Monday, 29 December 2014

Best Perfumes Of 2014 - A Time For Looking Back

If a pining for the past is a sign of social disquiet, then 2014 must have been a worrying year for the perfume industry: a significant proportion of new releases focussed on bygone eras, presenting 'retro' aesthetics in an attempt to win over an increasingly apathetic public. This was particularly apparent in the number of old-school leather scents which hit the shelves. Granted, several of them were very good indeed - you'll find a few below - but they did suggest that scent-makers' creative endeavours were in a holding pattern, unwilling to stray too far from a familiar flight path.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Wishes 2014

We've nearly made it, folks. We just need to get through that pile of mince pies in the corner, the presents under the tree, the turkey in the oven... and then we'll be home free.

I'd like to wish all of you the very best for the festive season. I hope you find the time to relax, unwind and dig out those old samples you've been meaning to sniff for months. Please come back on Monday 29th December for my round-up of the best perfumes of the year. Until then: enjoy the feasting!


Friday, 19 December 2014

Persolaise Review: Tobacco Rose, Anubis & Angélique from Papillon (Liz Moores; 2014)

When I interviewed Papillon's founder, Liz Moores*, I told her that, putting aside the issue of personal taste, the most striking feature of her debut scents is that they are extremely well-rounded and finished in comparison with other niche creations. Several non-mainstream fragrances display a cheerful roughness around their edges - indeed, in some cases, this is their most endearing feature - but Moores' work conveys a maturity and craftsmanship entirely at odds with her low levels of experience and her claims about a lack of formal perfumery training. I guess she's just talented, pure and simple. When faced with an array of scented materials, her head and her hands know exactly what to do.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Persolaise Review: Mitsouko from Guerlain (Jacques Guerlain; 1919 [and Thierry Wasser; 2013/14])

I seem to have written about the current formulation of Mitsouko in all my usual haunts except, ironically, on this very blog. So I've decided to take a few minutes to remedy the oversight, mainly because the end of the year is almost upon us and I want to strike this off my To Do list before we hit 2015. I realise that the blogosphere has already gilded Thierry Wasser's re-working of Jacques Guerlain's 1919 master-chypre with layer upon layer of praise - and rightly so - but I'm eager to add my own voice to the compliments, just in case there's anybody out there who's in two minds about whether to get their hands on a sample of the stuff.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2014 [part 2]

Here's the second part of my compilation of Twitter mini-reviews published between July and September 2014.

Cologne from Etat Libre D'Orange (Alexandra Kosinski; 2014)*
Pays homage to Mugler's Cologne. Citruses processed through a near-apocalyptic Steam Punk factory. Cogs and sprockets clatter and clang. Calcium fizzes. The female robot from Metropolis would wear this. Somehow, very 'right' for ELDO.

L'Etrog Acqua from Arquiste (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2014)*
Photo-real, finely-grated, tart lime zest segues into dewy floral and well-judged musk drydown. Lovely, happy work.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Persolaise Review: Dior Homme Parfum from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2014)

I'd love to know what the thinking is behind Dior's creation of 'parfum' versions of their classic masculines. Yes, obviously, on one level, it's related to the beep of cash registers - they wouldn't be doing it if it weren't profitable - but I'd like to believe that a few non-commercial reasons are involved too. Perhaps it points towards the arrival of heavier, more opulent compositions for men. Or maybe it's further evidence of François Demachy trying to stamp his own identity onto the brand: he daren't mess around too much with the bestsellers, but if he makes up an alternative identity for them, then he can allow his creative urges to run a little bit freer.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'It's Still A Challenge' - Arquiste's Carlos Huber At Bloom Perfumery

Carlos Huber at Bloom
image: Bloom

Although I remain a massive fan of the brand, I find myself unable to give an unqualified thumbs up to Arquiste's new The Architects Club (composed by Yann Vasnier). Several critics have been won over by what they've read as its gorgeous presentation of vanilla, but I haven't been affected in quite the same way. I love the scent's opening - an expertly-balanced, boozy, peppery evocation of the interior of Claridge's Fumoir - but as it develops, its complexity appears to diminish: to my nose, the vanillic drydown isn't as multi-layered and compelling as it could have been. Perhaps that's the perfume's inadvertent statement on the profession referred to by its name. Architects need to have an artistic temperament, but they must also ensure that their work is grounded in prosaic, physical realities. Maybe that's why the scent feels like it's holding back and keeping its more free-spirited impulses in check. It's a compelling explanation, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept that, as an olfactory representation of the Fumoir, the scent doesn't come across as sufficiently debonair. So when I met up with Arquiste's founder, Carlos Huber, at London's Bloom perfumery in October, I began our conversation by asking him why the vanilla in The Architects Club isn't more engrossing and more elaborate.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2014 [part 1]

Here's another round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter, this time spanning the period July to September 2014.

