Please click here to read my latest piece for the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine, featuring a travel-inspired selection of perfumes for the summer*. You may be interested to learn that this issue of ParfumPlus also contains an interview with Camille Goutal.
* The article is an amended version of a recent piece which appeared on Persolaise.com; click here to read it.
You don't see much written about the Michael Kors scent collection on the blogosphere. But since the beginning of the century, the Lauder-owned brand has been releasing a stream of competent fragrances: largely pleasant, by-the-numbers creations, of the sort beloved by people who buy only one or two bottles per year, usually at a duty free store. Then, a few months ago, they gave us the Gold trio. Granted, two of the scents in the set - Rose Radiant Gold and 24K Brilliant Gold - aren't notable for their inventiveness: the former is a relaxed, sunset-cocktail-sipping tuberose/ylang and the latter is a breezy, light-salad-at-lunchtime floral which, if you sniff hard enough, presents a sedate sweet pea facet. However, White Luminous Gold is an altogether more intriguing prospect. Fizzing to life with convincing citrus notes (an allusion to the luminosity in the name?) it then presents a cascade of white chocolate shavings as well as a shimmer of dessert-like green notes before settling on restrained woods and musks. In perfume-geek-speak, it's 'Habit Rouge meets Coromandel meets Dune', with a dash of grapefruit and plum for originality. All of which makes it one of the most welcome fresh orientals we've had for a while. Do seek it out.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Michael Kors in 2015.]
As it's been almost a year since I posted my all-new London Perfume Shopping Guide, I thought I ought to give it a bit of a plug. I've been updating it regularly, so please do take a moment to check out its current version (click here). Its most significant recent development is the inclusion of a brand new fragrance and home scent space on the ground floor of Selfridges. It replaces the niche-like counters they had on the lower ground floor (which stocked Diptyque and L'Artisan Parfumeur) and it brings several new brands onto the store's roster, including - surprise surprise - Frederic Malle, which is clearly going through an expansion following its acquisition by Estée Lauder. Selfridges have also managed to get nationwide exclusivity for L'Artisan Parfumeur, which means that their London store is now the only place in the city where you can sample the Puig-owned brand's wares and check out their new, rather beautiful packaging. Other names you'll find in this elegant enclosure are: Penhaligon's, Ormonde Jayne, The Fragrance Kitchen, Miller Harris, Cire Trudon and Jusbox.
It's that time of year again when dads get their own share of the shopping spotlight. So if you're looking for gift ideas, please take a moment to scroll through my Father's Day recommendations; they were all posted on Twitter at some point over the course of the last fortnight.
It's difficult to know where to begin a review of Muguet Porcelaine... which is probably why, for several weeks, I haven't. Various angles have jostled for attention within my head, but because they're all equally important, they've cancelled each other out and led to nothing more than stultified inertia. For instance, it would be valid to view Muguet within the context of the Hermessence collection, the high-price-tag range devised by Hermès to showcase their perfumer's more impressionistic, haiku-like creative tendencies. It would be similarly valid to consider the perfume in terms of a technical accomplishment: thanks to restrictions on key materials, producing a convincing muguet (ie lily of the valley) has become something of a challenge for scent-makers across the globe. And it would also be valid - nay: crucial! - to evaluate Muguet as the final artistic expression of Hermès' aforementioned perfumer, the one and only Jean-Claude Ellena. Yes, you read that right: the UK release of Muguet Porcelaine was accompanied by official confirmation that this particular fragrance would, indeed, be Ellena's swansong for Hermès.
Regular readers will be aware that, for me, the summer usually involves travel. However, for various reasons, this year is shaping up to be rather different... which perhaps explains why I've recently been fixated on the idea of linking perfumes to specific holiday destinations. So, as a means of getting this mini-obsession out of my system and, hopefully, providing you with some inspiration, here are my 'scented city' recommendations for summer 2016.
India’s most vibrant city is an onslaught of smells, sights and sounds. Liz Moores’ highly-praised Salomé is equally outgoing, combing leathers, balsams and woods with a massive dose of skin-hugging cumin. The two were made for each other.
The delights of Disney may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes it’s fun to give in to the child-like allure of sugar, giggles and fruity innocence. Guerlain’s cheeky bestseller – with its juxtaposition of black cherry with sweet notes – is a scented trip to a sparkling fairyland.
The second and final part of my January-to-March mini-review round-up.
Fahrenheit Cologne from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Addition of sweet citrus is touch incongruous, but the more translucent violet-leaf heart works well. Thumbs up.
CK2 from Calvin Klein (2016)*
What to say? CK One is an absolute icon, a memento of its time. This is a faceless, gutless exercise in timidity. Wasabi note? Err, I don't think so. Orris? Doubtful. Pebbles??? Yeah, okay. It's just another pseudo-woody, translucent 'youth' scent. Sigh.
Eternity Night from Calvin Klein (2014)*
Oh dear, the descent continues with this half-baked plum pudding. Boredom-inducing musky drydown.
Eternity Night Man from Calvin Klein (2014)*
This one's even more depressing. Some vague notion of fruity woods embroiled in dull musks. Mindless.
