Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Fortis, L'Eau Forte Review

Fortis, ‘the strong one’ is certainly an apt name for this woody scent with oriental leanings. A nice nutty vetiver / cedar combo is here pitted against a not-so-nice cherry cough-syrup inflected oud base that smells very generic. Eventually, the rougher edges are rounded with a tonka/coumarin-vanilla-musk chord, but the medicinal quality persists. 

Nose: Sonia Constant
House: Les Liquides Imaginaires
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): saffron, cumin, agarwood (oud), cypriol oil, guaiac wood, cedar, amyris, vetiver, ambergris, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, musk.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Dom Rosa Review

Dom Rosa is a delightfully grown-up fruity-floral that captures all the sparkling joy of a glass of bubbly. The winey, slightly fermented scent of certain rose ketones is pushed in the direction of champagne with incense and pear and a hint of cassis. It’s refined, yet light-hearted. As the effervescence begin to fade, the scent grows in rosiness, a powdery veil of clean musks and light woods drawing the perfume to a delicate end.

Nose: Sonia Constant
House: Les Liquides Imaginaires
Release date: 2013
Notes (per Fragrantica): champagne, pomelo, pear, damask rose, cloves, olibanum, woody notes, cedar, vetiver, guaiac wood.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sancti, L'Eau Bénite Review

Hats off to Sonia Constant for one of the most novel and pleasing takes on the incense genre out there.
The concept for Sancti, L’Eau Bénite is ostensibly simple: contrast the cool, resinous scent of olibanum with a warm, ginger-driven spice accord. Sniff closely however, and the latter resolves into a fantastically well blended complex of zingy (mandarin-/) aldehydes and herbal notes (esp. coriander). Real ‘rabbit-out-of-the-hat’ stuff.
The composition remains bright and transparent for its duration, with a sheer woodsiness and unobtrusive musk fond as support.

Nose: Sonia Constant
House: Les Liquides Imaginaires
Release date: 2011
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, tangerine, pomelo, grapefruit, aldehydes, balsam fir, lavender, rosemary, pink pepper, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cedar, ambergris, patchouli, olibanum, myrrh, benzoin, labdanum, nutmeg.

Friday, 26 December 2014

L'Esprit Divin Review

Safraleine is a complex smelling molecule, being all at once spicy, warm and slightly phenolic thereby recalling saffron, tobacco and (p)leather. Here, it’s laid over a powerful, desiccated woody base that has a dark and slightly dirty animalic feel. 

Nose: Paul Emilien
House: Paul Emilien
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): ginger, Madagascar cloves, indian saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, amber, rose, vanilla, incense, grapefruit, palisander rosewood, sandalwood, patchouli, cyperus esculentus, woody notes, violet leaf, turkish rose, amber, musk. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Une Belle Journée Review

A berried-floral, Une Belle Journée starts off with a fresh, ozonic citrus accord linking to a red-purple heart of rose/geranium and violets. The latter’s sweetness is augmented with notes of cassis and musty, concord grape before ending up smelling principally of woodsy, celery-salty Hedione. 

Nose: Paul Emilien
House: Paul Emilien
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): lime, Turkish rose, mint, iris, mandarin orange, violet leaf, pink pepper, peony, rose, immortelle, geranium, jasmine, leather, oakmoss.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Pure Addiction Review

Why ‘Pure Addiction’ should have been chosen as the name for this very straightforward take on the woody-aromatic theme is anybody’s guess. For unlike By Kilian’s recent ‘Addictive States of Mind’ line which, at least notionally, took as its inspiration various psychoactive substances (cannabis, coffee, tobacco), Pure Addiction doesn’t even hint at anything in that direction.
The perfume opens with a classic hesperidic top to soft aromatic heart transition, the latter tending more to the culinary with hints of green kitchen herbs than fields of sharp, medicinal lavender. The complex doesn’t integrate well however, with the scorched woody base that sticks out like a sore thumb, despite some attempts at camouflaging it beneath a good dose of clovey eugenol.

Nose: Paul Emilien
House: Paul Emilien
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): cloves, cardamom, basil, bergamot, labdanum, cedar, sage, precious woods, amber, patchouli, white musk. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Carrousel Review

Carrousel opens with a waxy aldehydic citrus accord from under which develops a sweetish coconut lactone note. If the promised jasmine, violet, Turkish rose are present, then they must be dosed at homeopathic levels.