Royal Extract from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser (& Mathilde Laurent?); 2014)**
This new Harrods exclusive is actually the much-missed Attrape-Coeur by Mathilde Laurent. Attrape-Coeur was, of course, also known as Guet-Apens and was also released as an EDT called Vol De Nuit Evasion. Royal Extract is perhaps a touch more powdery and a bit less boozy than Attrape-Coeur, but it's essentially the same scent. And now, hold your breath for the crunch: a mere £285 for 125 ml. And it's a limited edition.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Persolaise Review: Patchouli Absolu from Tom Ford (2014)

Watch out, the 70s have just walked into the room. Or have they? The first thing that attacks you from Tom Ford's latest Private Blend is, appropriately enough, a bell-bottom-wearing, disco-ball-swinging, heavily-permed patchouli. It's brown, muddy and unashamedly unwashed. But then it changes. It ditches the dirt, boogies into the nearest wormhole and hurtles towards the 21st century. When it arrives, it seems to be radiating light from every single facet that had been caked with earth mere seconds ago. Suddenly, it's clean and gleaming. Indeed, this is Patchouli Absolu's most remarkable feature: it manages to retain the distinct, recognisable personality of its star material, but it also strips it of all the allegedly negative associations with the past.

Tauer Perfumes Advent 2014 Give-Away Winner

Thank you so much for all your contributions to yesterday's Tauer Perfumes draw. Honestly, I enjoyed reading every single one and I wish I had the time to reply to them. It was fascinating to see where all your perfume tastes lie and to learn about your very personal experiences with the world of scent. Sadly, there can be only one winner and the gods at have decided that it is:


Congratulations! Please can you send your postal details to persolaise at gmail dot com, together with your three choices from the list of perfumes available in the Explorer Set format (see this link for more info).

Commiserations to everyone else, but don't forget that Andy will be holding a different draw every day until the 24th. Please check out the advent calendar on his blog for more details.

My thanks once again to Tauer Perfumes for making the draw possible.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Advent 2014 - Win An Explorer Set From Tauer Perfumes

There are 27 days to go until the end of the year, and I don't know about you, but Madame Persolaise and I are definitely not ready to bid farewell to 2014. We haven't written our Christmas cards, we haven't planned our festive menus and we certainly haven't bought all our gifts yet. I feel a hectic three weeks coming on... during which I'll also have to start thinking about my Best Perfumes Of The Year list... but let's not go there today...

Whilst I'm trying to organise myself, you can take part in today's special give-away, which forms part of Andy Tauer's series of Advent draws. Once again, Andy has kindly asked me to take part in his festivities, which started on the 1st of December on Now Smell This and will continue until Christmas on Andy's own blog as well as various other sites.

The prize is a Tauer Explorer Set, which consists of three 15 ml bottles. The winner will get to choose the three scents, but please note that not all of Tauer Perfumes' fragrances are available in the Explorer Set. For more details, please click here

To enter, please read the terms and conditions below and then leave a comment on this post on the subject of your favourite fragrance discoveries of 2014. What were your highlights of the year? Which new releases did you enjoy the most? Which oldies did you finally get around to trying for the first time?

Please do take the time to read the terms and conditions carefully, as this draw is not open to readers from certain countries.

My thanks to Andy Tauer for making this draw possible and for including me in his Advent celebrations.

Good luck to one and all!


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 6 am (UK time) on Friday 5th December; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Friday 5th December; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 8th December, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Tauer Perfumes, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter EXCEPT for those based in Italy, Spain, Croatia, Russia and Greece, as Tauer Perfumes does not ship to these countries; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive alcohol-based perfume products in your country of residence; viii) the prize will be shipped for free from Switzerland, using FedEx; local taxes, VAT and import fees may apply; these will not be covered by Tauer Perfumes; ix) takes no responsibility for the contents of the perfumes, particularly as regards potential allergens and/or harmful components; x) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; xi) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

'Something Very New York' - An Interview With Kelly Kovack Of Odin

I'm not sure how it's perceived in the USA, but here in Britain, Odin seems to be one of those brands which are always slipping beyond the reach of most people's radar. Its portfolio is sizeable and it's stocked in one of London's best perfumery departments, yet it rarely seems to generate much interest amongst scentusiasts, even though many of its wares are worthy of attention. This low profile could possibly be on the brink of a transformation: the brand has just released a so-called 'White Line' - currently consisting of three fragrances - set apart from the signature 'black' range.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Persolaise Review: Sylvan Song from Grossmith (Celine Guivarch; 2014)

Sometimes you just need to stick to what you know best. On occasion, the output of the revived Grossmith has been dismissed as mere 'heritage perfumery', but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with adopting a retro approach if the job's done well. Sylvan Song is a gorgeous case in point. Structurally, it's a familiar musky floral, with a citrusy top and a balsamic base. But the quality of the Robertet ingredients and the elegance of the composition make it impossible to dismiss. The metallic edge of the rose evokes YSL's Rive Gauche. The prettiness of the sweet peas echoes the lush optimism of Lauder's Beautiful. The seamlessness of the transition from fruit to petals to powderiness calls to mind Guerlain's Chamade. There isn't anything especially forest-like about the whole, but of course, 'sylvan' can also mean 'pastoral', which is pretty much spot on. Deep inside a wood, a glade is brought to life by a beam of sunshine. Flowers unfurl and blades of grass reach up towards the sky. And as the flora and fauna bask in the warmth, the sound of a lute strumming a Medieval tune weaves its way into the clearing, casting a gentle enchantment upon all who hear it. Delightful work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Grossmith in 2014; Sylvan Song is exclusive to Fortnum & Mason.]


