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.]



  1. I highly recommend The Smell of Freedom too. I have both the solid stick and atomizer and the smell is so incredible - warm and spicy almost at times, and refreshing and crisp at others.

  2. Liam J, I absolutely agree. It manages to present all sorts of interesting contrasts between light and darkness.

  3. Please can you review Gorilla's Breath of God when it's available? how bizarre (not to mention grim) does that sound... but I'm sure you'll read as intended.

  4. Sue, thanks for writing. Breath Of God was released a few years ago in the BNTBTBB range and I managed to have a very brief sniff of it in a shop. I wasn't overly impressed, but several critics rate it very highly. I will definitely have to give it another chance when it appears under the Gorilla banner, and I'll be sure to try it on my skin this time. Lush/Gorilla use quite a high percentage of naturals in their formulae, which means the perfumes don't show off all their nuances until they're placed against the warmth and chemistry of human flesh.

  5. I love their Mange Too massage bar, which I use as a yummy-smelling moisturiser. It's based on vanilla and white chocolate and very moreish, although some might consider it too (tout?) sweet.

  6. Sue, I haven't tried that one, although it does sound as though it might be a bit much, but then some people can't get enough vanilla.

  7. I'm so thrilled you reviewed Orange Blossom and is a fan of the brand! OB is by far one of my favourite releases of last year - it makes me smile with its almost dirty butteriness, yet fresh warmth. Have you tried The Smell of Weather Turning? I'm still undecided about that one, but something makes me return to my sample time and time again.

    I had the great privilege of meeting Pia Long recently - a lovely lady and young perfumer at Gorilla. We had such a good time geeking out about the line and all things perfume!

  8. Jaacq, I really love Orange Blossom; I put it on my list of favourite perfumes of 2010.

    I also reviewed The Smell Of Weather Turning and Breath Of God in November.

    And as for Pia, yes, I've exchanged a few emails with her, and she seems wonderful. You may already know this, but the Lush site has just posted an audio recording of a recent interview with her.

  9. Wonderful - I'll have a listen right now. Thank you!


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