Nose: Paul Emilien
House: Paul Emilien
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): pepper, eucalyptus, grapefruit, lemon, jasmine, violet, Turkish rose, white musk, amber, vanilla.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Cynefin Review

Cynefin is a woody-aromatic perfume with poor tenacity.  
Lavender dominates a soft, herbal core whose greenness is, for a short while, given an ozonic-fresh, semi-sweet lift. The listed notes include various Givaudan materials, including their Orpur quality of violet leaf absolute. The latter’s near prohibitive cost however, means it’s likely only a very little is actually included, it functioning more as a verdant nuancer. After a couple of hours on skin, much of the scent’s aromatic character is lost and what remains are traces of a desiccated, Norlimbanol-type wood with subtle amber and musk accents.

Nose: Shyamala Maisondieu
House: Rouge Bunny Rouge
Release date: 2013
Notes (per official website): floralozone, angelica seeds, davana, violet leaf abs Orpur, lavender oil Orpur, Muguet, Velvione, Moxalone, Amber, Metallic Wood.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Embers Review

From ‘embers’ to ‘incense’ isn’t much of a leap, though I must admit a straightforward olibanum and amber scent wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
My reference for such perfumes remains CdG’s Avignon (Bertrand Duchaufour, 2002), despite the latter containing rather little actual incense oil (some reports claim 0% (!), others, circa 2%). In comparison to Embers, Avignon is more fizzy Coca-Cola, the pleasing note of Roman chamomile also seeming to lift the burden of a very labdanum heavy base.
Both though share a powdery-dry woodsiness that has a slightly burnt quality, like a piece of timber that has been run through a hot bandsaw. This becomes noticeable (and a bit fatiguing) much sooner in Embers where a spicy accord of nutmeg/cinnamon/clove almost seems to highlight it.

Nose: Shyamala Maisondieu
House: Rouge Bunny Rouge
Release date: 2013
Notes (per Fragrantica): nutmeg, pink pepper, cloves, incense, jasmine, freesia, labdanum, styrax, Peru balsam, woody notes.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Tundra Review

Perfumer Nathalie Lorson must surely have had Marc Jacobs’ Bang (Yann Vasnier, 2010) in mind when composing Tundra, so similar are the two fragrances. Both essentially consist of a peppery cedar wood accord contrasted with elemi. 
Bang was unique, containing a true overdose of pink and black pepper, as well Givaudan’s Pepperwood molecule that helps extend the effect of these rather volatile ingredients. I suspect many consumers found it just too sneeze-inducing though and for such reasons, Mme. Lorson was more restrained in her dosing. Instead, it seems, she accented the elemi, whose citrusy limonene provides a brighter counterpoint to the dark spices. Come the dry down, and Tundra remains on familiar territory, blending musks and woody-ambers with a prominent, powdery, Evernyl / Veramoss-type oakmoss replacer. 

Nose: Nathalie Lorson
House: Rouge Bunny Rouge
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): Bergamot, laurel, juniper, nutmeg, elemi, violet, cedar, musk, vetiver, pink pepper, moss, grass.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Silhouette Review

The popularity of the musky, spicy blond woods (read: Cashmeran driven) genre certainly seems to be on the ascent and Silhouette, by cosmetic brand Rouge Bunny Rouge, doesn’t stray too far from the basic theme.
Here, a fond of spicy (cinnamon, nutmeg), sensual woods and cosy amber is nicely balanced by a cade/birchtar note which provides a discreet aura of smoke.

Nose: Nathalie Lorson
House: Rouge Bunny Rouge
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): coriander, pimento, nutmeg, rose, atlas cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, musk, amber, guaiac wood, leather, juniper.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

In The Woods Review

The opening of In the Woods is promising:  fresh mint over a terpy-piney-spicy-incensey complex. So far as the listed notes go, there’s a studied harmony: pink pepper obviously overlaps in odour with black pepper, but also with elemi and juniper. It also blends well with citrus, which would have provided perfumer Clément Salva with an easy top to mid transition. That he instead went minty-green in the head notes is actually rather novel.
Like so many modern fragrances however, the base is all boring bulk – Cashmeran and Ambrox-type woody ambers and has little to recommend it save longevity.

