The other day, I put up an Instagram post singing the praises of Odin’s 02 Owari: one of the most photo-real citrus fragrances I’ve ever had the pleasure of bringing into contact with my skin. This led to a discussion about similarly holographic scents (Cologne Bigarade came up more than once). And then I remembered that I haven’t yet written a single word about Marcelle — one of a small number of releases from the brand Marie Jeanne (founded by Georges Maubert of the Robertet family, who hired perfumers Michèle Saramito, Karine Vinchon-Sphener, Mylène Alran and Sidonie Lancesseur for this project, although his website doesn't specify the author of each scent). It may not reinvent the peel, but Marcelle's evocation of a bowl of fresh bergamot, grapefruit and oranges - their skins glistening with water - is so note-perfect that reservations about a possible lack of originality have to take a bit of a back seat. One spray, and you feel as though the brightness dial in your whole world has been turned right up to the ‘Provence’ setting. Compositions in this genre either work or they patently don’t: the nose doesn’t accept approximations. And Marcelle most certainly works.
PS Do check out Marcel too: a more traditional cologne, in the sense that it contrasts its citruses with marked herbal notes.
[Reviews based on samples of eau de cologne provided Bloom Perfumery, London, in 2019.]
I continue to subscribe to the view that slotting perfumes into gender categories is mindless. But I am also aware that The Real World doesn’t share this conviction and insists on presenting some scents as appropriate only for women and others only for men. Of course, somewhere in the middle of that great divide we have unisex fragrances - a category which we’re often told is growing, but which still seems to be viewed with fear and suspicion by many. It was this tricky notion of unisex composition that was uppermost on my mind when I was wearing the debut quartet from Kierin, an independent brand founded by Mona and Didier Maine De Biran, all of whose scents have - so far, anyway - been made by Mathieu Nardin.
I've just realised that I completely forgot to let you know that the April 2019 issue of Business Traveller featured an article by me on the subject of Provence-inspired perfumes. The piece should still be available to read on the tablet edition, so if you'd like to check it out, please search for 'Business Traveller' on your device.
Following the last aborted attempt (apologies again!) I'm hoping to broadcast the next episode of Love At First Scent at 3 pm UK time (10 am New York; 6 pm Dubai) on Saturday 18th May on Facebook Live. I hope you'll be able to tune in.
If you're going to be in the Oxford area on Friday 17th May, please consider coming along to a lecture I'll be giving at Brasenose College as part of their Arts Week. I'll be talking about scent as a form of expressing identity and how the language of perfume can conceal or reveal different aspects of ourselves. For more information, please click here.
As an intellectual exercise, Mathilde Laurent’s new Oud & Menthe for Cartier (an addition to the brand’s well-regarded but shamefully expensive oud range) is fascinating. How does a perfumer link two notes that, in many ways, could be seen as occupying opposite ends of the olfactory spectrum? Mint is cool, leafy, bracing, airy and rather too closely associated with the prosaic realms of toothpastes and shower gels. Oud is fiery, woody, animalic, overwhelming and indelibly assimilated into the air conditioning system of every shopping mall in Dubai. What could possibly connect the two?