Monday, 24 November 2014

Kicking Up A Stink - The Definitive Guide To The Best Oud Perfumes


Is there anything left to say about oud? I suspect most of you reading this would shout out a resounding No, and a few months ago, I would've agreed with you. But today, I'm not sure. Since it started to gain prominence in about 2008, the ingredient has become so ubiquitous that it is now a perfumery cliche, a lazy way for brands to foist the notion of 'the exotic' onto potential customers. Walk into a department store and chances are you'll see those three, innocuous letters at several unlikely fragrance counters, including Gucci, Lancôme and Versace, none of which is synonymous with Arabian aesthetics. Oud - or at least, the idea of oud - is everywhere. It has entered the common vocabulary of scentusiasts. There is almost no space left for it to invade. So, at this important juncture in the development of the ingredient's relationship with modern perfumery, I'd suggest that the time is ripe for an exercise in looking back: a compilation of the best oud perfumes on the market today, as chosen by yours truly.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Persolaise Review: Concrete Flower from Atelier PMP (Mark Buxton; 2014)

As far as I'm concerned, any brand which releases only one new perfume per year is worthy of serious attention. In an environment where even niche outfits seem unable to let a few months go by without accosting all-too-confused consumers with yet another creation, perhaps the best way to get people to sit up and listen is by realising that less is more. In 2013, Atelier PMP gave us Dreckig Bleiben, a well-made, if somewhat forgettable, woody-balsamic scent, put together by Mark Buxton. With commendable patience, they've waited twelve months before unveiling the follow-up: Concrete Flower (also composed by Buxton).

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Persolaise's Summer 2014 Perfumes In ParfumPlus

An edited version of my post on perfumes for summer 2014 has appeared in the latest issue of ParfumPlus magazine. If you'd like to read it, please click on this link, where you'll also find an Arabic translation.


Monday, 17 November 2014

'My Most Important Ally' - Chandler Burr On Dior

As someone who owns very well-thumbed copies of The Perfect Scent and The Emperor Of Scent, I was excited to discover that Chandler Burr’s distinctive prose style has once again been employed in the service of perfume writing. This time, his subject is the house that gave us Poison, Eau Sauvage and Fahrenheit. The result of a direct commission from the brand, Dior: The Perfumes consists of brief essays on several key releases - starting, of course, with 1947’s Miss Dior - as well as thoughts on the couturier himself and his impact on the arts scene.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Persolaise Review: Cuir D'Ange from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2014)

In David Almond's book, Skellig, a young boy encounters a strange man in the ramshackle shed at his new house. He's filthy, his clothes are in tatters and he reeks of neglect. He's a complete mess. However, as the story progresses, he thrives under the boy's care and he eventually reveals his true form: a fantastical, angel-like being, capable of filling people's lives with little miracles of hope. His embodiment of the sacred and the profane was one of the first things that came to my mind when I wore Jean-Claude Ellena's twelfth Hermessence creation, Cuir D'Ange.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Legendary Chantal Roos On The Launch Of Her New Brand, Dear Rose

From left to right: Alexandra and Chantal Roos,
co-founders of Dear Rose
"Oh, Bloody Rose! Bloody Rose has no rose in it. It's a hypnotic white flower. It's the naughty girl. When she arrives, you don't see her. She has a drydown of patchouli. She leaves a trace. Be careful with Bloody Rose. She's kind of a bitch. But the perfumer didn't understand. The vision of the perfumer was not the vision we had. Ours was extremely chic and elegant. His vision was obvious: big breasts, big everything. One day I said, 'Stop! Go over it all again. Yours is too vulgar, too ordinary. She's not dangerous.'"
To read the rest of my interview with Chantal Roos - the woman whose work gave us YSL's Opium, Kouros, Paris and Jazz, as well as Issey Miyake's L'Eau D'Issey and Gaultier's Classique and Le Male - please click on this link to Basenotes. Amongst other subjects, Roos discusses her new brand, Dear Rose, as well as the problem with the perfume industry today and the reason why Yves Saint Laurent was worried about releasing Kouros...


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Change Is Here - Estée Lauder Buys Frederic Malle

It's been only a few days since the announcement was made that Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle is to be bought by Estée Lauder, but already the finger-waggers are crawling out of the woodwork, saying they saw this coming. Perhaps they did. However, I don't have a particularly business-conscious head on my shoulders, so I don't mind admitting that the news took me by surprise. What's more interesting is that it seems to have struck a powerful chord amongst scentusiasts online. I'd love to put together a lengthy, detailed response to some of the comments that are being made, but I'm afraid I'm currently in the throes of time-consuming Day Job duties, so instead, I'll direct your attention to Elena Vosnaki's post on the subject on her Perfume Shrine blog (click here to read it). I'll disable comments on this post so as to encourage the discussion to remain focussed in one place. Do take the time to check out what Elena's readers have said on the matter and please add your own voice to the debate. Several juicy issues have already been raised, including the role of bloggers in providing brands with publicity and the (rather grim) future of 'niche'.

