Saturday, 30 October 2010

Review: The One Gentleman by Dolce & Gabbana (2010)

I confess this one had me fooled for a while. The initial impression it made was undeniably positive; in fact, the sweep of citrus, woods and irones had me making mental comparisons with nothing less than Dior Homme. Well-mannered and understated, it floated through the air like an unobtrusive, smiling waiter wandering from guest to guest at an elegant party. But watch out: this particular gentleman doesn't feel at home in his tuxedo. In fact, it isn't even really his. When he's finished serving hundreds of demanding guests, he returns his work clothes and walks back home in a baggy jumper that smells of sweat, stale cigarette smoke and unremarkable after shave. It's a shame really, because he is quite charming when he scrubs up.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]


Friday, 29 October 2010

Baccarat At Harrods

Please click here to be redirected to my Basenotes article about the final event at Harrods' Perfume Diaries: a presentation by Baccarat.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Reviews: The Smell Of Freedom & Orange Blossom by Gorilla Perfumes (2010)

It's always helpful to be reminded that snobbery has no place in perfume appreciation. A branch of Lush - with its cheerfully dressed-down aesthetics - may not be the first place you'd turn to for olfactory artistry, but next to the bath bombs, multi-coloured jellies and stacks of henna is a collection of unassuming black bottles containing some of the most striking scents on the high street. Many of them were part of the defunct B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful range, but now they're all marketed as Gorilla Perfumes and are gradually being rolled out across Lush's international network.

The Smell Of Freedom is one of the more recent additions. On a basic level, it operates like a jasmine-infused cologne: the freshness of neroli and lemongrass combine with white blossoms to produce the sort of soothing effect many of us would associate with bottles of 4711. However, there is much more on offer to the attentive wearer. Powdery elegance appears in the form of orris, whilst a combination of woods (including, according to the official ingredients, a touch of oud) provides an infusion of warmth. The result is a beguiling brew that veers between wispy lightness and almost unbearable bleakness, very much like liberty itself.

If you've ever smelled orange flower absolute, you may well have been taken aback by its distinctly non-floral undertone: pungent and unabashedly animalic, it tends to conjure images of carnal couplings in locked bedrooms rather than innocent trysts in pretty orchards. Thankfully, this incredible raw material's adult side is allowed to take pride of place in Orange Blossom, a headspinning mix of innocence and seductiveness. Balanced at one end by the near-medicinal shrillness of ylang-ylang and, at the other, by the sweetness of beeswax, it's a deceptively simple fragrance that smiles like an angel and winks like a very dangerous stranger.

In relative terms, the Gorilla Perfumes aren't cheap: 10ml of The Smell Of Freedom will cost you £15, which means, if you don't mind my stating the obvious, that 200ml will take you well past the price range of Chanel's Les Exclusifs. But I'd always advise someone to part with £20 or less for a comparatively small amount of an excellent perfume instead of £60 for 100ml of a mainstream scent that's barely half-decent. So the next time you're in town shopping for a bottle, consider avoiding the over-marketed department stores. Follow your nose to the land of bath bombs and just go ape!

[Review based on samples obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sartorial Draw Winner + Mini Reviews, including J'Adore L'Or by Christian Dior (2010)

I spent a couple of hours wandering around shops the other day, trying to find some excitement in the glittery Christmas parcels that the major brands are desperate to thrust upon us. I'm sorry to say that I returned home feeling rather depressed: so far, mainstream perfumery doesn't seem to have anything terribly interesting to offer during this particular festive season. It's just the same old names, wrapped in slightly different boxes. Strictly speaking, I suppose YSL's Belle D'Opium is a new addition, but seeing as it's a miserable, corpse-like non-fragrance, I think it's best we ignore it completely. Guerlain have of course brought out another Shalimar flanker - Ode De La Vanille - but in the UK, it's available only in Harrods, so it can't really count as a general release. As far as men's perfumery is concerned... well, as ever, that's an even more disheartening subject. The most visible of the new scents is probably Dolce & Gabbana's The One Gentleman: a detailed review should appear on these pages fairly soon, but for the moment, I will reveal that I won't be urging you to rush out and buy it.

