Friday, 29 November 2013

Persolaise Review: Épice Marine from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2013)

If only all press packs were as helpful as the one for Épice Marine. Amongst the various bits and pieces of info provided by Hermès for this latest addition to the Hermessence collection is an extract from a diary Jean-Claude Ellena kept whilst he was creating the scent. Such is its clarity, that I feel compelled to reproduce sections of it here. The first is from October 2011 and it recounts a meeting in Northern France between the gnomic perfumer and chef Olivier Roellinger, after which the former decided to create a scent "on the theme of spices but blended with the invigorating smells of the Brittany coast." The initial step was to extract an oil from roasted cumin seeds. Ellena writes,

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

From Mick To Madonna - The Winner Of The Etat Libre D'Orange Competition

A big Thank you to everyone who entered last week's Etat Libre D'Orange competition. From your submissions, it looks as though you had tremendous fun trying to match the various public figures to the brand's scents. I confess I did chuckle when I saw how many of you reckoned that David Beckham would be paired up with Delicious Closet Queen (Freudian slip or wishful thinking?) and also when it became clear that most of you had decided poor Paris Hilton couldn't be anything other than a Hotel Slut. But of course, the person whose views matter the most in this situation is Etienne De Swardt. So here comes the reveal you've been waiting for, complete with the man's comments and explanations:

Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas 2013 Perfume Gift Recommendations - Little Black Dresses, Smoky Vanillas... And A Good Read

Please don't mention sprouts or cranberries. I haven't even done my cards yet! And as for presents... well, I expect there'll be a fair amount of mad dashing around in the next few weeks. But to get myself in a gift-giving mood - and to offer inspiration to those of you struggling to find something suitable for the scentusiasts in your life - I'm going to ward off my foray into the retail rat race a little longer and indulge in some Yuletide list-making. So mull that wine, jingle that bell, mince that pie and allow the delights of Persolaise's Christmas 2013 recommendations to cascade upon you like thick gravy smothering a plateful of sizzling roasties. Enjoy!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Smell Of Half A Century - Doctor Who Discovers Perfume On The Programme's 50th Anniversary

Image: Grant Osborne

Geek Alert: this could be the nerdiest piece I've ever written!

Doctor Who, the world's longest-running sci-fi TV series, is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary... which means that all of us list-loving, scent-worshipping, Dalek-fearing aficionados have an opportunity to indulge in that most indulgent, navel-gazing of activities: dreaming up a Universe in which the TARDIS crosses paths with a perfume's sillage. The result of my own, adolescent fan-boy musings is a Basenotes piece which pairs a different scent with each incarnation of our favourite Gallifreyan. What's more, it features superb, must-see artwork by Grant Osborne and Alan Hindle. Please click here to be taken to it.

Here endeth the Geek Alert.


PS Please click here to enter a competition for a full bottle of perfume from Etat Libre D'Orange. And please be sure to come back tomorrow for my Christmas 2013 gift recommendations.

Image: Alan Hindle

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Win A Bottle Of Perfume From Etat Libre D'Orange

A little while ago, I was fortunate enough to interview Etienne De Swardt, the founder of Etat Libre D'Orange, at his brand's flagship store in Paris. The full text of what turned out to be a relatively serious discussion will be published in due course, but today, I'd like to draw your attention to a moment in our chat when I decided to lighten the tone. I asked him which of his scents he'd recommend if certain well-known people walked into his shop... and it then occurred to me that his responses could be used as the basis for a bit of fun here on I'm pleased to say that De Swardt shared my enthusiasm for the idea, and thanks to his generosity, I'm able to hold an unusual little competition here on my blog.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Persolaise Review: Phi - Une Rose De Kandahar from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2013)

I wonder if Andy Tauer has ever smelt the original Fougère Royale. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Paul Parquet's masterpiece quite recently at the Osmothèque in Versailles (more on this in the weeks to come) and I was struck by how gentle and floral it is. It spawned a genre which now tends towards a stereotypically male harshness, but back in the 19th century, it was a paragon of subtlety and sophistication, designed to complement rather than dominate the wearer.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

"Nahema Is A Weapon Of Mass Destruction" - Guerlain's Thierry Wasser Pops Into London Again

Thierry Wasser was on fine form during a recent visit to London. When one of the writers in attendance suggested that Boots is the British equivalent of Sephora, he begged to differ, on the grounds that "you can't get an enema at Sephora." For him, these sardonic asides appear to be a method of punctuating more serious, considered insights. For the Guerlain PR team, they're a cause of heart palpitations. But that doesn't seem to worry Wasser. He just carries on, apparently saying the first thing that comes to his mind... although I have no doubt he's always in full control of his mouth. Here are his responses to some of the questions that were put to him.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Persolaise Review: Égoïste from Chanel (Jacques Polge; 1990) + No 5 Jumps In The Bath

As Égoïste has now been allowed to take its rightful place at all UK Chanel counters (until very recently, it was available only at the brand's own boutiques) the time is right for a brief re-assessment of its merits. Yes, the drydown of its original, 1990 version may have been smoother (you can blame any deterioration on the current price and scarcity of sandalwood) but its 2013 incarnation remains in the Top 3 chart of mainstream masculines bearing the double-C logo (with the other two places occupied by Pour Monsieur and Antaeus, of course). Much has been written about its aromatic, fruity, syrupy aspects - which is wholly justifiable, given these elements' dominance in the scent's construction - but I'm always amazed by how few people seem to notice that this stuff is seriously combustible. Sure, it places heavy emphasis on woods, but there's smoke too, and plenty of flames. The main focus may be on apples, trees and herbs, but they're perpetually alight, making this one of perfumery's most compelling bonfire of the vanities.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A Little Bit Of Oud - Alberto Morillas On Making Iris Prima For Penhaligon's

When Alberto Morillas (CK One, Kenzo Flower) hopped over to London a few months ago to launch Penhaligon's Iris Prima, he revealed that the perfume contains - shock horror - a touch of oud. To find out why he decided to include the material in a release from this most English of brands, please click here and you should be re-directed to Basenotes.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Perfume, Poland And The Past - Scented Memories On All Saints' Day

"Sometimes, this is not easy," she says. "You know, after a long day at work, when you're far away from home and nobody has much time for you, the last thing that you want to do is take yourself back inside the past." She shrugs. "But it's worth it."

Maryla's gaze wavers for a moment. Then she blinks a few times and smiles. "It's always worth it."

Today she and several of her female friends from south Hampshire's growing Polish community will be marking All Saints' Day. Had they still been living in Poland, they would have had the day off work - the 1st of November is a national holiday - and they would almost certainly have spent it visiting the graves of loved ones. They would have lit candles and placed fresh flowers in vases. And as the evening sky darkened, their faces would have been lit by the tiny flames reflecting off the granite tombstones.


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