Nose: Clément Salva 
House: eSENSielle
Release date: 2014
Notes (per aus Liebe zum Duft): Mountain hemlock, pink pepper, juniper, galbanum, stone pine, elemi, black pepper, geranium, mint, fir balsam, labdanum, cedarwood, cashmerewood, ambergris.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Anne Klein Perfume Review

The début perfume from American fashion designer Anne Klein was launched a decade after the label’s founder died. Created by Parlux Fragrances, Anne Klein for women is a rich and assertive fruity-floral.
Uniting the two themes is a lactonic bridge, the milky peachiness of C14 aldehyde (so-called) blending with a  salicylatey, creamy white floral complex. The latter includes jasmine and ylang-ylang, hinting at banana, while lily of the Valley odorants and galbanum cast a green hue over the composition.
As the perfume settles, a notable ambered, animalic facet develops out of the labdanum fond, though as usual, I find this much more pronounced on skin than on paper.
Best worn with Dynasty-style shoulder pads.

Nose: Unknown
House: Anne Klein
Release date: 1984
Notes (per Fragrantica): Aldehydes, galbanum, bergamot, hyacinth, neroli, cassis, jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, orchid, fruit, sandalwood, vetiver, musk, civet, benzoin, amber, vanilla.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

First Van Cleef & Arpels Review

I doubt if anyone would pick this as a J.-C. Ellena creation, so different is it from the sheer, pared-down style that has become his trademark.
First is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type aldehydic green-floral that basically recalls a finely milled French soap. It possesses a remarkable 20% Hedione however, and therefore is fantastically diffusive and bright.
Of course, nowadays 20% is perfectly standard but in 1976 such a level was quite revolutionary. To put things in perspective, Eau Sauvage (1966), in which the molecule débuted, contained less than a tenth that amount.
A very definite perfumey perfume.

Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena
House: Van Cleef & Arpels
Release date: 1976
Notes (per Basenotes): Aldehydes, hyacinth, jasmine, rose, amber, sandalwood.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Rochas Femme (vintage) Review

Femme by Rochas, is a fruity-chypre with a prominent peach lactone note that instantly recalls Mitsouko. Containing roughly a third of the vetiver oil used in the latter, it's less green, more woody-spicy and above all, cuminic.
Great stuff !

Nose: Edmond Roudnitska
House: Rochas
Release date: 1943
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, peach, plum, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, amber, musk, oakmoss, sandalwood.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Rose Royale Review

Rose Royale is a neon-red rose construction with a notable appley/peachy facet and a spicy woods and amber diffusion. 

Nose: Sidonie Lancesseur.
House: Lalique
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): apricot, peach, osmanthus, rose, cashmere wood, musk. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Iris (reissue) Review

Le Galion’s is an affable, middleweight take on iris. The top notes are intensely green in the direction of galbanum and fig leaf. What follows however, is much more sedate: a lightly woodsy-powdery orris backed by an unobtrusive amount of ambery sweetness.

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1937 original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, citron, mimosa, hibiscus, iris, lily, rose, galbanum, cedar, amber, musk.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sortilège (reissue) Review

Sortilège opens with a classic chord of soapy aldehydes that’s rounded and sweetened by a ɣ-undecalactone type peachy note. Once the fizziness dissipates however, what remains is a rather thin, honied pink rose over labdanum. 
Longevity is only so-so.  

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1936 original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): lily-of-the-valley, lilac, ylang-ylang, aldehydes, jasmine, narcissus, rose, iris, mimosa; sandalwood, vetiver, labdanum, musk, amber.

Monday, 27 October 2014

222 (reissue) Review

However 222 smelt in the ‘30s, it’s probably fair to assume that the current version isn’t much of a smellalike. In fact, with its prominent use of several very popular, modern synthetics, it feels quite up to date.
A spicy, musky woods scent, 222 almost comes across as an elaboration on Cashmeran, which molecule (present here) has just such a rich and complex odour profile. After a fresh, citrus-green opening, the perfume gains in peppery smokiness leading to a somewhat dry, (sandal/) woods and amber base with additional resinous accompaniments. The pronounced musk component meanwhile, adds plump fleshiness to the composition and a second-skin type quality.

