Friday, 28 February 2014

A Letter To The EU's Public Consultation On Proposed Amendments To The Cosmetics Regulation

I'm sure most of you are aware that the ever-contentious issue of allergens in perfumery has raised its head again. As has been reported on various sites, the EU is considering making a few amendments to its existing Cosmetics Regulation. If these amendments are implemented, then a) perfume brands would be obliged to declare the presence of more (potentially harmful) materials in their perfumes than they are currently obliged to and b) three substances (HICC [aka Lyral], atranol, chloroatranol) would be banned entirely. The European Commission has set up a public consultation and has invited people to express their views on these proposed amendments.

We are, of course, free to have our own thoughts on whether these amendments would be beneficial. However, I must admit I'm rather puzzled by the muted reaction from several industry observers. Quite a few commentators seem to have taken the stance that the amendments aren't a cause for concern. I'm very happy to be challenged on this, but personally, I can't see how they aren't a cause for concern. Perfumery (and specifically, EU-based perfumery) has already suffered under non-legally-binding 'recommendations'. If some of these are now going to start being turned into laws, the final results may be catastrophic.

A few scentusiasts on Facebook and Twitter have stated that they would appreciate being provided with a model letter which they could send to the Commission, in order to express their opposition to the proposed amendments. I've put together what may be a suitable missive and I've published it below. Please feel free to use it in any way you wish: send it as it stands, in its entirety, or take a few phrases from here and there and weave them into your own words. It's entirely up to you.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Persolaise Review: Jeke, Sova, Ore and Norne from Slumberhouse

Some landscapes are easy to enjoy, but almost impossible to describe. They offer many pleasures, yet they defy attempts to capture their charms in words. They may not even be especially beautiful. Indeed, their allure may lie not so much in their appearance but in their very refusal to be deciphered. It is these rare, beguiling territories which are brought to mind by the output of Slumberhouse. A relatively unknown brand based in Oregon, it has clearly decided to make a virtue of secrecy and media shyness: internet searches yield little info about its founders, which, of course, means that the shadow of mystery cast over its oddly-named creations is particularly inky.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

No Lies, No Compromises - An Interview With Perfumer Quentin Bisch

Quentin Bisch (left) with Etienne De Swardt
at the Etat Libre D'Orange shop in Paris

Quentin Bisch’s connection with Etat Libre D’Orange goes back to the days before the young Frenchman had even begun his perfumery training. When I met him a few months ago to discuss his work on La Fin Du Monde - one of the most interesting releases of 2013 - he recalled the day he first walked into the ELDO store on Rue Des Archives and was essentially offered a job by the brand’s founder, Etienne De Swardt. He turned it down, on the grounds that he wanted to pursue a path towards becoming a fully fledged perfumer.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Persolaise Review: Coven from Andrea Maack (2013)

I dismissed the first three fragrances from Andrea Maack as derivative and uninspiring. The next two, Coal and Silk, were marginally better, but they didn't possess sufficiently distinct personalities to move me to write about them. However, for her latest release, the Icelandic artist has rolled up her sleeves, reached right into the core of the earth and pulled out a startling piece of work.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Product Of The Blogosphere - An Interview With Matthew Zhuk Of Ex Idolo

Matthew Zhuk at Fenwick,
the latest retailer to pick up Thirty Three

Matthew Zhuk is in an interesting position right now: his brand, Ex Idolo, attracted serious attention in 2013, but it's still far from being a household name. So the 30 year old, Canada-born, London resident has had to find a way to strike a balance between raising the profile of his work and protecting the air of mystique which he's been careful to cultivate. The tension between these two objectives made for an interesting interview experience with him: he was very keen to chat about his fledgling company (which to date consists solely of the majestic Thirty Three) but he was also determined not to discuss certain aspects of his entry onto the crowded fragrance market.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Osmothèque Reviews: Parfum Royal (circa 1st century AD) and Eau De La Raine De Hongrie (14th century)

*** For background information on my Osmothèque reviews,

It goes without saying that the stars of the Osmothèque's collection of perfume reconstitutions are the post-1880 classics: the likes of Jicky, Emeraude and Iris Gris. However, it's a shame that most writers don't mention the older artefacts, of which there are a few. Of course, I use the word 'older' advisedly. In the absence of detailed formulae, it's fiendishly difficult to create a perfume that smells exactly as it would have centuries ago. But the folks at the Osmothèque are nothing if not dogged.

