Friday, August 5, 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.

Then again, as I've said before, nothing is ever quite as it seems on Planet Mugler. Whereas other companies - notably Dior and Chanel - have used their 'limited distribution' collections to showcase somewhat more specialist wares and project the sense that only discerning connoisseurs will appreciate them, the effect of the Exceptions scents from Mugler might be rather different. The brand's mainstream scents are already pretty unconventional. Indeed, I don't know of many brands that would've been happy to release something as challenging as Womanity. So I wonder if, with typically Mugler-esque perversity, the Exceptions might come to be seen as the house's 'easier' offerings. Will they form a bridge to the black-hole weirdness of Alien or the dubious fishy-ness of the aforementioned Womanity?

My supposition is based on the fact that, as offerings from the Mugler universe, the Exceptions are pretty 'straight'. Don't get me wrong. Many of them are beautiful. Oriental Express is one of the most heart-stopping updates of Shalimar I've tried for years, Cuir Impertinent is a devilishly bracing remix of the leather theme and Supra Floral forms a superb, bouquet-bursting tribute to Chanel No. 19. But none of the scents in this collection is strange or otherworldly or perplexing. In other words, none of them feels very Mugler. But perhaps that's the point. Maybe because we all thought that an 'exclusive' range from Mugler would be uber-bizarre, the powers that be decided to wrong foot us and head for the other end of the creative spectrum, the one occupied by sophistication, elegance and couture-like refinement. It'll be fascinating to see if the move pays off. Whilst we wait to find out, I'd urge you to try the perfumes for yourself; each one is eminently worthy of a serious sniffing session. Below, you'll find my thoughts on them.

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Over The Musk (2014)*
If there is a dud in the range, it's probably this one. I think I can see what co-creators Olivier Polge (before he moved to Chanel) and Jean-Christophe Hérault tried to do here - create a musk that is less sweet and more animalic than what's currently in vogue in this genre - but the result isn't as courageous as the concept. Still, the scent's woody/medicinal aspect forms a pleasing contrast with the musks.

Chyprissime (2014)*
Brave name! In this day and age, probably nothing could live up to it, and sure enough, this scent doesn't. But as an attempt to present a modern chypre - ie woody rather than mossy - Polge and Hérault's work here is commendable. The green/lavender/pear opening - which actually pushes the whole in the direction of fougères - is most intriguing.

Woodissime (2016)**
Linking osmanthus with oud is an idea we've seen before - notably in Mona Di Orio's Oud - but the confidence of the fruit note (courtesy of osmanthus' peach/apricot/plum facet) is what makes Hérault's Woodissime thought-provoking. It's almost as though he wanted not so much to create a super-woody composition - as its name would suggest - but to find the extreme edges of the boundaries between heavy, syrupy fruit and the barks of various trees. By and large, he's succeeded, even of Woodissime's drydown gets too close to the realm of 80s, furniture-polish-inflected masculines.

Fougère Furieuse (2014)*
In order to make the traditionally male preserve of the fougère more feminine (whatever that means) Polge and Hérault have brightened up the familiar lavender-coumarin-moss accord with a translucent, minty neroli, thereby imbuing the scent with a compelling, novel texture. From a distance, you think it's going to have the gentle abrasiveness of cut grass, but up close, it's a cuddly marshmallow. I wouldn't say it's furious, but it's certainly got a lot of character.

Supra Floral (2014)*
Another Polge-Hérault co-production. As I said above, if you love Chanel No. 19 you cannot afford not to try this. And even if you don't, I'd urge you to check it out. From its gasp-inducing galbanum opening, through to its hyacinth heart and incense-laden soul, it is a verdant delight and one of the most unashamedly joyous florals we've had for quite some time.

Cuir Impertinent (2015)*
Composed solely by Hérault, this vigorous creation reaches into perfume history, adopts the tobacco-tangy-bitter leather accord we know so well from classics such as Knize Ten, and updates it with a sharp, spicy, minty effect at the top (reportedly produced by a star anise note). I fell in love with it at the very first sniff.

Oriental Express (2014)*
Although both Hérault and Polge are credited as the authors of this beauty, it's the latter whose sensibilities are most evident in its construction. Polge is well-known as the man who gave us Dior Homme, in which he placed a carrot seed note over iris and baked apples to create an urbane modern oriental. Here, he returns to the carrot trick, but links it to the queen of all orientals, the sublime Shalimar, with her leathers and vanillas. Remarkably, the gamble pays off. Far from being a pastiche, Oriental Express is both classical and entirely 21st century. A real triumph and a joy to experience.

Persolaise

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

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for pointing out this line Persolaise. I wasn't aware of it (and probably won't be able to try it anyplace soon).
    Since Mugler's gourmand scents are not my cup of tea, I might like some perfumes from this line. Over the Musk, Chyprissime and Woodissime sound lovely to me. Do you know the price range?...hmmm, do I want to know it...?

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    Replies
    1. Neva, in the UK, they're £135 for 80 ml. Not cheap! Chyprissime is worth checking out, I'd say.

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  2. This line sounds great! Leave it to Mugler to be different by being less different! Do these have the incredible staying power of Alien and Angel?? And like Neva, I'm dying to know the price. Thanks for the heads up on what sounds like some great fumes.

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    Replies
    1. Celeste, your question about staying power is a good one. I'd say that, no, they probably don't have the ridiculous tenacity of Angel and Alien, but they do last pretty well.

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  3. In Canada they are $185 for the 80 ml bottle. The exclusive retailer for Canada since their release in 2014 is Hudson's Bay.

    -- Lindalo

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    Replies
    1. Lindaloo, thanks very much for this :-)

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