Friday, August 31, 2012

Persolaise Review: SE1 + N6 + W1X + EC2 from Bex London (2012)


I don't envy anyone trying to start a niche perfume brand today. In an environment where over 1000 fragrances are released every year, standing out from the crowd is virtually impossible unless you have a truly original scent or substantial amounts of cash to spend on publicity. Needless to say, many new brands have neither, and their products dwindle away into obscurity.

On the face of it, Rebecca Goswell has done everything right. She's unified her debut scents with a simple, unpretentious theme: London locations. She's given them clever names: London postcodes. And she's commissioned the services of a perfumer with an excellent pedigree: Francois Robert, who just happens to be the son of the late Guy Robert. And yet, despite all this, her Bex range fails to get Big Ben ringing with excitement.

I'd say the reason is the fragrances themselves. There isn't anything especially wrong with any of them, but nowadays, a start-up cannot afford to be merely competent: the attention of potential customers has to be grabbed in no uncertain terms, as ELDO proved with their polarising Secretions Magnifiques. So, for instance, EC2 does a decent job of presenting aromatic, 80s-style masculine notes (rosemary, thyme, juniper) against a musky background, but it doesn't have anything novel to offer. N6's rosy heart is pretty, but too thin to be memorable, and certainly too calorie-free to be the gourmand that the publicity material would have us believe it is.

SE1 fares better: inspired by the South Bank's trade routes, it opens with a wonderful presentation of spices (from cardamom to cloves to pepper) but its vetivert base isn't as substantial - or as tenacious - as one would have hoped. The highlight of the quartet is probably W1X, a carroty, almost medicinal iris which never lets its floral heart become too comfortable and eventually settles on an interesting, powdery drydown. 'Highlight' is, of course, a relative term, and although W1X is enjoyable, it doesn't have the personality to make itself indispensable.

Who knows? Perhaps Goswell has the time and the resources to allow Bex to find an audience and develop a following. I certainly wish the brand well, but I rather suspect that it may have to make a more radical statement if it hopes to achieve enduring success.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de toilette provided by Bex London in 2012.]

Persolaise.

12 comments:

  1. Where is your support for a 'local' niche house start-up?

    -"I certainly wish the brand well, BUT....." -passive aggression at best, downright malicious at worst.

    Shame on you Persolaise. No freebies from this company perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen, thanks for writing. At the end of each review, I always try to remember to mention if samples of the scents in question were provided by the brand or if I obtained them myself. This never has any bearing on how I review the perfumes.

      In this particular case, the samples were provided by the brand.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the review.

    For what its worth, I don't think you sounded aggressive or malicious.

    Also, I don't think you should be influenced by whether a brand is local to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenty, thanks for your comment. I certainly try not to be biased by where a brand comes from.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for these even-handed reviews, Persolaise. And also for bringing this new brand to my attention. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

    Emma V

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    Replies
    1. Emma V, thanks for writing. I'm not sure where you're based, but in London, you can try the perfumes at Les Senteurs.

      Delete
  4. Great reviews. I always worry when a brand starts with more than 3 frags. It makes me think they're not that confident in them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Preeya. I know what you mean. But I think the current received wisdom is that you can't launch a brand with only one scent. I'm not sure I agree...

      Delete
  5. I saw nothing passive aggressive or malicious in your review. It was a critique and as such your assessment of the scents allowed your readers to experience what you feel is their merit or lack of merit. I found it to be very well written and helpful. There are so many niche brands and more launching each day, I for one am very happy to have the opinion of an expert who cares passionately about perfumes share his opinion. It enlightens those of us who may not have the expertise and educates all of us. How boring it would be were all comments and reviews based on only the good and biased toward location of the creator. The only thing I found malicious was the comment on your critique accusing you of being malicious... disagreements do not have to be mean spitited just intelligently presented.

    Thank you Persolaise for your always well considered and intelligently presented postings on the wonderful world of fragrance.

    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, thanks for taking the time to write. I'm glad you found the reviews helpful.

      Delete
  6. As someone who myself is provided samples by companies, I feel your reviews were balanced and fair. I see no reason to write favourably about perfumes just because they are local - that would be ridiculous. I'm all for promoting and encouraging local brands, but they need to be able to stand on their own and be judged on merit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael, thanks very much for your comment. I must say I agree that a 'local' brand shouldn't necessarily receive preferential treatment.

      Delete

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