Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Misia from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2015)

I confess my heart sank a little when I discovered that Misia, Olivier Polge's debut for Chanel (he's gradually taking over from his father Jacques as the brand's in-house perfumer) would make prominent use of iris. The material was at the foreground of the last release in the Exclusifs range, 1932. It makes its presence felt throughout several of the early members of the boutique-only collection. And it has long been associated with Polge himself: what is arguably his most famous creation - the masterful Dior Homme - reinvented the note and brought it into line with modern aesthetic codes. "So why stick to iris?" I wondered. Surely, it would have been more prudent to head into less familiar territory.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Pichola from Neela Vermeire Creations (Bertrand Duchaufour; 2015)

Only the sunlight moves. As it rises above the bamboos and the white rooftops, it casts everything it touches into immobility. Even the waters of the lake appear to quieten, grow still and rest in tranquillity.
I'm not sure if Indian literature has an equivalent of a haiku, but it is that form's ability to crystallise a moment in time which finds an echo in Bertrand Duchaufour's latest creation for Neela Vermeire, Pichola. Named after the lake in Udaipur, it sits comfortably next to the brand's earlier offerings - thanks to the repeat use of opulent jasmine, rose and sandalwood - but it also appears to develop the narrative explored in the oeuvre. If the debut trio was an explosion of Indian vitality and the follow-up, Ashoka, combined assertiveness with introspection, then Pichola continues the inward journey. Its soul may be based on two of perfumery's most attention-grabbing materials - orange blossom and tuberose - but it's no diva. Indeed, it is a testament to Duchaufour's skills as a perfumer and Vermeire's vision as a creative director that ingredients which normally come across as egotistical have here been persuaded to behave with dignity and self-control. When linked to cardamom, saffron and that sweet almond accord we last saw in Trayee, they radiate contentment, balance and, above all, complete serenity, just like those rays of sunlight nudging the night away. Beautiful work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Neela Vermeire Creations in 2015.]


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Home Scents From L'Artisan Parfumeur, Acqua Di Parma, Diptyque & Alex Simone

I never need an excuse to purchase a new home scent for Maison Persolaise, but the arrival of spring always seems to make candles, reed diffusers and room sprays especially tempting. It's irrational, I know, but for some reason, changing the olfactory landscape inside my house feels like the most effective way of shutting the door on winter and throwing away the key. Equally powerful is hanging out the washing in the garden for the first time each year, but if today's sky is anything to go by, I don't think that's going to be happening any time soon.

Monday, 23 March 2015

ODOU Needs YOU - Make Issue 4 Happen

Although only three issues of ODOU magazine have been printed so far, the publication has won the admiration and respect of many scentusiasts for its original handling of the topic of perfume. Indeed, for two years running, it has won the prestigious Jasmine Literary Award. In order to widen his magazine's reach, editor Liam Moore has decided to seek public backing for issue #4 by initiating a Kickstarter campaign. To find out more about this exciting move, please click here. And please consider supporting what is a truly unique voice in the perfume world.


Friday, 20 March 2015

News: Persolaise Wins Third Jasmine Award

On Wednesday, I was thrilled to win the Jasmine Bloggers Award for my Basenotes piece on the wonderful work carried out by the Osmothèque (please click here to read it). I'd like to thank the organisers, Fragrance Foundation UK, for putting on a wonderful ceremony, the Jasmine judges for choosing to award my writing for the third time, as well as Basenotes for continuing to publish my work. Needless to say, I'd also like to congratulate all the other winners. To find out who they are, please click here and then follow the links to '2015 winners'.

Forgive this self-indulgence, but I'd just like to mention how pleased I was - on a personal level - that Dana El Masri won the Literary Award for a piece she wrote for ODOU magazine. As some of you may remember (click here to refresh your memory) Dana and I had the same English teacher many years ago. As I sat at BAFTA HQ on Wednesday morning, hearing Dana's name being read out as the winner of her category, I couldn't help thinking how mind-bendingly wonderful it was that she and I were taught by the same person whilst we were both living in Dubai, and here we now were - me in Britain, Dana in Canada - winning awards for doing something we had surely not envisaged doing whilst we were at school. I guess that's just one of those delightful surprises life has a knack of springing. Mrs V, if you're reading this: clearly, you did something right. Thank you!


