Thursday, 28 February 2013

Does No. 5 Contain Bionic Moss?

Yesterday, during my interview with Talk Radio Europe, I was asked about the implications of the proposed anti-allergen legislation which received media attention last year. This led to a brief chat about the reformulation of certain classics, including, of course, No 5. And as it happens, last night, I was at a Chanel event in London, so I brought up the subject there too.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Today's Miss Dior Is Not Quite The Same As Yesterday's

I rarely paste excerpts from press releases on this blog; there are other sites that do a far better job than I ever could of keeping up with the stream of publicity material. But I thought a passage in one of the latest missives from Dior was worth sharing with you.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Persolaise Review: Cuir De Nacre + Perle De Mousse from Ann Gerard (Bertrand Duchaufour; 2012)

I should think the overlap between jewellery and fragrance is fascinating for perfumers to explore, and Bertrand Duchaufour certainly seems to have had a great deal of fun with the trio he's composed for Ann Gerard's scent debut. Always eager to explore his profession's past, he seems to have used Chanel's No 19 as the inspiration for Cuir De Nacre. But in order to give this impeccably white iris an intriguing twist, he's turned to one of his own creations: the metallic steam accord running through this scent's composition feels like its come straight from his Sartorial for Penhaligon's (which was, of course, an homage to a different form of fashion-world craftsmanship).

Friday, 22 February 2013

Persolaise Review: The Voice Of Reason, Flower's Barrow + Lord Of Goathorn from Gorilla Perfume (Simon & Mark Constantine; 2012)

It's one thing to start a perfume range with a large number of scents, but it's quite another to add 10 fragrances overnight to an existing - and well-regarded - portfolio. Call me suspicious, but it suggests a frantic, scattergun approach, and a certain lack of confidence in one's product. Still, this is exactly what the people behind Gorilla Perfume did last year. Instead of bringing one or two new creations to stand alongside Breath Of God, The Smell Of Freedom, Orange Blossom et al, they chose to create an entire sub-range which they've dubbed Volume 2 (and released in packaging illustrated in garish comic-book style by Steven Krakow aka Plastic Crimewave).

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Twenty Blotters For... Dora Arnaud

Pick a blotter... read the question... give a short, snappy answer!

I have a feeling we're going to hear Dora Arnaud's name more and more in the months to come. Her Opus VI for Amouage appeared on several bloggers' 'Best Of 2012' lists. She was selected to take part in Olfactive Studio's well-regarded 'fragrance-inspired-by-photography' project. And she was asked to compose the latest scent for L'Artisan Parfumeur - Caligna - which will form part of the brand's Grasse Collection. A full interview with her should appear here soon. But for now - just to whet your appetites - here's how the Firmenich perfumer responded to my Twenty Blotters treatment...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Persolaise Review: Cuir Velours from Naomi Goodsir (Julien Rasquinet; 2012)

It's so wonderful to be able to approach a perfume with almost no prior knowledge of its construction, especially when it turns out to be as impressive as Cuir Velours. One whiff, and I was plunged back into the childhood aromas I associate with hugs from aunties and grandmothers: lipstick that still smelt like lipstick; chalky face powder; rose-inflected body lotion; the leather of the handbag hanging off a shoulder; the fabric of a dress that's absorbed not the synthetic musks of a washing detergent, but the welcoming odour of its wearer.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Review Of Le Snob: Perfume On The Unseen Censer

My thanks to Judith of The Unseen Censer for a great review of my book. Here's a brief extract:

It’s beautifully made and clearly, helpfully written, and very rewarding whether you want to dip into it from time to time or read it cover to cover. You wouldn’t think such a small volume would be such a useful historical resource. But it nicely fills the gap between not knowing anything (about the existence of a classic perfume house called Caron, for instance) and the pages and pages of information on the web about Carons past and present, formulations and buying opportunities.

To read the rest of the review, please click on this link.