I'll leave you with a few thoughts. Nothing remains static, least of all in the world of perfume. Companies will continue to be formed, dissolved, taken over, bought, broken up or sold. Unless we have some sort of privileged insight into Frederic Malle's life, we can't pass judgement on the professional and personal circumstances which persuaded him to steer his company along this particular route. Perhaps he'd always intended to sell to one of the Big Boys. Who knows? Unlike several commentators, I don't feel personally aggrieved by his decision. I don't subscribe to the view that his company - or any other company, for that matter - owes me allegiance purely because I happen to be more interested in fragrances than the average shopper. I understand that fiscal imperatives often have to make way for aesthetic ambitions. I also don't agree that 'Lauder' is necessarily a synonym for 'evil'. There are plenty of mainstream brands out there which continue to treat us to praiseworthy releases; by the same token, there are plenty of niche brands which are taking us for a ride and expecting us to part with our cash for sub-standard products. In other words, just because Malle will now be a Lauder company doesn't automatically mean his perfumes will deteriorate.

That said, I am worried about the future. The PR reps for both brands have assured everyone that everything is going to remain exactly as it is. But they've got to say that. They're hardly going to put out a press release claiming that everyone had better stock up on Portrait Of A Lady right now because there's every possibility that its formula is going to be mucked up. Indeed, it's almost certain that no formulae are going to be mucked up straight away. But what about later? That's my main concern. Yes, things will stay the same for now, but what about 12, 24 and 36 months down the line? If anyone can maintain creative integrity whilst working for a massive corporation, perhaps it's Malle, but I wonder if even his will is strong enough to do so. Time will reveal all. Until it does... I confess I'm very, very tempted to add a few Malles to my Christmas list.


PS If you'd like to be reminded of what Malle said about why he decided to create his own brand in the first place, please read my interview with him from January.

PPS In light of Malle's recent announcement that his latest perfume is an oud - a Dubai exclusive called The Night - you might like to read his thoughts on making oud fragrances by clicking here.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Christmas 2014 Perfume Recommendations - French Kisses, Vintage Handbags & A Great Big Nothing

I can't start thinking about Christmas until we've seen the back of All Saints' Day; any sign of Yuletide shenanigans before then makes my stomach turn. But we are now well and truly into November, which means it's time to start turning our attention to the business of filling the bottle-shaped holes in the lives of our dearest scentusiasts. So pour yourself another glass of mulled wine and feast your eyes on Persolaise's very own perfume recommendations for Christmas 2014.

For a special someone of the female persuasion: Oeillet Bengale from Aedes De Venustas - Just when you thought we'd never have another decent carnation perfume, Rodrigo Flores-Roux comes bearing a bunch of elegant red and white blooms, decorated with spices, incense and a sprinkling of desert sand.

For a special someone of the male persuasion: Bentley For Men Absolute from Bentley - Michel Almairac's re-make of his own, much-missed Gucci Pour Homme is the archetypal male scent: peppery, ambery and laced with enough incense to give the Vatican an inferiority complex. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Psychology Of Airport Shopping - Niche Perfumery Comes To Abu Dhabi Duty Free

She reaches into the plastic tray, takes out her handbag and slings it over her shoulder. She hoists her bright orange case off the conveyor belt and places it on the ground. She extends the handle, takes a breath and then walks away from the queue, towards the gleaming logos. Louis Vuitton. Gucci. Hermès. As the lights from the displays fall upon her features, her scowl softens, relaxes, and slowly turns into a smile. Her eyes widen. She raises herself up to the tips of her toes, very briefly. She lets out a six-year-old's chuckle. And then, quietly, her smile now a grin, she whispers a triumphant "Yes!" before dashing into the first shop.

People-watching at airports is always fascinating, but I found the incident above particularly interesting, as it took place soon after my visit to the new perfume counter at Abu Dhabi Airport, a visit which prompted various musings on the psychology of airport shopping.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Persolaise At London's Science Museum - Book Tickets Now!

On Friday 21st November, I'll be giving a talk at the Dana Centre at London's Science Museum on the subject of writing about perfume and smell. The event will part of a series entitled The Hidden Senses, which comes under the banner of a project called Being Human, put together by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. If you're free on that day, it would be great if you could come along and support what sounds like a very interesting venture. In addition to my talk, the event will feature contributions from Ophelia Deroy, who'll be talking about the plating of foods, and John Silas, who'll explore the topic of smell and memory.

Attendance is free, but tickets have to be booked in advance, as the venue has limited capacity. To book tickets, please click on this link to Eventbrite. You should find a listing for two sets of events: one taking place between 3:30 and 5:00; the other taking place between 5:30 and 7:00. I'll be taking part in the second slot (5:30-7:00).