This bleak situation may be partially rescued by Dior, who've decided to give birth to yet another variation of J'Adore. It calls itself L'Or and is perhaps the most classical of the range. As you'd expect, its heart still displays the familiar jasmine-rose-ylang accord, but its top surprises you with a burst of fizzy aldehydes - akin to hundreds of champagne bubbles bursting under your nose - whereas the base is composed of an almost-too-sweet, powdery vanilla. My favourite of the collection is still L'Absolu, but this new Chanel-meets-Guerlain hybrid will probably do very well indeed.

Anyway, enough of all this gloom. It's time to give away a prize! Thanks again to everyone who entered last week's draw. I am very pleased to be able to reveal that the winner of a sample of Penhaligon's Sartorial is... Liam J!

Liam: please send your postal address to persolaise at gmail dot com and I'll get your sample to you straight away.

Everyone else: please keep coming back for more draws and giveaways.


Monday, 25 October 2010

A Failure To Communicate

"Absolutely typical" are two words that have been on my mind since Friday. I was looking forward to a few days off work, I'd set aside some time for perfume formulation and I'd also decided that over the weekend I'd actually wear some fragrances from my own collection - as opposed to those I've been sent for review - but the micro-universe of germs and bugs obviously had other plans for me: I've got a cold and I can hardly smell a thing.

Well, that's not strictly accurate. What I should have said is that there are certain smells I can't detect at all, whereas others are coming through quite clearly. I'd never really given this much thought before, but it appears as though the problem is centred around the area of base notes: I can detect tops and hearts just fine, but when it comes to vetivert or sandalwood (or, to put it in other words, some of the heaviest molecules found in perfumes), things start to get fuzzy. I'm no chemist, but I wonder if the likes of Luca Turin - and other scientists who've tried to understand our olfactory system - have ever considered the significance of the ill-effects of colds and flus.

As I reach for another mug of Lemsip, I'll leave you with this question: do colds really affect your personal sense of smell in a major way, or do you think the whole phenomenon has been exaggerated?


Saturday, 23 October 2010

Review: Kalimantan by Chantecaille (2010)

Do we really need another ambery oriental? The answer's probably No, but maintaining a negative stance is problematic when you're faced with as elegant an example of the genre as Kalimantan. Named after the Indonesian area of the island of Borneo, the fragrance wastes no time in exposing its heart: the woody, smoky, faintly orange-like dryness of rock rose absolute and myrrh, languishing on a sweet amber base. This is the cliched territory of Middle Eastern bazaars and Indian temples, and although we've definitely been here before - think: Ambre Sultan and L'Air Du Désert Marocain - it would be churlish to deny that the balance of this particular blend is skillful and the quality of the ingredients is high. Still, despite its beauty, Kalimantan is unquestionably derivative and I see no reason why you'd choose to buy it instead of, say, the Lutens or the Tauer, unless you just happen to like the bottle's multi-faceted faux-crystal stopper.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]


Thursday, 21 October 2010

There Is No 'Fern' In 'Fougère'

My fingers stink of linalool and jasmine absolute, so I probably shouldn't be touching the keyboard, but I've decided to take a few moments out from formulating to remind you about the draw for a sample of Penhaligon's new masculine scent, Sartorial; the draw closes at 10 pm (UK time) this Sunday.

I suspect I won't have a chance to upload another post tomorrow, so I'll wish you all a good weekend now. Come back on Saturday to read a review of one of Chantecaille's new scents, Kalimantan.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering about this entry's silly title... I guess it's my way of letting off the steam generated by the reviews of Sartorial which claim that the scent contains extracts from ferns. Paul Parquet must be turning in his exquisitely scented grave.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Pyramid Building - 3

The deconstruction of the olfactory pyramid continues. Thanks very much to everyone who sent me emails in response to the previous post on the subject. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who finds this particular aspect of perfumery more than a little frustrating.

For today's instalment of this extended discussion, I'd like to describe a basic experiment I recently conducted in my little lab. I made up vials of several simplistic 'perfumes', each one containing just one 'base' ingredient (benzoin), one 'heart' (either Egyptian jasmine absolute, Moroccan rose absolute or geranium oil) and one 'top' (bergamot or basil or French lavender oil or anything else that took my fancy).

You can see where this is going. When the scents were sprayed, there wasn't a single one that opened solely with the top note: indeed, all the openings were a combination of the top and the heart. After several minutes, the 'top' appeared to fade away, but its influence could still be detected in the heart: the jasmine that followed on from the bergamot smelled subtly, but unmistakably different from the jasmine that came after the basil oil. In fact, it would also be true to say that the bergamot that led to the jasmine appeared to take on a different identity from the bergamot that led to the rose: the tops and the hearts were both exerting an influence on each other. Needless to say, the base note also took on different hues - and made its presence felt at differing times - depending on whether it had been 'underneath' jasmine, rose or geranium.

