Tuesday, 28 April 2015

'Fake It Till You Make It' - An Interview With Papillon's Liz Moores

image: Liz Moores

When Papillon's debut trio emerged last year, it immediately caused a stir amongst scentusiasts in the UK. Tobacco Rose was the crowd pleaser, but the deadly Anubis and the more contemplative Angélique found fans too. As all three have just been shortlisted for a Fragrance Foundation award, the time is right for me to publish an account of my meeting with the brand's founder and 'nose', Liz Moores. We chatted several months ago at Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays, covering issues both personal - she's the mother of children whose ages range from 20+ to below 2 - and perfume-related. But we began at the beginning, with the topic of how she slipped into her current role as perfumer and brand owner.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Persolaise Review: Fève Délicieuse from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2015)

François Demachy still seems to be in something of a retro mood, at least while working on Dior's Collection Privée. Last year, his gorgeous Cuir Cannage was an olfactory teleporter to an era of dense, old-school leathers. And now Fève Délicieuse pulls us back to the opulence of the 1920s and the seductive souls of Habanita and Shalimar. Interestingly, it does so by employing that somewhat more recent sub-genre of oriental perfumes: the gourmand. But if the thought of another Angel is enough to make you renew your Weight Watchers membership, then relax. There's something far more sophisticated at play in Demachy's effort. Yes, he bases his composition heavily on vanilla - and all its lip-smacking associations - but the inclusion of tonka bean (the 'fève' of the name) adds a singular twist, lining the sugar with a welcome edge of sharp bitterness. Each time the powderiness of the vanilla threatens to overwhelm the whole, the hay-like facets of the tonka redress the balance. And whenever the praline notes feel like they're going to drag everything into a glutinous sundae dish, the woodiness pulls them back up again. Finally, cinnamon and what I read as a particularly balmy myrrh heighten the sense of decorum even further. This is no hurried gulp of a chocolate bar grabbed at the corner shop. It's a long-planned pilgrimage to your favourite patisserie, where the light from the crystal chandeliers blankets the tablecloths, the cutlery and the china with a glow of sensuous warmth. An experience to be savoured.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Christian Dior in 2015.]


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

"Our Job Is To Listen" - Antoine Maisondieu At The Launch Of Bottega Veneta Pour Homme Extreme

It's always dangerous to draw conclusions about an artist from their work. By most accounts, T S Eliot wasn't a grey-faced depressive, Charlie Chaplin wasn't exactly child-like and Toni Morrison is possessed of a cheeky sense of humour. But even so, we can't help trying to connect certain facets of interesting artworks to the personalities of those who brought them to life. It was with these thoughts in mind that I headed to London's Rosewood hotel to meet Antoine Maisondieu.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Persolaise Review: Smoke For The Soul from Kilian (Fabrice Pellegrin; 2014)

I've always thought there was something hollow at the heart of the Kilian brand. It goes without saying that it certainly isn't the only perfume house which tries to seduce people with style rather than substance, but its attempts have always struck me as particularly unsavoury, reeking of the worst sort of cynicism. Give people a bit of bling and they won't realise that the product you're selling them is, at best, passable. That seems to have been the company's motto for a few years now. But it reaches a new, problematic level with the release of Fabrice Pellegrin's Smoke For The Soul.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

"I Try To Take You By The Hand" - An Interview With Jean-Claude Ellena, Perfumer At Hermès

image: Hermès
"My perfumes are sensual like the women of Hitchcock. I love Kim Novak. I can watch the same Kim Novak movie several times. And Grace Kelly too. There's an extraordinary scene in Rear Window where she leans over James Stewart and kisses him. But if you watch it carefully - because it must be watched carefully - James Stewart isn't there. She actually kisses the camera. You get the impression of being kissed yourself. That's very powerful. All the men watching the movie are being kissed at the same time. But anyway... Christine Nagel's perfumes are joyful, exuberant, full of fantasy. I'm more rational, reflective, intellectual. She's more Monica Bellucci."
To read my recent interview with Jean-Claude Ellena - in which he talks about Le Jardin De Monsieur Li, Hermès and the possibility of making perfumes for other brands - please click on this link to Now Smell This. The article marks my debut on the venerable site. Cue: major excitement on my part!

To find out what's going on here, you'll have to read the article...


Friday, 10 April 2015

Persolaise Review: Cologne Indelebile from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Dominique Ropion; 2015)

As the power of perfumery is so closely associated with memory and recollection, it's no surprise that very few fragrances seem to smell of the future. The vast majority remain either in the territory of today or yesterday. But some of them do manage to pull off the near-impossible: they break away from the shackles of the past and soar towards unimagined landscapes. The latest of these fiercely forward-thinking compositions is Dominique Ropion's Cologne Indelebile for Frederic Malle.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

"A Concept Is Paramount" - Oksana Polyakova On The Opening Of Bloom At Covent Garden

image: Bloom

It doesn't seem possible that London's Bloom perfumery has been around for less than three years. Since it opened its doors at Hanbury Street, it has established itself as an important fixture on the capital's perfume-shopping scene, using a thoughtfully-curated selection of brands, a series of well-received in-store events and an endearing online presence to build a reputation out of proportion with its relative youth.

A few weeks ago, the Bloom story entered another chapter: a new branch of the store has just opened at Langley Court, close to the Covent Garden Piazza. To find out more about the shop's rapid development, I recently caught up with its founder, Oksana Polyakova, an elfin, youthful-looking Muscovite who has lived in London for several years. I started our chat by asking her to explain how Bloom came to life.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Happy Easter 2015

Another Lent comes to an end! Happy Easter to everyone out there celebrating it. Don't be stingy with the Lindor. And may the start of another spring fill your days with optimism and good cheer!


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Persolaise Review: A*Men Ultra Zest from Thierry Mugler (Jacques Huclier & Quentin Bisch; 2015)

What's that you're saying? You want to stick a slice of orange in my coffee? Feel free. If it works as well as it does in this new fragrance, it'll go down a treat.

As soon as Jacques Huclier's A*Men (aka Angel Men) appeared in 1996, it established itself as one of the more interesting masculines on the market. With its combination of herbs, woods, chocolate, coffee and licorice, it made a striking addition to most men's scent wardrobes: an otherworldly cross between a fur coat, a suit of armour and a suede jacket. Since then, Mugler have exploited its success by releasing a never-ending line of limited edition flankers, many of which have been worthy of praise. But this latest one, Ultra Zest, is the first I can remember for a long time which stands on its own as a bona fide extension of the original idea. With some help from Quentin Bisch, Huclier has retained pretty much everything that made the original interesting, but he's cut through it all with a laser beam of blood orange. Both the juice and the peel of the fruit pierce the entire composition with sparkling iridescence, bringing a wonderful sense of contrast not just to the top notes, but also to the middle section and even the fleecy-furry drydown. The angel has been resurrected, ready for these times in which mainstream buyers seem to be demanding greater freshness from their scents. He's still wearing the fur, the armour and the suede, but now he's also sporting one of those neon-coloured, super-light Uniqlo jackets... and despite all the odds, he still looks pretty good.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Make mine an espresso con panna, please. With a piece of chocolate orange on the side.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Thierry Mugler in 2015.]



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