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.