Friday, 14 June 2019

Persolaise Mini-Reviews: January to March 2019

A selection of mini-reviews published on social media between January and March 2019. For more, please click here.

Opus XI from Amouage (Pierre Negrin; 2018)*
Now that the frenzied pitch of oud mania has abated, the air is clear for some genuinely interesting, innovative takes on the material. The latest is Opus XI, in which Amouage's Creative Director Christopher Chong takes inspiration from fake news - and the fragrance industry’s heavy use of lab-made agar substitutes - to produce an ingenious mix of natural and synthetic ouds. With support from bitter herbs and spicy resins, the star ingredients form a rocket-fuelled inferno of a scent, somehow redolent both of smouldering plastics and body-heated leathers. Consider me convinced.

Santal Noir from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
Smelling this you’re reminded that François Demachy worked at Chanel and was almost certainly well acquainted with Egoïste. That scent’s distinctive baked-fruit-plus-sandalwood identity is the backbone of Santal Noir. The rose note is an added twist.

Rose Kabuki from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
The fine, white, sweet powders of theatre-land are convincingly sprinkled over a sheer, decorous rose. Ellena probably executed this concept more memorably in Rose Ikebana, but the lack of prominent fruity-watery notes makes Kabuki worth checking out.

Belle De Jour from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
I love pears, but I concede that sometimes they feel like little more than mushy apples for little children. Their somewhat shapeless, inchoate personality is brought to the fore in this silly, far-too-sweet confection.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Persolaise Review: Kouros from Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Bourdon; 1981)

During the lecture I recently delivered at Brasenose College’s Arts Week, I presented several olfactory expressions of female and male identity over the years. I confess it was with a desire to shake things up a little that I decided one of my masculine scents would be YSL’s Kouros. Composed by Pierre Bourdon and released not long after the brand’s industry-redefining Opium, it took its place amongst what we now, with the benefit of hindsight, realise was a long-running trend for testosterone-heavy, gym-going, perspiration-soaked visions of unashamed butchness. Dior’s Jules was in a similar vein, as were, to some extent, Chanel’s Antaeus, Guy Laroche’s Drakkar Noir and several other hairy-chested beasties.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Persolaise Review: Marcelle from Marie Jeanne (2018)

The other day, I put up an Instagram post singing the praises of Odin’s 02 Owari: one of the most photo-real citrus fragrances I’ve ever had the pleasure of bringing into contact with my skin. This led to a discussion about similarly holographic scents (Cologne Bigarade came up more than once). And then I remembered that I haven’t yet written a single word about Marcelle — one of a small number of releases from the brand Marie Jeanne (founded by Georges Maubert of the Robertet family, who hired perfumers Michèle Saramito, Karine Vinchon-Sphener, Mylène Alran and Sidonie Lancesseur for this project, although his website doesn't specify the author of each scent). It may not reinvent the peel, but Marcelle's evocation of a bowl of fresh bergamot, grapefruit and oranges - their skins glistening with water - is so note-perfect that reservations about a possible lack of originality have to take a bit of a back seat. One spray, and you feel as though the brightness dial in your whole world has been turned right up to the ‘Provence’ setting. Compositions in this genre either work or they patently don’t: the nose doesn’t accept approximations. And Marcelle most certainly works.

PS Do check out Marcel too: a more traditional cologne, in the sense that it contrasts its citruses with marked herbal notes.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de cologne provided Bloom Perfumery, London, in 2019.]


Friday, 24 May 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episodes 31 & 32 Now On YouTube - featuring Cuir Intense from Guerlain, Musc Shamal from Armani Privé & Naughty Fruity from Mugler, amongst others

Not one, but two new videos on YouTube! Episodes 31 and 32 of Love At First Scent were recently streamed and are now permanently available for viewing. In episode 31 (click here to watch it on YouTube) I covered:

Cuir Intense from Guerlain (at the start of the video)
Naughty Fruity from Mugler (at the 14:30 minute mark)
Costa Azzurra Acqua from Tom Ford (at the 27:30 minute mark)
Janvier from Be Soliflore (at the 49:00 minute mark)
and the classic choice was
No. 19 extrait (vintage) from Chanel (at the 35:00 minute mark)

In episode 32 (click here to watch it on YouTube), we sniffed:

Musc Shamal from Armani Privé (at the start of the video)
L'Homme Ideal Cool from Guerlain (at the 15:00 minute mark)
Blu Mediterraneo Cipresso Di Toscana
from Acqua Di Parma (at the 31:00 minute mark)
Night Train from Wide Society (at the 50:30 minute mark)
Up In The Air from Wide Society (at the 57:00 minute mark)
and the classic choice was
Hiris from Hermès (at the 41:30 minute mark)

I hope you enjoy them both!