You may also be interested in this Eventbrite listing (click here). It's for a lecture being given by Professor Charles Spence, author of The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science Of Food And Dining. Spence will deliver the lecture twice, so you're free to choose which of the two times suits you best.

Finally, for general information about these events and their purpose, please click here.

I do hope to see some of you on the 21st!


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

30th Anniversary Of London's Les Senteurs - Interview with Betty Hawksley, Claire Hawksley & James Craven

It's almost 100% safe to assume that if you're the sort of person who has made the effort to come to this site and read these words, then you've heard of Les Senteurs. It may be based in London, but thanks to its mail-order service, the shop's reputation reaches far beyond the British Isles, to the extent that it can probably justify calling itself an institution. Its shelves have displayed the wares of some of the world's finest brands. Its walls have echoed the voices of countless prominent industry figures. And its sales assistants have earned public praise and recognition for their expertise and helpfulness. That's why its 30th birthday cannot pass unmentioned on this blog.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Persolaise Review: L'Homme Ideal from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2014)

It's probably fair to say that Guerlain is in a tricky position. On the one hand, it has to satisfy its owners by churning out a steady stream of till-friendly products. But on the other, it's under pressure to uphold its reputation as one of the most revered perfume houses, an obligation which, these days, doesn't often square up with creating the sorts of scents that attract Sephora-worthy commercial success. Thierry Wasser, the brand's current in-house perfumer, has been extremely candid when describing the tensions which exist between his impulses as a scent-maker and the motivations of the brand's marketeers. For instance, in a recent interview (please click here to read it) he questioned the wisdom behind the Shalimar Parfum Initial concept and he went so far as to state that the policy of releasing endless flankers of popular scents is nothing less than a "sickness".

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Bring On The Bling - The Salon De Parfums At Harrods

I'm reliably informed that mere hours before its official opening, a few sections of Harrods' Salon De Parfums didn't even have a floor yet. Well, someone must have worked their socks off right through the night, because the newly-created space at the very top of the store looked nothing short of stunning when I popped in for a wander a few days after it commenced trading. In the UK, nowhere does bling quite like Harrods, so even though the Salon's marble floors and crystal chandeliers would probably seem penny-pinchingly restrained in Dubai, here in London, they scream extravagance.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Persolaise Review: Rose Flash from Tauerville (Andy Tauer; 2014)

Roses are always an easy sell for me - the result of a youth spent in the Middle East? - but when they're touched by the hand of Andy Tauer, they're especially irresistible. For some reason, the Swiss perfumer seems to know exactly how to bottle the multi-layered magic of the flower. Maybe he's just lucky in the lab. Maybe he doesn't shy away from using high-quality natural rose oils by the gallon. Or maybe he just adores the flowers and can't help his passion from flowing into his bottles. Who knows? The fact is that he's given us some of the niche world's most impassioned rose compositions, from the haunting Une Rose Chyprée, to the masterfully meditative Incense Rosé and the facetious Une Rose Vermeille.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Salon De Parfums Opens At Harrods

In 2010, the site of the year's most exciting perfumery event in the UK - the Perfume Diaries exhibition - was Harrods. And now, in 2014, it looks like the Green Palace is going to steal the show again: the Salon De Parfums has finally opened its doors on the sixth floor. Those of you who read my post about it in July will be aware that the newly-designed space was conceived to house exclusive scents from the likes of Dior, Chanel, Guerlain and several other brands. It is also the home of the revamped Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie; indeed, Roja Parfums is officially being labelled the Salon's 'anchor brand'. I hope to see the new enclosure for myself within the next few days and I will, of course, report back on my findings. For now, I invite you to feast your eyes on the Instagram images of the Salon which have already started circulating online. They certainly seem to suggest that the design people have done a stunning job!


Friday, 10 October 2014

Persolaise Review: L'Incendiaire from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2014)

I don't often pass comment on the price of new perfume releases, but sometimes it's hard not to. The latest scent from Serge Lutens - the first in what is being presented as a new range of exclusive, gold-label bottles - is selling at £380 for 50 ml. That's right: £380. Or $600 for my American readers. Before anyone accuses me of being unjustifiably hysterical about this, yes, I realise that L'Incendiaire is an extrait, which means that, per millilitre, it falls within the same bracket as extraits from Guerlain, Chanel or Dior. And sure, I'm aware that we live in a world where prices rise rather than fall: most brands, both niche and mainstream, hike up their prices in small increments on a regular basis, and many of them now offer products which are well above the £200 margin. But even so, £380 for a single bottle of scent (which cannot be purchased in a smaller, less expensive form and comes from a company that isn't known for pushing exclusivity to silly extremes) is pretty shocking. That's why I'm inclined to give free rein to my hysteria and view L'Incendiaire as something of a watershed.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A Very Full Day - Olivier Cresp on Angel, Penhaligon's And The Manic Pace Of Perfumery

