Friday, 30 December 2016

The Best Perfumes Of 2016 - Greens, Dry Petals & Disco Balls

Rightly or wrongly, it looks as though 2016 is going to be marked as a particularly horribilis annus by the gods of record-keeping. Certainly, in political terms, events in the UK, USA, Italy, Poland and a few other countries suggested that the forces of liberalism are being drowned out by a growing tide of conservatism. This isn't the time for delving into such topics, but it is interesting to consider what sort of impact these global developments have had on the perfume world, which is, after all, vitally concerned about whether people feel able to spend their hard-earned pennies.

In the territory of independent scents, the reaction appears to have been a retreat. True, several new indie brands launched this year, and many of them - together with their more established counterparts - gave us some commendable scents. But overall, the so-called niche side of the industry has come across as extremely fearful and reluctant to push the envelope in the very ways which caught scentusiasts' attention in the first place.

In an astonishing twist, mainstream brands seem to have gone the other way, displaying more bravery than I'd imagined possible in the current climate. Don't get me wrong: big-name perfume houses still gave us plenty of soul-destroying duds. But maybe because a few of them were willing to splash out on bigger budgets and explore more interesting ideas, a lot of their wares weren't the instantly-forgettable, cardboard-cutout nonentities to which we're treated far too often.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas Wishes 2016

Oh look, SOMEHOW all the Christmas cooking responsibilities have fallen to me and Madame Persolaise AGAIN. Mind you, I quite enjoy the whole thing... except for the supermarket shopping. That is an experience right up there with root canals and PPI calls in the annals of first-world problems. So, whilst things are still relatively calm, I thought I'd take a moment to wish you and yours lots of laughter, wonderful food and plenty of relaxation for the festive season. Enjoy every minute of it!

And please do come back on the 30th for my rundown of the best perfumes of 2016.

Happy Christmas!


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Persolaise Review: Kimonanthe from Diptyque (Fabrice Pellegrin; 2016)

The soundbites
If Kimonanthe were an item of food, it would be marmalade shot through with slivers of charcoal.
If it were a painting, it would be Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow On White And Red) by Mark Rothko.
If it were a person, it would be the linguistics professor who never quite seems to inhabit the same planet as everyone else.

The review
Isn't it wonderful to come across a perfume that you can't immediately work out? Like a painting that seems unfathomable at first glance (Ad Reinhardt's Abstract Painting No. 5) or a film that doesn't reveal its riches until a second viewing (Sokurov's Russian Ark), a difficult fragrance is a rare gift: a compelling conundrum that tugs at your attention in sly, subtle ways. This unknowable quality is precisely what makes Fabrice Pellegrin's Kimonanthe (part of Diptyque's boutique-only Collection 34) such an attention-worthy release.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Persolaise's Scents For Winter 2016 In Parfum Plus

Please click here to read my latest piece for ParfumPlus magazine, in which I run through my scented recommendations for winter 2016*. If you flick through to the next page of the article, you should also find an Arabic translation.


* The article is an edited version of a post that first appeared here on; click on this link to read it.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Persolaise Review: Cologne Du 68 from Guerlain (Sophie Labbé; 2006)

The soundbites
If Cologne Du 68 were a song, it would be Generator (1st Floor) by Freelance Whales.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be your favourite smart-casual, white summer shirt.
If it were a painting, it would be Renoir's Bal Du Moulin De La Galette.

The review
After well over a year of threatening discontinuation, it looks as though the string-pullers at Guerlain have finally decided to cut their ties with an underestimated member of their troupe: Cologne Du 68, composed by Sophie Labbé. So before every single bottle disappears from the shelves, here's a quick shout out in its defence. Principally a juxtaposition of solar citruses with more decadent, sugary, ambery notes, it achieves that beaming, toss-of-the-hair, happy-chic nonchalance which so many scents with similar aspirations fail to deliver. Or, to put it in Guerlain-history terms, it bridges the gap between the lip-licking sensibilities of, say, L'Heure Bleue and the more effervescent, more daylight-focussed aesthetics of Eau De Guerlain or the Aqua Allegoria scents. With its feast of notes (68, to be precise), it creates a symphonic - and yet never overwrought - olfactory expression of a contented sigh, an exhalation of breath that marks the mental shift from the demands of the morning to the more relaxed mode of the evening. I've been fond of it since it was released and I shall be sorry to see its unforced charm leave the Guerlain line-up. Do try to find it while you still you can.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette obtained by the author in 2016]


PS For more on the scent, check out this characteristically comprehensive article from Monsieur Guerlain.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Persolaise Review: Sideshow from Gri Gri (Anaïs Biguine; 2016)

The soundbites
If Sideshow were a sculpture, it would be David Cerny's floating hand.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a little girl's pink party dress, made out of gleaming vinyl.
If it were a mood, it would be defiance.

The review
The issue of political correctness rarely comes up in perfume discussions. Granted, it appears with heart-sinking regularity when the subject is perfume advertising - is it really so difficult to break away from dubious images of twig-thin, pre-pubescent women? - but it's a rarity when the matter at hand is the actual concept behind a fragrance. When it does raise its impish head, it serves to prove just how provocative a medium perfume can be, crystallising social norms and forcing us to question assumptions we too easily take for granted.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Complete Persolaise Christmas Gift Guide 2016

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will be aware that, over the last few days, I've been posting Christmas gift recommendations under the tag #PersolaiseXmas. All those posts have now been brought together below, so I hope they give you some shopping inspiration!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Persolaise On Feelunique

image: Feelunique

If you have a moment to spare, please head over to Feelunique to read the first two articles I've written for them as one of their new male contributors. Click on this link for my thoughts on the best ways to buy perfume online and on this link for a piece on gender-fluid scents.



