants at the corporations who control 95% of the market, the interests of the aromachemical giants, and the regulatory policies of IFRA reflecting those interests have combined to make so many nails in that coffin over the last decades (honorable mention goes to the wreckless non-sustianable exploitation of natural resources like Mysore sandalwood, rosewood etc. pp.). Anyhow, when the epitome of perfumist integrity Andy Tauer is creating Pentachords rather than a second L'Air du Désért Marocain one could cynically assume he is not just playing with concepts, but perhaps preparing for the future status quo of scent creation.
But... I do not want to play the cry-baby here insisting on being pacified with Vintage Sous-le-Vent and this won't be a reactionary rant (although I love a good reactionary rant if it's in the name of endangered cultural heritage rather than endangered privileges). I just think that the situation raises the question of where the art, rather than the business, shall go from here, other than down the drain. And I certainly hope that what is currently widely offered as "niche" is not the conclusive answer, because that is too frequently striclty business involving very little in terms of art. While most niche start-ups just seem to be hollow business plans serving as storefronts for generic products from Symrise, Givaudan or IFF, many of the great niche names seem to have entered a phase of stagnation. Lastly, little is to be expected of the grand old houses in terms of creative boldness, even less as they become firmly controlled LVMH subsidiaries. The vanguard will be found among small operators with a vision, be it one-person natural perfume houses or other kinds of rugged creatives who rise to the highest standards from a belief in what they are doing. And perhaps the good news is that these kinds of folks can more easily find audiences these days through web-networks, and that they have new exciting materials at hand to complement and enrich what is left of the traditional palette. CO2 extraction and the fractioning of naturals have yielded some fascinating results and while technology per se may not produce aesthetic advances, we all know the beginning of classical perfumery lay in the chemical revolution and the new methods of extraction and synthesis it yielded.
This brings me to Undergreen perfumes, a project launched by two French fellows, Patrice Cardenoso und Jérôme Bonnet, who hired Fabrice Olivieri of Trends Lab to create their two perfumes, White and Black. Since I translated their PR material from English into German, you may consider me biased, as well as competent to judge its quality, which I found problematic linguistically and in style. I wish even smaller houses would realize the necessity of investing effort and money into well-made, culturally sensitive translations of their ad copy - it represents them and falls back on them when producing undesired chuckles rather than an atmosphere of luxury and desirability. Undergreen does not hold back with bathos when celebrating its unique selling point: embodying a new style of natural perfumery rejecting "aromatherapeutic" "new-age" aesthetics for a contemporary, trendy niche-style while scrupulously emphasizing natural origins and sustainable practices. It reminds me a bit of Ernest Callenbach's "Ecotopia," a very American ecological novel from the 70s which fuses faith in technology and Yankee ingenuity with Hippie eco-counterculture. Or of Steve Jobs. Yes, fans of Apple aesthetics will love these perfumes, too. Now this sounds like and could verily be just another marketing angle in an increasingly crowded market of high-end perfumery, but to my nose, the concept actually works and is genuinely reflected in the perfumes. I do not know to what extent the naturals employed here are manipulated in spinning cone columns or the like, but the fact ist: Black and White smell like throroughly trendy niches, without sporting what I find obnoxious about thoroughly trendy niches. Black is certainly not nearly as saturnine as the ad copy may suggest. As someone reared on truly dark vintage scents I would class this as easy-to-wear and downright pleasant. It's a bit like a de luxe version of mat; very male with its black licorice notes - but in high resolution 3-D quality. Plus there's a nice phenolic "Islay Malt" birch (and Oud?) note. In sum Black is a moderate-to-light and very pleasant modern gourmand fragrance, which excels by taking a trendy melange of notes (coffee, incense, oud, guajac) to a higher level by avoiding the usual synthetic suspects. As a classicist I could use more murkiness, skankiness etc. here, but that's not the point - it's that this is a well-made, beautifully smelling scent in a contemporary style. I'm impressed. The same logic applies to White. It's a white (surprise!) floral (jasmine, ylang, tuberose, orange blossom, iris are all there) of great transparency, spiced up with minty zest and coconut. Touches all the bases of hipness but goes on to score a home-run quality-wise. I think it beats nasomatto's Narcotic Venus to a pulp (although it's much less muscular).