If Olivier Cresp is fed up with talking about Angel, he doesn't show it. Since the fragrance was launched in 1992, he's probably spent a frightening proportion of his life entertaining journalists and fans with stories of its creation. But when he discusses the perfume at London's Sanderson Hotel, during an event to mark the start of Georgia May Jagger's reign as the official Face Of Angel (see below), he is full of enthusiasm, acting as though he's never before been asked to explain how one of the most successful fragrances of all time came into existence.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Persolaise Review: La Panthère extrait from Cartier (Mathilde Laurent; 2014)

Cartier's menagerie is growing. Less than a year since the eau de parfum of La Panthère was released, the brand has just revealed the extrait version - in an equally gorgeous bottle - and this time, they haven't held back on the zoo vibe. If the edp placed most of its emphasis on the floral, the parfum pounces on the feline. Mathilde Laurent has retained the sticky, honeyed gardenia core, but she's framed it with an unmistakably cat-like muskiness and finished it off with a purring sandalwood. The result may be less enigmatic and less impressionistic than the edp, but it's ballsier, more compelling and much more unsettling. The ferns have parted and the panther stands in the clearing, no longer wishing to conceal itself. Those susceptible to its charms are in for a thrilling encounter. And if they shout loud enough about the experience, mainstream perfumery may become sufficiently brave to move away from endless fruity florals.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Cartier in 2014; for my review of the eau de parfum, please click here.]


Friday, 26 September 2014

What We Really Wore This Summer - 2014

Guess what, I think we have a regular feature on our hands. About a year ago, I posted an article about the scents which Madame Persolaise and I actually wore over the summer, as opposed to those I sprayed upon my person for the purposes of a review. Then, last winter, I published a similar piece on our favourite fragrances of the cold season. So now - given that both articles were well received - I've decided to dig out my diary notes and compile a list of the juices which we took with us on our recent travels around Europe.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Persolaise's Tropical Perfumes In ParfumPlus

A few of you may remember that a little while ago, I gave in to football fever and I published a piece on my favourite tropical perfumes. A tweaked version of that post has now appeared in the latest issue of the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine. If you'd like to read it - either in English or Arabic - please click on this link.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Persolaise Review: Rien Intense Incense from Etat Libre D'Orange (Antoine Lie; 2014)

Could Rien possibly get any bigger? Yes and no. Soon after it bulldozed its way onto the market in 2006, the scent became the very definition of a perfumery juggernaut. Tickled by the idea of making an enormous fragrance and calling it 'Nothing' (partly so as to confuse any hapless passersby asking, "What are you wearing??!!?") Etienne De Swardt and Antoine Lie put together one of the most fiendish, most ostentatious, most unsweetened green-mossy-woody-spicy-aldehydic leathers of all time. As many of you will no doubt be aware, the stuff is lethal. It fires its heat across a 3-mile radius. It contains a warehouse-load of some of the fragrance world's most heavy-hitting ingredients. And it has a half-life to rival that of uranium. Once it latches onto its prey, it never lets go. It resists sweat, wind, rain... and even frantic scrubbing beneath steaming showers. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I adore it, but I don't wear it as often as I'd like to, because it is very much the signature scent of Persolaise Junior #3, who is positively gaga about it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Everything Is Personal - An Interview With Antoine Maisondieu

Anyone who's a fan of the output of Etat Libre D'Orange owes a debt of gratitude to Antoine Maisondieu: working either on his own or with Antoine Lie, he has been responsible for some of the brand's most admired creations, including Jasmin Et Cigarette, Vierges Et Toreros and Eau De Protection. Despite his niche leanings, he's more than capable of putting together unashamedly mainstream creations (Gucci Rush For Men; Burberry Brit For Men; Armani Code Ultimate) which may explain why he was selected to compose a few of the scents in Van Cleef & Arpels' Collection Extraordinaire.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Essence Of Perfume Give-Away Winner

A big Thank you to everyone who entered last week's draw for a copy of the new edition of Roja Dove's The Essence Of Perfume. I'm pleased to announce that the winner is


Congratulations! Please send your postal details to persolaise at gmail dot com so that I can forward them to Roja Parfums.

Many thanks once again to Roja Parfums for making this give-away possible.

UPDATE 21st September 2014: As the original winner did not get in touch with me within the deadline specified in the Terms & Conditions of the draw, a new winner has been selected.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Persolaise Review: Oeillet Bengale from Aedes De Venustas (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2014)

Wearing Oeillet Bengale makes it clear why the collective noun for a group of carnations is usually 'spray'. Rodrigo Flores-Roux has put together this new release from Aedes De Venustas with such delicious precision, you can picture the individual flowers - some red, some white - rising out of a vase in a fan shape, threatening to dart out of their enclosure like slender arrows. In itself, this is a commendable achievement. As is well known, current restrictions on certain raw materials make it extremely difficult to reproduce a convincing carnation note in modern perfumery. That's why the likes of Poivre, Bellodgia and even Opium no longer have the charming snappiness which once won them so many admirers. But as an employee of Givaudan, Flores-Roux has access to one of the most advanced fragrance labs in the business, a position which has enabled him to identify and use a substance that gives the heart of Oeillet Bengale its edgy identity.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Give-Away: Win Roja Dove's The Essence Of Perfume