Black Lapsang from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Wild, heady souq + jasmine notes. Dense, dark and dangerous. More leather than tea, but then, so is lapsang.
Tobacco Flower from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Strange, sticky, engaging concoction. Bitter, lemony tobacco smoke piped through dark treacle. Too overbearing?
Golden Rose from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Meeting point of Nahema and Noir Epices - fiery, spicy, ambery rose. Somewhat derivative, but enjoyable to wear.
Black Orange Pekoe from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Another spicy rose, this time with the camphor edge of Axe Oil. Heavy, stewed black tea lurks in background.
Poison Girl from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Oh the quips I'm tempted to make about toxins & the sugar bombs in this sickly, ditzy, soulless flanker to the 80s classic.
* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author
Persolaise: If you could place perfume anywhere in a department store, where would you like it to be?
Francis Kurkdjian: By itself.
Ah, but it's always going to be next to something.
Maybe it should be somewhere quieter. It should be in an environment where every brand could talk about what they are, not being lined up like tin cans.
Which young perfumers are you currently excited about?
Only one, because I know him very well. A perfumer I've trained for 3 years now. His name is Jerome Di Marino. He's with me at Takasago. It's not easy for him, because it's so different from my time. Everything is super regulated. 20, 25 years ago, when I started, brands were kind of separated. Guerlain was owned by the Guerlain family. Coty was not as big. L'Oreal was not as big. LVMH was not as big. Now, if you don't belong to the right supplier company, there are things you can't work on. Why are Givaudan doing all the Tom Ford fragrances? Because they're part of the core list of Estée Lauder. So basically, a big corporation divides its portfolio into parts, it gives one part to IFF, one part to Firmenich etc, and that's it. So if you don't belong to one of these big companies, you don't have the chance to play.
On the evening of Thursday 12th May, the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation will hold its annual awards ceremony and I hope to bring you live tweets from the event. You should be able to see them in the widget below. Or you can follow the action on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #FragranceAwardsUK.
It's that time of year again when the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation hands out its awards. As ever, my interest in the world of film prompts me to pay particular attention to the 'Best Commercial' nominees; it's always fascinating to see how brands try to use audio-visual channels to sell their scents. So, here are this year's contenders, divided into 'male' and 'female' categories.
I can't say any of them display an especially novel approach to the task at hand. From the ladies' camp, I enjoy the kooky humour of the Chanel (good Abba cover, by the way), the quirky, off-the-wall quality of the Missoni and the infectiousness of the Guerlain (although the novelty of the Petite Robe Noire campaign has now worn off). But the overall vibe is very safe. The boys' offerings aren't any more original. The Miyake actually does a decent job of conveying its perfume's characteristics and the Paco Rabanne stands up to a few repeat views. However, other than that, it's predictable sailing all the way.
Well, here's a bit of excitement! The latest issue of UK's Grazia - out today - features an article by yours truly about gender-bending perfumes: ie 'feminines' which would work well on men, and vice versa. Please do pick up a copy from your nearest newsagent. As it happens, the entire issue features a gender-bending theme - amongst other articles, it contains a survey of women's views on current identity issues - so it's well worth a read. Plus, it has Beyoncé on the cover. What else do you need?
Well, we couldn't put it off much longer. After having grappled with the sizeable portfolios of Dior and Lauder, Grant Osborne, the Candy Perfume Boy and I decided that there was no escape: we had to get to grips with Chanel. As you can imagine, this wasn't exactly what you'd call an easy task. The brand which, by most accounts, pioneered the concept of linking couture with fragrance has been at the forefront of mainstream scent creation for almost a century and its current line-up boasts some undisputed classics of olafctory art. So yes, we had our work cut out for us.
As ever, a few treasured gems couldn't make it onto the top 5. I agonised for hours over whether to include Cristalle (still such a wonderfully verdant chypre) or Bel Respiro (which never fails to transport me to an endless Mediterranean vista) or Bois De Iles (that sandalwood! that rose! that elegance!) or No. 22 (the scent of the clouds against which angels brush their wings). And Madame Persolaise will probably never forgive me for not finding a space for one of her personal, all-time favourites, Coco. But rules are rules, and sacrifices had to be made.
Just when you thought we'd given up on our popular series, I'm pleased to announce that the Candy Perfume Boy, Basenotes and I will reveal our latest Super Scent brand on Monday... and it's going to be a big one! Here are the rules of this little project, in case some of you have forgotten them. We have to:
- come up with a list of the best perfumes from a particular brand's current line-up (ie no discontinued scents)
- ensure the list is based on the perfumes' current formulations
- refrain from sharing the list with anybody else until it's published
The list will be revealed on Monday 25th April at 12:00 pm UK time. See you then!
Tom Ford wants us to mix things up. Literally. For the last few months, the staff at his Private Blend counters have been trying to encourage customers to indulge in what you and I would call layering, ie combining two (or more!) perfumes in the hope of creating a novel effect. But of course, Mr Ford has to give the practice his own name: Private Blend Styling. In addition, he doesn't want us to have free rein when it comes to choosing the scents; he's devised his own list of recommended pairings. And he's even worked out ideal application ratios: two sprays of Perfume X to one spray of Perfume Y, and so on. After all, Styling is a serious business.