In sum, I believe Undergreen are making a meaningful addition to the perfume market and one of the most interesting launches this year (note: I was only paid for translating, not for writing this - but in any event, smell for yourself). Next, the queen of transparency, Mme. Giacobetti should work for these guys (not to diminish the accomplishment of Fabrice Olivieri in the least). I'd love to see her rendition of a green fougère in this line.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I like to believe that I would smell this wisdom in Anya's perfumes even without knowing about her magic garden in Florida, her ethnobotanical studies and long involvement in organic gardening. They have a certain "je ne sais quoi" that comes about when people genuinely and deeply live what they do ( I'm not being paid for writing this, though please note the samples were provided free of charge :-) ).
I'll be posting about several fragrances from "Anya's Garden" in weeks to come, but Pan deserves an article of its own. It brought a smile to my face the first time I smelled it and still does. Why? Well, for starters, it's a very nice, classic ambery Fougère made from superb materials. That's a good and rare thing and I'm giving bonus points to every perfume these days that will not clobber my nose with cheapo synthetic redundancies because the perfumer had no budget, no time or no more ideas (oh yes, I'm talking $$$$ niche here, not drugstore stuff).
But there's more, beyond the dusty green opening (cedar, hay, lavender), a strong, but really good, non-headshop patchouli that picks up on the dryness and builds a bridge to the gently sweetened beeswaxy drydown (but nothing here is sticky in the least). That "more" is the (billy) goat's hair tincture amply discussed by all reviewers of this scent, which makes the whole thing "Pan out" (cough!). It's not skanky - you have to deduct the droppings, pee and other barnyard details from the animal. This may be a rutty goat, but it is proudly-standing-on-top-of-Olympus-Mons-clean. It's not even erotically animalic (at least in an obvious way), as the homage to Tom Robbins' ribald novel Jitterbug Perfume would suggest, but really quite well-behaved - definitely there, though, and certainly recognizable if you've spent time around hairy animals. It also seems to modulate the other notes and works nicely to harmonize them in Pan, as it perfectly connects with the coumarinic aspect of the lavender and the leafy-earthy patchouli. Pan can be applied generously, as sillage is rather moderate and it isn't too lasting either (the presence after an hour is very subtle). Great fun while it lasts though, just as those encounters with the horned God, and a beautiful perfume for men and venturous women which one should have around if only to sniff the bottle. My only suggestion would be to release a flanker (Pan-Demonium?) which would sufficiently dirty the original up in the direction of Jicky to create a flat-out erotic variant - a challenge when avoiding civet, but I really think Billy the goat is full of potential.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/PanandDaphnis.jpg)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Dukes of Pall Mall comes across as a venerable gentlemen's establishment in the style of Trumper's, and as much is suggested by the little accompanying leaflet, which states, in carefully chosen words, that "Dukes of Pall Mall continue to compound toiletry preparations for private warrant...based upon these original formulae" of the Regency period. In fact it would seem the enterprise was launched in the 1980s with a faux patina. The company was incorporated on July 21, 1982 and in 1983 Country Life magazine announced the launch of the only two known product ranges by the firm, Cotswold and Belgravia, a town and country pair of scents clearly evoking the traditional style of English perfumery by name as well as by their composition. I am aware of cologne, after shave and after shave balms under these names and from what one occasionally reads on shaving fora they aqcuired a good reputation amongst the small circle of Anglophile traditional shaving aficionados, though the firm did not hold out very long. By 1989 the company was held by one Terence Revill who operated from his home. I acquired versions of both colognes from this era through ebay (recognizable by the Harrow address, rather than the 46-47 Pall Mall of the old flacons) and the quality was noticeably inferior. My first encounter with Dukes had consisted in the blind purchase of a number of bottles of Cotswold aftershave through online beauty discounter direct cosmetics (from whence harked my first Crown perfumery scents, as well). I was stunned from the moment I smelled this beautiful juice, a quintessential old-fashioned citrus-floral that blows most of the other "traditional English" survivors out of the water due to the incredible quality of its ingredients. That, for some time, has been a problematic issue with houses such as Floris, Penhaligon's or Taylors of Old Bond Street (of which only the latter commensurately offer their products at a bargain price), who frequently sell fragrances related to their original formulations only by name and are of vastly inferior quality. Dukes, however went all-out on top-notch ingredients, something that admittedly was a lot easier to do in 1983 than 25 years later. A lovely citrus top (bergamot, lime, verbena?) is followed up by an utterly beautiful accord of jasmine and ylang that never fails to entirely captivate my senses - particularly, for some reason, in the Aftershave version. It is so stunning that the light woody-musky base remains a mere afterthought. Cotswold is a sublime perfume which could not possibly be bested as the fragrant complement to a fine country suit, or even a blue chalk-stripe city outfit, but in today's perfume context it would equally well adorn a dandy.
