Friday, May 11, 2012

Persolaise Review: Precious One from Precious + Idole eau de parfum from Lubin + Flora By Gucci Gracious Tuberose from Gucci (2011)


Somewhere, tucked away in an inconspicuous building not far from the City of London, is a perfumer who delights in reminding us what fragrance used to be like. And she should know: if Angela Flanders reads this blog she probably won't mind my saying that she no longer falls into the 'spring chicken' category. But then age is a state of mind, right? And the hearts of Flanders' best perfumes beat with more energy than the combined vital signs of the sheep-like, pre-25 fashionistas queuing for Marni's H&M collection.

It's interesting to compare her output with that of Vero Kern, another perfumer who is currently enjoying the twilight stage of her life. Both of them favour boldness and a directness of approach, almost as though they wish to impress upon younger generations that time mustn't be wasted on wishy washy uncertainty. Their fragrances are the olfactory equivalent of carpe diem, casting aside reticence and making a virtue of asserting one's place in the world with firmness and a certain amount of showiness.

Precious One - created for Flanders' daughter's boutique, Precious - shows the perfumer at her most uncompromising. Indeed, such is the strength of the scent's character, that it's fairly hard to describe (usually a sign of a skilfully composed blend). It could be called a vetivert, but that wouldn't begin to convey its complexity, because here, the star ingredient is acrid and metallic, as though it's come into contact with a vat of Byredo's M/MInk. It features a nocturnal, velvety moss aspect which justifies the 'chypre' label bestowed by its creator. And it also carries a strong sense of the powdery heat created by home baking, not unlike the effect of Jean-Claude Ellena's Bois Farine, although here the temperature is cranked much higher.

Wearing it on skin is a downright fascinating experience: the scent hovers around you with a life of its own, connecting with your flesh whenever it feels so inclined, but more often than not keeping itself at an imperceptible remove, like some quasi-futuristic body suit made of roots, leaves and bits of steel. And as if all that weren't compelling enough, the drydown - which doesn't really make itself known until about the fifth hour of the scent's development - forms a suitably resinous, balsamic denouement to the fiery woods that precede it. In short, Precious One reminds us that most of the stuff that passes for 'perfume' these days doesn't possess enough character to make it to the bargain bin at TK Maxx, let alone stand the test of time and become a classic. A real gem.

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In brief... Whilst we're on the subject of free-spirited femininity, I ought to mention the new eau de parfum concentration of Olivia Giacobetti's Idole for Lubin. Contained in a bottle that's somewhat more politically correct than that of the edt, it remains one of the most cavernous, primal amber orientals on the market. Saffron, rum, leather, incense, tons of patchouli and, of course, vanilla weave a spell that's as potent, unforgettable and, at times, frightening as the experience of reading Conrad's Heart Of Darkness in one sitting. Unsurprisingly, the edp is heavier than the original, which does it mean that it doesn't breathe as freely, but it's also more insistent and much, much harder to ignore. Lubin's marketing ploy is to sell it as "a tribute to bold women," which is fine, as long as men are allowed to get in on the tribute act too.

Finally, I'm tempted to steal an idea from the Luca Turin Book Of One-Line Put-Downs and dismiss Gucci's Flora Gracious Tuberose simply by saying that it's not a tuberose. However, I will go one step further and add that it's an insipid, unremarkable, off-white floral with no distinguishing features whatsoever. Oh, and it's not gracious either.

[Review of Precious One based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Angela Flanders in 2012; review of Idole based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Lubin in 2012; review of Flora By Gucci Gracious Tuberose based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Gucci in 2012.]

Persolaise.

10 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to sampling Idole edp! I really like the original but it left me wanting *more*.

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    1. Rosarita, the EDP is very interesting. In some ways, it's less radiant, but it's much deeper and denser. I lost count of the number of compliments I got when wearing it.

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  2. I've never heard of Angela Flanders before, Persolaise, thanks for the review. I've just put in a sample order with her.

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    1. Dionne, you're very welcome. Let me know what you make of them when they arrive.

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  3. Precious One sounds amazing, a must try!

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    1. It's very intriguing and I'm sure some will find it too odd to wear.

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  4. I am a huge fan of Idole EDP. Gorgeous, unisex, noticeable, but not pushy.

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    1. Cheryl, I really like it too. And I've long been a fan of the EDT.

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  5. Hmmmm.... I can see a return trip to Precious in my future!

    I've been there before, as it's not too far from my office. I've already got Xanadu, Ambre Noir and Seville. I've been thinking of trying Precious One for a while. Your description has really intrigued me, now.

    Even if it's not for me, visiting Precious is a pleasant experience. The SAs are so nice, and knowledgeable. The first time I went there, I got lost ;-). It's not the easiest place to find, especially since Streetmap puts their postcode somewhere inside the station, instead of across the road!

    So I arrived five minutes before they closed. But they couldn't have been nicer, they gave me plenty of time to sniff, sample and choose.

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    1. Tania, I confess I've never been to Precious, although I have been to Angela's own shop, of course.

      You must let me know what you make of Precious One. It's one of the most intriguing things I've smelt in ages.

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