A Life With A View Winner

Many thanks to everyone who entered last week's A Life With A View give-away. The draw has now been carried out on and I'm pleased to announce that the winner is

The Gastronomic Goddess

Congratulations! Please send your address to persolaise at gmail dot com and I'll forward it to A Life With A View straight away.

Thank you to everyone at A Life With A View for making this give-away possible.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Persolaise Review: Laine De Verre from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2014)

Uncle Serge is playing the trickster again. When he released the first of his Eaux (L'Eau De Serge Lutens, 2010) you could almost picture the wry smile on his face as fans expressed outrage at his apparent embrace of the 'clean' scent, a genre which is arguably the polar opposite of the established Lutens aesthetic. Then came L'Eau Froide which was a touch odder and prompted a somewhat less shrill, but no less bewildered, reaction. And now, as if to prove that he ignores the critical response to his output, Marrakesh's most enigmatic resident has added a third entry to the series: Laine De Verre.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Four Perfume Books For Valentine's Day 2014

According to advertisers, nothing spells 'love' as powerfully as flowers, chocolates and a bottle of perfume. So although I'd never dream of dissuading someone from buying a fragrance for their Valentine, I'm going to leave the scent recommendations to others this year and instead suggest that you may like to consider spending your pennies on perfumed prose. At this juncture, I ought to be able to pull off a graceful segue into my own book, but as its first print run is now officially sold out - and as the publishers haven't yet told me about their plans regarding a second run - I don't think I should dwell on it today. All I will say is that if you'd like to buy a copy, now is the time to start hunting for any stragglers kicking about here and there.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

"You Have A Brand Here" - An Interview With Carlos Huber Of Arquiste

You never know who you're going to bump into at Harrods. A few weeks ago, I had some time to kill in London, so I decided to pop up to the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie on the fifth floor. And who did I find engaged in conversation with Marcel and Haven, the Sales Assistants? None other than Carlos Huber, founder and Creative Director of Arquiste, one of the most praiseworthy new brands of recent years.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

ODOU Magazine's Debut Issue Shortlisted Three Times For Jasmine Awards

Every single name on this year's Jasmine Awards shortlists deserves to be feted, but there's one success which is especially remarkable. ODOU Magazine - the creation of Liam Moore - has been shortlisted twice in the prestigious 'Literary Award (Magazines)' category and once in the 'Soundbite Award' category. This is laudable in itself, but it's made even more special by the fact that ODOU is still in its infancy and currently has only one issue to its name. Hats off to Liam and his writers for pulling off an incredible (perhaps even unprecedented?) feat!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Persolaise Shortlisted Twice For 2013 Jasmine Awards

The shortlist for this year's Jasmine 'Digital' Award has just been released and I'm excited (make that: 'ecstatically over the moon') to announce that my name appears on it twice. I genuinely cannot believe my good fortune. My thanks go to the Jasmine judges for the tremendous honour, to Basenotes and Grant Osborne for continuing to publish my work and, of course, to all my readers for being such an all-round wonderful bunch. My heartfelt congratulations go out to all the other nominated writers.

Here's the shortlist in full. Click on each article's title to read it.

2013 Jasmine Award - Digital

The award ceremony will take place on 12th March. May the best article win!

UPDATE: 4th February 2014

All the shortlists for this year's Jasmine Awards will be made public by Fragrance Foundation UK tomorrow. But in the meantime, here are the nominees for the other digital category, dubbed 'Best Digital Experience'. The distinction made by the Fragrance Foundation between the two categories is that 'Digital' is concerned with "excellence in writing and originality" whereas 'Best Digital Experience' "is judged on creativity, style and content".

2013 Jasmine Award - Best Digital Experience


Win Candles From A Room With A View + Interview With Founder Graham Way

I wonder whether the home scent market is harder to break into than the world of fine fragrance. At least when someone launches a new perfume brand, they can invoke some of the glamour which, rightly or wrongly, tends to go hand-in-hand with the milieu of J'Adore, No 5 and Shalimar. But candles? They're just gifts for people for whom you couldn't think of something more personal, right? Okay, I confess I'm exaggerating for effect, but there's no denying that parfums d'ambiance are often seen as functional items, on a par with vases, rugs and wall hangings. They exist to provide olfactory background music. So it must be difficult to get potential customers to treat them in the same way they treat the contents of the pretty bottles from the likes of Mugler.


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