Friday, 25 November 2016

Spices, Deserts & Body Heat - Persolaise Perfume Recommendations For Winter 2016

In recent weeks, much of my time has been taken up with writing articles for other platforms, which means that I haven't had many opportunities to share my scented views with all of you here on To try to redress the balance, I've put together a list of some of the new (and new-ish) releases which have caught my attention and which would make worthy additions to your winter wardrobe. I realise I've already reviewed some of them on this blog, but never mind: they deserve the repetition!

Here's the rundown...

Galop D’Hermès from Hermès (Christine Nagel)
Christine Nagel’s take-over as in-house perfumer at Hermès achieves completion with this impeccably balanced juxtaposition of a leather note with rose. Thigh-smacking earthiness on the one hand; eyelash-fluttering coyness on the other. The stirrup-shaped bottle is attention-grabbing too.

Au Coeur Du Désert from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer)
More than a decade ago, Andy Tauer released his classic amber composition, L’Air Du Desert Marocain. With the help of the blogosphere, it became the stuff of modern legend. Now he gives us this extrait-strength version, still swooning beneath the power of labdanum and vanilla, but lighter on the smoky notes. Gorgeous.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Persolaise Review: Apsu from Ulrich Lang (2016)

The soundbites
If Apsu were a colour, it would be jungle green.
If it were a texture, it would be the flesh of a honeydew melon.
If it were a sound, it would be air bubbling up through water.

The review
In objective terms, Ulrich Lang's new Apsu - named after the Babylonian proto-god of the "watery depths beneath the earth" - is certainly green. But its greenness is of a curious, perplexing character, falling neither into the figurative, 'cut grass' camp nor into the galbanum-heavy territory redolent of peas and peppers. Instead, its viridian nature is aqueous, albeit not in the ozonic, seaweedy, overly-synthetic manner that blights countless other so-called 'marine' scents. Here, the impressionistic spring bubbling across the top notes is genuinely fresh, as though it's just flowed through a travel-brochure-lake, where the reeds sway in time to the breeze and the heat never rises above 25 Celsius. Key to this effect is what I read as a banana facet (a combo of the jasmine and water lily listed on the official notes?) as well as a goosebump-inducing sprinkling of pepper, both of which bring vim and velocity to what might otherwise have been a pleasantly forgettable piece of work. Picture a tanned diver enjoying a snorkel in tropical waters and you'll get a sense of this perfume's dynamic. Confident and intriguing, Apsu adds a novel twist to the current mini-revival of 70s-style green scents. Do check it out.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Ulrich Lang in 2016.]


Friday, 11 November 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: July to September 2016 [part 2]

Here's part 2 of the latest mini-review round-up. For part 1, please click here.

Missoni edt from Missoni (Quentin Bisch; 2016)*
Last year's rainbow-hued, calorie bomb of an edp made more diffusive and, astonishingly, more sugary. Diabetics beware.

Another Oud from Juliette Has A Gun (Romano Ricci; 2015)*
Well yeah, thanks for being honest. Usual, Arab-oudy mix of rough woods & thick-set musks, with fruity edge.

Gentlewoman from Juliette Has A Gun (Romano Ricci; 2015)*
Mainstream cologne, with emphasis on neroli and bergamot, perhaps to suggest femininity. Certainly gentle.

Incense Oud from Nicolaï (Patricia De Nicolaï; 2016)*
Green, artemisia-based oud of Oud Sublime, with more ecclesiastical bent. Attractive, but less memorable than Sublime.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Event: Frederic Malle At Selfridges London

This chap needs no introduction. Frederic Malle, the man behind one of the most influential perfume brands of the 21st century, will be making a personal appearance at the London branch of Selfridges on Thursday 17th November, from 5:30 to 6:00. For a free ticket, please send an email to If you are able to spare the time, I'd certainly recommend going along; he's a fascinating charmer.


PS For part 1 of an in-depth interview I conducted with Malle in 2013, please click here.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Scents Of The 70s - Persolaise In The Sunday Times Style

image: Sunday Times Style

An exciting weekend for me! Tomorrow (Sunday 6th November) sees the publication of my first piece for The Sunday Times' Style magazine, in which I examine the current revival of 70s-style perfumes, as seen in the latest releases from Amouage, Tom Ford and Arquiste, amongst others. If you're based in the UK, please do buy a copy.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the online version of the article.

UPDATE: The article was shortlisted in the 'Independent - News Press' category of the 2016/17 UK Jasmine Awards.


Friday, 4 November 2016

Trends In Masculine Perfumery - Persolaise On Fashionbeans

The award-winning journalist, Lee Kynaston, has just written a piece for Fashionbeans in which he explores current trends in male perfumery. The article includes contributions from yours truly, as well as various other industry commentators. My input aside, I'd say it's well worth your time; please click here to read it.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Ace Of Bases - Persolaise Article In The Latest Scented Letter

I'm really pleased to announce that the latest edition of The Scented Letter - The Perfume Society's multi-award winning magazine - features an article by yours truly on the subject of specialty bases used in fragrance composition. With contributions from industry veteran Frederic Malle, Guerlain's in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser and Fragrances Of The World research historian Will Inrig, the piece aims to lift the lid on a little-known corner of the perfume world... a corner that is at least partly responsible for the existence of classics like Mitsouko, No. 5 and Angel. Other writers whose work is contained in this issue - which is loosely based on the ever-controversial notion of scent as art - include Suzy Nightingale, Viola Levy, Tessa Williams, Jo Fairley and Kelly Hoppen. Only members of The Perfume Society can access The Scented Letter, so if you'd like to sign up - and enjoy a whole load of other fragrant perks - please click here.


