Friday, 24 August 2018

Persolaise Mini-Reviews: April to July 2018 [part 2]

For more mini-reviews, please click here.

Oud extrait de parfum from Maison Francis Kurkdjian (Francis Kurkdjian; 2018)*
When Kurkdjian released his first Oud in 2012, he did what many perfumers claim - but fail - to do: present a genuine bridge between east and west, or in this case, between Europe and Arabia. His composition contained the requisite animalic-medicinal growl of oud, but it also depended on the pulling-power of more occidental citruses, woods and synthetic musks. The result was one of my favourite scents of the 21st century, an olfactory homage to boundary-breaking, in the same way that The English Patient was a literary and cinematic treatise on borders and artificial territories. Now Kurkdjian has released an extrait version. It’s just as wonderful as the first and probably more timely. Do seek them both out if you haven’t already.

Invictus Aqua from Paco Rabanne (Nicolas Beaulieu, Juliette Karagueuzoglou; 2018)*
Somewhere, in a post-apocalyptic landscape, the neo-Neanderthals douse themselves with a desolate concoction of brainless citruses and even more moronic amber-woods, ie this new version of Invictus. Or as I shall call it from now on: Invidious.

Olympéa Aqua edp legere from Paco Rabanne (Loc Dong, Fanny Bal; 2018)*
As far as modern, floral-vanillic-patchouli feminines go, this one isn’t more offensive than any others. In fact, it even hints at the existence of a more sophisticated interior now and then. But it’s hard to get excited about such trend-followers.

Absinth from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2007)*
Reportedly designed to encourage irresponsible behaviour, but I’d say its ambery woods are far too clean and streamlined for that. Yes, a curiously saline civet enters proceedings, but it doesn’t bring much danger. 

China White from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2008)*
Typically opaque, impenetrable block of musky woods supporting a dense, powdery rose. Certainly nowhere near as delicate as china. 

Narcotic V from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri)*
The tuberose that allegedly contains no tuberose. A monumental, Poison-style white floral - with coconut, greens and hair spray - that’s more layered and nuanced than most offerings from this brand. 

Pardon from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2011)*
Animalic, chocolate-y amber, cushioned by fuzzy fur notes. Not unlike a steroid-imbibing version of Dune. As the scent of reconciliation, it does possess a core of vulnerability. 

Blamage from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2014)*
Almost comically oversized synthetic woods beneath a bitter, cough-syrupy, citrus leather. Has absolutely no qualms whatsoever about announcing its presence to all within a 20 mile radius. 

Baraonda from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2016)*
Coconut vodka? Digestive biscuits crushed into sickly peach cocktail? Artificially coloured petals? It all feels rather misguided, like some tart - either male or female - desperate to make one last attempt to find true love, but going about it the wrong way. 

Hindu Grass from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri)*
One of the more literal of the Nasomattos, a smooth, polished-glass masculine, heavy on patchouli and vetivert. A touch of honeyed sweetness for intrigue. 

Duro from Nasomatto (Alessandro Gualtieri; 2007)*
A contrast between well-scrubbed cedar and far darker, dirtier woods. And of course, an entire warehouse-ful of musks in the base. Almost disappointingly well-behaved. 

Isle Of Man from Frapin (Alienor Massenet; 2017)*
Superbly blended citrus opening - great use of grapefruit - moving to a fascinating metallic-saline accord and then a solid, if somewhat dull, vetivert. A burst of liberalism followed by buttoned-up conservatism.

Eternity from Calvin Klein (Sophia Grojsman; 1988)**
An 80s classic, although this one wasn’t characteristic of that shoulder-padded decade. To say that this was a hit in the Middle East - which is where I was when it emerged - would be a laughable understatement: you could smell its polished, glass-like florals just as frequently as you encountered the witchy tuberose of Poison a few years earlier. Perhaps it hasn’t aged all that well - or maybe it’s just been reformulated - but as an expression of one era’s desire to carve its own identity, I’ve always thought it was pretty special

Dune from Christian Dior (Jean-Louis Sieuzac, Dominique Ropion; 1991)**
Still one of my favourite perfumes of all time: a unique mix of green, marine and vanillic notes that completely transcends the sum of its parts and takes on a haunted identity all its own. Shadows, tears and broken promises.

En Passant from Frederic Malle (Olivia Giacobetti; 2000)**
I know, I know, this isn’t usually regarded as a lily of the valley scent - lilac is the main note cited in the official info - but I’ve long seen it as one of the finest modern renditions of the *effect* of sticking your nose into a fresh bouquet of those delicate white bells. Easily one of the most heartbreaking compositions in the Malle collection, it is also one of the most beautiful things ever made by Giacobetti, and that’s really saying something. Wearing it is like experiencing that poignant shiver of nostalgia that tells you time never stands still... not for a moment. It is always en passant.

Drakkar Noir from Guy Laroche (Pierre Wargnye; 1982)**
Don’t hate the original. Nowadays, it’s easy to put down Drakkar Noir because its green-citrus-woody structure (largely a result of the use of dihydromyrcenol) has become one of the most familiar olfactory identities of all time, ie ‘generic man’ smell. But back in the 80s, it really was a novelty and its spotless virility captured the imagination of thousands. So, boys and girls, let us take a moment to appreciate the original 80s hunk from Guy Laroche, as composed by Pierre Wargnye.

Timbuktu from L'Artisan Parfumeur (Bertrand Duchaufour; 2004)**
I’m not sure 26 degrees counts as a heatwave, but this is one of my favourite warm weather scents: a modern masterpiece, sending tendrils of incense, cypriol and vetivert up into the realms of the gods. A fragrance as contemplative as the finest clasped-hand Buddha statue, it is easily one of the best compositions of the last 20 years.

Cristalle from Chanel (Henri Robert; 1974)**
Has there ever been a more fitting name for a perfume? Brittle, fragile and yet not to be trifled with. A citrus chypre as sparkling as a frozen drop of dew on a blade of grass.

Original Eau De Cologne from 4711 (Wilhelm Muelhens; 1792)*
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this stuff is cheap and available in pretty ordinary establishments: it is still superior to most so-called colognes out there, many of which cost ten times as much. Yes, its formula must have been changed over the decades - which vintage perfume’s hasn’t been? - but it remains as recognisable as ever, with that whoosh-of-air-to-the-brain balance between its citrus facets and its herbs. It’s also available in many different forms, notably a shower gel and some truly superb hand wipes which should be de rigueur, I’d say, in everyone’s wallet, purse, glove compartment etc. And it's one of those rare perfumes about which everybody has a story.

Tresor from Lancome (Sophia Grojsman; 1990)***
A massive 90s hit, featuring the perfumer’s trademark base of heavy-hitting musks beneath rose, violet and peach. The brand usually marketed it as a softly romantic floral, but I always thought there was something far more dangerous at its core: molten lava, conquering all in its path. Buxom curves. A deadly kiss in a bottle, if ever there was one.


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


  1. Thank you for these mini reviews! I love them. They are concise and right on point!


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