Belgravia is supposedly based on a formula from the 1860s, but it is in fact a classic and beautiful fougère with a 1980s vibe. I cannot get over how close it comes to Penhaligon's recent Sartorial - if you subtract the modern ozonic elements from the latter and imagine it done with really good raw materials. Both are orientalized fougères, featuring lavender, floral notes, patchouli, spice, moss, coumarin and most characteristically a wonderful warm spicy-sweet heart (of beeswax in Sartorial and oppoponax in Belgravia). I do not actually find it particularly urban(e), but nearly romantic, though it is unquestionably sophisticated, elegant and never gets loud. In the context of 1980s powerhouse extremes it would perhaps seem lean and clean. The quality, if perhaps not the complexity of the composition, I find to be on par with the famed Patou pour homme - whoever created these beauties was a master of the art who knew his or her stuff. In fact it appears that none other than John Stephen of Czech & Speake fame authored Cotswold and that certainly makes sense.
It is a shame that more perfume lovers with a taste for vintage styles cannot smell and wear these lost Victorian treasures of the 1980s. I will let slip here, though, that I have lately smelled a new version of Belgravia, but that's all I can say for now. As for the unknown entrepeneur who launched Dukes of Pall Mall with a sense of history and quality, if not enough good fortune (hello, Gobin-Daudé), here's three cheers and a royal salute for creating two gems of English perfumery.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The free samples I graciously received were beautifully packed with postcard still lifes visualizing each scent and a brief prose fragment adding words. A great idea, the photography is well done, while the prose (in the English version) could use a little improvement in my opinion (but those are fine points).
The fragrances themselves,I feel, promise more than they deliver - but I must add that what I seek in an EdC, contrary to other perfumes, is not so much art, but a perfect referencing of nature. That's one reason why I feel the EdCs by Chanel and Lutens are monumental failures, apart from the fact that they smell like cheap bathroom products. But on to Atelier Cologne's foursome:
After a hesitant start, perfumer Ralf Schwieger's Orange Sanguine blossoms into a zesty, mouth-watering, true-to-life blood orange, but a pasteurized-juice feel soon catches up on this beautiful moment and when the florals set in, it becomes pure hotel soap, slightly reminiscent of Roger & Gallet's Extra-Vieille, in fact. That's nice, if you like it, but not what I seek in an Eau de Cologne and also not good enough for the money charged.
|Top notes:||Blood orange, bitter orange|
|Heart notes:||Jasmine, geranium from South Africa|
|Base notes:||Amber woods, tonka beans, sandalwood|
Trèfle Pur: A limey-citrus green with dusky notes. It lacks the purity of something like the body-splash like Extract of Limes by Geo. F. Trumper and will inevitably remind some folks of washing up liquid. It quickly veers into shampoo or beauty-product terrain. I simply expect more from niche, though I know I rarely get it.
|Top notes:||Bitter orange, cardamon, basilic|
|Heart notes:||Clover absolute, violet leaves, Tunisian neroli|
|Base notes:||Patchouli, moss, musk|
Grand Néroli is nice, as most nerolis are, but a bit too musky for my taste. The drydown has some smokey-amber which works well, but the scent is not convincing, becoming too intrusively synthetic as it progresses. Doesn't hold a stick to Xerjoff's Kobe quality-wise, but then virtually nothing else does in my book. Of the four sampled Ateliers, it is nonetheless my favorite.