UPDATE: The article was shortlisted in the 'Independent - Literary' category of the 2016/17 UK Jasmine Awards.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Persolaise Review: Dark Rebel Rider from John Varvatos (Rodrigo Flores-Roux; 2016)

The soundbites
If Dark Rebel Rider were a wardrobe accessory, it would be a dark grey scarf.
If it were a time of day, it would be that moment on a Friday evening when you decide to fill your room with some soothing candlelight.
If it were a food item, it would be... well, you'll have to read the full review below...

The review
Any of you who've ever bought the 99% chocolate from Lindt may have been as amused as I was by the "tasting advice" on the back of the packet. "To fully appreciate all its flavours," it says, "we recommend that you progressively develop your palate through our range of high cocoa content chocolate bars, starting with Excellence 70%, then 85% and finally 99%." This sense of working your way up to (or should that be 'into'?) an allegedly superior dark side is, of course, frequently applied to the world of scent. I don't intend to delve into the reductive 'mainstream is bad; independent is good' debate today, but I would like to spare a thought for those compositions which are somewhere in the middle of the 'mainstream to indie' spectrum. The gateway drugs.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Persolaise Review: Portrait Of A Lady hair & body oil and shower cream from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle - No. 5 body oil from Chanel (2016)

During the last couple of years, Frederic Malle has added several excellent ancillary products to his perfume range (a consequence of brand owner Estée Lauder's considerable skills and experience in this area?) including a blue-skied shower gel for Cologne Indelebile and a purring after-sun lotion for Carnal Flower. But his latest additions deserve to be singled out for particular praise. The shower cream for the celestial rose that is Dominique Ropion's Portrait Of A Lady is so indulgent, it's enough to make the most hardened, world-weary, office-battered person tear up their work diary and spend hours whipping up the lotion into a lather beneath a cascade of water. And as for the hair and body oil... well... 'decadent' doesn't even begin to describe it. Emphasising the berry, cedar and apricot facets of the perfume, it is a call to languorous sensuality, an invitation to stop the clocks, turn down the lights and find a willing subject for a massage. Oh, and the sleek, amphora-like bottle housing this nectar is a triumph of minimalist packaging design.

Chanel are equally adept at releasing more-ish body products to go with their scents and they too have outdone themselves with their body oil for No. 5. Relatively dry in texture (it doesn't leave an obvious sheen on skin) the scent of the oil hovers somewhere between the personalities of the eau de toilette, the Eau Premiere version and the new L'Eau iteration, which is to say that it pushes the citruses front and centre, whilst keeping them wrapped in that familiar ivory-white fur coat of aldehydes, jasmine and musks. More importantly, in much the same way as the Portrait product, it encourages slowness. You can't apply this juice with a quick spritz. The very act of covering one's body with a relatively heavy fluid requires more time and attention than we normally reserve for our perfume rituals, so kudos to Chanel and Malle for making us pause for luxurious breath.

[Reviews based on samples provided by Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle and Chanel in 2016.]


Friday, 14 October 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: July to September 2016 [part 1]

Round-up time again. Here are some Twitter mini-reviews, covering the period July to September 2016:

Classique Essence De Parfum from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Daphne Bugey; 2016)*
The familiar mimosa/jasmine/orange blossom accord cranked up with buckets of sugar. Too much to take.

Le Male Essence De Parfum from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Quentin Bisch; 2016)*
Original's fougère structure is intact, with cardamom at top & a sweeter base. Teenage boys can rejoice.

Modern Muse Nuit from Estée Lauder (2016)*
She's all grown up! Translucent florals expertly contrasted with burnt nut notes. Genuinely intriguing work.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Persolaise Review: Galop D'Hermès from Hermès (Christine Nagel; 2016)


The soundbites
If Galop D'Hermès were a painting, it would be Two Dancers In The Studio by Degas.
If it were a piece of music, it would be Opening Titles from Michael Nyman's Carrington soundtrack.
If it were a fabric, it would be two-tone silk, reflecting either red or deep brown, depending on how it catches the light.

The review
The link between symmetry, bottles and perfume is so well established, it can justifiably be taken for granted and pushed to one side. But I was reminded of its enduring validity when faced with a flacon shaped like a stirrup. The wishbone-like structure is reminiscent of that other paragon of symmetry, the isosceles triangle, as well as a pair of scales, in perpetual balance. What's more, a stirrup doesn't convey an idea of general symmetry but, with its dual prongs, the specific symmetry that exists between two different forces.

