Saturday, 24 December 2016

Cierge de Lune Review

The name Cierge de Lune, lit. ‘moon’s candle’ is a calque on Latin Selenicereus, a genus of night-blooming cactus whose species include the spectacular grandiflorus. A vine-like climber native to Mexico, central America and the Antilles, this ‘Queen of the Night’ is famed as much for its brilliant white flowers that are rayed with golden petals as the warm, rich, moth-attracting scent it emits. 
An analysis of the plant’s perfume was undertaken by Headspace guru Roman Kaiser, together with Lars Tollsten and the results published in an article entitled ‘An Introduction to the Scent of Cacti’ (Fragrance and Flavour Journal, 1995, vol.10 pp.153-164). According to the authors, the smell of Selenicereus grandiflorus is dominated by vanilla and cocoa notes, arising predominantly from vanillin (0.2%) and a series of isovalerates, in particular benzyl isovalerate (55%). Ionones (alpha=0.3%; beta=0.1%; dihydro-beta =0.4%), together with high amounts of farnesal (23%) and farnesol meanwhile, contribute important floral and fruity notes. 
Needless to say, Fabrice Pellegrin’s composition is not intended to be a reconstruction of the Headspace, but a free interpretation. For this, he has integrated the vanillic theme into something approaching Grojsman’s accord of Hedione, Iso E Super, ionones and clean musks to produce a monolithic, powdery-sweet ‘hug me’ effect. The fruitiness detected in the plant’s odour is here perhaps interpreted through a cherry/heliotrope note while the woody notes are elaborated with Ambrox(an) etc. 
It’s something different for Aedes’ line, but not as interesting as the others. 

Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
House: Aedes de Venustas
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): musk, powdery notes, madagascar vanilla, ylang-ylang, black and pink pepper, hedione, suede, incense, amber, ambroxan.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Tom of Finland Review

An homage to the Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen famed for his homoerotic depictions of butch men clad in fetishwear, Tom of Finland is billed as ‘the true erotic power of flesh and a leather jacket’. 
Given the description, the scent is surprisingly tame, a classic citrus+vetiver pairing doing well to cover some of the less-attractive, hot pleather characteristics of Safraleine. With additional woodsy and green notes, the composition is more apt to suggest a northern European forest than anything especially human, unless the muscular, monster-cock jerking subjects of ‘Tom’s’ drawings are to be imagined as having a sweet, tonka-vanilla-oriental odour captured by the perfume’s drydown. 

Nose: Antoine Lie
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2007
Notes (per Fragrantica): aldehyde, lemon, birch leaves, pine, pepper, cyprus, galbanum, geranium, vanilla, tonka bean, iris, vetiver, pyrogenated styrax, suede, musk, grey amber. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Archives 69 Review

Named after ELd’O’s Paris address, Archives 69 is a very imaginative take on the ‘fruitchouli’ genre and was composed by Christine Nagel while she still worked at Mane. 
The basic theme has a sweet, over-ripe fruit character and a cool, medicinal vibe of camphorous, salicylatey and slightly phenolic notes together with incense. Spices meanwhile, bring a warming contrast and since this is a Nagel perfume, it is no surprise to find the accent firmly on pink pepper (cf. e.g. Lalique White where she used a massive 4%) with clove/eugenol just about perceptible. 
As odd as it sounds, but still wearable (just). 

Nose: Christine Nagel
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2011
Notes (per Fragrantica): mandarine, baie rose CO2, orchid and prune Jungle Essences, incense, camphor, benzoin, patchouli, musk. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

Divin' Enfant Review

Given that the shops have now started to pipe Christmas music over their tinny systems, a review of Divin’ Enfant (named after the French carol) seems timely. 
An orange-blossom fragrance, the musty-powdery, concord-grape smell of methyl anthranilate (which ester is one of the key odiferous components of the oil) is here integrated into a massive, sweet musky base that wouldn’t be out of place in a Jean-Paul Gaultier perfume.  A subtle dark, moka coffee note (so described in the official pyramid) meanwhile, adds contrast in the opening. 

