Friday, 26 February 2016

Persolaise Review: Neroli Portofino Forte & Neroli Portofino Acqua from Tom Ford (2016)

Until now, I've been ambivalent towards Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino (2011). On the one hand, I've always felt suspicious about and appalled by its price (£145 for 50 ml as I type these words). But on the other, I've had to concede that, at a time when well-composed, citrus-focussed compositions are hard to come by, it is one of the most endearing 'pure joy' scents currently on the market. Years ago, even the humble 4711 was able to deliver that peculiar blend of the serene and the energetic - the tension-sapping sensation that a holiday is just a lemon squeeze away - which we expect from its genre. But of course, it isn't anywhere near as vivid as it used to be and the rising cost of citrus oils - as well as restrictions placed on their usage - have changed the competent cologne from a fixture in everyone's bathroom cabinet to that most dubious of beasts, the aspirational luxury scent. That said, I think my feelings towards NP are about to remove themselves from the fence, because Mr Ford has just given us two effervescent flankers to his bestseller: Neroli Portofino Acqua and Neroli Portofino Forte.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Persolaise On BBC Radio Chatting About Love Potions

A few weeks ago, I appeared on BBC Hereford & Worcester's Malcolm Boyden show to share my thoughts on some research that had just been published about that dear old chestnut: the love potion. Or, to be more precise: scientific research into the possibility of creating a love potion. If you'd like to read a summary of the research, please click here. And to listen to my interview, please press Play below or click on this link to be taken directly to YouTube. Please note the YouTube file is audio only.


Friday, 19 February 2016

Persolaise Review: Peau De Bête from Liquides Imaginaires (Karine Bouin; 2015)

When Karine Bouin's Peau De Bête pounced on us last year, it elicited a fair number of gasps, with several writers stating they were overwhelmed by its scandalous dosage of animalic notes. As is often the way, the hype led to disappointment in some quarters, because leather-lovers hoping for the ne plus ultra of barnyard orgies - in other words, scentusiasts with considerable experience of the sweatier end of the olfactory spectrum - soon realised that this isn't the hoof-stomping, nostril-flaring Minotaur some would have us believe. But that shouldn't be held against the creative forces at Liquides Imaginaires. After all, with the name they've chosen, they've given us a clear indication of how this scent ought to be read: it's not just about the beast, but about skin as well. So yes, there's no denying that bodily, near-scatological odours form the sinuous backbone of this fragrance's composition: you can't use substantial quantities of cumin, cloves and leather materials - made transparent through the use of cedar and citrus notes - without evoking steaming flesh. But it's the nature of the fabric covering the backbone - the texture of the perfume - that's far more compelling. Situated somewhere between velvet, suede and angora, it envelops the wearer like a hybrid epidermis, sleek and inscrutable, yet concealing a deep-rooted core of heat. Last year's Alaïa scent played the skin-hugging card, but it lacked sufficient personality to be distinctive. Papillon's Salomé dished up some gorgeous dirt, but didn't know when to pull back. And Frederic Malle's new Monsieur. opted for riot-causing levels of testosterone, but then forgot about the need to be beautiful. Somehow, Peau De Bête succeeds where all three of those scents fall short, and it does so without ever raising the volume of its growl. 

[Review based on a sample of 'eau de peau' provided by Liquides Imaginaires in 2015.]


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Perfume Mini-Reviews From Twitter - October to December 2015 [part 3]

Here's the third and final part of the latest compilation of mini-reviews.

Fresh Couture from Moschino (2015)*
Yes, the bottle is original & chuckle-worthy. The scent is a cliched mandarin-floral over huge musks. Oh well.

Jour D'Hermès Gardenia from Hermès (Jean-Claude Ellena; 2015)*
Original's abstract floral bouquet, with emphasis on textured, assertive, vintage gardenia. Delightfully 80s.

Alien Oud Majestueux from Thierry Mugler (2015)*
Unconvincing oud note rammed rather unkindly into the familiar musky-jasmine core. We don't really need this.