I wonder if Christine Nagel was aware of what the bottle for the new Galop from Hermès was going to be when she composed the perfume. Or maybe the flacon was inspired by the scent? Either way, what we have here is a soul-soothing exercise in harmony: the most delicate tug-of-war between a rose and a leather, with the two supporting each other as much as trying to outdo each other. You could read all sorts of significance into the choice of the materials (my favourite theory is that represents Jean-Claude Ellena handing over the reins to Nagel: the masculine making way for the feminine) but don't let any of that navel-gazing get in the way of the composition's beauty. The florals are fully-fleshed, blushing and wind-swept (but maybe a touch too synthetic?), whilst the tannery facet is injected with the same inky, petroleum energy that fuelled Cuir D'Ange. And between them we have a bridge of luminous, green citrus, just on the edge of perception, uniting the opposite poles, like a pair of reins bringing a rider in contact with a steed. But which of the two is in control? Galop never quite lets you decide.

[Review based on a sample of extrait provided by Hermès in 2016]


Friday, 23 September 2016

Persolaise's Sexy Perfumes Revealed

Following the publication of my recent Grazia article on the latest crop of 'sexy' perfumes, I received several emails from non-UK-based readers who were disappointed that they couldn't get their hands on a copy of the magazine in their own countries. So, now that a few weeks have passed since the piece appeared, I'm able to reveal which scents made the final cut.

In brief, the idea was to recommend new (or fairly new) feminine compositions which might feasibly fall under the 'sexy' banner. The exercise proved more interesting than I thought it would, as it re-emphasised that transparency remains the primary mode of modern scent aesthetics. Even when reaching for somewhat predictable sensuous materials (ie woods, spices, white florals) most of the perfumes below stop themselves from conveying an excessively retro vibe because of a sheer, illuminated quality they share. Is this a sign that we're finally moving away from sticky fruitchoulis? We can but hope.

Here comes the list...

Friday, 16 September 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: April to June 2016 [part 2]

Here's the second part of my latest round-up of mini-reviews:

Eau Parfumée Au Thé Noir from Bulgari (Jacques Cavallier; 2015)**
Excellent attempt to create oud cologne. The agar-rose-leather heart is recognisable, but never weighty.

Omnia Paraiba from Bulgari (Alberto Morillas; 2015)*
Milky spices beneath a well-rendered mango note. Very 'palm trees by the pool', not unlike Nicolaï Eau Corail.

McQueen from Alexander McQueen (2016)** 
Innocuous, unremarkable white floral, leaning towards fresh jasmine notes. Oh Kingdom, we could really do with you now.

Eau De Sens from Diptyque (Olivier Pescheux; 2016)*
Promising orange blossom note - linked with shampoo cedar - loses conviction and dissolves into salty nothingness.

Colonia Sandalo from Acqua Di Parma (2016)*
A fresh, sweet leather-patchouli, somewhere between YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme and Tom Ford Tuscan Leather.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Persolaise Review: Scent Of A Dream from Charlotte Tilbury (Francois Robert; 2016)

The soundbites
If Scent Of A Dream were a song, it would be Le Freak by Chic.
If it were a colour, it would be pale yellow.
If it were a hairstyle, it would be Farrah Fawcett's Charlie's Angels look.

The review
I try not to attach too much importance to the somewhat flexible 'facts' presented in most press releases. But the marketing material for make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury's debut fragrance - Scent Of A Dream - was impossible to ignore. Apparently, her perfume "can ATTRACT others and also change the energy frequency of the people and environment around you." It has "the power to attract your magical future." It can help you "CREATE YOUR OWN DESTINY through its psycho-active, fleurotic frequency." You can use it to "create an EMOTIONAL PATHWAY with someone else's energy centres." And as if that weren't enough to make you rush out and buy every single bottle within a 20-mile radius, it also "acts as a portal that attracts LOVE, LIGHT, POWER, POSITIVITY AND SEX to the wearer." Phew! Does anyone else need a cigarette? Oh, and in case you're wondering, those capitals aren't mine; they're taken straight from the press pack.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

What Was I Wearing? - Persolaise On We Wear Perfume

image: We Wear Perfume

A few weeks ago, the lovely people behind We Wear Perfume asked if I'd mind getting in the 'interviewee' seat for a change. The results of our encounter have now been posted online. If you'd like to find out why perfume is important to me and, of course, which particular scent I was wearing on the day, click here to read the piece. Oh, and while you're at it, do take the time to read some of the other interviews.


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Sexy Perfumes In Grazia Selected By Persolaise

Here's a word you will hardly ever find me using to describe perfume: 'sexy'. It reeks of cliches and has had pretty much all its power bludgeoned out of existence by unimaginative advertisers and marketing departments. But you know what they say: go big or go home. So the latest edition of the UK's Grazia magazine (on newsstands now) contains an article by yours truly in which I present not just one but twelve new fragrances that are part of an intriguing wave of modern olfactory sexiness. If you're based in Britain, I'd love it if you rushed out and bought a copy.


UPDATE: To find out which perfumes I chose for the article, please click here.

UPDATE: The article was shortlisted in the 'Soundbite - Magazine' category of the 2016/17 UK Jasmine Awards.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: April to June 2016 [part 1]

Here we go, ladies and gents: another round-up of my mini-reviews from Twitter, spanning the months April to June.

La Petite Robe Noire eau de parfum intense from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2016)*
Familiar sweet black cherry core is intact, made more mature with tannin-like blueberry note. Amiable.

Aqua Allegoria Pera Granita from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser; 2016)*
As it says, a summery pear over crushed ice. Then come the musky-fruity shampoo notes. Congenial.

L'Homme Ideal eau de parfum from Guerlain (Thierry Wasser & Delphine Jelk; 2016)*
The sweet, woody almond of the edt, made more romantic with a helping of dusky rose. The best of the Ideals.

