Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reviews: Cologne Du Parfumeur from Guerlain (2010), Un Jardin Sur Le Toit from Hermès (2011) & Aqua Universalis Forte from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (2011)


I may be a fan of Absolue Pour Le Soir, but Maison Francis Kurkdjian's other releases never tempt me to reach for my credit card, so I was wary of trying this new, stronger version of Aqua Universalis, to which FK has attached the suffix 'Forte' (I presume 'Intense' and 'Extreme' are now passé). The original's clean citrus accord is so safe as to be almost insipid - probably because it falls into the trap of equating 'universal' with 'lowest common denominator' - but I'm pleased to say that the latest addition to the range is a far more interesting proposition. Inspired to create it whilst testing a batch of bergamot from a prospective supplier, Kurkdjian has bolstered the hesperidic notes, fleshed out the hay-and-tobacco base and livened up the contrasting sprinkle of sweetness. The result is effervescent and amiable, and whilst this isn't a gourmand scent, wearing it does at times feel like enjoying a slice of chilled lime cheesecake on a bright summer's day.

The sunny season can also be detected in Hermès' fourth entry in their garden series: Un Jardin Sur Le Toit. As you'd expect, this is an unostentatious affair, but instead of featuring Jean-Claude Ellena's characteristic, glass-like transparency, it diffuses the light, as though inviting us to imagine that its roof-top idyll is concealed behind a fine mist of rain. Consequently, it isn't as sparkling as it might have been, but still offers plenty of sniff-value. There's a suggestion of fresh herbs, green tomatoes and pale melons, all of which resolve themselves into a lychee and rose accord that's both comfortable and intriguing. I confess I was hoping to smell something with an urban edge - if this is a city garden, where are the exhaust fumes and the wet concrete? - but as an evocation of a tranquil space within the madding crowd, it works well.

Perhaps my contrary nature got the better of me, but our recent bout of warmer weather found me avoiding Kurkdjian's and Ellena's more artful offerings and opting for the modern simplicity of Thierry Wasser's Cologne Du Parfumeur. Guerlain's in-house nose hasn't had an easy ride since he pinned his bee brooch to his lapel, largely because so many people were disappointed with Idylle, but I'd like to think that his best is yet to come. This cologne - released in a flacon that makes a point of bearing his name - shows once again that when he's not being crushed by the weight of market research, he's capable of producing eminently wearable little gems. Taking his cue from what a true cologne is meant to be like - invigorating, luminous and fleeting - Wasser highlights the woods and the rosemary, takes the edge off the citrus and tones down the musks. Many consider Chanel's Les Exclusifs Eau De Cologne to be the epitome of this genre, and whilst I agree that it's an impressive piece of work, I also think it could do with being a bit more cheerful. Wasser's effort is a smile in a bottle, giving you just what you want in every spritz: an instant, uncomplicated lift.

[Review of Aqua Universalis Forte based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2011; review of Un Jardin Sur Le Toit based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2011; review of Cologne Du Parfumeur based on a sample of eau de cologne provided by Guerlain in 2011; all fragrances tested on skin; for more reviews of some of these fragrances, please visit Now Smell This, Bois De Jasmin and 1000 Fragrances. Cologne Du Parfumeur will be released in the UK on 8th May and will be available exclusively at Harrods.]

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I know you don't need me to tell you this, but it's the first of May, which means that perfume-lovers across the world will be reaching for their lily of the valley fragrances. I think I'll probably mark the occasion by permitting myself one spray from my tiny vial of Carillon Pour Un Ange. What about you?

Persolaise.

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