Modern Muse - Le Rouge from Estée Lauder (2015)*
The original's transparent floral heart, punctuated by fruity, berry notes that work surprisingly well.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Persolaise Review Showcase: Replica from Maison Martin Margiela (various perfumers; 2012-2015)

Ever since the Maison Martin Margiela brand made its perfume debut - and won considerable critical acclaim - with Daniela Andrier's Untitled, critics and commentators have appeared reluctant to write about its subsequent scent offerings. But it has plodded on regardless, starting a sub-range called Replica and building it up to what is now a portfolio of 10 fragrances. If you should ever encounter them at a department store, I'd recommend a sniff. For one thing, they've been composed by some of the world's top perfumers, including Jacques Cavallier and Alienor Massenet. More interestingly though, they occupy a space at the intersection of several practices and styles within scent-creation, in much the same way that the brand's clothing line found an intriguing territory at the point where fashion meets anti-fashion.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

"You Have To Give, Give, Give" - Nathalie Lorson On Lalique, Le Labo & L'Oreal

Lalique's Encre Noire enjoys what you might call a god-like status in the perfume community. Not long after it emerged in 2006, its uncompromising, legible structure of vetivert and musks turned it into a must-have for scentusiasts hoping to add a bold, animalic, yet polished creation to their collections. It soon achieved a cult following. And it's now something of a modern classic, as seen by the fact that it made it to Number 12 on the Basenotes Top 500 last year. In 2009, the brand gave us a female version of the scent. 2013 saw the release of a 'Sport' edition. But towards the end of 2015, Lalique decided to return to the perfume's founding principles to put together an 'Extreme' flanker. The person they recruited for the task was the composer of the original, Nathalie Lorson of Firmenich, whose many credits include Cuir 28 for Le Labo, Autoportrait for Olfactive Studio and Black Opium for YSL.

When the veteran perfumer - who has worked alongside the likes of Jean-Louis Sieuzac and the "fantastic" Sophia Grojsman - popped into London for the launch of Encre Noire À L'Extrême, I took her back to the 2006 release and asked her whether its formula really is as simple as it seems.

Nathalie Lorson: Yes, it is. Vetivert and musks. But there are different facets of the vetivert. For example, natural vetivert has a grapefruit effect. So I reinforced it with some grapefruit. I played with different facets of the vetivert.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Persolaise Review: Monsieur. from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Bruno Jovanovic; 2016)

My closest friend recently discovered Malle. After decades of not considering perfume to be an important factor in how he presents himself to the world, he got in touch and asked for advice on choosing his first 'serious' scent. It should come as no surprise that one of the brands to which I directed him was the red-and-black paragon of cerebral, Gallic elegance. He was horrified by the price tags - he'd had no idea quite how expensive fragrances can be - but sufficiently impressed with the products to walk away with a bottle of Vetiver Extraordinaire. Since then, he's gone back for more: French Lover is a new addition to his collection. He's got them both on regular rotation and he tells me he's delighted with them. So, as he's a recent convert, I'm intrigued to learn what he'd make of the house's latest release, Monsieur. by Bruno Jovanovic. Allow me to elaborate.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Malle, Oud & Sex - An Interview With Dominique Ropion

A few months ago, when he was in London for an IFF event, I managed to have an all-too-brief conversation with one of the undisputed masters of scent composition: Dominique Ropion, author or co-author of Dune, Pure Poison, Alien, Amarige, Jungle and, of course, several acclaimed creations for Frederic Malle, including Carnal Flower and Portrait Of A Lady. What's it like working for one of perfumery's most exacting creative directors, I asked him. Who has the ideas?

Dominique Ropion: Both of us, in fact. We've known each other since 1988, I think, which is a long time. We used to work together in Roure Bertrand Dupont. From time to time, I whisper some thoughts to him - it's all very informal - and I say, "Frederic, what do you think of this or that?" He says it's bad or he tells me to work on it more.


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