Halfeti from Penhaligon's (Christian Provenzano; 2015)*
Another entry in the faux-Arabian genre, filled with ersatz rose, oud and spices. Has few distinguishing features.

Blue from Kenneth Cole (Mathieu Nardin; 2015)*
Apple, citrus, ambery woods, freshness, transparency. In other words: another clone of Cool Water, albeit a decent one.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Persolaise Review: No. 5 L'Eau from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2016)

The soundbites
If No. 5 L'Eau were an item of clothing, it would be a simple, short-sleeved linen blouse.
If it were a colour, it would be ivory.
If it were a time of day, it would be 10 in the morning on a Saturday, when the weekend is still full of promise.

The review
A few days ago, at a local branch of a ye olde generic perfume departmente, I overheard two teenage girls deciding which tester to grab for a quick spritz. 'Oooh, what about Chanel No. 5,' one of them said, chuckling, 'you can't go wrong with that.' Her friend paused for a moment and frowned. 'No,' she said, 'I think I do like it. But it's a bit too grown up for me.' That sums up the issue which has almost certainly led to the brand releasing a new flanker to their icon: No. 5 L'Eau, composed by Olivier Polge.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Persolaise Review: Oud Sublime from Nicolaï (Patricia De Nicolaï; 2016)

The soundbites
If Oud Sublime were a colour, it would be deep maroon.
If it were a fabric, it would be expensive upholstery velvet.
If it were a piece of music, it would be J P Rameau's Tambourin - Pièces De Clavecin.

The review
Trust me: you want to know about this oud. For one thing, it's by Patricia De Nicolaï, which means it has 'try me' written all over it by default. But more importantly, it bucks the trend and brings something novel to the far-too-crowded-to-be-funny-any-more oud genre. What is its trick? Well, simply put, it's a green oud. With the help of a bracing, astringent artemisia note - not miles away from the wasabi accord we saw last year in Panorama - Nicolaï shakes off all but the most tenuous links between her oud and the pseudo-Arabian cliches that have blighted this style of perfumery in recent years. Indeed, she almost dispenses with the oud vibe altogether. But it never quite disappears, adding weight to the whole, grounding it and causing the accompanying rose, styrax and typically refined Nicolaï amber to appear more stately. Oud Sublime's elegance is thoroughly buttoned-up-French, but also rakish, like a vision of Versailles-dwelling aristocrats shedding their formalities, their refinement and their clothing to indulge in a spot of debauchery on the lawn. What's not to love?

[Review based on a sample of "elixir de parfum" provided by Nicolaï in 2016]


Friday, 5 August 2016

Persolaise Review: Les Exceptions (Oriental Express, Cuir Impertinent, Woodissime, Chyprissime, Supra Floral, Fougère Furieuse & Over The Musk) from Thierry Mugler

It's not often that you catch Thierry Mugler on the back foot. In fact, as far as its fragrance range is concerned, I don't think there's ever been a time that the brand has reacted to other creators' trends, as opposed to forging its own. But one of its most recent scent developments is rather surprising: a high-price-tag, 'exclusive' range. It's available only at a few outlets across the world. It comes in standard bottles. It's sold as unisex. And the names of its scents make overt references to specific perfume families or materials. In short, it's the very thing several other brands have been doing for quite a few years. And that's a description that's rarely applicable to the house that has given us Angel, Alien and Womanity.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Persolaise Review: Solar'1 from Jazmin Saraï (Dana El-Masri; 2015)

The soundbites
If Solar'1 were a colour, it would be burnished gold.
If it were a poem, it would be Ozymandias by P B Shelley.
If it were a texture, it would be dense, warm olive oil.

The review
You become a bit blasé about independent scent houses, complaining that they're re-hashing familiar ideas. But then you smell a vial of cynical crud from a 'designer' brand, and you're suddenly reminded that old ideas, if they're well-executed, are unquestionably preferable to some of the nonsense that passes for perfumery in this day and age. Enter: Solar'1, the latest release from Canada's Jazmin Saraï. Perfumer (and founder) Dana El-Masri suggests the scent ought to be paired with D'Angelo's Africa, but I sense something more primal at work here. Full of the sorts of resins and unguents one could imagine in the air at an Egyptian embalming ceremony, Solar'1 dances to the sound of an ancient drum, whirling the darkest, smokiest elements of labdanum, cocoa, osmanthus and castoreum into a moonlit brew. What's most remarkable is that none of it ever feels heavy, so although it bears more than a passing resemblance to the likes of, say, Nanban from Arquiste, it doesn't share those scents' heavy-handedness or strident insistence. Commendable work.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Jazmin Saraï in 2016]


Friday, 22 July 2016

Persolaise Review: Lonesome Rider from Tauer Perfumes (Andy Tauer; 2016)

The soundbites
If Lonesome Rider were a texture, it would be: dry, raw linen.
If it were a colour, it would be: sandy beige.
If it were a place, it would be: the crest of an Atacama dune beneath a midday sun.