Bois Blond is so extremely faint I suspect I am anosmic to some key ingredient. I smell pure spirit at the outset, and then a weak synthetic dark wood note. It just doesn't happen.
|Top notes:||Tunisian neroli, pink pepper|
|Heart notes:||Moroccan orange flower, incense|
|Base notes:||Blond woods, musks, vetiver from Haiti|
The Atelier colognes include some nice notes, but it is not one note that bryngeth summer - or maketh good cologne. The feeling of a really high-end, refreshing, natural Eau de Cologne isn't there, while the intensity and duration is not all that great in turn. The idea is great, the esthetic is accomplished, but I feel these scents will only satisfy, if you're looking for rather conventional fragrances on the light, fresh side. Personally, for the genuine Eau de Cologne experience, I'll stick with the classics and a few all-natural scents.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Back to perfume (sort of): I say this not in self-defense of a personal favorite: but the old-fashioned classism embodied by Dukes of Pall Mall looks almost quaint beside the shallow and vain "American Psycho" consumerism of "luxe pour luxe" vanity, represented, for one, by the inanely priced Clive Christian fragrances, and the niche perfumery business as a whole, which, let's face it, has fed heavily upon the massive redistribution of wealth from the many to the few which has been going on in the US and UK for decades under the guise of free markets, deregulation, tax cuts for those who don't need them and other Chicago School oddities. Those with less and less money keep up the facade of middle-class affluence by piling up debt and the ones with nothing will evidently smash windows. Economically, socially and psychologically, the hyper-consumerism of postmodern capitalism has become a dead end. Replacing communities (public space) with shopping malls (consumer space), self-improvement with self-gratification and emotions with commodities is turning people (and then their neighborhoods) into burned-out wrecks, self- and world-loathing sociopaths or, at best, alienated shopping junkies.
Is a new asceticism the answer? Hardly. There's plenty of drabness in Tottenham already. Apart from the political necessity of restoring true social democracy, i.e. a society sincerely aiming to include, to meet out social justice and ensure true equality of opportunity through education and public services, we need to turn to enlightened hedonism, to indulge in pleasures that put us in touch with ourselves rather than providing surrogates for real life. I'm not saying that Utopia will be achieved by way of Guerlain. But if you can learn to see the beauty of a perfume, rather than its worth as cultural capital, perhaps you can also learn to see the beauty in yourself, rather than accepting the S&P rating you're stamped with by society. And people who can accept themselves as they are have no need to vent an inner rage on others, or establish their worth through symbolic consumption, whether as shopaholics or looters. Stop burning down houses, start burning credit cards, then go smell some roses.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
To everyone who played: the best of luck for the next giveaway! I hope you'll be dropping in now and then, there will be more reviews, reflections and draws coming!
Fragrare aude! (Dare to smell good)
The Duke of Pall Mall
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
"Sharif is the scent of a noble Arab Sheik who chose the supreme elegance instead of the show of wealth, kindness and seduction instead of arrogance. In the pure tradition of the Middle East, Sharif consists of intense notes of leather and aromatic woods with the delicious aroma of amber scents of the East, and sweet almond," the perfumer tells us. It is, first of all, a wonderfully pleasant perfume and an ideal entry into the world of natural perfumery, as it is much more accessible than the starkly meditative, distantly elegant Mecca Balsam. The latter requires study before you can deeply appreciate it, while Sharif provides pure pleasure even before you begin investigating its complexity. There is a perfect harmony of spice and sweetness, dryness and deftness, of clarity and density, the slender elegance of a minarett and the opulence of a plate of Arabian sweets. The dry craggy resins of Mecca Balsam's pilgrimage are here enveloped in smooth delicious amber. Imagine yourself being entertained in the golden tent of an Arab nobleman, the scent of fine resins rising from incense burners, eating honey and almond cakes while a pipe rests by your side and a distant smell of leather saddle and noble horses wafts over from the stables. You are at peace, but you feel energy brimming inside you. New deeds of your own choosing await, but for now, you enjoy the tranquil flow of life and its pleasures.
Since words will never do such a beautiful fragrance justice, here is your opportunity to smell Sharif for yourself. Courtesy of AbdesSalaam Attar, state of the [car]nation is giving away a 32ml bottle of Sharif which is not only worth over €100 but might also seriously transform your perceptions of the oriental genre of perfumes. All you have to do to enter this contest, is to write a commentary below this article in which you outline your vision of "your perfect 21st century oriental fragrance." The winner will be drawn at random from all such entries. Please make sure you leave a contact in your comment that will enable me to e-mail you in case of winning. The contest will close a week from now on Tuesday at 16.00 CET and the winner will be announced and notified a day or two later. Have fun!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
|Prof. Dr. Jalil Belkamel talking Morrocan essential oil|
|a wild, fragrant meadow at Palmengarten|
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The intact vintage bottle I own, contrary to a previous flawed miniature, is not excessively urinous, as has been said of Ténéré, but in fact balances all components quite well. From a 21st century perspective there is nothing even remotely girlish about this scent, despite the notable presence of rose and muguet. It smells debonair, distinguished, romantic - and decidedly unmodern due to its green-herbal complex. The base is high quality, a powdery melange of masculine wood and spice with soapy florals. Ténéré never was and never will be a popular fragrance , but I believe it could be the signature scent of the most interesting man in the world.
