Friday, 30 October 2015

Century Of Scents Winner AND New Give-Away

Massive thanks to everyone who entered my recent draw for a signed copy of the new book by Lizzie Ostrom, Perfume: A Century Of Scents (published by Hutchinson). The oracle of has been consulted and I'm pleased to announce that the winner is


Congratulations! Please send your postal details to persolaise at gmail dot com and I'll forward them to Lizzie.

The rest of you needn't despair quite yet, because you may remember that I said I have two more signed copies to give away. For the next draw, we're heading over to Twitter. To enter, you need to 

post a tweet tagging @Persolaise @OdetteToilette
and include the hashtag #winlizziesbook.

The winner will be selected at random from all eligible tweets. 

Please do take the time to read the Terms & Conditions below. The competition closes at 10 pm (UK time) on Saturday 31st October. Early next week, I'll hold the third and final draw.

Good luck!


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 10 pm (UK time) on Saturday 31st October; ii) the winner will be selected at random from all eligible tweets, as per the instructions above; iii) the winner will be announced on on Monday 2nd November; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Saturday 7th November, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Lizzie Ostrom and Hutchinson, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this draw, you indicate that you are able to receive books posted from the United Kingdom; viii) takes no responsibility for the prize and its contents; ix) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Give-Away: Win A Signed Copy Of Lizzie Ostrom's Perfume - A Century Of Scents

The arrival of any perfume book is an exciting prospect, as there are so few around. But this year, the pre-Christmas season brings us a particularly enticing treat in the shape of a tome by none other than Lizzie Ostrom, aka Odette Toilette, one of the most intelligent, vivacious and respected figures on the UK's scent scene. Perfume: A Century Of Scents (published by Hutchinson) is a decade-by-decade examination of our complicated relationship with fragrance, using many key creations (including Mitsouko, Diorissimo and Kouros) as spring boards from which to launch into absorbing musings about the forces that have shaped western culture over the last 100 years. I hope to review it in greater depth soon - time and day job permitting - but for now, suffice it to say that it is a must-read, not least because it provides a delicious opportunity to enjoy Ostrom's witty, cliche-free prose style.

I am delighted to announce that I've got 3 signed copies of the book to give away. But instead of dishing out all of them in one go, I'm going to drag the process out a little bit... just to keep your appetites sharp. Today, I'm starting a draw here on Persolaise for one of the copies. To enter, please read the Terms & Conditions below and leave a comment on this post on the subject of perfume in books, films or music. Anything that comes to mind. Don't feel you have to write at great length. A few words will do.

When I announce the winner of this draw, I'll reveal info about how you can win the other 2 copies.

Good luck to one and all!


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 10 pm (UK time) on Thursday 29th October; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Friday 30th October; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 2nd November, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Lizzie Ostrom and Hutchinson, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this draw, you indicate that you are able to receive books posted from the United Kingdom; viii) takes no responsibility for the prize and its contents; ix) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Persolaise Review: 1 Million Cologne from Paco Rabanne (Olivier Pescheux & Michel Girard; 2015)

I have written precisely nothing about the commercial phenomenon that is Paco Rabanne's 1 Million, but the arrival of this new 'Cologne' version provides an opportunity to make amends. I can't quite believe that 7 years have passed since the original fragrance hit the high street, but it's true: the year was 2008 when we were first invaded by that now all-too-familiar leathery, spicy, apple-sheesha accord over an amber base. For some reason (the advertising? the bling bottle? the name?) people went bananas about the stuff, to the extent that it has become one of the best selling masculines of all time. Young bucks eager to indicate that they'd graduated from the realms of cheap body sprays bathed themselves in it with a fervour the previous generation had reserved for Gaultier's Le Male. The objects of their predatory affections swooned with how 'grown up' the scent seemed to be. Needless to say, several flankers - and even a feminine counterpart - soon followed.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Do You Want To Help Create A Perfume? - Jazmin Saraï On Indiegogo

Some of you may remember that last year, I interviewed Dana El Masri about her Montreal-based perfume brand, Jazmin Saraï. She has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to help her fund her next fragrance project: please check it out and consider supporting it. El Masri's work struck me with its balance and careful attention to detail, so I hope she receives the support she needs to continue developing her talent. Please click here to be taken to her Indiegogo page.


PS Come back in a few days for your chance to win a signed copy of one of the most exciting perfume book releases of recent years: Lizzie Ostrom's Perfume: A Century Of Scents.

Winners Of Perfume Society VIP Subscription

Many thanks to everyone who entered the draw for a VIP subscription to the Perfume Society. The winners are:

Joanne Delaney
Olfa Labs

Please send your address to persolaise at gmail dot com and I'll forward it to the Perfume Society.