Friday, 17 May 2019

Persolaise Review: Sunday Brunch, Santal Sky, Nitro Noir and 10 a.m. Flirt from Kierin (Mathieu Nardin; 2018)

I continue to subscribe to the view that slotting perfumes into gender categories is mindless. But I am also aware that The Real World doesn’t share this conviction and insists on presenting some scents as appropriate only for women and others only for men. Of course, somewhere in the middle of that great divide we have unisex fragrances - a category which we’re often told is growing, but which still seems to be viewed with fear and suspicion by many. It was this tricky notion of unisex composition that was uppermost on my mind when I was wearing the debut quartet from Kierin, an independent brand founded by Mona and Didier Maine De Biran, all of whose scents have - so far, anyway - been made by Mathieu Nardin.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Persolaise In Business Traveller - The Scents Of Provence + The Next Episode Of Love At First Scent

I've just realised that I completely forgot to let you know that the April 2019 issue of Business Traveller featured an article by me on the subject of Provence-inspired perfumes. The piece should still be available to read on the tablet edition, so if you'd like to check it out, please search for 'Business Traveller' on your device.

Following the last aborted attempt (apologies again!) I'm hoping to broadcast the next episode of Love At First Scent at 3 pm UK time (10 am New York; 6 pm Dubai) on Saturday 18th May on  Facebook Live. I hope you'll be able to tune in.


Friday, 10 May 2019

Persolaise At Oxford University - Brasenose College Arts Week

If you're going to be in the Oxford area on Friday 17th May, please consider coming along to a lecture I'll be giving at Brasenose College as part of their Arts Week. I'll be talking about scent as a form of expressing identity and how the language of perfume can conceal or reveal different aspects of ourselves. For more information, please click here.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Persolaise Review: Oud & Menthe from Cartier (Mathilde Laurent; 2019)

As an intellectual exercise, Mathilde Laurent’s new Oud & Menthe for Cartier (an addition to the brand’s well-regarded but shamefully expensive oud range) is fascinating. How does a perfumer link two notes that, in many ways, could be seen as occupying opposite ends of the olfactory spectrum? Mint is cool, leafy, bracing, airy and rather too closely associated with the prosaic realms of toothpastes and shower gels. Oud is fiery, woody, animalic, overwhelming and indelibly assimilated into the air conditioning system of every shopping mall in Dubai. What could possibly connect the two?

Friday, 26 April 2019

"Now Everybody Is An Artist" - An Audience With Frederic Malle + Next Episode Of Love At First Scent On Sunday 28 April 2019

A few months ago, Frederic Malle popped into London to be interviewed by The Guardian’s Sally Hughes about his work in the perfume industry. Sadly, at no point in the conversation were any questions asked about the consequences of his decision to sell his company to Estée Lauder, but this may have had less to do with any attempts to brush the matter under the scented carpet than it did with the fact that most people probably couldn’t care less about brand ownership and acquisition. That quibble aside, the man was as interesting as ever to listen to, not least because he was in characteristically unrestrained mode when discussing the work of others, as you’ll see below.

Are your childhood and history relevant to what you do now?

Frederic Malle: My mother worked in the business. She was an art director for Dior. Her father had created the company and had worked with Coty, who had actually invented this industry. [Growing up] I heard a lot about Dior, I heard a lot about my mother’s job. But I was always taught, since I was very, very young, that things smelt of something. So my attention as a toddler was drawn towards smell, which I don’t think happens with most people. When I discovered girls, when I was fifteen, I also realised that I was more attracted to the good smelling ones. And I remember there was a fragrance called Halston Z14 which I absolutely fell in love with, and wherever I wore it - it was not sold in France, so I only had so much - it was like a magic potion. So I understood the power of perfume. And that’s what led me to being here today.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Easter Wishes 2019 And The Remainder Of Love At First Scent Episode 30 On YouTube - featuring Amouage, Bulgari & Serge Lutens

Wherever you may be in the world, if you're about to celebrate Easter, I wish you peace, laughter and guiltlessly decadent feasting. And even if you don't celebrate Easter, feel free to help yourselves to those wishes too.

