Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Best Perfumes Of 2015 - Flankers, Musks & Lots Of Calories

In a year that saw the release of a film about the evils of sugar, mainstream scent compositions seemed to keep getting sweeter and sweeter. Perhaps that's not surprising: I guess if people can't eat the stuff, they want to walk around in a permanent fog of it. Jokes aside, the increased calorie content of our perfumes served as a useful symbol of the fragrance industry's behaviour across the whole of 2015. In a nutshell, it continued to play it safe and pander to the lowest common denominator.

A few other details and near-trends rose up from the sticky syrup of the last 12 months. One of these was the greater prominence of musks in mainstream scents. It goes without saying that they've been present in perfumes for decades (and that, surprise surprise, they're getting more sugary too). However, in several pieces of work (notably Clinique's Aromatics In White) they were pushed to the foreground with an insistence we hadn't seen for a while. In most western cultures their odour profile denotes safety and comfort, so perhaps their heightened presence is an artistic response to a political climate that's even more uncertain than it was a couple of years ago. Having said that, I'd love to know the socio-cultural reason for the interminable (and depressing!) use of synthetic sandalwoods and ambers in so many masculine scents. Maybe that's also about safety: the safety of keeping in with the crowd.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Christmas Wishes 2015

The following is a list of the culinary delights I'm trying to make right now, at the same time: marzipan; cranberry sauce; turkey stock; a Yule log; vodka cheesecake; orange mousse; lemon curd. The result is that things have gone a bit hectic at Cuisine Persolaise... which is why I decided it was time to step away from the action and wish you the very best for the festive season. Peace, happiness and calm kitchens to all! May the festive season be full of joy and laughter for you.

Please do come back on the 30th for my run-down of the best perfumes of the year.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Persolaise Review: Métal Hurlant from Parfumerie Générale (Pierre Guillaume; 2015)

One man's tiger is another man's kitten, so it's with some hesitation that I type the word 'animalic' today. In recent months, it's been used in relation to a few releases (Liquides Imaginaires' Peau De Bête and Escentric Molecule's Kinski come to mind) with a fervour I don't find justifiable. But although I'm well aware that scent criticism becomes even more subjective when it enters the realms of what constitutes chaste or raunchy, it would be churlish of me not to announce that Pierre Guillaume's new Métal Hurlant is one of the most bottom-spankingly naughty scents to have made a pass at my nostrils all year.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Persolaise Review: Sotto La Luna Tuberose from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2015)

Wearing Andy Tauer's Tuberose - the latest addition to his Sotto La Luna range - made me wonder whether his success has, in part, stemmed from his ability to straddle two perfumery worlds. His most endearing creations have managed to take the best from what might loosely be called the realms of niche (largesse, boldness, a certain roughness around the edges) and combine them with features more commonly associated with the mainstream (approachability, wearability, cohesiveness). When he's tipped too far into the former, he's come unstuck, as in the case of the underrated (but, admittedly, challenging) Carillon Pour Un Ange. When he's flirted too freely with the latter (Noontide Petals) he has compromised his identity. His particular skill lies in finding a balance between the safe and the dangerous.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Tauerville Advent 2015 Give-Away Winner

I can't thank you enough for the comments all of you left on yesterday's give-away post. Honestly, if ever I'm feeling down, I shall scroll through your generous, warm-hearted words and realise that things are never as bleak as they seem.

Now, on to the day's main business. According to, the lucky reader is


Congratulations! Please send your postal details and your choice of Flash perfume (Vanilla, Rose, Incense or Amber) to persolaise at gmail dot com.

Commiserations to everyone else. Please do keep visiting Andy's Advent calendar for more opportunities to win.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Advent 2015 Give-Away - Win A Flash Perfume From Tauerville

We're more than half-way through Advent, which means that those of us who haven't yet ticked off all the names on our gift list had better get a move on. For various personal reasons, the last few months haven't been especially easy at Maison Persolaise, so we're all looking forward to an opportunity to shut the door on the outside world, take our time over a hearty meal and enjoy each other's company. In anticipation of this festive cheer, I'm pleased to host one of Andy Tauer's traditional Advent draws here on once again. This time, the prize is a 30 ml bottle of a Tauerville Flash perfume: the winner will get to choose one from Rose, Amber, Incense and Vanilla.

To enter, please read the terms and conditions below and then leave a comment on the subject of counting our blessings. One line will do. Did anything happen to you in 2015 for which you're particularly grateful? [Please note this draw is open only to readers in the UK, USA, Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria.]

Some of you may be aware that this year, in addition to his prize draws, Andy has marked Advent by making donations to various charities. I'd like to extend the gesture by making a donation to a local hospice - The Rowans Hospice - the staff of which were extremely helpful to my family recently. If you'd like to find out about their work, please click here, and to make a donation to them, please click here.

My thanks to Andy Tauer for including me in his Advent celebrations.


