Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Persolaise Review: La Fin Du Monde from Etat Libre D'Orange (Quentin Bisch; 2013)

There are several reasons to be excited about La Fin Du Monde. Firstly, it's this year's only release from Etat Libre D'Orange, a house which consistently manages to combine quirkiness with quality. As per usual, the scent's name suggests that it's a reflection of founder Etienne De Swardt's anarchic streak. But its inspiration is much more than some vague, playful notion of the apocalypse. According to the ELDO press release, it is, in fact, a Blaise Cendrars book entitled The End Of The World Filmed By The Angel Of Notre Dame, in which the death of the universe is a movie (of sorts) depicting a cosmic cataclysm, followed by a rewind to life as it was pre-oblivion: "Back in Paris, the buses and cars are moving. Crowds bustle around the Square of Notre Dame." A curious narrative, ripe for olfactory interpretation.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Persolaise Review: Bottega Veneta Pour Homme from Bottega Veneta (Daniela Andrier & Antoine Maisondieu; 2013)

I keep smelling Amouage's Epic Man everywhere! Perhaps the substances responsible for its distinctive, ghosts-of-antiquity woodiness are becoming more readily available to perfumers. Or maybe other brands just want to have their own version of Christopher Chong's secret chest of treasures. Whatever the reason, shades of Epic's identity can be found in Cuir 28 (Le Labo's new Antaeus-on-a-flying-carpet, exclusive to Dubai) and the subject of this review: Bottega Veneta's first scent aimed at men. It starts off a touch too sharp (for a moment, you wonder if it's going to drag you down into the corner of 80s hell inhabited by Drakkar Noir) but then it warms up into a spicy, peppered incense, bolstered by skin-caressing musks. The tannery is kept a safe distance away - the volume knob remains one notch above 'discreet' at all times - and the feminine BV is alluded to with a violet facet, made more conventionally masculine with the inclusion of pine-inflected notes. It isn't ground-breaking, but as far as mainstream releases for men go, it is highly commendable stuff. Don't walk past it without indulging in a quick spritz.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Bottega Veneta in 2013.]


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

As Playful As Ever? - New TV Ads for Gaultier's Classique And Le Male

At the recent London launch of the new TV advert for Gaultier's Classique and Le Male, Isabelle Fulconis* claimed that one of the main challenges faced by the team responsible for the campaign was finding a way to remain transgressive. "How can we fly in the face of convention," she said, "when so many of those conventions have fallen down?"

Friday, 18 October 2013

Persolaise Review: London, Tobacco Oud, Oud Fleur & Oud Wood from Tom Ford (2013)

Back when YSL's M7 was worthy of the image of a naked, hairy martial arts expert, I bought myself a bottle of one of the scent's ancillary products, a so-called Moisturizing Body Lotion. It's still in my collection, and every now and then, I dig it out for a quick sniff. I have no doubt that the Derma Cops would say the stuff is now well past its sell-by date and shouldn't be placed anywhere near human skin. But as it hasn't done me any harm yet, I shall continue to revisit it and enjoy the perfect timbre of its hyper-masculine woodiness.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Who Do You Work For? - Thoughts On Blogs And Perfume Criticism

In his editorial in the current issue of Sight & Sound, Nick James considers recent developments in the world of film criticism. He explains that many newspapers have closed down their arts departments. Uncertainty surrounds the perceived influence of the internet. And several stalwarts of the UK critical establishment have, for various reasons, penned their final words in the last few months, with the result that there's a great deal of new blood around. In relation to this particular point, James writes

Friday, 11 October 2013

Persolaise Review: The Odd Fellow's Bouquet from Atkinsons (Fabrice Pellegrin; 2013)

Fabrice Pellegrin is particularly skilled at finding a balance between accessibility and distinctiveness. In The Odd Fellow's Bouquet (one of two works he's created for the revived house of Atkinson's, the other being the soft-hued lily dubbed The Nuptial Bouquet) he manages to convey a decidedly masculine feel (courtesy of pale tobacco, well-worn leather and blown-out matches) with a truly surprising blend of rose, effervescent ginger, dark liquorice, dawn in an Alpine forest, straggly mosses and the curious, part-terpenic, part-phenolic, 'powdered chemicals' odour of pharmacies circa 1984. The overall effect is difficult to describe - which is why it's so compelling - but if you can picture a bow-tie-wearing gent wielding a cigar in one hand whilst sprinkling pine needles onto a child's chemistry set with the other, then you're heading in the right direction. An example of 'heritage' scent creation as it ought to be executed (ie equal amounts of healthy respect for both past and present), this is one case where 'odd' is delightfully, refreshingly apposite.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Atkinson's in 2013.]


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Make Perfume Not War - Histoires De Parfums' Gérald Ghislain Turns To Charity

A few days ago, I bemoaned perfume brands' growing reliance on unconvincing stories to sell their wares. Well, round about the same time, as if on cue, an email popped into my Inbox from Histoires De Parfums' founder Gérald Ghislain, containing a 'story' infinitely more meaningful than the usual run of scented narratives. Ghislain has set up a charity he's called Make Perfume Not War which aims "to finance associations and charitable projects that promote and enhance the development and well-being of children worldwide through education, the arts, sports, technology and microfinance."

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Rise And Rise Of The In-House Perfumer - Persolaise In The Financial Times

What will Jacques make for these Louis Ladies?

Jasmine Award-winner Emma Hill has just had a brief piece published in the Financial Times on the subject of in-house perfumers. I'm mentioning it partly because it features a quote from yours truly, but also because it's well worth reading, so please click here to be redirected to it.


Friday, 4 October 2013

Persolaise Review: 1996 from Byredo (Jérôme Epinette; 2013)

I don't envy perfume brands the task of coming up with a 'story' for a new release. It's a thankless job, fraught with paradoxes. If the perfume is sub-standard, its accompanying narrative is seen as a underhanded way of concealing its shortcomings. But if it's any good, then it stands on its own two feet and abandons the need for extra support. Byredo's new 1996 is a case in point. I can just see sales assistants having hours of fun with all its fancy trimmings: it's named after a photo called Kirsten 1996 taken by fashion darlings Inez & Vinoodh; oh, look, you can see the photo on the packaging; the scent was originally a not-for-sale, limited edition, but it generated such a buzz (quelle surprise!) that it simply had to be made publicly available. All of this may well be true, but it's also terribly yadda yadda yadda, because the only thing you really need to know about 1996 is that it's a great piece of work.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I Love You, Man - Male Relationships In Pictures

My recent review of Aramis' Perfume Calligraphy Rose and my suggestion that Etro's current male clothing collection would go well with Tauer's Une Rose Chypree prompted several interesting emails from readers on the subject of gender politics and which perfumes are 'appropriate' for guys. As chance would have it, a few days ago, a relative sent me a link to a piece on the Art Of Manliness site which uses a fascinating stash of old photos to explore attitudes towards masculine sexuality and relationships between men. Do take a moment to check it out, even if only to look at the pictures. As the article suggests, to a certain extent, we are all constructs of the cultures which have shaped us. If we choose to ignore this, we do so at our peril and at the risk of succumbing to the corrosive effects of bigotry and narrow-mindedness. I leave you with this thought as I reach for a quick spritz of Nahema.



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