image: Roja Dove / Black Dog Publishing

Roja Dove's much-loved coffee-table tome, The Essence Of Perfume, has just been re-printed in an extensively updated form. I haven't yet seen its reincarnated version - I'll have to wait till October for the opportunity to do so - but the folks at Roja Parfums have kindly offered an advance copy to one lucky reader of According to the press release, the new book largely follows the structure of the original, but the chapters on classic perfumes have been expanded and they now feature masculine scents (which were conspicuous by their absence in the first edition). I gather the photography has been spruced up too, and I expect greater prominence has been given to Dove's own fragrance range, which comprised only three creations when the book first emerged in 2010. I often find myself dipping into the original version, so I welcome the arrival of this new rendition very warmly. Coupled with the publication of Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay's The Perfume Bible (on which more in the weeks to come), it'll doubtless provide hours of thought-provoking scent reading.

To enter this draw, please read the terms and conditions below and leave a comment on this post on the subject of the perfumes which you are most looking forward to trying between now and the end of the year.

My thanks to Roja Parfums for making this give-away possible.

Good luck to one and all!

Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 10 pm (UK time) on Sunday 14th September 2014; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Monday 15th September 2014; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Saturday 20th September 2014, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's addresses will be shared only with Roja Parfums, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive books and printed matter in your country of residence; viii) takes no responsibility for the contents of the prize; ix) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; x) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Persolaise Review: Sotto La Luna Gardenia from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2014)

Even though it was published just last week, my review of Cartier's new gardenia scent, La Panthèrewas written quite some time ago, whilst I was in the process of getting this blog ready for its summer break. But by a curious temporal twist, as I sit down to put together the first of my post-holiday reviews, I find myself faced with yet another gardenia composition, Andy Tauer's Gardenia, the first release in a new line the Zurich-based perfumer has sub-titled Sotto La Luna*.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

"Suddenly It's There" - An Interview With Andy Tauer (part 3)

image: Andy Tauer

In the third and final instalment of this exclusive interview, Andy Tauer talks about innovation, the blogosphere and formal perfumery training. For part 1, please click here and for part 2, click here.

Persolaise: I'm fascinated by the fact that the perfume was finished a long time ago. What's it like talking about something which, for you, was concluded and completed two years ago? Do you feel sufficiently distanced from the project to be objective about it? Or is it actually difficult to put yourself in the mind-set of the person who made that perfume?

Andy Tauer: A good question. Yes, I feels sometimes strangely disconnected when working on the launch activities for a scent that was finished years ago. I usually go back to the scent, wear it for a while to connect again. It is even more strange when years after a launch perfume lovers get in touch with me about a particular scent, asking me how I did it and why I did it the way I did it. They might have just discovered it. For me, it has become a logistics issue, but it is a thing of the past. Lucky me, I write my blog. There, you and me find a lot of information. But I guess, the same is true for an author, an actor or a painter. You move on, leaving your creation behind you and start worrying about your next venture and projects...

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

"We Get What We Ask For" - An Interview With Andy Tauer (part 2)

image: Andy Tauer

In today's instalment of this exclusive interview with Andy Tauer, the focus is firmly on the brand new fragrance, Sotto La Luna Gardenia. For part 1, please click here.

Persolaise: Without comparing it to any other flower in any way, how would you describe the smell of a real gardenia, being as precise as possible?

Andy Tauer: I have a gardenia plant, blooming on the balcony. I smell it more or less on a daily basis. I also have tuberose growing downstairs, and I hope for flowers. Last year the tuberose was late and I had to bring them into the house when they started blooming, together with the jasmine. White flower overkill, even for me. The blooming gardenia comes with an odd fragrance, really. I think it develops very much over the days. From a pronounced freshness to a scent that is a bit off. There are spicy components (think: methyl benzoate, linalool). Maybe it is this spiciness, combined with a woody underline that makes this flower 'unisex' (I know: calling a flower unisex does not really makes sense). There is definitely an intense creaminess (think: lactones). It is very powdery (think: salicylates). It comes with interesting side notes: there is definitely an elegant mushroom aspect (think: tiglates). But it is not the perfume of a stinky mushroom, but more the mushroom fragrance of rich, moist, forest soil. I also feel that there are notes of freshly ground coffee, of balsamic woods (this aspect of the gardenia reminds me of high quality sandalwood from Mysore). I can also sense dry wood, thinking of saw mill scents. But this is delicate.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

"Everything Is Fluid" - An Interview With Andy Tauer (part 1)

An odd little fact. Over the course of the last four years, I've been fortunate enough to publish interviews with several prominent industry figures here on, but amongst their august number, one name has been missing: Andy Tauer. I've reviewed pretty much everything the Zurich-based perfumer has made and I often cite him as an example of all that's best about 'niche', but I've never posted a Q&A with him.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Back To It --- Tauer's Sotto La Luna Gardenia Comes To Persolaise

Try as hard as I might, I can no longer deny that the summer is over and that it's time to get back to work... in more ways than one. I hope the last few weeks have been kind to you all. I can certainly say that my batteries have been recharged and that I'm ready for the approach of winter. I may not be feeling quite so energetic in a few weeks' time, but never mind. Whenever stress threatens to take over, I'll gaze at the picture above - taken at the café in Guerlain's flagship Paris store - and I'll wait for a sense of contentment to wash over me. Failing that, I'll down a mug of hot chocolate! gets right back into top gear tomorrow with the first instalment of an exclusive, three-part interview with Andy Tauer, in which the perfumer discusses the industry, the niche scene and, most importantly, his brand new release, Sotto La Luna Gardenia. Don't miss it!