A few days ago, I brought my 'mini-season' of Episode 30 of Love At First Scent to a close on YouTube, so I'll paste links to the various scenes below. I hope you enjoy watching them. While it would be impossible for me to keep posting new videos every day, I have found the experience instructive, not least because it reminded me how inspiring, passionate and knowledgeable all of YOU - my readers, viewers etc - are. Thanks very much indeed for your constant support and encouragement. I really appreciate it.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 30, Scenes 1 & 2 On YouTube - featuring Perfumer H and Experimentum Crucis from Etat Libre D'Orange

It's all about videos at the moment! To mark the fact that we've reached the 30th episode of Love At First Scent, I'm currently broadcasting a mini-season of brief, daily videos over on YouTube Live (technology permitting) which will continue until at least Sunday. In Scene 1 (click here or see below) I looked at the new Dust and Suede from Lyn Harris' Perfumer H and in Scene 2 (click here or see above) I took my first sniff of the new Experimentum Crucis by Quentin Bisch for Etat Libre D'Orange. Today's instalment - scheduled to stream at midday UK time - will focus on Armani Privé.

I hope you enjoy them all.


Friday, 5 April 2019

Persolaise Review: Un Jardin Sur La Lagune from Hermès (Christine Nagel; 2019) and 1957 from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2019)

One of the main drawbacks of my Love At First Scent videos is hinted at in their name: they’re all about first impression. I often try to point out during the broadcasts that all perfumes must be allowed to take us on the entirety of their journey at least once before we make firm judgements about them. But of course, the very nature of modern perfumery means that a scent’s initial personality tends to remain largely unchanged during the course of its development: what you get at the start is usually a strong indicator of what you’re left with at the end. However, there are several contemporary fragrances that alter with the passage of time, revealing unexpected facets as they go along, in the manner of compositions from yesteryear. And two recent examples happened to be featured in the same Love At First Scent video: Chanel’s new Exclusif, 1957, and Christine Nagel’s first foray into Hermès’ ‘garden’ series, Un Jardin Sur La Lagune.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 29 On YouTube - featuring L'Iris De Fath, BDK and New Colognes from Mugler

The 29th episode of Love At First Scent - streamed live on 17th March on Facebook - is now on YouTube and you can watch it above or by clicking here. In this edition, I covered:

Cologne: Love You All from Mugler (at the start of the video)
French Bouquet from BDK (at the 20:00 minute mark)
L’Iris De Fath from Jacques Fath
(the modern re-creation of the legendary Iris Gris;
at the 35:00 minute mark)
Violet Ida from Miller Harris (at the 49:00 minute mark)
Goddess from Lush / Gorilla Perfume (at the 56:00 minute mark)



Friday, 22 March 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 28 On YouTube - featuring Holy Peony, Lucky, Purple Oud, Thé Cachemire & Eau Noire from Maison Christian Dior

The 28th edition of Love At First Scent - streamed live last week - is now permanently on YouTube and you can watch it above or by clicking here. The episode focuses specifically on the Maison Christian Dior exclusives (formerly known as the Collection Privee) and covers:

Holy Peony (at the 17:00 minute mark)
Purple Oud (at the 33:00 minute mark)
Thé Cachemire (at the 45:00 minute mark)
Lucky (at the 52:00 minute mark)
and Eau Noire (at the 1:00:00 minute mark)

I hope you enjoy watching it,


Friday, 15 March 2019

Persolaise Review: Perfume - In Search Of Your Signature Scent by Neil Chapman (Hardie Grant; 2019)

Disclosure time. The subject of today’s post is not only a book written by a friend, but a book that includes in its list of recommended websites and even mentions me - and “the legendary Madame Persolaise”! - in one of its reviews. For the sake of full transparency, I must point this out. That said, I can honestly claim that my admiration of Neil Chapman’s blog - The Black Narcissus - predates our friendship, which is why I feel I can legitimately recommend his wonderful piece of work to you. And putting my principles aside, I’d hate for anyone to miss out on discovering this important addition to the canon of scented writing, because Perfume: In Search Of Your Signature Scent is an utter delight.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Persolaise In Business Traveller + 9th Anniversary Of Blog

I'm pleased to inform you that the March 2019 issue of Business Traveller UK features an article by me on modern oud perfumes. It's available to purchase in both print and tablet formats; for more info, please click here.