Of course, this didn't come as a massive surprise. My name may not be Edmond Roudnitska, but I'm aware that the dividing lines between top, heart and base are far from well-defined. That's why we keep saying that the olfactory pyramid is merely a convenient (?) sketch of the way a perfume really works, right? However, perhaps the reason why so many people remain unhappy with the use of the pyramid is precisely because it's based on lines. I realise my experiment wasn't exactly scientific and that it isn't always easy to make firm judgements on what constitutes a top note or a heart note (after all, bergamot and lavender oil - both of which count as 'tops' - evaporate at quite different rates), but maybe my results suggest that we need to come up with a model based on a more fluid concept... something like waves perhaps... or maybe even circles?

That's my question for you today: what would work better than lines? Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or, if you prefer, send an email to the usual address: persolaise at gmail dot com.


Monday, 18 October 2010

Sample Giveaway + Review: Sartorial by Penhaligon's (2010)

Any artist who manages to breathe new life into an old form deserves praise, but if you're not especially fond of the form itself, you might find it difficult to couple your praise with heartfelt enthusiasm. The form in question is the fougère, that stalwart of masculine perfumery that has been around, quite literally, since the very birth of modern fragrance production. Even if you're not familiar with its name, you will have smelled several examples of it over the years. Azzaro Pour Homme, Brut, Rive Gauche Pour Homme and many others all contain the basic lavender-coumarin-moss combination which - with its lung-filling freshness and earthy undertone - instantly spells 'after shave' or, more bluntly, 'MAN' to Western sensibilities. The latest incarnation is Penhaligon's Sartorial, inspired by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour's study of the behind-the-scenes activities at Savile Row's Norton & Sons.

It isn't surprising that a foray into one of the most traditional pillars of British masculinity persuaded Douchafour to turn to the most traditional genre of male perfumery. Norton & Sons' website claims that they "favour a simple, classically cut garment, with a shaped waist and neat structured shoulder, free from unnecessary detail," and sure enough, this is essentially what Douchaufour has created. The heart of the fragrance is an elegant beeswax-laced lavender with a novel chalky-aldehydic twist that creates a vivid image of freshly-steamed fabric; it successfully evokes all other fougères whilst simultaneously stamping Duchaufour's own signature on the form. In itself, this is a substantial achievement. However, an ill-judged marketing campaign suggests we're meant to accept the scent as something much more radical than it really is: Pythonesque videos and comedy moustache-shaped brooches and cuff-links are currently being showcased on the Penhaligon's site as a means of promoting the scent. I can just see the raised eyebrows at Norton & Sons.

Quirky publicity aside, this is still a fougère, and if, like me, you don't generally like fougères, you're probably not going to get excited about this one. It presents a staunchly conservative image of British maleness - a rather disappointing fact, given that one of this island's enduring trademarks is a love of sly eccentricity - and although it ticks all the right boxes and is most impressively put together, I can't help feeling it's something of a missed opportunity.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin. To read Grain De Musc's review of Sartorial, please click here and for Octavian Coifan's, please click here.]


If you'd like to enter a draw for a sample of Sartorial, please leave a comment on this post on the subject of British masculinity.

Please note: i) the draw will be open until 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday 24th October; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; iv) by entering the draw, you indicate that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume posted from the UK; v) if the sample is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be sent; vi) the address of the winner will not be kept on record, nor will it be passed to any third parties; vii) Persolaise takes no responsibility for the composition of the scent, as regards potential allergens and/or restricted materials.

Best of luck!



The draw is now closed. To find out who the winner is, please click here.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Watch Out For The Comedy Moustache

I can't quite believe it myself, but I actually managed to find a few minutes yesterday to play around with some ideas and formulations, mainly with the aim of getting to grips with the on-going problem of top, heart and base notes. I've got a little experiment on the go that might yield some instructive results...

I've also been doing lots of sniffing, so be sure to come back to these pages over the new few days for reviews of, amongst others, Penhaligon's Sartorial and the three scents from the recently revived house of Grossmith. There may even be a sample giveaway in the pipeline!

