Monday, 22 May 2017

Saltus Review


In its primary sense, Latin saltūs m. means ‘jump, leap’ (cf. assault, somersault). It is to the secondary set of developed meanings ‘woodland, uncultivated land’ however, that Shyamala Maisondieu’s composition presumably points.
Uncompromisingly thujonic-terpenic, Saltus opens with a mix of cedar leaves, eucalyptus, camphor and incense. It’s green and sappy but also smells strongly medicinal and, as far as those around you will be concerned, you could as well dab on some tea tree oil.  
That there emerges from underneath the milky tones of ethyl laitone mixed with castoreum will do little to reassure others you’re not trying to treat some weird skin infection. 
A very interesting perfume that’s thoughtfully constructed but not one I’d really ever wish to wear. 

Nose: Shyamala Maisondieu
House: Les Liquides Imaginaires
Release date: 2015
Notes (per Fragrantica): cedar leaves, eucalyptus essence, camphor, styrax, ethyl laitone, patchouli, incense, tonka, castoreum artessence, Australian sandalwood. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Tellus Review


From the Latin tellūs f. meaning ‘earth, ground’, Nadège Le Garlantezec’s (Givaudan) composition magnifies patchouli’s earthy facets with the humid, soil-like smell of Geosmin. Beside some sebaceous nuances from costus oil replacer and further woody-spicy notes courtesy of Cashmeran, I find little else of obvious note.
The perfume is substantive and quite linear.

Nose: Nadège Le Garlantezec
House: Les Liquides Imaginaires
Release date: 2015
Notes (per Fragrantica): earth accord, Indonesian patchouli, Cashmeran, lily, costus, mosses, Ambroxan, fir balsam, cistus.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Cologne Indélébile Review


If Geza Schoen were to ever include in his Molecule line a dilution of Habanolide/Globalide, the complementary Escentric composition could well smell like Cologne Indélébile. Constituting half the formula, the distinctive starchy, metallic, hot-iron signature of the 11/12-pentadecen-15-olide isomers dominate this blend from top to bottom, relegating the hesperidic (orange blossom, bergamot, lemon) and floral (Hedione, narcissus) notes to mere supporting roles. 
Having transferred some from my skin to my jumper sleeve by accident, I understand why this is called indélébile - even after a laundry wash, I can still smell it over whatever musks are in my detergent :/
For a more pleasant take on the Nu Cologne genre, cf. Alexandra Kosinski’s work for ELd’O.

Nose: Dominique Ropion
House: Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle
Release date: 2015
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, lemon, jasmine, narcissus, orange blossom, neroli, musk. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Superstitious Review


When the director of a perfume line drops names like Arpège in the same breath as their new launch, it’s generally safe to put the whole thing down to exuberant marketing and  move on. Unless, that is, the director happens to be Frédéric Malle and the perfumer behind the creation Dominique Ropion. 
Conceived in the lineage of the great aldehydic florals that dominated feminine perfumery from the 1920s (No.5, Arpège etc) through the 1960s (Madame Rochas), Superstitious not only reads as a modern hermeneutic but links to André Fraysse’s totemic creation through the creative input of former Lanvin artistic director Alber Elbaz (who, incidentally, also re-designed Arpège’s packaging back in 2009 for the house’s 120th anniversary). 
In contrast to the self-styled retro chypres released by several indy outfits in recent years which are characterised by a heavy-handed use of animalics and muddy blends of natural extracts, Superstitious displays a resolutely modern aesthetic of precise, minimalist architecture and sheer radiance. 
Softening the harsher facets of the aldehydic high notes is a floral heart dominated by a classic combination of rose+jasmine+a Lilial-type muguet note and diluted with Hedione for brightness. This is balanced with a long-lasting, sweet peach/apricot note of sunny disposition that recalls those specialty ingredients that usually have ‘nectar’ in their name. Ionones meanwhile, serve as a customary bridge to the woody base notes of which sandalwood and Haitian vetiver are spoken of in the official description. Absent are the strong nutty associations carried by the latter, suggesting Ropion here perhaps followed Arpège’s model of using just a small amount of the oil to fill out a larger dose of the topped-and-tailed acetate. With a similar de-emphasis on vanillin/coumarin, the composition finally dries out to a very elegant blend of modern musks and a somewhat ambrox-y feeling amber(gris) note. 

Nose: Dominique Ropion
House: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
Release date: 2017
Notes (per Fragrantica): jasmine, rose, vetiver, patchouli, peach, incense, amber.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Civet Review


Conceptually, I like Shelly Waddington’s approach to the brief which alludes to the programmatic note without (to all intents and purposes) actually featuring it. 
A fruity-floral chypre, the composition features a lactonic peach note that, given the context, can’t help but recall Mitsouko which made famous Firmenich’s Persicol base. Where Jacques Guerlain’s masterpiece however, contrasted the sweetness of gamma-undecalactone with the austere dryness of vetiver oil (10%!), Civet links the fruit to a very dense, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink floral heart that undoubtedly contains a lot of quality naturals but doesn't leave much breathing space. 
Beyond the vintage allusions, Civet humorously conjures its namesake with a Kopi Luwak (civet-poop coffee) note that leads down to the sort of heavy, balsamic, blond woods+musk=tobacco note base which has become a sort of byword for niche perfumery. Needless to say, longevity is not an issue. 

Nose: Shelly Waddington
House: Zoologist
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): begamot, black pepper, spicers, tarragon, lemon, orange, carnation, frangipani, heliotrope, hyacinth, linden blossom, tuberose, ylang-ylang, canadian balsam, civet, coffee, incense, labdanum, musk, oakmoss, resins, russian leather, vanilla, vetiver, woodsy notes. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Nightingale Review


A somewhat more conventional scent from Zoologist, Nightingale is nonetheless a pretty chypre built around an old-fashioned pairing of rose and violet. As in Chanel’s Misia, the rose gets a raspberry jamminess thanks in part to the ionones and although some papery associations aren’t too well covered in the earlier stages of the perfume’s evaporation curve, the overall development is pleasing and ultimately reveals a base that to me smells mostly of labdanum, musks and a big dose of oakmoss replacer.

Nose: Tomoo Inaba
House: Zoologist
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, lemon, saffron, plum blossom, red rose, violet, oud, patchouli, sandalwood, oakmoss, olibanum, white musk, labdanum, ambergris.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Macaque Review


Just as ‘one swallow does not a summer make’, so the release of two galbanum+incense fragrances in 2016 does not signal a new trend. If it did though, I wouldn’t be complaining.
Where Tom Ford’s Vert d’Encens plays on the balsamic elements of galbanum more to an oriental effect, Zoologist’s Macaque goes fruity-floral with apple and some banana-ey ylang. Tucked in amongst the foliage is a green tea base (Givco?) that does well not to overwhelm the blend and, on skin in particular, I find the fond to develop a nice mossiness beside the wood and musks.
Another pleasant surprise from this house.

Ps. When are the marine animals coming?

House: Zoologist
Nose: Sarah McCartney
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): cedar, green apple, blood mandarin, olibanum, galbanum, honey, palisander rosewood, ylang, jasmine tea, cedarmoss, green tea, white oud, musk.