Monday, 30 November 2015

Death Of A Princess - Guerlain Discontinue Nahéma Parfum

In my stockpile of half-written articles and abandoned projects - otherwise known as my blog's 'drafts' folder - one idea has been nagging at me for years, refusing to be silent. It's popped up to haunt me every now and then, expressed in a simple line: "The scent of the house after Madame Persolaise has sprayed Nahéma." Each time I've seen it, I've told myself that I ought to give it the attention it deserves. But I've always been side-tracked. And now, in a sense, it's too late, because Guerlain recently announced that the fragrance's extrait version, which many consider to be amongst the most glorious olfactory creations of all time, is about to be discontinued.

The 2015 Persolaise Christmas Gift Guide

This year, I'm turning to social media for my annual thoughts on how best to indulge in the consumerist orgy that is Christmas. I'm posting individual recommendations on Twitter, marked with a #PersolaiseXmas tag. Once they've all appeared, I'll do my best to use Storify to present a handy summary here on Until then, please scroll through the Twitter feed below.

Happy shopping! Oh, and do come back tomorrow for what could well be the best perfume gift ever...

Friday, 27 November 2015

A Clear View Of The Future - Bringing Perfume Back To Life In Grasse

Normally, the appearance of a stain on my jacket is a cause for mild panic. It leads to a frantic search for paper napkins. A hunt for water. Gravity-defying contortions in front of the dryer in a public toilet. But this is one stain I don't want to remove. In fact, I hope it never disappears, because - and I write this without exaggeration - it's projecting one of the most heartbreaking scents I have encountered for a long time.

This drop of liquid alchemy - spreading its amber hue through the linen threads - found its way onto my person by way of a slim blotter which I had tucked into my breast pocket. It met the blotter inside a large, unprepossessing aluminium canister. And it reached the canister after being extracted from thousands of rose petals which had, for a time, coloured a field somewhere on the hilly landscape of Grasse. It smells of unadulterated beauty; that almost goes without saying. Creamy. Honeyed. Buttery. Jammy. Slightly peppery. What's more important though, is that it marks the progress of a quiet renaissance in the corner of southern France which brought it to life.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

"A Little Italian Girl From Brooklyn" - An Exclusive Interview With Estée Lauder's Karyn Khoury [part 2]

Karyn Khoury and Leonard Lauder
at the 2012 USA FiFi Awards

In last week's instalment of my chat with Estée Lauder's Karyn Khoury (please click here to read it), the esteemed creative director wandered down memory lane and shared stories about her work with Mrs Lauder. Towards the end of our conversation - which marked the first time she had granted an interview to a UK-based blogger - we turned our attention to more recent events and to the future...

Persolaise: What makes an Estée Lauder perfume an Estée Lauder perfume?

Karyn Khoury: Luxury. Signature. Estée Lauder fragrances have a personality. Estée believed fragrance has to say something. It has to convey, evoke and express something. And it has to do it right away, because nobody's going to wait 25 minutes for a message. I don't look at my competition as all the other fragrance companies. I never have. I understand and I appreciate the strength of my competitors. But my competition is anything else that a woman has to give up in order to buy my fragrance. So in today's day and age, if she buys one of my fragrances, chances are maybe she's not buying a blouse for herself, or she's not going out to lunch. What that translates to is: every aspect of that fragrance has to be sensorially and emotionally rewarding to her. So the fragrance has to be an entity that continues to delight her, that continues to make her feel fabulous every time she wears it.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2015 [part 1]

It's that time again: another round-up of my Twitter mini-reviews, covering the period July to September 2015.

Ultra Male from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Francis Kurkdjian; 2015)*
An interesting, edible lavender, with pronounced caramel notes. The fougère enters gourmand territory.

Trésor L'Absolu from Lancôme (2013)**
Sweeter, denser, less dramatic than original. But still, an appealing, musky rose, heavy on vanilla.

Acqua Di Giò Profumo from Armani (Alberto Morillas; 2015)**
Cucumber freshness over heavy musk base to make it last longer. No effervescence. No sunshine. No zest.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Live Stream Of Frederic Malle, Carlos Benaïm Lecture

On Thursday 19th November, Harvard's Graduate School Of Design will present a live stream of a lecture by Frederic Malle and Carlos Benaïm. According to the official blurb, the lecture will focus on design as well Malle's perfumes and their histories. It's scheduled to start at 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time, which, unless I'm mistaken, will be 11:30 pm UK time. To watch the live stream, please click here. The university's website indicates that the lecture may then be available on YouTube.  