Terms & Conditions

i) the draw will be closed at 6 am (UK time) on Wednesday 16th December; ii) the winner will be selected at random; iii) the winner will be announced on on Wednesday 16th December; iv) if the winner has not made contact with by Monday 21st December, an alternative winner may be selected; v) the winner's address will be shared only with Tauer Perfumes, who will post the prize to the winner; vi) only readers from the United Kingdom, United States Of America, Switzerland, Germany, France & Austria are eligible to enter; vii) by entering this competition, you indicate that you are able to receive alcohol-based perfume products in your country of residence; viii) the prize will be shipped for free from Switzerland; local taxes, VAT and import fees may apply; these will not be covered by Tauer Perfumes; ix) takes no responsibility for the contents of the perfumes, particularly as regards potential allergens and/or harmful components; x) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be posted; xi) relatives of anyone associated with are not permitted to enter.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Left Pleasantly Unmoved

For the last few days I've been thinking about the d-word. Derivative. It's an issue to consider in the analysis of any creative pursuit. But I'd say it's particularly pressing in perfumery because the distinction between a scent that nudges an idea into novel territory and one which merely re-hashes a concept is so very hazy. What's prompted these musings? Two scents: Larmes Du Désert and Lune Féline from Atelier Des Ors. The first thing that has to be said about them is: stunning packaging. Beautiful, solar-inspired etching in the glass bottles. Elegant art work on the outer boxes. Glittering flakes of gold leaf (yes, you read that right) floating in the juice. An absolute must-see.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Persolaise Review: Black Orchid eau de toilette from Tom Ford (2015)

I've always been suspicious of Black Orchid. Something about its strident assertiveness - its poking, prodding, finger-stabbing insistence - has made me feel that its facade conceals a quagmire of insecurities. It is so determined to appear confident that surely, I've thought, it must be anything but. In olfactory terms, I'd say this low self-esteem manifests itself in the paint-stripping berry/currant note running behind the don't-mess-with-me patchouli, chocolate and white florals. Try as hard as they might, those heavy-hitters can't entirely divert attention away from the thinness of the fruit aspects, with the result that the Miranda Priestly demeanour never quite rings true. Thankfully, 9 years after it was released - during which time it has consistently been Tom Ford's bestseller - Black Orchid has learned to relax and stop trying so hard: it now comes to us in eau de toilette form, free of some of the neediness that made the eau de parfum such trying company. In essence, it is the same perfume, but more translucent, limpid and vaporous than the original, in keeping with what one would expect from an edt concentration. That said, it doesn't seem to be any less long-lasting - a noteworthy technical achievement, if nothing else - and it even permits its inscrutability to crack into a faint smile at a few stages in its development. So yes, I confess, I am more pleasantly disposed towards this new incarnation... but I still can't shake off the feeling that it's a deceptive beast. My suspicions remain.

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


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - July to September 2015 [part 2]

Here's part 2 of my latest round-up of Twitter mini reviews.

Aqua Divina from Bulgari (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Intriguing, weirdly nutty, earthy composition. Burnt, yet quiet. Grated, rather than powdery. Fine particles on skin.

For Her L'Absolu from Narciso Rodriguez (Aurélien Guichard; 2015)*
Skin-hugging musks of original, lifted by diffusive jasmine & tuberose. Strong addition to the range.

Acqua Di Bergamotto from Ermenegildo Zegna (2015)*
Commendable descendant of Mugler Cologne. Decent citrus note. Backdrop of steamy, salty musks. Suitably summery.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Friday, 4 December 2015

Persolaise Review: Perfume - A Century Of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom (Hutchinson; 2015)

Perfume is more than a smell. That's the premise of the wonderful new book by Lizzie Ostrom, the unashamed scent aficionado whose alter ego, Odette Toilette, has provided London with some of the most thought-provoking and memorable fragrance-related events of recent years. Descriptions of smells do feature in her book. Of course they do; it would be strange if they didn't. But A Century Of Scents eschews the merit-assessing agenda of the Turin & Sanchez A-Z Guide and the 'documentary narrative' approach of the two Chandler Burr tomes in favour of cultural commentary. In Ostrom's hands - or should that be nose? - perfume is a mirror of its times: sometimes faithful; sometimes deliberately contrary; always worth peering into.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Could This Be The Best Perfume Gift EVER?

Here's an idea. If someone says they'd like you to buy them a bottle of perfume for Christmas, then don't. At least not straight away. Do something different. Tell them you'd be glad to give them a fragrance, but on one condition: that 'the gift' is turned into an outing in which the two of you embark on a sniff-a-thon, resulting in a scent purchase. The reason for this elaborate escapade? Simple. It's to avoid that inevitable yuletide phenomenon: the unwanted perfume. You know the one I mean. The one that you accepted with a marble smile, wore once and then banished to the darkest realms of the back of the bottom drawer.

But how, I hear you ask, does one take a friend or family member on such an expedition? Well, I'm glad you asked that, because it just so happens that I've got a handy 7-step guide for you right here...


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