Friday, 28 June 2013

Persolaise Review: George from Jardins D'Ecrivains (perfumer unknown; 2012)

The marketing of perfume tends to be an intensely gender-specific business, so it's always interesting to think about which materials and accords signify 'feminine' or 'masculine' at any given moment in time, within a specific culture. I wonder if this subject was on the mind of George's creator. As you might hope from a scent named after one of history's most well-known challengers of gender codes, this intriguing piece of work combines elements from both ends of the 'sexual stereotype' spectrum - neroli with tobacco, tomato leaf with incense, vanilla with patchouli - to make a coherent statement about the fluid nature of personal identities. When its rough-hewn, fleshy, heavily indolic jasmine heart leads to a drydown of near-tangible leather (a la Knize Ten) the final message seems to be clear: we're all made of the same stuff... but some of us are better than others at inhabiting our skin.

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


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Carlos Huber & Rodrigo Flores-Roux On The Magic Behind Arquiste

I've already hinted at the fact that Rodrigo Flores-Roux is a great interview subject: he talks at length, but he doesn't waffle, and he remains focussed on each question he's been asked. So when I wanted to find out more about his work on Carlos Huber's brand, Arquiste, all I had to do was spark a train of thought, sit back and listen.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Persolaise Review: Coming To My Senses by Alyssa Harad (2012) + A Give-Away!

In her Author’s Note at the start of Coming To My Senses, Texas-based Alyssa Harad explains that she decided not to reveal the identity of some of the perfumes she mentions in her book in order to “keep the emphasis on the description of their scents and the emotions they evoked at the moment.” I confess my heart sank a little when I read those words. The nerd in me had been hoping for a full-on frag-fest, filled with enough names, dates and Chandler Burr-style, behind-the-scenes anecdotes to give the indexing boffins at Google a hard time. But even though the first few pages of this extremely moving memoir made it clear that, on this occasion, my inner nerd would remain unsatisfied, in the end, I did get a frag-fest after all. It was different from the one I’d expected, but it turned out to be far more memorable than I'd anticipated.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Persolaise Review: Ylang 49 (Frank Voelkl) and Lys 41 (Daphné Bugey) from Le Labo (2013)


Wearing Ylang 49 has reminded me of a claim several perfumers have made about fragrance critics: apparently our noses are stuck in the past. According to the likes of Jean-Claude Ellena, Francis Kurkdjian and Thierry Wasser, amongst others, we judge current releases in terms of how closely they adhere to the styles and sensibilities of yesteryear. If my initial response to Frank Voelkl's latest creation for Le Labo is anything to go by, then they certainly have a point. During my first wearing of the scent, I filled my notebook with references to perfumes from previous decades, as well as terms such as "old school", "classical" and "bygone era". But it would be too simplistic - and inaccurate - to state that I admire this perfume purely because it speaks a language many modern creations appear to have forgotten. Because the truth is that although Ylang 49's soul seems to have been transported from a time when platform shoes and bell bottoms danced the night away beneath sparkling disco balls, its brain is very much a product of the 21st century.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Is Poison On Its Way Back? - A Perfume Trend For Winter 2013

Predicting trends is a dubious business: as long as you do it often enough, a few of your pronouncements will inevitably turn out to be correct. That's one of the main reasons I tend to avoid the practice. But the other day, when I heard yet another person utter a prophecy which I've heard several times in the last few weeks, I began to wonder if this particular piece of prescience might be more than empty PR talk. Here it is: apparently, this winter, we're going to be treated to an 80s, 'powerhouse perfume' revival.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Persolaise Review: Angel extrait from Thierry Mugler (Olivier Cresp & Yves De Chiris; 2006)