Friday, 15 February 2013

Persolaise Review: Beloved Man from Amouage (Alexandra Carlin; 2013)

It's not often I'm relieved to discover that a perfume is less than spectacular. I've got so many 'must buy' Amouages on my list, that the prospect of yet another one was giving me serious cause for worry in my all-too-rare moments of idleness. So, perversely, I am grateful that Beloved Man won't tempt me to part with my cash. When compared to last year's Beloved Woman - a far-reaching chypre composed by Bernard Ellena - it feels like something of a let-down. But taken on its own terms, it's a solid, competent, ambery-wood masculine.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Persolaise Review: La Fille De Berlin from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2013)

The latest from Lutens and Sheldrake is a delightful exercise in wrong-footing the wearer. At first, a potential buyer is likely to notice its colour: dense, purple and almost opaque, it wouldn't look out of place inside a bottle of Ribena. Then comes the name. Granted, 'The Girl From Berlin' doesn't necessarily conjure any specific olfactory references, but I'd argue that it channels visions of Sally Bowles and pre-war decadence, which would, in turn, suggest a bold, showy scent. And then of course there's the baggage surrounding Uncle Serge himself. Rightly or wrongly, his eponymous brand has become associated with the heavier end of the perfumery spectrum - as defined by western tastes - and the sight of a fragrance that looks like it's been squeezed out of a vat of ripe berries would seem to play right into such a reputation.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Look Good Feel Better & Selfridges Present Festival Of Fragrance

The UK branch of Look Good Feel Better has teamed up with Selfridges to put together a week-long Festival Of Fragrance at the beginning of March. I'm deeply honoured to have been asked to take part in the event's opening: an evening meal interspersed with presentations from passionate scentusiasts (including Odette Toilette, Vicci Bentley, Jo Fairley and yours truly) followed by an unprecedented, out-of-hours opportunity to go shopping in the perfumery department, mingle with fellow perfume lovers and, hopefully, raise funds for this wonderful cause.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Persolaise Review: Jour D'Hermès from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2012)

Although it's been around only for a couple of months, Jean-Claude Ellena's latest creation for Hermès' 'mainstream' collection has already attracted tremendous amounts of praise. Despite an embargo on media coverage (which ended on 1st February), several online critics have reviewed it in the most complimentary terms and some have gone so far as to place it on their list of the best releases of 2012. As an admirer of Ellena's work, I'm pleased by this reception; goodness knows the man gets more than his fair share of flak from some quarters and it's heart-warming to see him lavished with adulation. However, I confess that, in this case, I'm somewhat perplexed by the plaudits.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Persolaise Review: Tea For Two from L'Artisan Parfumeur (Olivia Giacobetti; 2000)

I have no problem at all with the fact that brands need to streamline their portfolios every now and then, but I confess I wanted to curse the gods of scent when I discovered that Tea For Two would be discontinued. For several years, Olivia Giacobetti's unique composition has been a reliable companion. It never disappoints when I want to smell an olfactory representation of a strong cuppa. It reminds me of the importance of delicate, house-of-cards balancing acts in perfume composition. And it suggests that there are still a few interesting avenues that could be explored in the land of orientals. With its lapsang smokiness, chai spices and good old Twinings bitterness (served on a base of restrained vanillic notes) it makes a compelling brew, as enjoyable as it is unusual. It's no longer available at L'Artisan boutiques, but as it was only recently deleted, there should still be plenty of bottles available online. How to get one's hands on them - given the recent tightening of air mail rules - is another matter!

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained in 2012.]

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

If The Devil Wears Prada, What Does The Haddock Wear?

If I were to say, "Women with fish lips," I suspect many of you would know what I'm talking about. Apparently it's called the California look: botox, plastic surgery and God-knows-what-else used in hellish combination to create a face that seems to have been cross-bred with a mackerel, stretched on a rack and then brought into contact with a swarm of irate bees. Get the idea?

Chanel 1932 Winner!

Image: Chanel

Sincere thanks to all of you who entered last week's draw for a sample of Chanel's brand new 1932. I genuinely enjoyed reading all your comments. However, we can have only one winner and according to, that lucky person is


Congrats! Please send your address to persolaise at gmail dot com and your prize will be on its way to you.

To everyone else: stay tuned for more give-aways in the weeks to come...


PS Don't you wish the prize had been the ring in the picture?

Friday, 1 February 2013

Love At Chapter One: Perfumes For Valentine's Day 2013

You won't be surprised to learn that I think my book would make an ideal present for Valentine's Day: it's pretty, it's entertaining and it might lead the scentusiast (or would-be scentusiast) in your life to all sorts of interesting scented discoveries. But today's post will go beyond mere self-promotion. To mark the time of year devoted to cupids, heart-shaped chocolates and overpriced flowers, how about a spot of geeky self-indulgence: a list of 5 of my favourite fictional couples, linked up with appropriate perfumes. Let's begin in Denmark...


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