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1930’s original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): violet,myrrh, styrax, lavender, geranium, coumarin, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, leather.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Tubéreuse (reissue) Review

Together with gardenia and ylang-ylang, tuberose constitutes the Holy Trinity of Creamy White Florals. In addition to some unique molecules, the ratio of two lactones in particular are responsible for tuberose's scent profile: jasmin lactone, which as its name suggests, has a jasmine-like floralcy, as well a peachy-apricot fruitiness; and δ-dodecalactone, whose odour is a tad fresher, even metallic.
Le Galion’s Tubéreuse is pretty much a textbook example of a tuberose perfume: a mélange of fruity floral and salicylate notes suspended in a voluptuous, creamy-fatty mix that’s sweetened perhaps with a touch of vanillin and/or tonka-coumarin.  
The fragrance is much less daring than, say, Christopher Sheldrake’s Tubéreuse Criminelle (Serge Lutens, 1999), with its enlarged dose of wintergreen (methyl salicylate), but at the same time, easier to wear.

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1937 original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): mandarin orange, galbanum, pink pepper, pear, tuberose, rose, orange blossom, raspberry, cedar, amber, musk.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Snob (reissue) Review

Snob falls under the broad category of fruity-florals, though mercifully avoid the bubblegum tendencies of many modern interpretations.
The floral complex here is cool and crisp: a touch of sweetness and indole suggests jasmine; some watery greenness lily of the valley; there's an idea of orange blossom, too. 
Saffron adds a nice spicy-leathery contrast to the opening, while Decanal (C-10 aldeyhde) imparts a penetrating waxiness, giving skin to the flesh of green apples.
As the bouquet fades, some rather modern-smelling musks come to the fore, but a bit of  woodsiness in the base helps it retain character.

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, on original see below)
Notes (per Fragrantica): mandarin, bergamot, saffron, apple, rose, iris, jasmine, orange blossom, tagetes, sandalwood, cedar, musk.

[Excursus: The rights to sell a perfume named ‘Snob’ in the US was the subject of a protracted legal wrangle between Le Galion and Patou. Although Le Galion had been marketing and selling Snob since the late 1940s, first in France, then abroad (including the US), Patou registered the same name with the US patents office in 1951, as well the US Bureau of Customs in 1953. The result was that, in 1955, a shipment of Le Galion’s Snob was barred by the US Commissioner of Customs.
There followed a series of legal actions by Le Galion seeking relief, as well cancellation of Patou’s registration of the name Snob. The first two actions by Le Galion, in 1956, and 1965, were dismissed for lack of prosecution. The third action, initiated in 1966, was finally brought to trial in 1972. Le Galion was unsuccessful.
In order to retain exclusive rights under trademark law, one must make ‘deliberate and continuous’ use of it. Since 1951, Patou had, in fact, made a token effort at producing a perfume named Snob in the US, selling precisely 72 bottles in the period to 1967, with a gross declared profit of $100 (where Le Galion had made over $2,000,000 from Snob in a 5 year period).
In District Judge Gagliardi’s opinion, this was sufficient to show that Patou had made bona fide use of its trademark. ]

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Whip and Eau Noble (Reissues) Review

First released in 1953, Le Galion’s Whip is a classically styled aromatic citrus fragrance. After a mouth-puckeringly tart hesperidic (lemony !) opening with some fleeting anisic accents, the perfume settles into a pleasant herbal-agrestic theme. The structure seems to hold up better on blotter than on skin though, where it blurs a tad with a vague rosy floralcy.
By contrast, Eau Noble (1972 original), which also has aromatic citrus leanings, is much  more green, its dusky, fruity, galbanum heart actually calling to mind many popular, modern fougères. 

Nose: Thomas Fontaine (reissue, after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1953 original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): citron, bergamot, cardamom, galbanum, geranium, tarragon, lavender, oakmoss, patchouli, leather.

