Friday, March 27, 2015

Persolaise Review: Pichola from Neela Vermeire Creations (Bertrand Duchaufour; 2015)

Only the sunlight moves. As it rises above the bamboos and the white rooftops, it casts everything it touches into immobility. Even the waters of the lake appear to quieten, grow still and rest in tranquillity.
I'm not sure if Indian literature has an equivalent of a haiku, but it is that form's ability to crystallise a moment in time which finds an echo in Bertrand Duchaufour's latest creation for Neela Vermeire, Pichola. Named after the lake in Udaipur, it sits comfortably next to the brand's earlier offerings - thanks to the repeat use of opulent jasmine, rose and sandalwood - but it also appears to develop the narrative explored in the oeuvre. If the debut trio was an explosion of Indian vitality and the follow-up, Ashoka, combined assertiveness with introspection, then Pichola continues the inward journey. Its soul may be based on two of perfumery's most attention-grabbing materials - orange blossom and tuberose - but it's no diva. Indeed, it is a testament to Duchaufour's skills as a perfumer and Vermeire's vision as a creative director that ingredients which normally come across as egotistical have here been persuaded to behave with dignity and self-control. When linked to cardamom, saffron and that sweet almond accord we last saw in Trayee, they radiate contentment, balance and, above all, complete serenity, just like those rays of sunlight nudging the night away. Beautiful work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Neela Vermeire Creations in 2015.]


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Persolaise Review: Home Scents From L'Artisan Parfumeur, Acqua Di Parma, Diptyque & Alex Simone

I never need an excuse to purchase a new home scent for Maison Persolaise, but the arrival of spring always seems to make candles, reed diffusers and room sprays especially tempting. It's irrational, I know, but for some reason, changing the olfactory landscape inside my house feels like the most effective way of shutting the door on winter and throwing away the key. Equally powerful is hanging out the washing in the garden for the first time each year, but if today's sky is anything to go by, I don't think that's going to be happening any time soon.

Monday, March 23, 2015

ODOU Needs YOU - Make Issue 4 Happen

Although only three issues of ODOU magazine have been printed so far, the publication has won the admiration and respect of many scentusiasts for its original handling of the topic of perfume. Indeed, for two years running, it has won the prestigious Jasmine Literary Award. In order to widen his magazine's reach, editor Liam Moore has decided to seek public backing for issue #4 by initiating a Kickstarter campaign. To find out more about this exciting move, please click here. And please consider supporting what is a truly unique voice in the perfume world.


Friday, March 20, 2015

News: Persolaise Wins Third Jasmine Award

On Wednesday, I was thrilled to win the Jasmine Bloggers Award for my Basenotes piece on the wonderful work carried out by the Osmothèque (please click here to read it). I'd like to thank the organisers, Fragrance Foundation UK, for putting on a wonderful ceremony, the Jasmine judges for choosing to award my writing for the third time, as well as Basenotes for continuing to publish my work. Needless to say, I'd also like to congratulate all the other winners. To find out who they are, please click here and then follow the links to '2015 winners'.

Forgive this self-indulgence, but I'd just like to mention how pleased I was - on a personal level - that Dana El Masri won the Literary Award for a piece she wrote for ODOU magazine. As some of you may remember (click here to refresh your memory) Dana and I had the same English teacher many years ago. As I sat at BAFTA HQ on Wednesday morning, hearing Dana's name being read out as the winner of her category, I couldn't help thinking how mind-bendingly wonderful it was that she and I were taught by the same person whilst we were both living in Dubai, and here we now were - me in Britain, Dana in Canada - winning awards for doing something we had surely not envisaged doing whilst we were at school. I guess that's just one of those delightful surprises life has a knack of springing. Mrs V, if you're reading this: clearly, you did something right. Thank you!


Persolaise Review: Le Jardin De Monsieur Li from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2015)

At the Paris launch of his fifth 'garden' scent for Hermès - which he refused to concede would be his last - Jean-Claude Ellena stated that Le Jardin De Monsieur Li is probably more abstract than the first entry in the series, 2003's Un Jardin En Mediterranée. This tension between the concrete and the imagined is perhaps the best way into a reading of his latest creation. Yes, in olfactory terms, it would appear to be much less rooted in the real world than the fig accord at the centre of the 2003 composition. But, unlike all of the other gardens, its name begins with the definite article: it isn't just a garden, it is the garden. Then again, its owner, the eponymous Monsieur Li is a fictional construct... although his name happens to be the most commonly occurring moniker in China. The asbstract is grafted onto the literal, only to produce metaphorical shoots. Its a concern which seems to have preoccupied Ellena in recent years, not least in Jour D'Hermès, whose purpose was to evoke a bouquet of flowers without identifying any specific blooms.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2014 [part 2]

Part 2 of my digest of mini-reviews from Twitter, spanning October to December 2014

Hommage À L'Homme Voyageur from Lalique (2014)*
The violet leaf of the original leads to a safe woody-amber base, by way of green melons. Uninspiring.

