Friday, 21 June 2019

Persolaise Review: Lavender Extrême from Tom Ford (2019)

Oh look, Tom Ford is still insisting that it’s 1975. Mind you, having just listened to the news, I can’t say I blame him for wanting to take us into the past. But nostalgia is a dangerous thing, because it can blind you to the fact that, behind the sharp lapels, the oversized hair dos and the illuminated dance floors, the world of a few decades ago wasn’t quite as groovy as some of us would now like to believe. Especially if you were a woman, black or gay. Or, heaven help you, all three! That said, Ford’s new Lavender Extrême isn’t a trite exercise in olfactory reminiscing. Thankfully, it takes what’s best about the past, and re-casts it with welcome touches of modernity.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Persolaise Mini-Reviews: January to March 2019

A selection of mini-reviews published on social media between January and March 2019. For more, please click here.

Opus XI from Amouage (Pierre Negrin; 2018)*
Now that the frenzied pitch of oud mania has abated, the air is clear for some genuinely interesting, innovative takes on the material. The latest is Opus XI, in which Amouage's Creative Director Christopher Chong takes inspiration from fake news - and the fragrance industry’s heavy use of lab-made agar substitutes - to produce an ingenious mix of natural and synthetic ouds. With support from bitter herbs and spicy resins, the star ingredients form a rocket-fuelled inferno of a scent, somehow redolent both of smouldering plastics and body-heated leathers. Consider me convinced.

Santal Noir from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
Smelling this you’re reminded that François Demachy worked at Chanel and was almost certainly well acquainted with Egoïste. That scent’s distinctive baked-fruit-plus-sandalwood identity is the backbone of Santal Noir. The rose note is an added twist.

Rose Kabuki from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
The fine, white, sweet powders of theatre-land are convincingly sprinkled over a sheer, decorous rose. Ellena probably executed this concept more memorably in Rose Ikebana, but the lack of prominent fruity-watery notes makes Kabuki worth checking out.

Belle De Jour from Christian Dior (Francois Demachy; 2018)**
I love pears, but I concede that sometimes they feel like little more than mushy apples for little children. Their somewhat shapeless, inchoate personality is brought to the fore in this silly, far-too-sweet confection.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Persolaise Review: Kouros from Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Bourdon; 1981)

During the lecture I recently delivered at Brasenose College’s Arts Week, I presented several olfactory expressions of female and male identity over the years. I confess it was with a desire to shake things up a little that I decided one of my masculine scents would be YSL’s Kouros. Composed by Pierre Bourdon and released not long after the brand’s industry-redefining Opium, it took its place amongst what we now, with the benefit of hindsight, realise was a long-running trend for testosterone-heavy, gym-going, perspiration-soaked visions of unashamed butchness. Dior’s Jules was in a similar vein, as were, to some extent, Chanel’s Antaeus, Guy Laroche’s Drakkar Noir and several other hairy-chested beasties.


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