Friday, 31 May 2013

Persolaise Review: Eau De Nuit from Armani (Marie Salamagne; 2013)

Knock me down with a blotter and throw me in a barrel of Pink Friday: for once we have a mainstream scent that actually delivers on its promises! Armani's Eau De Nuit is designed to be an elegant evocation of the "moment when dusk blends into night"... and guess what: it pretty much is. My first encounter with it suggested that perhaps Marie Salamagne had spent too much time raiding Dior's back catalogue - the iris opening owes a considerable debt to Olivier Polge's Dior Homme - but other elements soon appear to dispel fears about homage slipping into pastiche.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

To Comment Or Not To Comment: Some Thoughts On Interacting With Perfume Blogs

I keep berating myself for not doing things I genuinely and sincerely want to do, but which I never seem to be able to do. As far as this post is concerned, I'm referring to the following: reading perfume blogs more often, leaving more comments on them and linking to them more frequently.

Friday, 24 May 2013

L'Artisan Parfumeur Closes London Boutique; Penhaligon's To Take Its Place

An extra post today to convey some news which many of you will no doubt be sorry to read. L'Artisan Parfumeur have announced that they are to close their sole UK boutique, located in London's Covent Garden; the last day of trading will be this Sunday, 26th May. Their office has informed me that this "strategic decision" will enable "the brand to focus on exciting new projects such as the re-design of its flagship boutique in Paris: La Grande Boutique, opposite Le Louvre." L'Artisan products will still be available at various department stores in the country, including Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty. However, as many of you are aware, these do not carry the brand's whole range; it seems the only way UK-based customers will now be able to purchase relatively more obscure products will be through

Persolaise Review: Sahara Noir from Tom Ford (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2013)

Is Tom Ford on a gender-bending mission? Last year he energised the masculine market with the female-friendly Noir (recent winner of the Perfume Extraordinaire award at the UK's FiFis). Now he's set an unabashedly male panther amongst the pigeons taking refuge in the ladies' counter with Sahara Noir, one of the most predatory, muscular scents we're likely to see from the mainstream this year.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Twenty Blotters For... Rodrigo Flores-Roux

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

I mean this as a compliment: Rodrigo Flores-Roux loves to talk. The Givaudan perfumer is a bundle of anecdotes, insights and witticisms, all of which he appears to be more than happy to share with anyone who shares his passion for perfumery. So when I had a chance to inflict my Twenty Blotters upon him in March at the London launch of the John Varvatos fragrances, I didn't have to work very hard to get him to open up. He read the first question, and he was off...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Persolaise Review: Gris Montaigne from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2013)

In the press release for the latest addition to the Collection Privée, Dior's in-house perfumer, François Demachy, is quoted as saying that the "chypre is the grey of the perfume family." A contentious statement if ever there was one - I certainly don't consider Mitsouko or the original Femme to be grey - but never mind, let's allow Monsieur Demachy his assertion for a moment. The real trouble is: I don't think Gris Montaigne is a chypre.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Buttons, Dots And A Whole Load Of Gatsby Dresses - London's FiFi Awards Ceremony

My FiFi evening began with a wardrobe malfunction. Just as Madame Persolaise and I were about to step onto the red carpet at the entrance to London's Brewery, I felt a gentle pop in the region of my midriff. My gaze fell to the ground. I saw a small, black button bounce along the cobble stones. Gaping wide open, my dinner jacket now displayed a few untidy strands of thread in the space which had only just been occupied by the wayward button. Madame P and I gave each other a worried glance, turned around and walked back out.

Friday, 17 May 2013

The (Not Entirely) Unbearable Lightness Of Lightness - Perfumes For Summer 2013

There was once a pot which called a kettle black. I try to remind myself of this each time I feel the urge to become snooty about so-called 'summer scents'. The truth is that although I now tend to treat them with the sort of disdain I reserve for McDonalds, Primark and TV talent shows, there was a time when I bought them, wore them and even - brace yourselves - enjoyed them. So in the interests of fairness and open-mindedness, I've decided to assess the merits of this year's motley assortment of 'light' perfumes vying for the attention of holidaymakers at Duty Free counters across the globe.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Off To FiFi 2013

Later today, I'll be attending the FiFi UK awards ceremony at The Brewery in London. I'll be particularly interested to find out who picks up the prizes for Best Independent Perfume and Perfume Extraordinaire, as these are the two categories for which I was one of the judges. All being well, I'll tweet the results as they're announced. If you'd like to join the conversation, please use #FiFiAwardsUK. You can follow all the action right here:

May the best scents win!


