Thursday, 26 May 2016

Lignum Vitae Review

To attempt an analytical evaluation of Beaufort London’s latest release would be to entirely miss the proverbial forest for the trees.
Lignum Vitae presents a singular olfactive portrait whose subject I could never have imagined judging by its name. Equally surprising is just how uncannily realistic its interpretation of this theme is.
Want a hint?
Ok: Proust.
Got it?
Yup; Lignum Vitae offers a remarkable simulacrum of the smell of petites madeleines – those small, scallop-shell shaped sponge cakes that have become a virtual by-word for involuntary reminiscence (parenthetically, it was only in Proust’s third draft of À la recherche…that he decided upon madeleines; previous drafts attest to biscotti and honey on toast). From accurately capturing the zestiness of lemon and lime drizzle to the sweet breadiness of the cake itself, the un-named perfumer (shame) has achieved something very clever indeed.
All of this though, rather leaves me scratching my head:
Firstly, I just cannot reconcile the perfume with the brand’s nautical aesthetic, nor the début trio in the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ line which Lignum Vitae apparently joins. Secondly, the name. Lignum Vitae is synonymous with Guaiacwood, and while this oil does have a sweet milky quality that can work very well in gourmands, one is here effectively led to expect a soliwood (cf. Carner Barcelona’s Palo Santo), not an afternoon accompaniment to tea. Thirdly, the mental gymnastics required to get from the brand’s own description of the perfume as being ‘inspired by the innovative use of materials that allowed 18th Century clockmakers to construct the first accurate marine chronometers’ and combining ‘elements of wood, metal and salt’ to what emerges from the bottle is just too exhausting (lignum vitae > chronomoter > time > À la recherche du temps perdu > petites madeleines). It’s almost as if the formula existed before the brief.

Nose: Unknown
House: Beaufort London
Release date: 2016
Notes (per Fragrantica): this perfume has no entry at the time of posting.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Bond-T Review

As a sub-genre, the patchocolate can be traced back to Christopher Sheldrake’s Bornéo 1834 (Serge Lutens, 2005) – a wonderfully adult oriental-gourmand built around an overdose of patchouli oil (c.57%) and Givaudan’s (ex-Quest Intl.) cocoa base Chocovan.
To compare the two, Giovanni Sammarco’s Bond-T feels less travaillé, that’s to say less polished, less complex too despite its evident heavy use of naturals. The woody, incensey and mossy elements of the former are here swapped out for a much more straightforward animalic fond, allowing the fragrance to slide into a long-lasting finish of honey and leather that’s a little too over-indulgent for my personal tastes.

Nose: Giovanni Sammarco
House: Sammarco
Release date: 2013
Notes (per Fragrantica): cacao, patchouli, castoreum, tonka, vanilla, osmanthus.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Iris Nazarena Review

Given the trend for top-loading fragrances – that is, attempting to lure customers with attractive head-notes alone, it is very gratifying to come across a modern perfume with a base as thoughtfully composed and enjoyable as Iris Nazarena’s.
Initially green, even cucumbery, Ralf Schwieger’s creation quickly takes a fruity iris turn. Far from the cold, metallic dampness of, say, Iris Silver Mist, the titular orris note here is developed into a comfortingly sweet, powdery accord that has some distinct apple/pear nuances. The woody facets of iris are then elaborated with the wonderfully soapy, floral sandalwood tones of Osyrol while an ambrette driven musk complex provides fruity continuity. 

Nose: Ralf Schweiger
House: Aedes de Venustas
Release date: 2013
Notes (per Fragrantica): Iris, ambrette, juniper berries, anise, leather, oud, cloves, rose, incense, woody notes, vetiver, amber.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Liù Review

There exist several apocryphal accounts of Liù’s genesis, and though these differ in respect to Jacques Guerlain’s impetus for creating the perfume, they agree that he took for inspiration Chanel’s No.5.
Prior to the launch of Liù in 1929, Guerlain had found great success in elaborating on other houses’ ideas, in particular those of Coty: L’Heure Bleue, for example, strongly recalls L’Origan; Mitsouko, Chypre; Shalimar, L’Emeraude. No doubt Guerlain hoped its aldehydic floral would likewise come to eclipse its forerunner.
But alas…
To judge even by modern iterations, Liù lacks both the complexity and clarity of No.5. Chanel’s classic is famously built around a floral heart of rose de mai, ylang-ylang and jasmine. There, they are blended in such a way as to be both harmonious, yet individually identifiable. In Liù, it is jasmine alone that presents itself, the additional floral notes being smothered by an overdose of powdery musks and ionones that give the composition a pastel coloured cosmetic vibe. Between the discontinued extrait and the current eau de parfum concentrations of Liù, the EdP is drier, with a more pronounced abstract woodsiness that has none of the richness provided No.5 by its sandalwood. The EdP too, is marked by a sweaty note (perhaps linked to the particular quality of jasmine oil) that I don’t perceive in the parfum which is overall sweeter, more vanillic-ambery-balsamic.  

Nose: Jacques Guerlain
House: Guerlain
Release date: 1929
Notes (per Fragrantica): aldehydes, neroli, bergamot, rosemary, jasmine, rose, iris, amber, vanilla, woody notes.