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.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"An Easy Subject To Lie About" - An Exclusive Interview With Francis Kurkdjian [part 1]

Part 1 of my exclusive interview with perfumer Francis Kurkdjian has just been published on Now Smell This; please click on this link to read it. Part 2 will be published here on tomorrow.


UPDATE: Part 2 has now been published. To read it, click here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Live Twitter Coverage From Fragrance Foundation UK 2016 Awards

On the evening of Thursday 12th May, the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation will hold its annual awards ceremony and I hope to bring you live tweets from the event. You should be able to see them in the widget below. Or you can follow the action on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #FragranceAwardsUK.

May the best perfumes win!


Monday, 9 May 2016

Fragrance Foundation UK Best Female & Male Perfume Commercial Award Nominees 2016

It's that time of year again when the UK branch of the Fragrance Foundation hands out its awards. As ever, my interest in the world of film prompts me to pay particular attention to the 'Best Commercial' nominees; it's always fascinating to see how brands try to use audio-visual channels to sell their scents. So, here are this year's contenders, divided into 'male' and 'female' categories.

I can't say any of them display an especially novel approach to the task at hand. From the ladies' camp, I enjoy the kooky humour of the Chanel (good Abba cover, by the way), the quirky, off-the-wall quality of the Missoni and the infectiousness of the Guerlain (although the novelty of the Petite Robe Noire campaign has now worn off). But the overall vibe is very safe. The boys' offerings aren't any more original. The Miyake actually does a decent job of conveying its perfume's characteristics and the Paco Rabanne stands up to a few repeat views. However, other than that, it's predictable sailing all the way.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Gender-Bending Perfumes In Grazia, Chosen By Persolaise

Well, here's a bit of excitement! The latest issue of UK's Grazia - out today - features an article by yours truly about gender-bending perfumes: ie 'feminines' which would work well on men, and vice versa. Please do pick up a copy from your nearest newsagent. As it happens, the entire issue features a gender-bending theme - amongst other articles, it contains a survey of women's views on current identity issues - so it's well worth a read. Plus, it has Beyoncé on the cover. What else do you need?



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