Nose: Antoine Lie
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2006
Notes (per Fragrantica): orange-blossom, marshmallow, rose, moka, leather, amber, musk, tobacco. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Afternoon of a Faun Review

Back in 2000, Ralf Schwieger - who was at that time only just starting out in his perfume career, won critical acclaim for his Lipstick Rose creation with another former Roure employee, Frédéric Malle. A perfumed paean to cosmetics, Schwieger offered up a deliciously jammy rose smothered in powdery orris and violet ionones. 
In The Afternoon of a Faun, a little bit of that is carried forward, the fragrance having at its heart a raspberry rose accord sweetened up with iris and a judicious amount of immortelle. A streak of incense glimmers from behind but the real co-star of the production is oakmoss - dark, earthy, musty oakmoss. And not just an Evernyl-type replacer either as was stuffed into his Vanille Insensée (Atelier Cologne, 2011), but the real stuff. Schwieger has spoken of his childhood growing up near the forest in Westfalen and from the top to the base of The Afternoon of a Faun, his love for woody, mossy green notes is loudly declared.
If Afternoon of a Faun is IFRA compliant, then what Schwieger has achieved is doubly impressive. Or if, like Creed and some others, ELd’O have simply decided to quietly ignore their recommendations and just follow EU regulations, then they are to be congratulated for taking such a stance. 

Nose: Ralf Schwieger
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2012
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, pepper, cinnamon, incense, immortelle, orris, myrrh, leather, benzoin, jasmine, rose, oakmoss. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

How To Compose A Perfume In Sanskrit

A folio from the Sanskrit manuscript add.2329 (Cambridge University Library) containing the Bṛhatsaṃhitā.

As perfumery has grown ever more sophisticated in its aims and execution, so the fragrance houses have invested in the development of algorithmic software to aid perfumers and technicians. But whilst the technology behind this innovation may be new, the basic thinking is not.
Already in the 6th century (CE), perfumers in India were calculating combinatorics using matrices. One of the earliest such examples is attested in the Bṛhatsaṃhitā, or Great Compendium -  a stupendous Sanskrit work attributed to the Indian astronomer and mathematician Varāhamihira.
Within its expansive range, which covers everything from house building to prognostication by the appearance of penises (and the smell of semen) is the Gandhayukti, or section on perfume (ch.77). Here we find formulae for such preparations as hair-waters, flavoured tooth-picks and perfumes carrying evocative names like Smaroddīpana ‘kindler of passions’. Perhaps most interesting though, are the descriptions of a perfume compounding method by means of a kacchapuṭa ‘grid’, realised physically as a board with indentations in which raw materials were placed. In a Sudoku-like mathematical play, formulae are derived by selecting sets of squares that sum a particular value, e.g.18.
To illustrate, I have translated below stanzas 77.23-26 which describe one such method. Note not all of the primary materials can be identified with certainty. Also, as was common in Sanskrit texts, numbers are sometimes indicated by objects with corresponding numerical values, e.g. ‘the senses’ = five (there being five senses), ‘the seasons’ = six (the Indic system counting six seasons) etc.

dvitrīndriyāṣṭabhāgair aguruḥ patraṃ turuṣkaśaileyau /
viṣayāṣṭapakṣadahanāḥ priyaṅgumustārasāḥ keśaḥ // 23

With two, three, the senses [=five] (or) eight parts (of) agarwood, patra, and both olibanum and śaileya,
The (sense) objects [=five], eight, sides [= two] (or) fires [= three] (of) priyaṅgu, mustā, rasā, keśa.

spṛkkātvaktagarāṇāṃ māṃsyāśca kṛtaikasaptaṣaḍbhāgāḥ /
saptaṛttuvedacandrair malayanakha śrīkakundurukāḥ // 24

Of spṛkkā, cinnamon, tagara and of māṃsī, kṛta [name of a particular dice throw = four], one, seven (or) six parts,
With seven, the seasons [=six], the Vedas [=four], the moon [=one] (of) sandalwood, nakha, śrīka, kunduruka.