The review
You can tell an independent brand has come a long way when it starts playing with its own mythology. In 2006 - a mere 10 years ago, take note - Andy Tauer released Lonestar Memories, his scented love letter to an idealised cowboy, complete with leather, coffee and a campfire. Although the fragrance's boldness dismayed many sniffers, those who fell for its charms - yours truly included - did so with complete abandon, glad to be taken on an exhilarating olfactory journey from the wildness of the outdoors to the intimacy of an end-of-the-day moment of solitude. As far as I'm aware, the brand's bestseller has always been L'Air Du Désert Marocain, but for some of us, Tauer's depiction of the virile, gentle, slightly melancholy cowboy remains his crowning achievement. And now, he's given us a sequel... or at least, a scent that many of us would like to consider a sequel: Lonesome Rider.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Summer Break 2016

Although the world feels as though it has lost every single one of its fragile little marbles during the last few weeks, the passage of time hasn't slowed one bit, which means we've reached the stage where I traditionally bid you farewell for a few weeks. But don't worry: several review posts have been scheduled to pop up between now and the end of August, covering the latest releases from Tauer, Jazmin Saraï and Nicolaï, as well as a new 'exclusive' range from one of perfumery's most successful brands.

Be good while I'm away... but not too good ;-)


Friday, 15 July 2016

Persolaise Review: Baptême Du Feu from Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake; 2016)

The soundbites
If Baptême Du Feu were a piece of music it would be Metamorphosis One by Philip Glass.
If it were an image, it would be a bright sari seen in the distance against the backdrop of the Rajasthani desert.
If it were a colour, it would be a rusty red, tinged with ochre.

The review
Serge Lutens has kept the register of his 'mainstream' line very quiet in the last few years (see L'Orpheline or La Religieuse). And sure enough, his latest, Baptême Du Feu, put together by Christopher Sheldrake, is in a similar vein. However, as the perfume's bombastic name suggests, a new element has entered proceedings: danger. Although its impact never reaches a level that one could call 'loud', somewhere within the deceptively simple construction of Baptême lies a hotbed of emotion, keeping itself in check beneath the inscrutable facade. This contrast manifests itself as a jammy, rosy and very convincingly gingery exterior placed over a layer of dry spices (mainly fenugreek, to my nose) and leather. The drydown may be a touch too creamy and faint, but that's a price I'm willing to pay for what comes before: a compelling statement on white-knuckled restraint, a la Phillip Glass on piano, full of intriguing shifts and subtleties. Thumbs up.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Serge Lutens in 2016.]


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Persolaise Guide To The Best Oud Perfumes In ParfumPlus

Some of you may remember that in 2014 I published my guide to the best oud perfumes (please click here to read it). An edited version of that post has now appeared in Dubai's ParfumPlus magazine: click here if you'd like to check it out.

Oh, and come back on Friday for another chapter in the endless oud narrative...


Friday, 8 July 2016

Persolaise Review Angel Muse (Quentin Bisch; 2016) & A*Men Pure Tonka (Jacques Huclier; 2016) from Thierry Mugler


The soundbites
If A*Men Pure Tonka were a colour, it would be a near-black purple.
If it were a piece of music it would be In Da Club by 50 Cent.
If it were a fashion accessory, it would be a wide, heavy, bronze-coloured bracelet.

If Angel Muse were a texture, it would be the softness of caster sugar.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a baby pink, backless t-shirt.
If it were a place, it would be a spot a few yards away from the entrance to Charbonnel & Walker on Bond Street.

The reviews
Mugler's flankers tend to fall into one of two camps: they either add an entirely novel twist to the original perfume or they exaggerate one of its existing facets. Last year's A*Men Ultra Zest was an example of the former, so it's not surprising that this year, for their masculine release, they've opted for the latter. A*Men Pure Tonka (put together by Jacques Huclier) is our familiar, fuzzy-chested demon from 1996 - with his coffee, cocoa and patchouli - except that here, he's grown an equally fuzzy beard. The patchouli, although still present, has been trumped by an oversized coumarin note (the substance being one of the main constituents of both the lavender and tonka beans cited on the official notes list), creating an effect that is literally bittersweet. Even as it tries to win you over with a coating of sugar, it delights in giving you the odd nip. He's playfully cynical, this chap: the kind of guy who parties harder than anyone else because deep down he knows the end of the world is just another Nicolashka away. In other words, he's entertaining company.


Equally worthy of your time is Angel Muse, Mugler's latest addition to their unstoppable bestseller, this time composed by Givaudan's Quentin Bisch. In the 20+ years since the original Angel sugared its way into our bloodstreams, tastes and fashions have changed, so it's fascinating to ponder exactly why Muse works so well as a more modern Angel. My theory's simple: the sweetness has been tempered with a sprinkling of 'healthier' notes. Yes, the syrup is still very much present, but it's now paired with a saltiness (hazelnut), a sharper citrus facet (grapefruit) and a more prominent dose of spices (pepper). This beautiful assortment rests not so much on patchouli - as in the original - but on vetivert, a material which, with its combo of smoke and liqorice aspects, has always balanced the syrupy and the savoury. In other words, Angel has gone all super-food on us. And she smells very attractive for it.

[Reviews based on samples of eau de toilette and eau de parfum provided by Thierry Mugler in 2016]


Monday, 4 July 2016

Super Scent - The Very Best Of Hermès

Hermès founder, Thierry Hermès

Guess what: I found this Super Scent list very difficult to compile. But for an unexpected reason. As I explained to Candy Perfume Boy when I had the pleasure of bumping into him recently, what made our Dior and Chanel lists challenging for me wasn't working out which scents ought to occupy the top spot - that was always clear in my head - but what to select for the other positions. In the case of today's subject - the eternally classy Hermès - it was well nigh impossible to place the fragrances in a definitive rank order. The brand has several perfumes which I consider worthy of high praise, but pitting them against each other was agonising.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Time For Another Super Scent Teaser

Here we go again, folks. On Monday, the Candy Perfume Boy and I will reveal the latest brand to be added to our Super Scent collection.