top: bergamot, cassia, green notes, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary, lemon
heart: anise, artemisia, tarragon, honey, orris, jasmine, muguet, carnation, rose, cinnamon
base: amber, leather, musk, patchouli, vetiver, cedar
Thursday, June 30, 2011
So, how was it? Entertaining yes, challenging, no. Perhaps the dramatizing reality-TV inspired "docu-soap" format is the most one can hope for these days from TV. The style was very much akin to the BBC Savile Row documentary, which juxtaposed traditional Savile Row bespoke tailors with textile giant Abercrombie & Fitch (and omitted some fine detail in the process). Here the old-world de luxe house of Guerlain, stuck in the early 20th century, is compared with hypermarketing US giant Estée Lauder creating a new perfume for the Tommy Hilfiger brand.
It's infotainment rather than a "serious" documentary, which would have dwelt on Guerlain's transformation from independent perfume house to LVMH subsidiary and the consequences for its perfume policy. These things are only gently hinted at in the form of a new Shalimar flanker aimed at "opening the door" to a classic for younger women. Dramatizing the story as a contest between a genteel French perfume culture, embodied by the withering gentleman Jean Paul Guerlain doting about in his chateau, and American big business represented by shallow marketing execs mouthing platitude after platitude is playing on popular clichés, while ignoring the global nature of mass market capitalism as it defines the perfume (and every other big) business everywhere. This is a a distortion I'm not happy about (though well acquainted with) as a scholar of transatlantic perceptions.
That said, chief perfumer Thierry Wasser's attachment to Guerlain (the person and the company tradition) came across as very deep and sincere and his consternation in the wake of Guerlain's racist gaffe was painful to watch (and a golden moment for filmmakers seeking to capture big emotions - blech). It was also interesting to observe the Hilfiger campaign people scrambling about - quite amateurishly - in view of the heap of redundant nothingness that Loud (for him, at least) turned out to be. Why somebody as talented as Aurelien Guichard has to be hired to produce a 100% generic formula, exept for PR purposes perhaps, is beyond me.
The really fun part was Chandler Burr, who was fresh, intelligent and honest. In a less respectful documentary they would have let Burr judge "Loud" in the end to give an idea of how a modern-day marketing machine is basically about noisily selling hot air (or worse).
All in all, part 1 clearly falls short of truly informed and critically informative documentary work, which a multi-billion dollar industry should certainly be worthy of. Still non-perfumistas will have learned one or two new things. I enjoyed the program, but one day I'd like to see a hard-nosed documentary on the perfume business.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Wodka sales have exploded in recent years, while the market for other spirits, such as Scotch, is stagnant. "Vodka is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and highly mixable. You need a strong image because it's fairly commoditized." says a beverage exec in a Business Week piece on the trend. Oud seems to be fast becoming perfumery's wodka, or shall we say, the development this Asian elixir long prized in the Arab world is taking under the hands of Western commodifiers resembles the slippery slope from a complex Scottish single malt bursting with character towards a neutral spirit which only differs from water in being alcoholic. It's the Wodkafication of Aloeswood, Aoudh, Eaglewood and what else it is called. When Montale started to make this potion accessible to Westerners (after a bold early exploration in YSL's M7) it provided a respectful rendition of the real thing, particularly in the flagship Black Oud. Strong, not quite as wild or good as high end natural ouds, but beautifully blended with rose, rather static, yet highly intriguing and pleasing. When the big players (Givaudan, Firmenich et al) started offering "instant oud" bases, the usual trend cycle kicked into gear, everyone and their grandma suddenly issuing Ouds. But just how oud are they? Bond's signature anniversary fragrance was unfortunately not odorless, but certainly oudless, smelling more like a cheap drugstore perfume than bottled luxury (white musk from hell). By Kilian's Pure Oud is neither pure nor oud, but the umpteenth rehash of Comme des Garcons' once avantgarde incense series, a papery-grey-velvety iso-e-super soup so utterly banal that Calice Becker must have put it together during a five minute coffee break. While sipping really bad coffee. In a sour mood. With a hangover (you get the point... and please note that experts disagree). Wodka popularity and oud corruption, as well as the fact that my bill at the grocer's today ran € 6.66 are clear indications the end of the world is near (or was that last Saturday?) or at least that culture as such is still continually in decline - but being an open midend skeptic rahter than a cynic, I hope Mona di Orio's new Oud will live up to intimations that it's a really heavy hitter and thus prove Spengler wrong once again.