A happy September to you all,


Friday, 29 August 2014

Persolaise Review: La Panthère from Cartier (Mathilde Laurent; 2014)

Mathilde Laurent's La Panthère for Cartier is a curious beast. Several commentators have been coaxed into blissful submission by what they've discerned as a warm, seductive purr emanating from the scent. But others have been less enthralled, claiming that - in sonic terms - the fragrance is a midnight howl from a stray tabby determined to give the neighbourhood no rest whatsoever. My own experience with the perfume bears out this division in opinions, which leads me to conclude - over and above the following review - that it must, at the very least, be an interesting piece of work. Any scent capable of polarising views to the extent that has been achieved by La Panthère is surely worth serious attention.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Persolaise Review: Journey Woman and Journey Man from Amouage (Alberto Morillas and Pierre Negrin, 2014)

In the non-perfume-related aspects of my professional life, I'm frequently reminded of a wise proverb: punish the sin, not the sinner. Journey Woman and Journey Man (both by Alberto Morillas and Pierre Negrin) have prompted me to apply that broad-minded philosophy to my scent writing, because although I haven't enjoyed getting to know them, they have, almost paradoxically, reinforced my belief that Amouage remains one of the most interesting non-mainstream brands around at the moment.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Persolaise Review: Rozy from Vero Profumo (Vero Kern; 2014)

Here's how you can tell that Vero Kern really loves perfume: the drydowns of all her creations - the epilogues of their existence - are always gorgeous. Like most die-hard scentusiasts - and, interestingly enough, like another grand-dame of the fragrance world, Patricia De Nicolaï - she understands that although the opening sections of a scent are important, it's the denouement, the pay-off, that really matters. This attention to the foundations of her olfactory work is in evidence once again in Rozy, the follow-up to 2012's much-loved green chypre, Mito.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Persolaise Review: 11 Semma from Odin (Phillippe Romano; 2014)

Serge Lutens' L'Orpheline recently impressed me with the endearing way it linked distinctiveness and quietness. And now, a very similar vibe appears in Phillippe Romano's 11 from Odin, the newest addition to the New York-based brand's growing - and increasingly well-regarded - portfolio. I gather 'semma' - the non-numerical segment of this creation's name - means 'tobacco' in a Native American language, and, appropriately enough, the sweet, smoky, hay-like earthiness of that little-used material is the primary focus here. It's given a faintly powdery, retro feel - which is where the link with the Lutens comes in - thanks to the inclusion of violets and myrrh. But there are plenty of spices too - mainly pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves - as well as a tea facet which stops the whole from descending into Oriental cliches. Both fresh and serious, it calls to mind a politically correct, 'western', liberal view of The Other, be that a member of the 'east' or of the indigenous population of the USA: it's fascinated with 'exotic' materials, but it exercises respect in its treatment of them, preferring to use them with a light touch. If it were a head shop, 11 would be the one that doesn't look like any other head shop, choosing gleaming, sci-fi-inspired interior decor rather than the usual woods and velvets. But don't worry: facade notwithstanding, its soul is rooted to the earth.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Odin in 2014.]


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Clearer Vision - Guerlain's Thierry Wasser At Selfridges

A few weeks ago, Guerlain's in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, breezed into London. The main purpose of his visit was to begin the process of promoting the brand's latest masculine creation, L'Homme Idéal, a classically-structured piece of work, based around bitter almond, which won't appear on UK shelves until September (although it's already out in France and several other countries). But in between chatting with journalists, Wasser took some time out to address an audience at London's branch of Selfridges and to answer questions from Jo Fairley, who chaired the event in her capacity as co-founder of the new Perfume Society.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Persolaise Review: Jour D'Hermès Absolu from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2014)

I still haven't made up my mind about the original, 2012 edp of Jour D'Hermès. Those of you who saw my post on it may remember that several readers who'd tried it found it bloodless and were perplexed by its green, near-vegetal note, which they variously read as lychee, shoe polish or overpowering tomato stem. Personally, I was left unsatisfied by its lack of precise legibility: its attempt to be an abstraction of all florals, as opposed to a bouquet of recognisable flower notes, seemed to create a vacuum at the heart of the composition. That said, I couldn't write it off completely. There was an elusive, intriguing quality somewhere around its edges which drew me back every now and then, curious to solve the mystery. Now, with the release of the new Absolu version, Jean-Claude Ellena offers what is essentially the same story, but by presenting it from a slightly different angle, he's made it more comprehensible and easier to enjoy.


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