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.

Persolaise

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)

Enjoy!

Persolaise

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,

Persolaise

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 Persolaise.com 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 Persolaise.com. 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!

Persolaise

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.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 27 Now On YouTube - featuring Un Jardin Sur La Lagune from Hermès, 1957 from Chanel and Perfume by Neil Chapman, The Black Narcissus


The 27th edition of Love At First Scent - streamed live last week - is now on YouTube and you can watch it above or by clicking here. The episode covers:

Un Jardin Sur La Lagune from Hermès (at the start of the video)
1957 from Chanel (at the 17:00 minute mark)
Mon Guerlain Bloom Of Rose from Guerlain (at the 30:00 minute mark)
Siren & Sailors from Jusbox (at the 50:00 minute mark)

and the wonderful new book
Perfume: In Search Of Your Signature Scent
by Neil Chapman aka The Black Narcissus (at the 39:00 minute mark)

Incidentally, the Perfume Society are holding a launch event for the book in London on the 28th of March - with Neil in attendance - so if you'd like to book tickets, please click here.

Persolaise

Friday, 15 February 2019

Persolaise Mini-Reviews: October to December 2018 [part 1]


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

Impression Cashmeran Velvet from Ostens (Sophie Labbé; 2018)*
Brings out the spiciest facets of cashmeran, using leather and - most prominently - sandalwood to present a dark, unexpectedly aggressive rendition of velvet. Is the fabric protective or oppressive?

Impression Patchouli Heart I from Ostens (Domitille Bertier; 2018)*
A confident, obvious patchouli, heavy on coumarinic lavender rather than the crass synthetic woods so ubiquitous in today’s masculines. Nice touch of fuzziness. A fougère for bearded times?

Impression Patchouli Heart II from Ostens (Sophie Labbé; 2018)*
A curious take on patchouli, with herbs (rosemary?) and chilled spices helping the main ingredient shed some of its excess weight. Displays that fog-dispersing quality that can make a scent either bracing or strident.

Poivre Electrique from Atelier Cologne (2016)*
With a name like Poivre Electrique, I was hoping this would be an industrial - maybe even futuristic - take on one of perfumery’s most intriguing materials. But instead it’s a woody leather, heavy on musks and cedar. Well made, to be sure, but not as exciting or sparky as its moniker would suggest. The standout in this genre remains Blackpepper from Comme Des Garçons. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Non-Perfume Post: Dariush Alavi In Sight & Sound Magazine


In a departure from the usual diet, I’m thrilled to let you know that the latest issue of Sight & Sound magazine contains an article by yours truly on Three Colours: White, a movie that feels extremely topical as the UK hurtles towards the end of March. To buy the digital edition, please click here; the print version will be in shops from 7th February.

While I’m on the subject of cinema, I ought to let you know that I’ve decided to revive my DariushAlavi.com blog - at least for the immediate future - with one-paragraph reviews of all the films I’m going to watch this year; click here to read them. And to see the ‘Cinema Scent’ reviews published here on Persolaise - to tie in with my appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Film Programme - please click here.

Persolaise

Friday, 1 February 2019

Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 26 Now On YouTube - featuring Gentle Fluidity from Francis Kurkdjian and Alien Fusion from Mugler


The year's first episode of Love At First Scent - the 26th in the series! - is now on YouTube and you can watch it above or by clicking here. In this instalment, we covered:

Gentle Fluidity Gold from Maison Francis Kurkdjian
(at the start of the video)
Alien Fusion from Mugler (at the 17:00 minute mark)
Evolution from Kings (at the 32:00 minute mark)
Gentle Fluidity Silver from Maison Francis Kurkdjian
(at the 46:30 minute mark)

and the classic choice was
Ambre Sultan from Serge Lutens (at the 37:00 minute mark)

Enjoy!

Persolaise

Friday, 25 January 2019

Persolaise Review: Rêve D'Or from L T Piver (circa 1889)


I know very little about the history of Piver's Rêve D'Or and I'm reluctant to lift the limited amount of information available on the Net - for fear of lenghtening a 'copy-pasted' string of what may be inaccuracies - but one 'fact' that appears fairly consistent is that it was originally made round about the same time as Guerlain's Jicky. What it's been up to since then is a matter I'm happy to leave to the historians for the moment. But what I know about its current state is that it is tricky to find (I'd recommend Brixton Market if you're near London), extremely cheap and very popular in certain North African countries. Oh, and it's really rather beautiful.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Persolaise Review: Impression Cedarwood Heart from Ostens (Alexis Dadier; 2018)



Wearing OstensImpression Cedarwood Heart has made me wonder - not for the first time - why so many of us are averse to green perfumes. They’ve been around long enough to have infiltrated the collective consciousness, yet they consistently fail to perform at the tills, even if they come bearing the Chanel logo: several sales assistants have told me that they can go through a whole year selling no more than a couple of bottles of No. 19 (to which my immediate response is, “If that’s true, thank you very, very much Chanel for continuing to make the stuff!”).