Persolaise Review: Le Jardin De Monsieur Li from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2015)

At the Paris launch of his fifth 'garden' scent for Hermès - which he refused to concede would be his last - Jean-Claude Ellena stated that Le Jardin De Monsieur Li is probably more abstract than the first entry in the series, 2003's Un Jardin En Mediterranée. This tension between the concrete and the imagined is perhaps the best way into a reading of his latest creation. Yes, in olfactory terms, it would appear to be much less rooted in the real world than the fig accord at the centre of the 2003 composition. But, unlike all of the other gardens, its name begins with the definite article: it isn't just a garden, it is the garden. Then again, its owner, the eponymous Monsieur Li is a fictional construct... although his name happens to be the most commonly occurring moniker in China. The abstract is grafted onto the literal, only to produce metaphorical shoots. It's a concern which seems to have preoccupied Ellena in recent years, not least in Jour D'Hermès, whose purpose was to evoke a bouquet of flowers without identifying any specific blooms.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2014 [part 2]

Part 2 of my digest of mini-reviews from Twitter, spanning October to December 2014

Hommage À L'Homme Voyageur from Lalique (2014)*
The violet leaf of the original leads to a safe woody-amber base, by way of green melons. Uninspiring.

Junky from Jardins D'Écrivains (2014)*
Soapy green opening, followed by grass and a spotless iris. Far too conformist for something inspired by Burroughs.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Amber Aquilaria from Electimuss (2014)

Far too many brands around today rely on aspirational marketing, bling and hackneyed ideas to try to make an impact on potential buyers. Cue: Electimuss, a perfect example of rather dubious style over substance. That said, it does offer at least one scent that's worth a second sniff.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Persolaise Is 5 Years Old!

Help yourselves

Well, well, well, talk about taking me by surprise: 5 years have passed since I published my very first post here on Persolaise.com. It's a cliche, but I honestly don't know where the time has gone. I can still remember the day when I stopped uhmmm-ing and ahh-ing and decided that, yes, I would have a go at this perfume blogging lark...

Quite a bit has happened since then (off the top of my head: the publication of more than 700 posts; the appearance of my perfume guide book; interviews with some of my favourite perfumers) but I'm pleased to say that my appetite for the subject of scent remains as sharp as it was in 2010... even during those times when the demands of the Day Job mean that putting together the next post is almost impossible.

Part of the reason my enthusiasm hasn't diminished is YOU, my wonderful readers. Your comments, notes and emails make all the hard work worthwhile, which is why I want to mark this anniversary by expressing sincere gratitude to each and every one of of you. Thank you so much for your kindness, generosity and support.

I'd also like to thank the brands, industry figures and fellow scribes who have embraced what I try to do on Persolaise.com and have appreciated the importance of independent, unbiased writing.

Finally, I have to say a special thank you to Madame Persolaise. If it weren't for her patience - and her very tolerant nose! - this site would have dwindled into nothing ages ago.

The only thing left to say is: let's see if we can manage another 5 years!

With warmest wishes to one and all,



Monday, 9 March 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2014 [part 1]

Here's another instalment of my regular compilation of mini-reviews from Twitter, covering October to December 2014.

Nevermore from Frapin (Anne Sophie Behaghel; 2014)***
Curious mix of metallic rose, ozonic note and parched cedar. There is a sense of the Gothic, but it's too quiet. Still, the image of whitened bones in a graveyard is quite intriguing, while it lasts.

All Good Things from Gorilla Perfume (Simon & Mark Constantine; 2014)*
Rose petals on a candy floss bonfire, with a side order of honeyed leather. Delightfully sweet throughout.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Icon from Dunhill (Carlos Benaïm; 2015)

Carlos Benaïm's recent collaboration with Frederic Malle - the scintillating Eau De Magnolia - was seen by many critics as a modern rendition of 70s-style chypres, chiefly Edmond Roudnitska's Diorella (1972). But when I mentioned this interpretation during a recent interview with the perfumer, he rejected it, claiming it's a view to which he doesn't subscribe. In light of this, I wonder how he'd trace the olfactory ancestry of Icon, because even though the scent attempts to cut a very modern dash, there's no doubt that it owes many of its curves and angles to forms from the past.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Persolaise Review: Dior - The Perfumes by Chandler Burr (Rizzoli; 2014)

This article originally appeared in issue 3 of ODOU magazine
under the title Meeting In The Garden

Christian Dior is one of a tiny number of brands capable of striking a balance between the exclusive and the accessible. Several houses aspire to a similar status, but few pull it off: they either overplay the common touch or they build their ivory towers too high. But Dior - together with two, perhaps three, others - is at home both in the most run-down branches of suburban chemists and in its own, impeccably decorated boutiques with their poker-faced doormen-cum-bouncers. Its name is familiar to the vast majority of high street shoppers, yet it has also been deemed worthy of inclusion at Harrods' new Salon De Parfums, a fitting testament to the extraordinary breadth of its impact.


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