Above picture showes Vodka Extreme EdP for Men by Paris Elysées, which may or may not smell cheap, but at least is so.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Now, put on a spitz of Lutens Borneo 1834 or Coromandel (my choices), Il Profumo Chocolat Amer or Amen/Angel, relax in your favorite compfy chair and revel in sensuous delight. If you really want to intellectually distract yourself from this sensory reverie, you can pick up Maricel Presilla's wonderful book on chocolate.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
For today's look at essential oil merchant and craft perfumer Alec Lawless' creative work, here are three decidedly feminine scents by Essentially Me that really won me over. What unites all of them is that the predominance of naturals de-caricaturizes fragrance styles which have become utter freaks by the use of cheap and frequently loud substitute synthetics in mainstream perfumery, often ending as drugstore shadows of what they used to be. Here they are restored to classic beauty.
Is it ever. So much so you really need to be somewhat mature, favour a conservative wardrobe and think of the Beatles as new-fangled. That soapy clove embedding florals will always remind me of the distinguished, friendly elderly ladies that doted about our neighbourhood when I was a child. A pleasing memory, but not one for me to wear.
Heart: floral rose
Intrigue: fresh herb and spice.
Rose otto, rose de mai, orange blossom, neroli, ylang, geranium Bourbon, jasmine
Bergamot, green mandarin, petitgrain
Coriander, bay, clove bud, vetivert Bourbon.
This is innocent and sexy in an intelligent manner Audrey Hepburn would have loved. Such a pleasure, also, to be smelling white blossoms rather than screechy-blaring-in-your-face “WHITE BLOSSOMS.” Like the milky bosom of a Courbet canvas compared to Hollywood’s contemporary silicon balloons, sensuous, yet tasteful.
Heart: delicate white floral
Nuance: soft green balsam
Intrigue: warm woody.
White Champac, orange blossoms, pink lotus, jasmine.
Absolutes of hay and beeswax
Sandalwood, frankincense, benzoin resin
La Joupe (dedicated to our British fragrance friends)
I’m afraid that under the new UK austerity policy this fragrance will soon be outlawed, as it is simply too buxom and voluptuous a floriental to be tolerated. The neroli-tuberose-jasmine-ylang axis is incredibly sexy, warm and opulent, but the naturals play out their strength here, in that the composition never descends into gaudiness. It’s Liz Taylor before the Seventies. It’s also just the right scent to seduce men, politicians included, so maybe we could reconsider that austerity bit, eh, darlings David & Nick?
Heart: heady floral
Tuberose, orange blossoms, jasmine, patchouli, ylang
Vetivert bourbon, frankincense, guaiacwood, labdanum, tonka, oakmoss, vanilla
Sunday, January 2, 2011
In the perfume neighbourhood, Amber is the girl next door who could be so much fun if only she wasn’t so bland, so vanilla, so boooring. And yet she insistently hangs around your house and seems impossible to ignore. Thankfully there are some people who remember it’s about sugar AND spice. Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan is my favorite amber because that girl got' herb. Happily, Essentially Me’s Amber is her own spice girl, too. It’s the mint and thyme in particular that raised my eyebrows and spirits. Plus an amber not totally overdosed on Ambroxan and related drugs is always a genuine relief. The end result is an interesting, masculine-tilted, but entirely unisex potion recommended to all who wish to escape the drudgery of mainstream amberdom.
The notes as given by Essentially Me:
Heart: masculine floral
Nuance: balsamic incense
Intrigue: herbs and spice
Mint, caraway, thyme
Jasmine, lavender, rose, clary sage
Labdanum, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, vanilla, patchouli.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Sincerely and olfactorily yours
The Duke of Pall Mall