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.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Beaver Review

By the time a UK distributor was found for Zoologist perfumes earlier this year, Beaver (one of the house’s first releases back in 2014) had already been reformulated. Director Victor Wong has, to his credit, made frank admission of the change; spoken openly about poor sales of the original; and, so long as concentrate of the latter remained, offered customers the option to purchase either it or the new iteration.
Beaver 2.0 is a surprisingly green, citrus-floral affair, its fresh linden (a.k.a. lime) blossom theme painted with aldehydic and ozonic flourishes. Underneath is a very elegent and complex-smelling blend of musks, light cedar-type woods and just a hint of something dark. I understand the original went for a much bolder leather/castoreum base and can imagine a stronger clean/animalic contrast working well in this composition.

Nose: Chris Bartlett
House: Zoologist
Release date: 2014 (original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): linden blossom, fresh air, light citrus, castoreum, iris, vanilla, smoke, undergrowth, animal musks, ash, cedar, amber.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Persil Biological Laundry Detergent Review

Jean-Claude Ellena likes to tell the story of the time he was turned away at Edmond Roudnitska’s doorstep because his clothes smelt too strongly of washing detergent. As a non-perfumer, I’m happily free from any such constraints and can enjoy the daily ritual of putting on a freshly laundered shirt and taking a deep breath as my body heat warms the fabric. 
Granted, many laundry care products these days are obnoxiously strong and with the advent of scent boosters like Lenor’s massively successful Unstoppables, only getting more obtrusive. 
Persil’s green-capped liquid detergent however, bucks the trend and smells fantastic: fresh and green with a big dose of very incense-like aldehydes (my favourite part). The scent lasts well on laundered items yet is subtle enough not to clash with the perfumes I wear. The biological formula is effective, too.