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

"When I Fell In Love With The Company" - An Exclusive Interview With Estée Lauder's Karyn Khoury [part 1]

After I put away the trappings of my Twenty Blotters game (click here to see what I'm talking about) I continued my conversation with Estée Lauder's highly-respected creative director, Karyn Khoury, by picking up on a statement she made about the importance of giving perfumers recognition for their work. How does she reconcile this policy, I asked her, with the fact that the Lauder PR machine tends to be fairly reticent - if not downright opaque - about the identity of the people who make not just their scents, but also those for the other brands within the company, such as Tom Ford, Michael Kors and DKNY?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Persolaise Review: Ryder from Ex Idolo (2015)

Indie scent creations tend to be either reactionary monsters or paeans to the past (or both, come to think of it). Ryder, the latest from Matthew Zhuk's UK brand, Ex Idolo, falls into the latter category, in the sense that it reinvents nothing, but it does offer the satisfaction that can be derived from seeing an excellent idea being executed well. In this case, the idea is a classic amber: resinous, vanillic and smoky. And the execution is mostly faultless, with touches of hay, tobacco and spices to add hints of 'lift' at the top without detracting from the drydown-focussed intentions of the whole; this stuff has a low centre of gravity and it means you to know it. Up close, there's an off-putting, cardboard-like note with a synthetic edge which elicits a sneer and spoils the overall balance. But reservations notwithstanding, Ryder suggests that the brand's debut, Thirty Three, was no fluke. Akin to a sheen on a plane of polished wood, it is both pleasant to behold and easy to relegate to the background, attributes which are, at times, the very qualities one requires from a scent. That said, I do hope Zhuk gives us something a touch more exciting next time.

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


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Twenty Blotters For... Karyn Khoury

Pick a blotter... read the question... give a short, snappy answer!

You may not know her name, but I'm pretty sure you know her work. Here's a list for you. Estée Lauder's Beautiful, Pleasures, Beyond Paradise, Sensuous and Knowing. Prescriptives' Calyx. Tom Ford's Private Blends. All of those perfumes - and many, many others - owe their existence, at least in part, to Karyn Khoury. As a creative director at the Lauder group (her official title is Senior Vice President of Corporate Fragrance Development Worldwide) she has played a key role in the conception and construction of several undisputed American classics, with the result that she's now something of a living legend in the industry. Her career - which began in the late 70s at an olfactory materials production company - has seen her collaborating with some of the most renowned perfumers of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as Mrs Estée Lauder herself, and various other members of the Lauder family, including Evelyn and Aerin. In short, she is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Persolaise Review: Habit Rouge Dress Code from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2015)

Thierry Wasser has had the thankless task of creating flankers for classics such as Shalimar, L'Heure Bleue and Habit Rouge (could any other perfumery endeavour be more worthy of the term 'putting your neck on the chopping block'?) and now he turns to the latter again with the creation of Habit Rouge Dress Code, released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jean-Paul Guerlain's towering masculine. As a flag-waving HR acolyte, I confess I was wary of this new iteration, and whilst I can't say that it has it persuaded me to ditch my bottles of the eau de toilette - which probably wasn't Wasser's intention anyway - I'm pleased to report that I've enjoyed exploring the new chapter it adds to one of my favourite scented stories.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Century Of Scents Instagram Winner

Once again, heartfelt thanks to each and every person who entered my Century Of Scents draw over on Instagram. The winner is:


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

I'd like to thank Lizzie and Hutchinson for making these draws possible.

In a few days - either at the end of this week or the start of the next - I'll be holding another Instagram competition, this time for 5 VIP subscriptions to The Perfume Society. In the meantime, I shall try to resume normal service here on There are still lots of things I'd like to squeeze in before Christmas, including a review of a wonderful release from Guerlain, an account of a brief chat with Dominique Ropion and an extended interview with one of the most important figures in American perfumery. Any guesses?


Monday, 2 November 2015

Century Of Scents Twitter Winner AND Final Give-Away

illustrations: Cynthia Kittler

Many thanks to everybody who entered my Twitter give-away for a signed copy of Lizzie Ostrom's A Century Of Scents. Drum roll please... the winner is


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

It feels like I've been doing nothing but competitions for the last few days, but the fun isn't over yet, because I still have one signed copy of Lizzie's book to give-away. This time, the site of our competition will be Instagram. To enter the draw, you need to

- go to my Instagram page (click here)
- find the relevant competition photo
- 'like' it
- make sure you're following me on Instagram
-make sure you're following Odette Toilette on Instagram (click here for her page)

The winner will be selected at random from all eligible 'likes'.

Please read the Terms & Conditions below. The competition closes at 6 am (UK time) on Tuesday 3rd November. And towards the end of the week, I'll be holding yet another draw, this time for 5 VIP subscriptions to the Perfume Society. Stay tuned!


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 6 am (UK time) on Tuesday 3rd November; ii) the winner will be selected at random from all eligible Instagram 'likes', as per the instructions above; iii) the winner will be announced on on Tuesday 3rd November; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 9th 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.


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