ṣoḍaśake kacchapuṭe yathā tathā miśrite caturdravye /
ye ’trāṣṭādaśa bhāgāste asmin gandhādayo yogāḥ // 25

In a box with sixteen compartments, when four substances (are put) in a mix, in whichever way (combining vertically, horizontally, diagonally),
there you (get) eighteen parts in (each of) the perfume compounds and so forth.

nakhatagaraturuṣkayutā jātīkarpūramṛgakṛtodbodhāḥ /
guḍanakhadhūpyā gandhāḥ kartavyāḥ sarvatobhadrāḥ // 26

Blended with nakha, tagara, olibanum, freshened up with mace, camphor and deer musk,
(the compound) is to be censed with guḍa and unguis odoratis. The perfumes that are to be made (in this way) are (known as) Sarvatobhadra.

Tabulated this information appears so, with each cell containing a particular material together with its ‘weight’ (i.e. the number of parts thereof to be used in the final formula):

2 Agarwood

3 patra
5 olibanum
8 śaileya
5 priyaṅgu

8 mustā
2 rasa
3 keśa
4 spṛkkā

1 tvak
7 tagara
6 māṃsī
7 Sandalwood

6 nakha (unguis odoratis)
4 śrīka
1 kunduruka

To compound a fragrance using this method, the perfumer would select four items along a vertical or horizontal or diagonal. In each case, the total ‘weight’ is 18.
E.g. aguru (i.e. agarwood) + patra + olibanum + śaileya = 2+3+5+8 = 18.
Or, sandalwood + tvak + rasa + śaileya = 7+1+2 +8 = 18.
Squares of four cells also sum to 18.
Referencing the ludic quality of the method, fragrances derived by way of this particular scheme bore the name Sarvatobhadra which means ‘lovely in every way’.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Fat Electrician Review

Subtitled ‘a semi-modern vetiver’, Antoine Maisondieu’s creation flirts with some of the ideas explored by J.-C. Ellena for his fully-modern Vétiver Tonka (Hermès) released some 5 years earlier. 
Like its predecessor, Fat Electrician elaborates on Vetiver’s nutty facet, dragging the composition (at least initially) in an oriental direction. Where Vétiver Tonka however, went sweet, sweet, sweet all the way through the drydown with vanilla, coumarin/tonka and ethyl maltol, Fat Electrician somehow manages to shake its gourmand qualities by the midpoint, thereafter becoming ever drier and woodsier and retaining a slightly sulphurous, grapefruity inflection. 

Nose: Antoine Maisondieu
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2009
Notes (per Fragrantica): Vetiver, olive leaf, opoponax, myrrh, vanilla, marron glacé, whipped cream. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Charogne Review

Given the lily’s long association with death, the idea of a funereal take on the flower is an interesting one. 
Given also the name Charogne (cf. carrion, ultimately < Latin caro ‘flesh’, ‘meat’), that’s presumably the brief Shyamala Maisondieu was working to. 
To me however, this composition falls very wide of the anticipated mark. Opening on a vivid bubblegum note, the perfume soon falls apart leaving a spicy, woody oriental base with a pronounced clovey inflection that has a burnt, methyl diantilis like quality to it and which I suppose is meant to stand for lily. 

Nose: Shyamala Maisondieu
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2008
Notes (per Fragrantica): leather, ginger, lily, pink pepper, vanilla, jasmine, incense, ylang-ylang, bergamot, cardamom, osmanthus, styrax, labdanum, ambrette, musk. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Eau de Protection Review

Created with and originally named after Rossy de Palma, Eau de Protection could only ever have had rose as its theme (rossy/rosa = rose). 
A spiky interpretation, the perfume opens somewhat similarly to Serge Lutens’ Sa Majesté la Rose with an unapologetic blast of citronella like citrus. It remains however, sharp and aloof through the drydown with metallic green tones of rose oxide and a classic patchouli pairing in the fond that has a hint of bitter cacao. 
Hard to warm to but very well composed.