Please check back in a few days for your chance to win a signed copy of the brand new book by Lizzie Ostrom (aka Odette Toilette): Perfume - A Century Of Scents.


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Win VIP Subscription To The Perfume Society + Interview With Co-Founder Jo Fairley

When the UK's Perfume Society emerged last year, everyone in the 'fragrance community' - if there is such a thing - had an opinion about it. Some felt it was a welcome force that would help bind all the disparate, scent-loving cliques out there. Others complained that it was little more than a coat-tail-rider, forcing its way into territories successfully occupied by other players for years. Its lasting impact has yet to be determined; after all, it hasn't been with us very long. But there's no question that it is now much more than just a blip on our olfactory radars.

Its founders, Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, have successfully staged a series of well-regarded perfume events, featuring the likes of Thierry Wasser, Luca Turin and a travelling version of the Osmothèque. They have assembled several issues of an award-winning magazine, The Scented Letter, which has grown from a digital-only format to being available in print. And they have enabled their members to share their passion for the fragrant world by curating several Discovery Boxes containing samples, blotters and aids to what one might call 'intelligent sniffing'. In other words, they've been busy.

They have also offered Persolaise readers a chance to win a 1-year VIP subscription to their services (see below for details) so I decided it was time I tried to find out what makes them tick. To this end, I arranged an interview with Jo Fairley, a lifelong fragrance aficionado whose name has been synonymous with scent-related prose for years. As a Jasmine-winning writer, businesswoman and public speaker, she has raised the profile of perfume in the UK (and beyond) in a manner which few others could hope to emulate. So perhaps it was inevitable that one day, she would co-create a means for like-minded scentusiasts to enjoy and deepen their interest together. It was with the subject of creation that I began our conversation: over a cup of tea at Fenwick on Bond Street, I asked how the Perfume Society came into being.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Christian Dior

This wasn't just difficult. It was excruciating. In fact, no, it wasn't just excruciating. It was like being in the dentist's chair, thirty minutes into a root canal treatment, with the sound of the drill bouncing off the walls, when all of a sudden, with no warning, the anaesthetic decides to wear off. And trust me: I speak from experience.

When the Candy Perfume Boy and I decided to turn our Super Scent spotlight onto Christian Dior, we both knew that picking our favourites from the brand's sizeable current line-up would be a challenge. That's partly why we decided to make today's list a Top 7 rather than a Top 5. However, I absolutely did not expect the task to cause such agonising inner conflict. As I struggled with the list, going from one draft to another, there were many occasions when my perfume geekery - normally a source of great fun - transformed into torture of near-medieval brutality. But time kept ticking and our self-imposed deadline kept looming closer and closer, so eventually, the doubts and deliberations had to be pushed aside.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Return Of Super Scent

Some of you may remember that in July, the Candy Perfume Boy and I started a joint project called Super Scent. I'm pleased to announce that the next instalment of the series will be published on Monday 19th October at 12:30 pm UK time. Its focus will be one of the biggest brands in perfumery; indeed, it may well be the first brand that comes to many people's minds when their thoughts turn to the subject of scent. I'm also very excited by the fact that, on this occasion, CPB and I will be joined by Basenotes, who will be presenting their own twist on the Super Scent concept.

A brief recap of precisely what that concept is:

- come up with a list of the best perfumes from a particular brand's current line-up (ie no discontinued scents)
- ensure the list is based on the perfumes' current formulations
- don't share the list with anybody else until it's published

I do hope you'll all come back on Monday for the revelation!


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Connecting With Ancestors

We've been seeking comfort lately. At Maison Persolaise, that means candles. I've often wondered why such a simple object should be as soothing as it is. How does a single flame possess such power? It's small and faltering, yet also hypnotic enough to act as a focal point for a vast space. Is its magnetism somehow related to connecting with ancestors... some kind of buried, tribe-memory of huddling in a cave, trying to draw warmth from a torch? Whatever the cause of the attraction, after one of my recent gardening forays, I lit the new Tuberose candle from Robbie Honey. As far as floral notes go, tuberose is tricky to handle: it mustn't be permitted to grow too sharp a set of fangs or to descend into juvenile giggles. The perfumer who put together this particular scent for Honey - I'm afraid I don't know who it is - got the balance right: the smell hovering around the flame is creamy, but undeniably witchy. I've also enjoyed the brand's Muguet Des Bois. Creating a convincing lily of the valley note for a fine fragrance is near-impossible at the moment, which is why an above-par candle featuring the flower is such a welcome prospect. This one's a delight. Woody, sweet, green, tender... and yes, comforting.

[Samples of candles provided by Robbie Honey.]


