Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Enigmatic Illusionist - An Interview With Jean-Claude Ellena

It's interesting to consider why Jean-Claude Ellena attracts as much reverence as he does. The simplest explanation might be that he deserves it for his work. After all, Déclaration, Terre D'Hermès, Eau Parfumée Eau Thé Vert and Bois Farine, amongst many others, are perennial best sellers with passionately loyal fans. But then, Ellena isn't the only perfumer to have forged a successful career.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Persolaise Review: Santal Majuscule from Serge Lutens + Alien eau de toilette + Alien Essence Absolue from Thierry Mugler + Amazingreen from Comme Des Garçons (2012)

Image: Papillio

Asking whether a perfume contains real East Indian sandalwood is almost as pointless as asking whether it contains real oud: as has been widely reported, the finest quality of the stuff is very difficult to source and extremely expensive to purchase. But this doesn't mean that skilled perfumers can't use the other ingredients at their disposal (notably the Australian variant) to produce convincing sandalwood effects in their scents, as we've seen with the recent Santal 33 (Le Labo) and Santal Blush (Tom Ford). Serge Lutens already has several much-loved sandalwood scents in his portfolio (Santal De Mysore and Santal Blanc, to name two) but he has now decided to revisit the ancient material, via the themes which inspired 2011's Jeux De Peau. The result of his olfactory rumination is Santal Majuscule, one of the heaviest, most mellifluous releases we've seen from the house for a few years.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Pause Button: Summer 2012

For the next few weeks, I'm going to try to focus my attention not on my laptop, but on the business of getting some much-needed rest and relaxation, which means this blog will be set to auto-pilot. Several reviews have been scheduled to appear between now and the end of August, including Lutens' Santal Majuscule, Guerlain's re-working of La Petite Robe Noire and Dior's parfum version of Eau Sauvage. In addition, there'll be a lengthy interview with none other than Jean-Claude Ellena, so hopefully you won't miss me too much. And you never know, I might just reappear to give you the odd update if something interesting happens.

Be good while I'm away, and be sure to come back in September for a chance to win a signed copy of Ellena's new book.


Friday, 20 July 2012

Persolaise Review: Celtic Fire + Quince, Mint & Moss + Holy Thistle + Gothic Bluebell from Union + Diamond Jubilee Bouquet from Grossmith (2012)

It's always tricky going for a unifying theme when creating a fragrance range. Some ideas seem more forced than others: the 'Indian history' approach of Neela Vermeire Creations generally attracted praise whereas the highfalutin', pseudo-evolutionary 'biology project' behind Blood Concept mostly raised chortles of derision. The founders of Union (apparently all we can be told about them is that they're four "successful businessmen") decided that their Big Idea would be that all of the natural ingredients in their perfumes would have to be grown, sourced and/or produced on the British Isles. If any of the required materials weren't already available, they'd have to be manufactured somehow.

Monday, 16 July 2012

If You're Going To Criticise Someone's Work...

Yesterday, The Observer published Rachel Cooke's review of Jean-Claude Ellena's new book. Sadly, her appraisal did little more than remind me that mainstream media really shouldn't tackle the subject of perfume unless they're 100% confident they know what they're doing. In my hastily-written response to the newspaper, I stated that Ms Cooke is entitled to her opinion on the merits of Ellena's prose, but that she could have ventured beyond just one 'expert source' for an assessment of his perfumery.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Persolaise Review: Peoneve from Penhaligon's (2012) + Sepia (2012) + Secret Garden (2011) from Aftelier

In the catalogue of olfactory families, there’s a sub-set of florals that do everything they should with no unnecessary fanfare. They’re clever without being show-offs. They display excellent tenacity without any stickiness. They smell familiar without descending into cliches. The latest addition to this eternally happy category is Peoneve.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Twenty Blotters For... Olivier Cresp + A Story About Angel

Although the man himself may need an introduction, his work almost certainly doesn't. Elle (YSL), Dune Pour Homme (Dior), Midnight Poison (Dior), Light Blue (Dolce & Gabbana) and of course Angel (Mugler) owe either a part or the whole of their existence to Olivier Cresp, the Grasse-born perfumer whose work has consistently achieved success for decades. I met him at Penhaligon's recent launch of Peoneve* and decided he was an excellent candidate for the Twenty Blotters treatment. Here are his responses to the questions which he randomly picked from my stash:

Monday, 9 July 2012

Any Questions For Jean-Claude Ellena? + Guess What: More Oud

Just a few quickies from me today. Firstly, it was wonderful to see an article on Basenotes last Tuesday reporting the imminent publication of my perfume guide. Please click here if you'd like to read it. And secondly, later this week, I'll be attending the UK launch of Jean-Claude Ellena's new book, The Diary of A Nose. The man himself will be there too and I suspect guests will be given an opportunity to talk to him, so if you'd like me to ask him any questions on your behalf, please send them my way. You can leave them as a comment on this post, or pop them in an email to persolaise at gmail dot com.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Persolaise Review: Interlude Man + Interlude Woman from Amouage + Light Blue Dreaming In Portofino + Light Blue Living Stromboli from Dolce & Gabbana (2012)

The subject of inspiration in perfumery often attracts sniggers. According to some critics, it's acceptable for a creator to claim that a particular scent emerged from the experience of smelling a vintage fragrance or visiting a certain city, but in their view, anything more profound than this should be dismissed as PR guff. I'd say they ought to re-assess their understanding of the word 'inspiration'.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

It's Official: Women Prefer Musky Toilets

I try to resist the pressure to think about and assess perfume in terms of inter-sex relations. But I was prompted to re-consider my stance by a fascinating Robin Dunbar piece which appeared in a recent edition of The Observer. Here are two extracts:

Monday, 2 July 2012

Issey Miyake Interview + 2012 Hall Of Fame On Basenotes

Some of you will recall that in May, I published the list of nominees for the FiFi UK 2012 Hall Of Fame. The winner was determined by votes that were cast during the award ceremony and the three finalists turned out to be No 5 (Chanel), Eau Sauvage (Dior) and Angel (Mugler). Many of you will already be aware that the latter came out on top.


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