Friday, 11 January 2019

Persolaise Review: Beau De Jour from Tom Ford (2018)


As the rest of us hurtle towards an increasingly frightening 21st century, trust Tom Ford to remain seated aboard his glitter ball and fly even further into the past. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I don’t think I’m quite ready for 2019, so the arrival of Mr Ford’s new Beau De Jour - as retro-loving a composition as he’s ever given us - is very welcome indeed. At heart a lavender-geranium-rosemary fougère (interestingly, Chanel’s Boy also went for a luminous lavender to convey an image of a dashing paragon of masculinity), it plays its ‘vintage barbershop’ card with such a guile-free sense of fun, it’s hard not to fall for its insistence that cinemas have only just started showing Jaws, Hawkeye is dishing out wisecracks on M.A.S.H. and everyone’s walking around in corduroy dungarees. That said, Mr Ford’s other great love is the Middle East, and sure enough, this particular Beau complicates his backward glance with cardamom and saffron - a neat counterpoint to the camphoraceous herbs - as well as a heavily patchouli-amber-laden base that instantly recalls Rive Gauche Pour Homme (which, it should be pointed out, has a superior, more suave drydown). That fragrance was, of course, from Ford’s time at YSL and was itself, even in 2003, an expression of olfactory nostalgia. So what that means is: plus ça change... for which this particular writer is most grateful.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Tom Ford in 2018.]

Persolaise

Friday, 28 December 2018

The Best Perfumes Of 2018 - Nostalgic Defiance


Last December, while composing my usual list of the best perfumes of the year, I wrote that most brands chose to play it safe in 2017. I don't think 2018 presented me with much cause to change that assessment. If anything, it was the mainstream sector - rather than the indie world - that permitted itself to cultivate a few buds of bravery, granting marginally larger budgets to some releases and making a tentative move to abandon certain exhausted cliches. That said, the perfume world remains in the grip of the same forces that maintain a restrictive hold over many global business operations and, consequently, compel decision-makers to follow the path of least resistance towards the easiest options on offer.

Some would argue that those restrictive influences aren't making their presence felt at the very top: according to many reports, sales of the most 'high end', most expensive fragrances displayed healthy growth this year. And if that's true, then it's yet another neat reflection of the wider picture: the gap between the two poles of 'western' society continues to widen, prompting fears about the collapse and disappearance of what once felt like a safe middle. Certainly, the fragrance industry remains fascinating to watch, and even though 2018 didn't give us any headlines about high-profile acquisitions or brand bankruptcies, I would say a few interesting developments aren't too far away.

But what about the perfumes themselves? As ever, once the year's olfactory plonk was dismissed and poured down the drain, the number of commendable creations left standing was more than respectable. Olivier Polge brought a sense of streamlined ease to Chanel with Paris-Biarritz. Quentin Bisch added a new chapter to the tale of modern chypres with his endearing Nomade for Chloe. The folks at Acqua Di Parma bottled an irresistible Italian sun in Chinotto Di Liguria. To mark the twentieth anniversary of the original Cartier Declaration, Mathilde Laurent presented a suitably more statesmanlike, parfum version. Tom Ford offered a chuckle-inducing time-warp to the past with Fougere Platine. The irrepressible combo of lime and verbena sparkled with Mediterranean vigour in Goutal's Bois D'Hadrien. And the re-invention of Miller Harris entered a delightfully spiky phase with the appearance of the nettle-infused Wander Through The Parks. Excellent creations all... but they haven't made it onto my Top 10.

I'll leave you in peace to read the list in a moment, but if I had to sum it up in a few lines, I suppose I'd say that it's defiant. For one reason or another, all the scents on it feel like a statement of intent: a refusal to descend into the soup of banality. Tellingly, in many cases, this means resorting to retro styles. But not in all. Some of the compositions below feel like a genuine gaze into the future: a desire to capture and pin down a glimpse of what hovers in the distance and might one day come to be.

And that seems like an ideal note on which to say a sincere, heartfelt and joyful thank you to all of YOU - my dear readers, viewers and followers - for your wit, encouragement and support this year. I learn so much from you and I am always touched and grateful when you take the time to contact me, either through this blog, or on social media or by email. Long may our conversations continue.

I wish you nothing but good health and happiness for 2019. Oh, and plenty of perfume too, of course.

