A selection of mini-reviews published on social media between October and December 2018. For more, please click here.
Encens Asakusa from L’Orchestre Parfum (Anne-Sophie Behaghel & Amelie Bourgeois; 2017)*
Surprisingly Catholic incense opening - given the Japanese name - with the familiar strains of cedar and flintiness. We’ve had this several times before, perhaps with a less vanillic drydown.
Chanel body massage oils (2018)*
Back in the 90s, when everyone was either wearing or being surrounded by CK One, my favourite body product to accompany the scent was a massage oil. For one thing, the perfume worked beautifully in that particular guise. For another, it allowed you the rare pleasure of applying a fragrance not on yourself, but on someone else, with all the slowness and sensuality this entailed. Over the years, I’ve wished more brands would follow Calvin Klein’s example, but I’ve had to accept that maybe mutual perfuming just didn’t tickle our collective buying fancy. And now, look at what Chanel have gone and done. To tie in with their spa at Paris’ Ritz, they’ve released not one but four massage oils, each one housed in an oversized, 250 ml bottle, all the better to iron out the knots in those aching limbs, my dear. There’s a vanilla, a jasmine, a rose and what they’ve called an Orient. I’ve tried the last two and I can reassuringly claim that they’re as velvety, indulgent and supple as you’d hope, soaking into the skin at a speed that allows for a lengthy, all-encompassing relaxession. Their actual smells tend towards the subtle, but that’s to be expected: these aren’t replacements for the brand’s fine fragrances and I dare say they haven’t been designed to compete with them. The rose is a serenely smiling haze of pinkness, whereas the Orient is a soapy, romantic, incense-inflected vision of a decadent harem, as seen through 19th century, western eyes. They’re both a treat.
Cedarise from Hermetica (2018)*
Superb interplay between cedar and cardamom (with rose, incense and pepper) creates an effervescent, electric, very modern piece of work, a la translucent Mark Buxton compositions. Perhaps drydown is too musk-reliant, but the whole works.
Bursts straight out of the bottle with dense, honeyed amber notes, laced with tobacco. Not sure the woods temper the sweetness very successfully. Could’ve done with more of a buzz.
Megaflower from Hermetica (2018)*
Oversized orange blossom - with vanilla-vetivert base - that also manages not to smell too heavy or overpowering. Expands into one of those ‘so large you no longer notice it’ auras of scent. Solid work.
Sandalsun from Hermetica (2018)*
A sandalwood made angry and uncouth through the inclusion of tuberose and those rasping hazelnut notes that always threaten to shred the back of your throat. Remains true to its form until the end of its drydown.
Greenlion from Hermetica (2018)*
The brand’s most overtly commercial offering. Sharp citrus + woody amber with a fizzing green note at the top. Not much to roar about.
Patchoulight from Hermetica (2018)*
The opening justifies the name beautifully. Berries, bright citruses and pepper over wood: light reflecting off the polished surface of a gorgeous, ancient desk. Then it turns into one of several Portrait Of A Lady wannabes.
Vaninight from Hermetica (2018)*
As the moniker suggests, an attempt to present a dark vanilla. And it mostly succeeds, layering benzoin, patchouli and musks over the main ingredient. Sweetens as it goes along, but remains a dessert you wouldn’t mind licking.
The eau de toilette may have been yet another entry in the underwhelming canon of modern, faux-citrus-woody masculines, but the new eau de parfum of Gentleman is an entirely different sort of chap. Following a saturnine burst of pepper, it leads to a date-to-remember heart of fire-licked spices, a swirl of powdery balsams and a suavely-judged wink of vanilla, with some cool iris shimmering in the backdrop, just for contrast. Great work from Cresp and Lorson, and proof that not all mainstream releases have to be dismal clones of each other.
Love In White For Summer from Creed (2018)*
What to say about this mercifully rare example of a Creed flanker? Its bergamot opening feels like it’s come straight from a hydroponic orchard looked after by Cybermen. Its magnolia heart is as refined as the floral accords in the shampoos at the pound shop. Its sandalwood base is to wood what Nescafé is to coffee. Its ambergris note would make any self-respecting whale throw up. And its evocation of summer is like a soaking August in Blackpool. But otherwise it’s lovely.
When a perfume’s name feels entirely right, you know it must possess higher-than-usual levels of coherence between concept and execution. Cue: Cuir Celeste. Like Jean-Claude Ellena’s equally aptly-christened Cuir D’Ange, its central leather note - heavy on the musky pepperiness of ambrette - is caressed by suede-lined wings that render it weightless and lift it up towards the stars. Along the way, a nod to Dior Homme appears in the form of a parched carrot-iris note. And the inclusion of an almost amber-like glow recalls Calice Becker’s Cuir De Lancôme. All in all, excellent company for one of this brand’s best offerings so far. Personally, I would have preferred a touch more presence and projection, but then maybe celestial leathers are meant to leave you longing for more, like a display of shooting stars that ends much too soon.
** sample obtained by the author