Friday, 9 October 2015

Persolaise Review: Madagascan Jasmine from Grandiflora (Michel Roudnitska; 2015)

He may not be prolific, but Michel Roudnitska must surely be one of the most fearless perfumers working today. With an apparent disdain for the path of least resistance, he pushes his finest work into that thrilling zone of fragrance creation where success and failure are divided by a line as thin, weightless and translucent as a soap bubble. His best scents teeter on the edge of that boundary, forever threatening to collapse, knowing full well that their precariousness is precisely what makes them so compelling.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Christopher Chong Lecture In Cambridge

image: Kevin Jaako

Here's something that doesn't happen every day: Amouage's Creative Director, Christopher Chong, will be delivering a lecture on perfume in Cambridge on Wednesday 28th October. The event will be part of Cambridge Uni's Festival Of Ideas. According to the official blurb, the talk will focus on the approaches Chong has taken to inject a more globalist philosophy into his brand:

When Chong was offered the position of Creative Director of Amouage, a perfume house originating from Oman, he was asked to turn the perfume house into an international brand to compete with the major western brands. Due to cultural sensitivities in the Middle East Chong took an unorthodox direction in recreating a perfume brand that is both acceptable in the region and directional in the western markets by adapting the heritage of storytelling. To avoid stereotyping he re-interpreted the form with an intertextual context drawing from inspirational sources as diverse as western opera and literature, current events and most recently, Chinese cinema.

It promises to be an interesting session... which is why I'm annoyed about the fact that I can't attend. If you'd like to go along, please click here for more details.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Shade Of Green

Not an accurate representation of Jardin Persolaise

From shed to lawnmower to compost bin to hanging baskets and back to shed again. Gardening has been the theme creeping through many of the last few days. It's my own fault. There is no shade of green to by found on any of my fingers, which is why the various jobs that need doing keep getting put off, until they cannot be avoided any longer and consequently require several days to sort out. Cue: angst, acrimony and an aching back. Mind you, one of the missions I had to accomplish turned out to be more therapeutic than I'd expected. In an effort to control the weeds, I covered our plant beds with a healthy layer of B&Q's finest wood chips... and their smell was enough to transport me away from my self-pity. I have no idea which trees had been used for the chips, but I'm sure there was something piney and eucalyptus-like in there. I was tempted to save some of it, douse it with frankincense oil and turn it into pot-pourri. But I took the easier way out and ended the day with a spray of Serge Lutens' forest-filled Fille En Aiguilles. It provided a more-than-passable approximation of the stuff in my garden. Who knows? Maybe Christopher Sheldrake was elbow-deep in wood chips when he made it...


PS If you're in the London area this Saturday and you fancy a perfume outing, check out this post.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Persolaise At You Magazine Big Beauty Weekend

I'm extremely excited to announce that on Saturday 10th October, I'll be taking part in You Magazine's Big Beauty Weekend in London: Jo Fairley will be chatting to me about my thoughts on some of Estée Lauder's iconic fragrance creations. I believe a few tickets are still available for the event - which includes several other talks and workshops - so if you'd like to learn more, please click here.


Friday, 2 October 2015

Lutens Keep Playing

...continued from yesterday's post (click here to be taken to it)

The latest entries from some of the more bling-tastic brands haven't registered on my fragrance radar. I have sniffed the odd Clive Christian and Xerjoff, but I've rarely been moved to think about them for very long, let alone commit my musings to this site. But Lutens keeps playing on my mind. Maybe it's because there's something about the Section D'Or range which I find disappointing. I don't mean the scents themselves, but the fact that, with their release, the brand has upped the ante to an alarming degree. We all know that perfume houses aren't charities, but as far as business moves go, this one seems especially cynical and mercenary, not least because it comes from an organisation which, historically, has paid considerable attention to exploring and furthering the art of perfumery.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Getting A Masterpiece

Bulgari's Le Gemme Orientali

Perfume prices continue to leap with a vigour that's normally the preserve of Olympic athletes. Last year, Serge Lutens made a brave jump with the first of their Section D'Or releases, L'Incendiaire (UK price: £380 for 50 ml of extrait). This year, as many of you will be aware, the brand has added 5 new compositions to the range, with prices ranging from £425 (for Cannibale, a traditional, spicy leather) to £525 (for Cracheuse De Flammes). Bulgari have extended their set of Le Gemme scents with a trio they're labelling Le Gemme Orientali. Each one will set you back £231 for 100 ml of eau de parfum. Amouage's prices are reaching ever closer to the tops of those Scheherazade minarets. As a reader pointed out on this site, Sunshine Man is £255 for 100 ml of edp. It's not that long ago that the price of the brand's Library Collection (around the £200 mark) was enough to cause scentusiasts to think about remortgaging their houses. And of course, the likes of Roja Parfums, Clive Christian and Xerjoff continue to charge £400 and above for some of their latest releases.


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