Eau Noble:
Nose: Thomas Fontaine (reissue, after Paul Vacher)
House: Le Galion
Release date: 2014 (reissue, 1972 original)
Notes (per Fragrantica): citron, mandarin orange, orange, galbanum, chamomile, neroli, jasmin, lavender, geranium, cedar, marjoram, patchouli, oakmoss, sage, labdanum, civet, sandalwood, musk. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Rose de Nuit Review

In its original, Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido conception (above*), Rose de Nuit was as much about the idea of rose as that of oakmoss, conjuring an impression of crimson petals strewn on bitter-dark soil.
Whilst the name cues us into a nocturnal setting, the story in fact begins at dusk, an early, peachy blush reflecting the rays of a setting sun. It’s a clever narrative device that simultaneously references the world of classic Chypres, most obviously Mitsouko.
Yet quickly the rosy fingers withdraw, and the dry, woodsy-earthy characteristics are left to develop atop a leathery, resinous (esp. labdanum), honeyed base that’s pleasantly animalic.
Comparing a more recent formulation, the mossy facet is less earthy more Veramossy, the rose slightly paler, though on paper it has greater substantivity. There’s a distinct sour note too that I find wanting in the vintage.

Nose: Gilles Romey
House: Serge Lutens
Release date: 1993
Notes (per Fragrantica): Turkish rose, yellow jasmine, apricot, amber, musk, sandalwood, beeswax.

*Photo-credit and sample thanks to my good friend O. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

La Fille de Berlin Review

The luscious, fuchsia coloured juice of La Fille de Berlin is an apt reflection of its olfactory profile: a lively red rose with hints of iononey raspberry and violets.
Rose oxide lends the composition a metallic green ring, as well some subtle spicy facets that are picked up by a rather restrained pepper note. It’s a shame more wasn’t made of this pepper for, as it is, the scent fairly slides into a very ordinary musk base that has just a touch of vanilla-like sweetness and creaminess.

Nose: Christopher Sheldrake.
House: Serge Lutens.
Release date: 2013.
Notes (per Fragrantica): Rose, pepper.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Back to Black Review

The By Kilian website succinctly describes Back to Black as having ‘a tobacco aroma with sweet undertones of honey’. A more accurate description however, might be ‘a cherry aroma with sweet undertones of honey’.
In Back to Black, the vanillic, cherry pit scent of heliotropin is developed atop a balsamic (labdanum, benzoin), coumarin rich oriental fond and sweetened with honey which though, is spared the urinous, phenylacetic acid qualities explored in Serge Lutens’ Miel de Bois.
Enfolded in this comforting, powdery warmth is a subtle, linalyl type agrestic note (perhaps from bergamot oil) and some light ionone and cedar woodsiness for support. Overall though, it’s a very linear scent, and apart from a slight turn towards laundry musks at the end, what one smells on application is what remains for the duration.

Nose: Calice Becker
House: By Kilian
Release date: 2009
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, raspberry, chamomile, olibanum, honey, cedar, oak, tobacco, patchouli, almond, vanilla, labdanum.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Friedemodin Jardin Mystique Collection Review

Friedemodin’s Jardin Mystique Collection comprises four fragrances composed by François Robert with the idea that they can be worn individually or layered to create a ‘bespoke scent’.
Although the brand assures that the ingredients of each perfume have been chosen ‘to ensure they interact harmoniously however they are combined’, in actuality, the results are rather unappealing and directionless.
Vertine is a very basic green fragrance featuring galbanum and fig-leafy Stemone, whose minty facets are picked out by peppermint. It shares an unfortunate soapy, functional fragrance quality with Jardin Mystique, a pallid fruity-floral of muguet (hydroxycitronellal) jasmine (Hedione), black current and peach (C14 aldehyde). Feu Follet goes down the well-trodden fruity patchouli/Ambrox(an) type route, its derivative nature apparent even in its name (cf. Roger & Gallet’s Feu Follet from the ‘30s). The most worked out composition is Rosée de Nuit where some mildly earthy / mossy patchouli is blended with violety ionones and brought to life with piquant pimento berries (allspice).

Nose: François Robert
House: Friedemodin
Release date: 2012/13
Notes (per Fragrantica): Vertine: mint, basil, fig leaf, galbanum, rose, musk, cedar. Jardin Mystique: Cassis, bergamot, grass, lily of the valley, jasmine, green notes, patchouli, woody notes. Feu Follet: coriander, pink pepper, nutmeg, lavender, cardamom, leather, patchouli, amber, moss. Rosée de Nuit: Cardamom, bergamot, allspice, violet, wood, teak, sandalwood.