Noses: Antoine Lie, Antoine Maisondieu
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2007
Notes (per Fragrantica): ginger, bergamot, pepper, jasmine, rose, geranium, patchouli, benzoin, incense, cacao. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Putain des Palaces Review

For me, Putain des Palaces is one of the standouts of the ELd’O line. 
The perfume has as its central idea a sweet, powdery, cosmetic accord of rose-violet (-orris)-heliotrope that’s contrasted in the top with the sweaty, woody tones of cumin and in the base, a subtle, squeaky pleather note. It's legible and portable with good tenacity. 

Nose: Nathalie Feisthauer
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2006
Notes (per Fragrantica): leather, ginger, amber, mandarine orange, violet, lily of the valley, rose, powdery notes, musk.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Antihéros Review

It’s hard to muster much excitement (or many words) for this straightforward lavender soliflore. In Antihéros’ favour, the lavender is robustly agrestic and fixed down with just enough musks to afford some longevity (lavender is, after all, only a top- to mid- note). Here and there, I catch slight ozonic whiffs and towards the end, the perfume reveals some light, powdery woodsiness.
To my mind, soliflores should extrapolate some aspect of their study and for that reason, I  prefer something like Hermès’ Brin de Réglisse.

House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Nose: Antoine Maisondieu
Release date: 2006
Notes (per Fragrantica): Lavender, cedar, woody notes, musk.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Cologne Review

At thrice the price of Mugler’s Cologne, ELd’O’s proposition is a relatively pricey one. 
A similarly modern take on the classic genre, Alexandra Kosinski's (Givaudan) composition opens with a very orange centric hesperidic accord (fitting!) featuring some 2% orange blossom oil, surrounded by clean jasmine and sundry green notes. Perceptible almost from the get go are the metallic, freshly-ironed tones of Habanolide - not the most sensual of musks, but apt to connote ‘clean’, and these obviously only gain in prominence as the perfume dries down. For sweetness, there's just a touch of something woody-ambery lurking in the base.
Simple, pleasing and well-made. 

Nose: Alexandra Kosinski
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): blood orange, bergamot, green notes, jasmine, orange blossom, musk, leather. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Vierges et Toreros Review

Vierges et Toreros is an animalic tuberose scent that, like the best of the Etat Libre d’Orange line, is provocatory without the suspicion of trolling. 
In contrast to Malle’s Carnal Flower which focused on the blossom’s creamy, fatty facets with ylang-ylang and plenty of lactones, Lie and Maisondieu’s portrait accents firstly tuberose’s salicylatey side with a pronounced wintergreen note (so bending its steps towards Lutens' Tubereuse Criminelle and recalling tuberose's extract rather than its Headspace), then its dirty, indolic side with Synarome’s famous Animalis base that smells above all of costus replacement. Cutting through costus’ hairy sebaceousness is its fruity green note that is often described as unripe melon but which comes across to me more pear-like. To the white floral component, this is very complementary and so pairs off the toreros with the vierges nicely. 

Noses: Antoine Lie, Antoine Maisondieu
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2007
Notes (per Fragrantica): bergamot, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, ylang-ylang, tuberose, leather, costus, patchouli, vetiver.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Remarkable People Review

Another ELd’O, another re-naming: this time Remarkable People (2015), a re-working of the Sephora’s exclusive Joséphine Baker (2010).
The perfume opens with a bright grapefruit note that soon segues into a Javanol-y, tropical sandalwood theme backed up by Mane’s woody-amber Lorenox. There’s a light spiciness throughout, moving from warm cardamom to cinnamon and apparently incorporating another Mane specialty viz. their Curry Tree Jungle Essence. At no point however, does this approach anything put out under the Lutens label. Listed too is a champagne note that had me hoping for something damascone-y like Les Liquides Imaginaires’ excellent Dom Rosa, but no.