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Persolaise Review: Autoportrait from Olfactive Studio (Nathalie Lorson; 2011)

Most of the scents in the photography-inspired Olfactive Studio range possess an ingenuous, translucent signature which failed to seize my interest, but Nathalie Lorson's Autoportrait is an exception. Even though it's essentially a sleek vetivert, there's something about the way it combines the note with cedar, pepper and a surprisingly convincing aqueous facet which conveys a tremendous sense of nostalgia. Introspective, silent and filled with deep longing, it may not draw much attention to itself, but it never let's you forget that it's around... like the ghost of some long-buried memory, always flitting out of reach. Quietly haunting work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Bloom in 2013.]


Monday, 13 May 2013

Design With Scents Course At Kingston University

Perfume-related courses are few and far between, so it's often worth raising the profile of any which do materialise. The latest one to be brought to my attention is entitled Design With Scents and it'll be held from the 8th to the 12th of July at Kingston University, London. According to the official press release, the course will enable participants to "develop new design skills, explore the sense of smell, experiment with blending oils and receive their own personal fragrance kit." The tutors are Nicola Pozzani (formerly of Symrise and LVMH), Joanna Norman and John Ayres. Guest speakers will include Christophe Laudamiel (perfumer), Jenny Tillotson (Central St Martins), Will Andrews (Procter & Gamble) and Odette Toilette (Scratch & Sniff). For further information, please click here.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Persolaise Review: No 5 Culture Chanel exhibition at Palais De Tokyo, Paris

shadow of Main Gauche, bronze sculpture by Diego Giacometti, circa 1964 

Whilst flitting backwards and forwards between the artefacts displayed at Paris' No 5 exhibition, I ask myself which perfumes released in the last 20-or-so years could be called avant garde. Have the splintering effects of globalisation, Twitter and individualism made it impossible for anything to be considered truly radical these days? Or are there some recent scents which will eventually be seen as having re-shaped and defined the era in which they came to life?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

FiFi 2013 Perfume Extraordinaire Shortlist

As the date for the FiFi awards ceremony draws closer, the people at Fragrance Foundation UK are busily releasing the final category shortlists. One of the latest to emerge is perhaps the most intriguing: for Perfume Extraordinaire, the judges were asked to smell and wear completely anonymous perfumes which they then had to rate according to various criteria. They knew nothing about these perfumes apart from the fact that they have been made by large fragrance manufacturers (ie the Givaudans and the IFFs of the world). The idea behind restricting this category to the Big Boys is to provide them with an opportunity for their work to be assessed away from the glare of the marketing imagery and advertising hype which usually accompanies the perfumes they produce. Here's this year's shortlist (links are to my own reviews):

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

FiFi UK 2013 People's Choice Awards - Liz Earle Shortlisted Again

Wow, yet another victory for Liz Earle! Fragrance Foundation UK have released the shortlists for the People's Choice FiFi Awards (as voted for by visitors to and last year's rich floral finds itself singled out for recognition once again. Here are the complete shortlists (links are to my own reviews):

Friday, 3 May 2013

Persolaise Review: Oud Mood from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Francis Kurkdjian; 2013)

I guess it's not surprising that Francis Kurkdjian decided (or was persuaded?) to release more agar wood perfumes. His Oud was easily one of the best scents of 2012 and a genuinely original take on what has become a tiresome cliche. Sadly, his Oud Mood trio is less impressive. Silk, Velvet and Cashmere aren't cuddly - I will give them that much - but they're nowhere near as interesting as last year's release. The eponymous mood in each of them is created by a combo of an agar facet with an overdose of a strident chemical note: in Velvet it's paint, in Silk it's glass cleaner and in Cashmere it's glue. Needless to say, other elements come into play too - plums, raisins, rose, smoke, tar et al - but even though they're all strident and assertive, they ultimately fail to sustain interest. I'm sure there are still several great oud-based scents waiting to be made, but until they come along, I suppose we're going to have to keep putting up with this sort of highly-competent-yet-forgettable stuff.

[Review based on samples of extrait de parfum provided by Maison Francis Kurkdjian in 2013.]


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Perfume Bottles On Cosmopolitan UK

Since my video interview appeared on Cosmopolitan UK's website last week, I've received several emails asking me to identify the bottles on the table. From left to right, they are: Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens); Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (Hermès); Trayee (Neela Vermeire Creations); Lonestar Memories (Tauer Perfumes); Leather Oud (Christian Dior); Jasmin Et Cigarette (Etat Libre D'Orange); Beloved Woman (Amouage). I spent a fair amount of time talking about most of these scents, but I guess all that footage ended up on the cutting room floor...



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