I don't really like Angel. There, I've said it. I acknowledge that it is a supremely well-made fragrance with an important place in perfume history, but in terms of my personal taste, I've always found it shrill, cloying and unsophisticated. Until I discovered the extrait. That's when I began to appreciate the fuss on a visceral level. Funnily enough, many die-hard Angel edp fans I've spoken to don't like the parfum, so perhaps this means that the most concentrated iteration of Mugler's bestseller is Angel for people who don't like Angel. It isn't vastly different from the eau de parfum - the two are recognisable as very closely related members of the same family - but its coffee-patchouli-candy combo is much darker, weightier and considerably more grown up. Most importantly, it's the extrait which fully justifies the use of the term 'gourmand': the foodie aspects are so profound here, each time you smell the stuff, there's nothing you can do to stop your salivary glands from putting on a performance of Pavlovian proportions. Yes, the parfum is perhaps less playful and frivolous that the edp - which may in turn mean that it entirely misses the point of Angel - but I'm quite happy to sacrifice a brief tryst for a more lasting commitment.

[Review based on a sample of parfum obtained in 2013.]


Friday, 14 June 2013

Wrath In A Bottle - Seven Sinfully Angry Perfumes

This time, I seriously considered throwing in the towel. When Carrie asked us to pick one of the seven deadly sins for our next joint-list project, I immediately claimed 'wrath' for myself - thinking it might yield more interesting results than the overtly perfume-oriented 'lust' - but as the weeks passed, I wondered if I'd made the right choice. I could think of plenty of fragrances which induce boiling anger within me (Taj Sunset, Pink Friday, most things by Creed...) but very few which, in themselves, convey vexation. Of course, this isn't exactly surprising. When they're trying to balance artistic expression with commercial viability, perfumers tend to reach for those emotional states which are often labelled 'positive': love, joy, happiness, liberation, optimism et al. Wrath would probably be seen as a PR nightmare by marketing departments, hence the fact that it's conspicuous by its absence on department store shelves.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Alberto Morillas On Making Amouage's Opus VII

When I chatted with Alberto Morillas at the London launch of Penhaligon's Iris Prima (the full interview will appear on Basenotes) I asked him about co-authoring Amouage's Opus VII with Pierre Negrin. As soon as I handed him a blotter onto which I'd sprayed the scent - just to jog his memories of working on it - he closed his eyes, smiled and let out a deep sigh.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Death By Candy: Eva Wiseman On The Power Of Scent

A few weeks ago, the consistently readable Eva Wiseman addressed the topic of scent in her Observer Magazine column. Here's an extract:

Friday, 7 June 2013

Persolaise Review: Eau De Mandarine Ambrée from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2013)

You can't blame me for getting excited by the prospect of two new colognes from Jean-Claude Ellena. If there's one thing the man knows how to do well, it's producing light scents which don't leave their brain cells at the entrance to the lemon grove. Taken as a whole, his Jardin series is probably one of the most intelligent expressions of verdancy the perfume world has seen in this century. His Déclaration for Cartier manages to combine authoritative woods and spices with carefree weightlessness. And of course his Cologne Bigarade for Frederic Malle is quite simply one of the most life-affirming, exuberant delights ever bottled. So expectations were high for his two additions to Hermès' well-regarded cologne range.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rodrigo Flores-Roux On Re-Making Fougère Royale For Houbigant

When I met Rodrigo Flores-Roux at the London launch of the John Varvatos range of scents, I asked him about his work on the reformulated, 2010 version of Fougère Royale, a creation which he called "a complicated thing". Would someone smelling the original and the current version be able to smell the difference between the two?

Monday, 3 June 2013

Looking For The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

It's time for me to lock the study door, pull down the blinds and calm my nerves with a sniff of my beloved Habit Rouge. The Invasion Of The Day Job is here again. Those of you who've been kind enough to read my blog for a while will know that this is the time of year when the demands of my non-perfume-related employment spill over into my evenings (and weekends... and sleeping hours...) with the result that the amount of time left for any other pursuits is pretty much ZERO. Fear not: I've set up several posts to pop up automatically over the course of the next few weeks, so hopefully, you won't notice my absence.

Enough chatter from me. There's a chair to which I need to glue myself...



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