Wherever you are, have a deliciously scented weekend,


Thursday, 14 October 2010

Tauer Perfumes Scent Gathering

A presentation from Andy Tauer never sounds like a sales pitch. With charm and humility, he invites his listeners to share his enthusiasm for perfume creation, providing enticing insights into the process of creating his fragrances. Thankfully, last Saturday was no exception. At an event organised by Scent & Sensibility's Ronny Geller, Andy launched Une Rose Vermeille and Eau d'Épices by taking his audience on a stroll along an avenue scented with some of the materials used in the two new perfumes.

The superlative Bulgarian rose oil used in Vermeille elicited several gasps of appreciation, as did a CO2 extracted vanilla that combined woodiness and sweetness with tantalising complexity. Eau d'Épices was represented by a heady, animalic orange flower absolute and the delicate powderiness of irones.

Andy's passion for his potions is infectious, and it didn't take long for the guests to engage in animated conversations on all manner of perfume-related topics, some of which will no doubt work their way into future posts here on I've written this before, but I don't mind writing it again: if you ever have an opportunity to hear Andy speak, be sure to take it. His conviction and joie de vivre will remind you exactly why you fell in love with perfumes in the first place.

[To find out more about Ronny Geller's Scent Gatherings, please visit Scent & Sensibility.]


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Perfumers Make The Most Annoying Customers...

Here's a funny little Sales Assistant moment for you.

I was in Harrods the other day and I walked up to the Loewe counter to try 7. Within moments, a smiling, well-groomed gentleman popped up before me, urging me to spray the scent on my skin. I should say I generally have no problem whatsoever with sales staff. I'm aware there are lots of bloggers out there who have had many unpleasant experiences in shops, but I guess I've just been rather fortunate so far: most of the SAs I've encountered have been friendly and patient, if a little clueless, which takes me back to my story...

I delivered my usual line about preferring to spray on paper first and, in the interests of keeping up the conversation, I said, "So this has got only seven ingredients, right?"

"Yes," he replied, "it's the only fragrance ever made with seven."

"No, it certainly isn't," I said, my smile broadening, "in fact, I could name you at least one other that's got only seven."

Uncertainty clouded his face: it was clear that he didn't know whether to agree with me - because the customer is always right - or to disagree - because his Loewe trainer had assured him that 7 is utterly unique.

After a few moments during which it was clear that he wasn't going to say a word, I decided to help him out. "In fact," I said, "the other fragrance is also based on frankincense."

"Oh, but this one isn't based on frankincense! It does have a little frankincense in it, but it's based mostly around incense."

"But..." I couldn't quite keep a note of bewilderment from entering my voice, "when we say that a fragrance contains incense, we mean frankincense."

"No, but this one's different. This has incense. It's completely different from frankincense. It's like a... like an incense..." he began edging away from the counter, "... not like frankincense. It's something... something quite different." And I think the incredulity on my face must have been so clear, that he just gave up and shuffled away. 

So here's a question for those of you who have ever visited London's most famous department store. What do you think of the service at the perfume section of Harrods? Is it relaxed and attentive or off-putting and snooty?


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tauer Giveaway Winner!

Before I announce the winner of last week's Tauer draw, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who entered and provided such wonderful ideas for perfume names; I hope Andy takes the time to read them one day. Below you'll find a list of all the entrants, in the order in which they posted their comments:

  1. Kjanicki
  2. Elisa Gabbert
  3. Liam J
  4. Liz
  5. Vintage Lady
  6. Jason
  7. Scent
  8. Museinwoodenshoes
  9. Roberto
  10. Bloody Frida
  11. John
  12. Michael
  13. Rosehavn
  14. D3m0licio0n
  15. Soniagarcia
  16. You Smell
  17. Ines
  18. Sharon
  19. Nick
  20. Emmasyrup
  21. Arch.memory
  22. Tania
  23. Womo531
  24. Bellatrix
  25. Christof
  26. Chrisb

And according to the number thrown up by, the winner is...

Vintage Lady!

Congratulations to you. Please send your postal address to persolaise at gmail dot com and don't forget to let me know if you'd like a bottle of Une Rose Vermeille or Eau d'Épices.

Commiserations to everyone else... but keep coming back to for more draws and giveaways.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Tauer Perfume Giveaway Reminder

This is just a brief, pre-weekend reminder that you've still got a couple of days left to enter the Tauer Perfumes draw for a bottle of either Une Rose Vermeille or Eau d'Épices. The draw closes at 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday.