I'm very fortunate to be included in Suzy Nightingale's latest piece for The Perfume Society on the subject of which fragrances people would buy if money were no object or if they were on a tight budget. To find out what my choices were, please click here.

A brief heads-up: the next episode of Love At First Scent will probably be broadcast at 6 pm UK time (2 pm New York time; 10 pm Dubai) on Friday 15th March and it will focus on Dior's exclusive range. I say "probably" because Maison Persolaise is currently suffering the consequences of some unexpectedly major repair work, so there's a slight chance I may have to postpone the broadcast. Please stay tuned to my social media channels for updates. I shall try to stream the episode on my YouTube channel this time (to mark the fact that I've just crept over the 1000 subscriber mark!) but if that doesn't work, I'll revert to Facebook. Again: see social media for updates.

Finally... I can't quite believe I'm typing this... but today marks the 9th anniversary of the start of A huge vote of thanks to every single one of you for all your comments, your kindness and your words of encouragement over the years. I am deeply grateful to you all. Let's see if we can make it a decade!


Friday, 8 March 2019

Persolaise Mini-Reviews: October to December 2018 [part 2]

A selection of mini-reviews published on social media between October and December 2018. For more, please click here.

Encens Asakusa from L’Orchestre Parfum (Anne-Sophie Behaghel & Amelie Bourgeois; 2017)*
Surprisingly Catholic incense opening - given the Japanese name - with the familiar strains of cedar and flintiness. We’ve had this several times before, perhaps with a less vanillic drydown.

Chanel body massage oils (2018)*
Back in the 90s, when everyone was either wearing or being surrounded by CK One, my favourite body product to accompany the scent was a massage oil. For one thing, the perfume worked beautifully in that particular guise. For another, it allowed you the rare pleasure of applying a fragrance not on yourself, but on someone else, with all the slowness and sensuality this entailed. Over the years, I’ve wished more brands would follow Calvin Klein’s example, but I’ve had to accept that maybe mutual perfuming just didn’t tickle our collective buying fancy. And now, look at what Chanel have gone and done. To tie in with their spa at Paris’ Ritz, they’ve released not one but four massage oils, each one housed in an oversized, 250 ml bottle, all the better to iron out the knots in those aching limbs, my dear. There’s a vanilla, a jasmine, a rose and what they’ve called an Orient. I’ve tried the last two and I can reassuringly claim that they’re as velvety, indulgent and supple as you’d hope, soaking into the skin at a speed that allows for a lengthy, all-encompassing relaxession. Their actual smells tend towards the subtle, but that’s to be expected: these aren’t replacements for the brand’s fine fragrances and I dare say they haven’t been designed to compete with them. The rose is a serenely smiling haze of pinkness, whereas the Orient is a soapy, romantic, incense-inflected vision of a decadent harem, as seen through 19th century, western eyes. They’re both a treat.

Cedarise from Hermetica (2018)*
Superb interplay between cedar and cardamom (with rose, incense and pepper) creates an effervescent, electric, very modern piece of work, a la translucent Mark Buxton compositions. Perhaps drydown is too musk-reliant, but the whole works.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Persolaise Review: Mont De Narcisse (Anne Flipo; 2018) and Bana Banana (Celine Ellena; 2019) from L'Artisan Parfumeur

Since being taken over by Puig, L’Artisan Parfumeur have fared rather well, I’d say. Penhaligon’s - which joined the Puig stable at the same time - still seem uncertain of their identity (although I’m reliably informed their Portraits have been a hit at the tills) but the respectful revamp of L’Artisan’s packaging was generally met with approval. And more importantly, many of their new scents have been given the thumbs up by critics, not least because they respect the brand’s quirky heritage and its idiosyncratic personality. Mont De Narcisse is a case in point. For one thing, it makes a pointed reference to the company’s past: it’s composed by Anne Flipo, who turned her hand to narcissus in the much-missed, limited edition Fleur De Narcisse from 2006. For another, it’s precisely the sort of Gallic, scene-conjuring fragrance L’Artisan have long made their own, from the bittersweet fantasies of Traversée Du Bosphore to the magical, Narnia-like vistas of Bois Farine.


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