Here comes the Top 10... as ever with the caveats that: a) I did not smell every single thing released in 2018, and b) the list was drawn from what was new to me in the last twelve months (ie pre-2018 creations I first tried last year were eligible for inclusion).

[NOTE: The 'live' video version of this list will be added to this post as soon as it's available on YouTube. UPDATE: Scroll down for the video or click here to watch it on YouTube.]

Cardamusc by Christine Nagel for Hermès
When Christine Nagel revived the Hermessence range, she did so with all the style and elegance for which she’s rightly renowned. The finest of the quintet she added to the collection was, without doubt, Cardamusc: a time-slowing, heart-capturing embrace between the vivacious coolness of cardamom and the come-hither glow of modern musks.

We’ve come to expect a riot of multi-sensory stimuli from Neela Vermeire, but with Niral, she outdid herself in that particular regard, presenting iris and violet against a rosy-sandalwood backdrop of the most vivid hues this side of Juhu Beach. With scents like this, who needs tinted sunglasses.

The fact that this is unashamedly an update of Almairac’s own Gucci Pour Homme from 2003 doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed on the list, because encountering - and then wearing - its precision-engineered balance of incense, pepper, cedar, amber and oud was one of my most memorable olfactory highlights of the year.

The greens, mosses and narcissus-like florals of classics from yesteryear made their presence felt in the summer-in-a-forest delights of Dryad, Liz Moores’ most assured and confident composition so far. A dream-laden sunset you wish you could relive for days.

Proving that modern chypres can be commanding, sophisticated and surprising at the same time, The Tycoon presents an agenda that ranges from galbanum to castoreum - with brief items on magnolia and oakmoss - before throwing it all out of the window and insisting that everyone takes the rest of the day off. Assertively fun-loving.

The trend towards futurertro aesthetics in several recent releases found its most endearing and satisfying form in Creative Director Christopher Chong’s Imitation duo. The male version dressed up a hairy-chested patchouli with a gloriously weird leather-violet accord, while the feminine iteration channeled candle-wax aldehydes through blackcurrant and a delightful, vintage-inflected ylang. Despite their name, these are two of this year’s true originals.

With characteristic disregard for fashions and popular tastes, Tauer waited years before giving us his take on oud. But unsurprisingly, when he did, the result was notable for the integrity and lack of ostentation that have won the Swiss perfumer so many fans. Like a back-to-basics primer, L’Oudh ignores all alleged competitors, showcases its star material’s key facets (minus pungently fecal notes) and then throws down the gauntlet to most other scents claiming to contain agarwood.

Inspiration, name and execution all align in this suitably angelic presentation of leather, wherein the material is lifted up to some distant comet’s tail thanks to the help of pepper and ambrette. Plus, it proves that Bisch remains a talent to watch.

Perhaps the most heartwarming of Ostens’ deliciously geeky releases is this take on nostalgic comfort from Dadier. Using tobacco to form a bridge between galbanum and cedar, it is part a trip into a freaky, Hansel & Gretel fairy tale, part a magical day spent at your favourite grandparent’s. In other words: enchanting.

Although its Burj Khalifa price tag may mean few end up smelling it, The Dawn could possibly turn out to become the final word on modern perfumery’s insistent use of woody-amber materials in masculine scents. Here - beneath the canopy of a leathery oud - they’re presented with finesse, restraint and more than just a hint of danger. It may be The Dawn, but I’m not sure it’s inviting anyone to get out of bed any time soon.

Happy new year!

Persolaise


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Christmas Wishes 2018 & Persolaise Love At First Scent Episode 24 Now On YouTube - featuring Opus XI from Amouage and Vero Kern Tribute


The 24th episode of Love At First Scent - originally broadcast on Facebook on 21st December - is now on YouTube. You can watch it below or by clicking here. In this instalment I covered:

Opus XI from Amouage (at the start of the video)
Impression Cedarwood Heart from Ostens (at the 18:00 minute mark)
Cuir Celeste from Ex Nihilo (at the 42:50 minute mark)

and the classic scent was
Onda from Vero Profumo
in order to mark the sad passing of Vero Kern (at the 33:30 minute mark)

Finally, if you celebrate Christmas, please accept my sincere wishes for a joyous, peaceful and tranquil festive season. And if you don't... well, I'm more than happy for you to share in the wishes.

Please try to tune in to Facebook Live on Friday 28th December at 3:30 pm UK time (10:30 am New York, 8:30 pm Dubai) in which I present my list of the top 10 perfumes of the year. This will immediately be followed by the publication of my traditional 'best of' post here on Persolaise.com

Enjoy the feasting!

Persolaise



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