The rules of our little enterprise:

- 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
- refrain from sharing the list with anybody else until it's published

The list will be revealed on Monday 4th July at 12:00 pm UK time... so don't miss it!


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Persolaise Review: Boy from Chanel (Olivier Polge; 2016)

The soundbites
If Boy were a fictional character, it would be: Sydney Carton from A Tale Of Two Cities.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be: a double-breasted, beige jacket.
If it were an image, it would be: Bathers (aka Divers) by George Hoyningen-Huene.

The review
I get the feeling Olivier Polge is having fun at Chanel. His Eau Vive flanker to Chance fizzed with more exuberance than we'd seen from the brand for a while. And the well-regarded Misia saw him enjoy a carefree romp through violet fields taken straight from perfumery's golden years. His latest creation, Boy - part of the limited-distribution Exclusif range - suggests that he remains in a liberated mode, even if, in terms of its olfactory profile, it isn't anywhere near as attention-grabbing as its predecessors.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Non-Perfume Post: Looking For Hope Beyond The Broken Facade

Please note the subject of today's post is not perfume. Scented service resumes tomorrow with a review of Chanel's new Boy.


I realise no-one visiting this site during their commute to work or their mid-morning cappuccino break expects to come across views on political matters. I also realise that most of my readers are based outside the UK. However, the events that have taken place in Great Britain over the last few days are so monumental and so far-reaching, that I have allowed myself to publish this very brief post about my reaction to the recent EU Referendum. In the past, several colleagues in the 'critical community' have made similar diversions and written pieces about situations in Paris or Eastern Europe or the USA. I take my cue from their boldness.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Persolaise's Scents For Summer 2016 In Parfum Plus

Please click here to read my latest piece for the Middle East's ParfumPlus magazine, featuring a travel-inspired selection of perfumes for the summer*. You may be interested to learn that this issue of ParfumPlus also contains an interview with Camille Goutal.


* The article is an amended version of a recent piece which appeared on; click here to read it.  

Friday, 17 June 2016

Persolaise Review: White Luminous Gold from Michael Kors (2015)

The soundbites
If White Luminous Gold were a colour, it would be an easy-on-the-eye yellow.
If it were a texture, it would be the softness of mimosa blossoms.
If it were an item of clothing, it would be a wide-brimmed straw hat, ready for the summer.

The review
You don't see much written about the Michael Kors scent collection on the blogosphere. But since the beginning of the century, the Lauder-owned brand has been releasing a stream of competent fragrances: largely pleasant, by-the-numbers creations, of the sort beloved by people who buy only one or two bottles per year, usually at a duty free store. Then, a few months ago, they gave us the Gold trio. Granted, two of the scents in the set - Rose Radiant Gold and 24K Brilliant Gold - aren't notable for their inventiveness: the former is a relaxed, sunset-cocktail-sipping tuberose/ylang and the latter is a breezy, light-salad-at-lunchtime floral which, if you sniff hard enough, presents a sedate sweet pea facet. However, White Luminous Gold is an altogether more intriguing prospect. Fizzing to life with convincing citrus notes (an allusion to the luminosity in the name?) it then presents a cascade of white chocolate shavings as well as a shimmer of dessert-like green notes before settling on restrained woods and musks. In perfume-geek-speak, it's 'Habit Rouge meets Coromandel meets Dune', with a dash of grapefruit and plum for originality. All of which makes it one of the most welcome fresh orientals we've had for a while. Do seek it out.

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


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

New Perfume Space At Selfridges & London Perfume Shopping Guide Updates

image: Selfridges

As it's been almost a year since I posted my all-new London Perfume Shopping Guide, I thought I ought to give it a bit of a plug. I've been updating it regularly, so please do take a moment to check out its current version (click here). Its most significant recent development is the inclusion of a brand new fragrance and home scent space on the ground floor of Selfridges. It replaces the niche-like counters they had on the lower ground floor (which stocked Diptyque and L'Artisan Parfumeur) and it brings several new brands onto the store's roster, including - surprise surprise - Frederic Malle, which is clearly going through an expansion following its acquisition by Estée Lauder. Selfridges have also managed to get nationwide exclusivity for L'Artisan Parfumeur, which means that their London store is now the only place in the city where you can sample the Puig-owned brand's wares and check out their new, rather beautiful packaging. Other names you'll find in this elegant enclosure are: Penhaligon's, Ormonde Jayne, The Fragrance Kitchen, Miller Harris, Cire Trudon and Jusbox.

Happy shopping!