For the next two days, I'm going to be fulfilling 'uncle duties' by spending some time in London with two of my nieces. Doubtless, they'll insist on one or two forays into perfume shops. Perhaps I'll be able to persuade one of them that she can do better than YSL's Parisienne.

The other noteworthy event will be a meeting with Andy Tauer at the official London launch of the above two scents... all of which means that I should have plenty to share with you after Sunday.

Have a great weekend,


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Review: Memoir Man & Memoir Woman by Amouage (2010)

My experience of living in the Middle East taught me that Gulf Arab men tend to have no qualms about wearing scents that would be considered far too heady and overwhelming by many of the bravest perfume-loving males of the 'west'. This willingness to perceive masculine fragrance as lavish adornment has traditionally been adopted by the house of Amouage, which isn't surprising, given the firm's links with the royal family of Oman. Therefore, any new creation from the land of silver frankincense is an event eagerly anticipated by those of us who prefer, say, Antaeus to CKbe.

Memoir Man & Woman arrive hot on the heels of the Library Collection, which was notable for its departure from the usual blends of resins and thick ambers. With a core centred around the sharp, anisic sting of absinthe, the two new releases continue this trend, a fact that will come either as welcome or disappointing news, depending on how much Arabian sillage you like to project.

The presence of Memoir Man is announced with a sheer spice-and-lavender note which immediately takes on a grassy hue and leads to an evocation of the leaves and twigs of a fig tree. Hints of warm leather flit in and out of the picture before the Green Fairy herself arrives, fresh and bracing. At first, her company is welcome. But after a few hours of her high-pitched wheedling, you begin to see her less as the seductive queen of intoxication and more as an irritating Tinkerbell. She does eventually make way for a vetivert drydown - with a seamlessness that is genuinely admirable - but you end up quite glad to see her go, whereas she ought to leave you wanting more.

On paper, Memoir Woman fails to impress: its white floral opening seems frail and synthetic and its central accord of absinthe and tuberose is bilious. However, on skin, it pulls off a neat little feat of redemptive alchemy and turns out to be warmer and more finely tuned. Woody notes - which often benefit from the effects of body heat - rise up to support the heart and the mossy base, reducing their harshness without stripping them of their power. Subtle musks surround the whole with a soft embrace. The final result is by no means a masterpiece, but it's certainly a less frightening scent than the one that rises up from the blotter.

There is no doubt that artists should be permitted to change direction if they wish to explore new avenues of self-expression. However, it's naive to deny that if you turn your back on familiar routes, you need to work doubly hard to persuade your critics that you know what you're doing. Any alteration of style runs the risk of being faintly embarrassing unless it's pulled off with rock-solid confidence. So whilst these two Memoir scents are competent, they're nowhere near bold enough to convince this Amouage admirer that the decision to avoid incense and oud was a wise one.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]


Wednesday, 6 October 2010


My head's full of smoke and leather. It's a shame the same can't be said for the empty vials on my window sill. I keep telling myself that one day, hopefully this side of Christmas, I will have a moment to sit down and formulate.

Still, if anything's going to keep me from my bottles, it ought to be the perfume world: yesterday I attended the official launch of London's Avery Fine Perfumery. I won't reveal any details here, as a full report should appear on Basenotes soon, but I will just say that I had a fascinating conversation with Stéphane Humbert Lucas, the nose behind a brand new line of scents. The topics we discussed ranged from the quality of synthetic agarwood oil to the delights of scoffing Nutella doughnuts on the beaches of Antibes. You may be interested to learn that he was more animated when talking about the latter rather than the former.

And speaking of perfumers, fingers crossed, this weekend I'll get a chance to catch up with one of my favourite masters of olfactory alchemy... so yes, once again, I probably won't have any opportunities to tweak my own formulae, but I may just gain some fresh inspiration and new ideas.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

European Perfumery At Harrods Perfume Diaries

Some of you may be aware that Harrods recently hosted an evening of presentations on European perfumery. If you'd like to read my Basenotes article about the event, please click here.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Tauer Perfumes Draw + Review: Eau d'Épices by Tauer Perfumes (2010)

Some truths are worth repeating: excellent fragrances feature a delicate harmony of all their disparate components. Few contemporary perfumers are as acutely aware of this as Andy Tauer, creator of the new Eau d'Épices, which, like its predecessors, displays his ability to assemble remarkably intricate structures. His latest balancing act begins with the eponymous spices. Cardamom, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and goodness knows what else fly into the air, as if leaping out of a basket that's just been thrown at the sun. They descend onto a landscape that's part terracotta, part summer orchard, where the pungency of orange blossom competes with the resinous waft of incense. There's a hint of dryness in the air, a sense of crackling heat. And then things become really impressive. Three different forces engage in a tug-of-war - ambery wood, frankincense and indolic floral - but instead of cancelling each other out, they all manage to make their presence felt with clarity and insane longevity. Those of us who've played around with pipettes and essential oils will appreciate that this feat is nothing short of astonishing.