Nose: Cécile Matton Polge
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2015
Notes (per Fragrantica): grapefruit, champagne, cardamom, jasmine, curry tree, black pepper, labdanum, sandalwood, Lorenox.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

La Fin du Monde Review

A very unusual but well put together gourmand, La Fin du Monde is built around a sweet orris and musky angelica root/ambrette seed theme. The latter’s vegetal character provides the base for a popcorn accord featuring nutty sesame oil and vetiver as well as some caramel notes. It’s a humorous addition and for all its oddness, is yet complementary.

Nose: Quentin Bisch
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2014
Notes (per Fragrantica): popcorn, carrot seed, cumin, sesame, black pepper, fresia, vetiver, sandalwood, ambrette, iris, styrax, gunpowder.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Do Review

Speaking of capitulation, it seems ELd’O changed the name of yet another of its fragrances, ditching ‘Don’t get me wrong baby, I don’t swallow’ (2007) in favour of ‘Don’t get me wrong baby, I do’ (2016).
As straightforward a presentation of muguet as one is likely to find, ‘I do’s’ fresh, Hedione brightened Lilial theme is pretty enough but does absolutely nothing for the genre; aqua banalis, to pinch Andy Tauer’s phrase.
Listed are the gourmand notes cacao and marshmallow, of which I smell none. At length, the perfume develops a very washed-out, green-floral muskiness that sits close to the skin.
Given the limitations (already activated or pending) on several key lily-of-the-valley ingredients (incl. Hydroxycitronellal, Lyral/Cyclohexal), I do wonder if the re-naming wasn’t coincident with a complete re-jigging of the perfume. Disappointing in any event.

Nose: Antoine Maisondieu
House: Etat Libre d’Orange
Release date: 2007/2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): jasmine, lily of the valley, orange blossom, amber, patchouli, cacao, marshmallow, musk.   

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Attaquer le Soleil Review

After losing their nerve a few years back and re-naming Philippine Houseboy Fils de Dieu, here's hoping Attaquer le Soleil isn’t a sign ELd’O are now losing their perfume mojo too, for behind the sophomoric branding lies a clutch of genuinely innovative and accomplished fragrances.
Beginning with the name, Attaquer le Soliel derives ultimately from de Sade’s Les Cent Vingt Journées du Sodome (1785), though more recently it was taken for the title of an exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay devoted to the author. That the latter closed in Jan. 2015 makes the only-just-launched perfume seem like something of an afterthought, but perhaps director Etienne de Swardt is of the ‘better late than never’ opinion. 
Regarding the fragrance itself, ELd’O are remaining tight-lipped, the only listed note being cistus which Quentin Bisch is said to have mis à nu. According to ÇaFleureBon, it contains a new quality of cistus oil from Givaudan that is derived from not just the plant’s leaves and twigs, but also its roots and flowers. 
How does it smell, then? Well, very much like labdanum: warm, spicy-balsamic, and woody with some light smokey accents. I note too a Cashmeran-like wet concrete note that adds some richness in the top-mid, but overall Attaquer le Soleil is a very linear fragrance with little evolution. 
For me, this is more of a woody-amber accord than a perfume and those looking for a labdanum fix would do better with Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan (Christopher Sheldrake, 2000).

Nose: Quentin Bisch
House: Etat Libre d'Orange
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): labdanum.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Semiotic Spritz Part 7: Estée Lauder's Modern Muse: Ma Muse M'Amuse