Friday, 10 June 2016

Persolaise Review: Myths Woman (Nathalie Lorson) & Myths Man (Karine Vinchon, Dorothée Piot & Daniel Visentin) from Amouage (2016)

The soundbites
Myths Man
If it were a colour, it would be: metallic grey
If it were a piece of music, it would be: Holst's Mars
If it were a texture, it would be: baked carbon 

Myths Woman
If it were a colour, it would be: livid green, with facets of earthy brown
If it were a piece of clothing, it would be: a long, high-collared cape
If it were a texture, it would be: parchment

Friday, 3 June 2016

Gift Recommendations For Father's Day 2016

It's that time of year again when dads get their own share of the shopping spotlight. So if you're looking for gift ideas, please take a moment to scroll through my Father's Day recommendations; they were all posted on Twitter at some point over the course of the last fortnight.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Persolaise Review: Muguet Porcelaine from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2016)

The soundbites
If Muguet Porcelaine were a colour it would be: aqua green with a suggestion of pink
If it were a piece of music, it would be: Alone In Kyoto by Air
If it were a texture, it would be: the flesh of a ripe cantaloupe

The review
It's difficult to know where to begin a review of Muguet Porcelaine... which is probably why, for several weeks, I haven't. Various angles have jostled for attention within my head, but because they're all equally important, they've cancelled each other out and led to nothing more than stultified inertia. For instance, it would be valid to view Muguet within the context of the Hermessence collection, the high-price-tag range devised by Hermès to showcase their perfumer's more impressionistic, haiku-like creative tendencies. It would be similarly valid to consider the perfume in terms of a technical accomplishment: thanks to restrictions on key materials, producing a convincing muguet (ie lily of the valley) has become something of a challenge for scent-makers across the globe. And it would also be valid - nay: crucial! - to evaluate Muguet as the final artistic expression of Hermès' aforementioned perfumer, the one and only Jean-Claude Ellena. Yes, you read that right: the UK release of Muguet Porcelaine was accompanied by official confirmation that this particular fragrance would, indeed, be Ellena's swansong for Hermès.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Where Will They Take You? - Perfumes For Summer 2016

Regular readers will be aware that, for me, the summer usually involves travel. However, for various reasons, this year is shaping up to be rather different... which perhaps explains why I've recently been fixated on the idea of linking perfumes to specific holiday destinations. So, as a means of getting this mini-obsession out of my system and, hopefully, providing you with some inspiration, here are my 'scented city' recommendations for summer 2016.

Mumbai -- Salomé by Papillon
India’s most vibrant city is an onslaught of smells, sights and sounds. Liz Moores’ highly-praised Salomé is equally outgoing, combing leathers, balsams and woods with a massive dose of skin-hugging cumin. The two were made for each other.

Orlando -- La Petite Robe Noire by Guerlain
The delights of Disney may not be to everyone’s taste, but sometimes it’s fun to give in to the child-like allure of sugar, giggles and fruity innocence. Guerlain’s cheeky bestseller – with its juxtaposition of black cherry with sweet notes – is a scented trip to a sparkling fairyland.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter: January to March 2016 [part 2]

The second and final part of my January-to-March mini-review round-up.

Fahrenheit Cologne from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Addition of sweet citrus is touch incongruous, but the more translucent violet-leaf heart works well. Thumbs up.

CK2 from Calvin Klein (2016)*
What to say? CK One is an absolute icon, a memento of its time. This is a faceless, gutless exercise in timidity. Wasabi note? Err, I don't think so. Orris? Doubtful. Pebbles??? Yeah, okay. It's just another pseudo-woody, translucent 'youth' scent. Sigh.

Eternity Night from Calvin Klein (2014)*
Oh dear, the descent continues with this half-baked plum pudding. Boredom-inducing musky drydown.

Eternity Night Man from Calvin Klein (2014)*
This one's even more depressing. Some vague notion of fruity woods embroiled in dull musks. Mindless.

Black Lapsang from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Wild, heady souq + jasmine notes. Dense, dark and dangerous. More leather than tea, but then, so is lapsang.

Tobacco Flower from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Strange, sticky, engaging concoction. Bitter, lemony tobacco smoke piped through dark treacle. Too overbearing?

Golden Rose from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Meeting point of Nahema and Noir Epices - fiery, spicy, ambery rose. Somewhat derivative, but enjoyable to wear.

Black Orange Pekoe from Bohdidharma (2015)*
Another spicy rose, this time with the camphor edge of Axe Oil. Heavy, stewed black tea lurks in background.

Poison Girl from Christian Dior (François Demachy; 2016)*
Oh the quips I'm tempted to make about toxins & the sugar bombs in this sickly, ditzy, soulless flanker to the 80s classic.


* sample provided by the brand
** sample obtained by the author

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

"Seventeen Families" - An Exclusive Interview With Francis Kurkdjian [part 2]

Part 1 of this exclusive interview with Francis Kurkdjian was published yesterday on Now Smell This; please click here to read it.

Persolaise: If you could place perfume anywhere in a department store, where would you like it to be?

Francis Kurkdjian: By itself.

Ah, but it's always going to be next to something.

Maybe it should be somewhere quieter. It should be in an environment where every brand could talk about what they are, not being lined up like tin cans.

Which young perfumers are you currently excited about?

Only one, because I know him very well. A perfumer I've trained for 3 years now. His name is Jerome Di Marino. He's with me at Takasago. It's not easy for him, because it's so different from my time. Everything is super regulated. 20, 25 years ago, when I started, brands were kind of separated. Guerlain was owned by the Guerlain family. Coty was not as big. L'Oreal was not as big. LVMH was not as big. Now, if you don't belong to the right supplier company, there are things you can't work on. Why are Givaudan doing all the Tom Ford fragrances? Because they're part of the core list of Estée Lauder. So basically, a big corporation divides its portfolio into parts, it gives one part to IFF, one part to Firmenich etc, and that's it. So if you don't belong to one of these big companies, you don't have the chance to play.


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