Whether or not you'll actually like it is another matter. I'd be lying if I said I fell in love with it straight away. There's a particular note hovering around the floral section - a vaguely synthetic, green citrus - that I found difficult to ignore, although it's much less pronounced on paper than on skin. By no means did it spoil the entire experience, but it did distract from the other, more pleasurable elements. Having said that, the fragrance yielded several compliments from those caught in its sillage, with comments ranging from, "It smells like amazingly fresh air," to "It smells like walking into a warm house on a freezing cold day." In other words - and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this - sniff before you buy! Personally, I haven't yet been able to shower Eau D'Épices with total adoration, but there is no doubt that it's a worthy addition to the Tauer line and that it commands all my respect.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin; for reviews of the rest of the Tauer Perfumes range, please click here, here and here.]

[UPDATE 12th October 2010: At a recent event, I had an opportunity to try Eau D'Épices on my skin once more, and although I'd worn it several times before writing the review above, I was struck by how it smelled this time around. It was unquestionably different, albeit in a subtle way: the aforementioned synthetic note - which has variously been referred to as chewing gum and liniment by others - was much more finely tuned. Indeed, it blended into the whole with such ease that I didn't find it the least bit bothersome. Now, there could be a few reasons for this. My first sample may have been slightly dodgy, but that's highly unlikely. It's also possible that I may have grown more tolerant of the troublesome accord. Our personal olfactory autobiographies do have a massive influence on how we respond to smells, and sometimes a process of repeated exposure is required to curb the ill effects of a chemical to which we're sensitive. But I prefer to think that the reason for the apparent transformation was that the scent was sprayed by the fingers of Andy Tauer himself. He probably worked some secret Swiss magic. Whatever the explanation, this curious little development just reinforces my point that Eau d'Épices is a fragrance you really ought to try for - and on! - yourself.]

I am thrilled to announce that Andy Tauer has agreed to send one lucky reader of this blog a bottle of either Une Rose Vermeille or Eau d'Épices. The recipient of the prize will be selected by a random draw. If you'd like to enter, please leave a comment which begins with the following words: "I would like Andy Tauer to create a perfume called..." Comments must be left on this post.

Please note: i) the draw will be open until 10pm (UK time) on Sunday 10th October; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; iv) by entering the draw, you indicate that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume; v) the winner will have to provide his/her postal address, which will then be passed on to Andy Tauer; vi) the winner's address will not be kept on record by Persolaise, nor will it be passed to any third parties, apart from Andy Tauer.

Good luck!



The draw is now closed. Please click here to find out who won.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Advance Warning: Tauer Perfumes Giveaway

Where did September go? It feels like it was only yesterday that I returned from India, filled with determination to get back to my pungent potions without delay. Time slips away from you faster than the citrus top notes of a celebrity fragrance.

Mind you, if I haven't had many opportunities for formulation, that's mainly because I've been nipping up to various Harrods' Perfume Diaries events and writing about them for Basenotes, experiences which will, no doubt, manifest themselves in my perfumery in one way or another.

I suspect October will turn out to be calmer... but just so things don't become too sedate, let me tempt you with one tantalising bit of info: in the next 36 hours, an opportunity will appear here on for one lucky reader to win a prize from none other than Andy Tauer himself.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,


Review: Shalimar - Ode De La Vanille & Idylle eau de toilette by Guerlain (2010)

You can't say that Guerlain aren't keeping Thierry Wasser busy. This year saw the release of the third version of Homme, a new Aqua Allegoria and an exclusive, limited edition entitled Abeille De Guerlain. Now two more creations arrive bearing his signature: an eau de toilette of his own Idylle, as well as a reinterpretation of one of the undisputed classics of all time, Shalimar.