Junky from Jardins D'Écrivains (2014)*
Soapy green opening, followed by grass and a spotless iris. Far too conformist for something inspired by Burroughs.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Persolaise Review: Amber Aquilaria from Electimuss (2014)

Far too many brands around today rely on aspirational marketing, bling and hackneyed ideas to try to make an impact on potential buyers. Cue: Electimuss, a perfect example of rather dubious style over substance. That said, it does offer at least one scent that's worth a second sniff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Persolaise Is 5 Years Old!

Help yourselves

Well, well, well, talk about taking me by surprise: 5 years have passed since I published my very first post here on It's a cliche, but I honestly don't know where the time has gone. I can still remember the day when I stopped uhmmm-ing and ahh-ing and decided that, yes, I would have a go at this perfume blogging lark...

Quite a bit has happened since then (off the top of my head: the publication of more than 700 posts; the appearance of my perfume guide book; interviews with some of my favourite perfumers) but I'm pleased to say that my appetite for the subject of scent remains as sharp as it was in 2010... even during those times when the demands of the Day Job mean that putting together the next post is almost impossible.

Part of the reason my enthusiasm hasn't diminished is YOU, my wonderful readers. Your comments, notes and emails make all the hard work worthwhile, which is why I want to mark this anniversary by expressing sincere gratitude to each and every one of of you. Thank you so much for your kindness, generosity and support.

I'd also like to thank the brands, industry figures and fellow scribes who have embraced what I try to do on and have appreciated the importance of independent, unbiased writing.

Finally, I have to say a special thank you to Madame Persolaise. If it weren't for her patience - and her very tolerant nose! - this site would have dwindled into nothing ages ago.

The only thing left to say is: let's see if we can manage another 5 years!

With warmest wishes to one and all,



Monday, March 9, 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2014 [part 1]

Here's another instalment of my regular compilation of mini-reviews from Twitter, covering October to December 2014.

Nevermore from Frapin (Anne Sophie Behaghel; 2014)***
Curious mix of metallic rose, ozonic note and parched cedar. There is a sense of the Gothic, but it's too quiet. Still, the image of whitened bones in a graveyard is quite intriguing, while it lasts.

All Good Things from Gorilla Perfume (Simon & Mark Constantine; 2014)*
Rose petals on a candy floss bonfire, with a side order of honeyed leather. Delightfully sweet throughout.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Persolaise Review: Icon from Dunhill (Carlos Benaïm; 2015)

Carlos Benaïm's recent collaboration with Frederic Malle - the scintillating Eau De Magnolia - was seen by many critics as a modern rendition of 70s-style chypres, chiefly Edmond Roudnitska's Diorella (1972). But when I mentioned this interpretation during a recent interview with the perfumer, he rejected it, claiming it's a view to which he doesn't subscribe. In light of this, I wonder how he'd trace the olfactory ancestry of Icon, because even though the scent attempts to cut a very modern dash, there's no doubt that it owes many of its curves and angles to forms from the past.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Persolaise Review: Dior - The Perfumes by Chandler Burr (Rizzoli; 2014)

This article originally appeared in issue 3 of ODOU magazine
under the title Meeting In The Garden

Christian Dior is one of a tiny number of brands capable of striking a balance between the exclusive and the accessible. Several houses aspire to a similar status, but few pull it off: they either overplay the common touch or they build their ivory towers too high. But Dior - together with two, perhaps three, others - is at home both in the most run-down branches of suburban chemists and in its own, impeccably decorated boutiques with their poker-faced doormen-cum-bouncers. Its name is familiar to the vast majority of high street shoppers, yet it has also been deemed worthy of inclusion at Harrods' new Salon De Parfums, a fitting testament to the extraordinary breadth of its impact.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Non-Perfume Post: The Pumpkin Seed - A Children's Book By Dariush Alavi

cover illustration: Joy Richardson

Many of you will be aware that I hardly ever post anything on this blog which isn't related to perfume in some way, so I hope you'll forgive this rare deviation from's usual path. A few years ago, I wrote a short children's book called The Pumpkin Seed and I've now decided it's time to make it available on Amazon (under my real name, Dariush Alavi). I won't describe it in any detail here - full info is available on the book's Amazon listings - but I will say that any kids who've read it (or have had it read to them) seem to have found it captivating. Indeed, a teacher at a local primary school has used it as a class text for several years, with great success.