The possibility of an olfactory aesthetic has long been denied by Western philosophers. For Kant, smell (olfactus) and taste (gustus) belonged to the order of the ‘lower senses’ – bestial, primative and subjective modalities. By contrast, touch (tactus), hearing (auditus) and above all, sight (visus) he characterised as ‘higher senses’, their supposed objectivity suiting them to universal judgements of aesthetic value arising from the free play of the imaginiation.
This aesthetic privileging of the visual and auditory was, of course, not new even in Kant’s time. Allied to our culture’s deeply rooted oculocentrism is an ontological argument that positively relates status with temporal extension. Thus, olfaction is absent from the sensorium associated with the five fine arts of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry – its sense objects being highly ephemeral and incapable of enduring as artistic works.
Kant however, went beyond merely perpetuating this ancient heirarchy. He drove the wedge between the lower and the higher senses yet deeper by articulating a distinction between the merely agreeable (idiosyncratic) and the beautiful (universal); in his conception, aesthetic judgements as concerning pure beauty are devoid of individual interest and give rise to an apprehension of “Zweckmäßigkeit ohne Zweck” (‘purposiveness without purpose’), something smell, which is so intimately connected with the intimate, can never produce.
Kant’s ideas (bridged by Hegel) constitute the foundations of modern aesthetics and more than two centuries later, it is notable that there have been few serious attempts to challenge him in relation to olfaction.
Exceptional was Edmond Roudnitska, creator of the totemic Eau Sauvage (Dior, 1966) and Femme (Rochas, 1943) and author of numerous articles and books including Le Parfum (Presses Universitaires de France, 1980) in which he sets out a manifesto for an an olfactory aesthetic. Having posed the question ‘what are the criteria for a work of art?’, Roudnitska sought to demonstrate how perfumery satisfies Etienne Souriau’s five imperatives before concluding ‘La composition des parfums est l’art abstrait par excellence’ (p.99).
If the Art world yet remains largely unresponsive to Roudnitska’s arguments, his assertion that perfumery can attain to the level of Art has nevertheless found a receptive ear among advertisers. This is illustrated by Estée Lauder’s 2013 publicity for its fragrance Modern Muse:
Shot in the the spiraling interior of the Soloman R Guggenheim Museum, Craig McDean’s image carries a clear echo of Roudnitska’s thesis, situating perfume in an artistic sphere whose Modernity contrasts with the Classicism evoked in Gucci’s L’Arte advert of the early '90s. Although formally depicting the Χάριτες, the Imperial Roman sculpture represented in the latter served as inspiration for Bertel Thorvaldsen’s 1807 work The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon, thereby setting up an intriguing dialogue between the two texts.

Like the Charities, the Μοῦσαι constituted a group of minor goddesses of variable composition. The Muses were also considered to be the source of inspiration and knowledge for certain of the sciences and arts, including astronomy, history, dance and poetry. Later, they became shorthand for artistic inspiration in a general sense, thus allowing Lauder to place perfumery under their influence.
Visually, this elevation of perfumery is reflected both by the (aptly named) model Arizona Muse’s upward gaze and by the downward rays of light suggestive of divine illumination. Frank Lloyd Wright famously conceived of the Guggenheim as a ‘temple of the spirit’ and here the religious connotations dovetail with a linguistic play on the etymological link between Muse < Gr. Mοῦσα and museum < Gr. Μουσεῖον meaning ‘seat of the Muses’. Meanwhile, Ms. Muse’s hand-to-temple gesture (that not-so-subtly turns her arm into an arrow pointing towards the product) recalls for us the common assumption that Mοῦσα is to be connected with the Indo-European root *men- ‘to think’. Muse the perfume then, is inspired, artful, thoughtfully fashioned; in short, everthing other perfumes sold with images of semi-naked, lustful bodies are not.
Of course, Lauder’s positioning does nothing to further the actual debate and other industry voices, including those of perfumers like Francis Kurkdjian1, will continue to insist that what they do is not Art. Perhaps then, what is needed to move the discussion along is a reframing of the issue. For this, we could do much worse than follow the suggestion of Grayson Perry who, in his 2013 Reith Lecture, argued that the question we should be asking ourselves is not ‘is it Art?’ but rather ‘is it any good?’.