The former is sold as a softer, "more feminine" version of the eau de parfum, and in a sense, this isn't far from the truth. The floral bouquet and the citrus undertone are, indeed, granted greater prominence, but they're my least favourite aspects of the edp anyway. I prefer the ambery-mossy conclusion, which is distinctly suppressed here in the edt, creating an effect that I find 'girly' rather than feminine.

Thankfully, the Shalimar is a more praiseworthy effort. Its initial burst of bergamot, civet and vanilla-infused amber pays respectful homage to the original, but then proceedings veer off in a slightly different direction. The tangy, fruity top notes are sweeter and more pronounced. The vanillic base is gentler. And the oriental notes are kept to a minimum. The result is pleasant, transparent and not particularly long-lasting, as though Lahore's famous gardens have decided to lighten up for just a few hours and spare foreign tourists the full onslaught of heady Asian exoticism. Having said that, the inspiration for this new juice seems to have come from a place much closer to home, because with its brighter, wispier and arguably more modern tone, it instantly calls to mind another fairly recent release from one of Guerlain's main competitors. Which one do I mean? Well, let's just say that Ode De La Vanille is something of a misnomer; a more accurate name would've been Shalimar Eau Premiere.

[Shalimar - Ode De La Vanille review based on a sample of eau de parfum; Idylle review based on a sample of eau de toilette; both samples obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]


Friday, 1 October 2010

Review Showcase: Vero Profumo

A few years ago, Swiss aromatherapist-turned-perfumer Vero Kern released three extrait-strength fragrances that have since developed a loyal following. She has now formulated distinctly different, eau de parfum versions of her creations, thus providing an excellent opportunity for a showcase of her output so far.

The best place to start is probably with the friendly, easy-going extrait of Kiki, which must surely be a serious contender for the Finest Lavender Of All Time award. Reminiscent of Provencal sirop de lavande - with its lip-smacking balance of sweetness and freshness - it brings out all the most languid, romantic aspects of the plant's unmistakable scent. The familiar smokiness, the hints of pine and the visions of open skies are all placed on a rich gourmand base with the faintest touch of what my nose detects as patchouli. The eau de parfum is equally smooth and breathtaking, but it tips the balance more heavily in favour of the citrus top notes, at the expense of the caramelised conclusion. As a result, it's much sharper and more alert, but still suffused with the sparkling beauty of the Côte d'Azur.

The Rubj extrait takes us into far more dangerous territory. Picture a young, seductive Miss Havisham, surrounded by heavy drapes and vases of lethal blooms, and you've got a fairly accurate idea of how this juice operates. There's an almost tangible promise of salaciousness behind the jasmine-laden florals and plummy, fermenting fruit notes. A sense of contrast is provided by a judicious selection of woody, astringent ingredients, but the emphasis remains on the sort of decadence not evoked since Dior's Poison. The EDP comes as quite a surprise after the onslaught of its older sister. Although it is still structured around a floral heart, it's much greener and more diffusive, with a far weaker stress on the indolic notes, which have largely been replaced by the sweatiness of cumin. Opulence is sacrificed for the sake of approachability.

Onda's temperament demands firm handling, for this is one beast of a scent. The first words I wrote when I sprayed the extrait were, "powder, granite, steel," and that sense of powerful oddness remains throughout the fragrance's development. There's a fizz of ginger, a waft of incense, a scattering of spices, a blaze of leather, all of which resolve into a heavy vetivert. The effect is complex and compelling, and if you find the mossy denouement unsubtle, then you've probably missed the whole point of the experience. The eau de parfum may be a safer bet for more delicate souls. It dispenses almost completely with the mosses, giving the vetivert an opportunity to clear its throat and sing a melody that's cleaner and more buoyant. As a result, this version is less likely to offend, but I suspect that if you're the sort of person who's going to consider wearing it, you're not going to be satisfied with anything less than full throttle. Be brave: choose the extrait.

All six fragrances have a decidedly classical feel, although they're not in the least old-fashioned. With their high proportion of natural materials and their multi-layered aesthetic, they carry with them an endearing sense of a time when a perfume was an item purchased after careful deliberation. And although I think they'd all work equally well on both sexes, the sensual background they share perhaps invites the wearer to read them as a statement on three different aspects of female strength. In short, they're so thought-provoking and compelling that no serious follower of the niche market can afford not to try them, so if you haven't yet had the pleasure of a spray, you need to head over to

[Reviews based on samples of extrait and eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]



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