It's available both as an e-book and a paperback. If you were able to find the time to buy it and read it - or, perhaps, recommend it to someone with young children - I would be indescribably grateful. To find the book on Amazon UK, please click here, and for the Amazon USA listing, please click here.

Thanks for reading this. I promise to return to scented matters in the next post.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Persolaise Review: No. 10 White Oud from Agonist (2014)

Before you scream in horror at the sight of that dreaded three-letter word, let me tell you one thing: No. 10 White Oud is an oud which doesn't even pretend to contain any oud. For their tenth fragrance, Agonist's Christine Gustafsson and Niclas Lydeen decided to subvert the much-derided oud trend by commissioning a fragrance which would express an imaginary, alabaster oud, as opposed to the gravestone heaviness of a real-world, 'black' oud. To make the project more exciting, they stipulated that the scent shouldn't contain any agarwood oil.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Persolaise On Men's Scents In How To Spend It

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Lucia Van Der Post for an article she was writing about fragrances for men. Her piece was published in the FT's How To Spend It in December, but it only recently appeared in the magazine's online version. It features my thoughts on Guerlain Habit Rouge, Tauer's Lonestar Memories and Chanel's Antaeus, as well as contributions from Michael Donovan and Chandler Burr. If you'd like to read it, please click here. Those of you who use iPads and other tablets may like to read the article using the How To Spend It app.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Persolaise Review: Coco Noir extrait from Chanel (Jacques Polge; 2014)

Considering that it hasn't been pushed in any significant way by Chanel's daunting marketing machine, Coco Noir has won an impressive number of followers. The general consensus amongst critics was that it failed to come anywhere near the standard set by the likes of No. 5, No. 19 or Antaeus, but it clearly struck a chord with a sector of the buying public and its performance has reportedly been healthy. Now we have the extrait and although it is unquestionably richer and denser than the eau de parfum, I doubt it'll persuade many scentusiasts to part with their pennies. The scent is essentially the same - a musky, patchouli oriental - but the fruit note of the edp has been toned down and replaced with a stronger floral facet, composed mainly of rose and jasmine. It smells as familiar as it sounds, but that's not to say it is anything less than pleasant. The press info insists that this iteration is even more baroque and Venetian than the eau de parfum. I could argue this wouldn't be hard to achieve, as I found almost nothing baroque about the edp. However, it cannot be denied that the extrait displays the odd hint of an introspective darkness. That said, it is ultimately a fearful piece of work. Like so much of Chanel's current, non-exclusive output, it interacts with the world like a trepidatious tourist: it's happy to dip into Byzantine mysteries, but before things get too serious, it withdraws and scurries away.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Chanel in 2014; please click here for my review of the eau de parfum]


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

News: Persolaise Shortlisted For 2014 Jasmine Awards

A brief item from me today, just to let you know that my scribblings have been recognised by this year's Jasmine Award judges. Three of my articles have been shortlisted for the 'Bloggers Award': Kicking Up A Stink (my definitive guide to the best oud perfumes), my review of Jacques Fath's Iris Gris and, last but not least, Guardians Of The Past, a piece I wrote for Basenotes about my visit to the Osmothèque, which, appropriately enough, is where I first encountered Iris Gris. Click on the links if you'd like to read the pieces. I'd like to express warm thanks to the judges and heartfelt congratulations to the other shortlisted writers, across all of the other categories. It's gratifying to be in the company of some excellent wordsmiths. The winners will be announced on 18th March. I expect the full list of nominees will be published on the Jasmine website in due course.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Never At Sephora - Bertrand Duchaufour At The Launch Of Penhaligon's Ostara

Towards the end of 2014, Bertrand Duchaufour popped into London to launch Ostara, his latest creation for Penhaligon's. Inspired by a perfume he encountered in Jodhpur - where he was carrying out research for Vaara - it aims to recreate the scent of a daffodil and, by extension, to evoke notions of optimism, fertility and rebirth. If those three words make you think of spring, then you're not far off the mark: Ostara (or Ēostre) is the ancient Germanic goddess of the dawn and, as it happens, the source of the word 'Easter', a holiday which, at least in the UK, is always associated with daffodils. The humble flower doesn't often find itself featured in scent compositions, so I decided it would form a sensible topic from which to begin my discussion with Duchaufour. I asked him how he went about putting together its smell.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Persolaise Review: Aromatics In White from Clinique (Nicolas Beaulieu; 2015)

By the pricking of my thumbs, something musky this way comes. Or should that be, "something snowy"? Two trends seem to be gaining momentum in the perfume world - i) a greater emphasis on creamy musk materials; ii) a more prominent use of pearl-coloured aesthetics in packaging - and they both find expression in the latest release from Clinique, Aromatics In White, composed by IFF's Nicolas Beaulieu.


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