[1] “It’s a very romantic vision of creation — the tortured artist — but perfume is not art. You can have an artistic touch doing it, but it is not an art. Even if you try to infuse it with uniqueness and creativity, at the end of the day, perfume is a commercial product.” Interview with Francis Kurkdjian, 4/2/16 published at: (accessed 18/9/16).
Perfumer Annie Buzantian has similarly rejected the ‘Art’ tag, insisting what she engages in is Craft. See Cathy Newman’s work “Perfume: The Art and Science of Fragrance,National Geographic Society, 1998, p.116.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Balenciaga Pour Homme Review

Launched in 1990, Balenciaga Pour Homme is a spicy, aromatic fougère that smells every bit its 26 years (and then some).
A larger than life fragrance that’s bursting with character, BPH opens with a riotous mix of dark chocolate, soapy aldehydes and bergamot that links to a spicy, herbal heart dominated by patchouli and incense. The affinity with Y.S.L.’s Kouros is most keenly felt at this stage, though it lacks the darkness that the costus heavy Animalis base lends the latter, while acquiring a powderiness that’s its own. Sweet, oriental balsams including labdanum augment the patchouli’s natural ambery side, whilst pale woods and moss consolidate the powder in the perfume’s base.
As expected, Balenciaga Pour Homme is immensely tenacious and radiant.

Nose: Gérard Anthony
House: Balenciaga
Release date: 1990
Notes (per Fragrantica): coriander, bergamot, laurel, cardamom, cinnamon, galbanum, pepper, thyme, cedar, patchouli, sandalwood, cypress, oakmoss, musk, vanilla, honey, labdanum.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Frangipani Review (EdP)

When Arctander wrote his entry on the Frangipani/Plumeria blossom in 1960, commercial quantities of the flower’s concrete were unavailable. Until this situation was remedied, he lamented, ‘the “Frangipanni” perfume must remain a fantasy type with little, if any, relationship to the fragrance of the beautiful and delightful Plumeria flowers’. 
To judge by Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipani, not much changed in the half century that followed for the perfume is an unconvincing portrait of the Plumeria’s scent. Schoen’s composition starts out sharp, waxy green in the direction of Octanal from underneath which develops a lactone heavy, white floral complex rendered sheer with Hedione and supported by light woods and musks. 
Overall too green and not nearly heady enough to transport me back to my days living in the tropics. 

Nose: Geza Schoen
House: Ormonde Jayne
Release date: 2003
Notes (per Fragrantica): lime, linden blossom, magnolia, frangipani, rose, tuberose, water lily, plum, amber, musk, vanilla, cedar. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dr. Vranjes Terra Review

As the global air care market continues to grow (scented candle sales in the UK alone are now said to exceed £90 million p/a), fragrance companies are ever looking for new opportunities to expand their reach. Whilst niche houses such as Diptyque have long offered their customers the opportunity to match their own perfume to their home’s, the recent announcement by Thierry Mugler of a new line of scented candles, including their most iconic perfume Angel, marks a new era. 
At £39 for the 6.4 oz wax version of Angel and Alien and £49 for the others, Mugler have positioned themselves at the lower end of the premium candle market. Yet, for all my admiration for Angel, it would have to be the sole surviving candle in the wake of a power grid collapse for me to put flame to its wick.
Which brings me to Dr. Vranjes’ home fragrance Terra. The company describes Terra’s scent as including notes of ‘Syberian (sic) Pine, green brush musk, Occitan lavender, vanilla, wild mint leaves’. I however, experience the fragrance as a mix of bright, terpy incense with woody, green accents and warm, oriental balsams and vanilla.
Available as a room spray and as a reed-diffuser, the blend works exceptionally well: in its diffuser form, throw is sufficient to comfortably scent an average-sized living room; the evaporation rate is very acceptable: a 250mL bottle lasts me around five months; and the supplied bamboo reeds do not clog with resins. The faceted, clear glass bottle with white labelling meanwhile, makes an elegant addition to the mantelpiece.
Price is also £49.
Sorry, Mugler.