New From Guerlain – ‘Ma Robe Pétales’ La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche
I’ve always been a big fan of Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire. When it originally launched as a boutique exclusive way back in 2009, I remember saying that the esteemed French house was missing a trick by not releasing the scent as a mainstream launch. It’s such a fun, fruity and frivolous scent, with oodles of depth and character, that it was almost a shame for it not to have a wider audience. Guerlain obviously felt the same, and in 2012 they remixed the juice slightly (giving it a bit more fizz) and unleashed La Petite Robe Noire all over the globe. It has been a huge success.
Of course, with huge success comes flankering, and lots of it. Since 2012, we’ve seen the launch of Eau de Toilette, Extrait and Couture versions of Guerlain’s famous garment, and all have been pretty good (especially the Extrait and Couture). This summer, Guerlain are extending their wardrobe of fragrant black dresses even further with La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraîche (subtitled as ‘Ma Robe Pétales’), a much fresher and greener take on the cherry-rose signature of the original. Click here to read my review of this latest flanker in my Escentual column this week.
Yesterday I took a look at three of the fragrance within Gorilla Perfume’s latest collection of scent, ‘Death, Decay and Renewal’. All-in-all, I found this third volume from the renegade perfumers to be exceptionally well-crafted, thought provoking, and despite the doom and gloom in the name, surprisingly optimistic too. Death, Decay and Renewal defies expectations and instills a sense that leads one to think that, even at the worst of times, there is still beauty in the world.
One of the more unusual scents in the collection is Kerbside Violet, a fragrance that has been created to capture the idea of chance encounters in an urban setting. I’m a big fan of violet as a note, so much so in fact, that I dedicated a whole post to it in my Jasmine Award winning Guide to Violet. So to celebrate the nationwide launch of Gorilla Perfume’s Volume 3, I have a 10ml spray bottle of the intriguing Kerbside Violet to give away.
Death, Decay and Renewal – Volume 3 by Gorilla Perfume
The fragrant themes explored by Gorilla Perfume have never been conventional. Let’s not forget that they are the very same people that bottled the scent of nightclubs filled with ladyboys (see Ladyboy) and mixed two polar opposing perfumes together to create something rather remarkable (see Breath of God). They do all of this with exceptional talent and remarkably good materials, AND at a reasonable price, which is no mean feat in this world of hyper-luxe dreck. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.
With their third volume of fragrances, named ‘Death, Decay and Renewal’, Gorilla perfumers Mark and Simon Constantine have translated complex emotions associate with loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, into a fascinating collection of perfumes. The three fragrances (Death and Decay, All Good Things and Kerbside Violet) in Volume 3 are not what one expects. They take the macabre and make it optimistic, and present the challenging as comforting and familiar. As always, Gorilla Perfume push the envelope in the most fascinating of ways.
[Also, make sure to swing by tomorrow for a special Gorilla Perfume giveaway.]
In the perfume industry there is a lot of emphasis on things being natural and people tend to be sceptical of fragrances that aren’t literal in their representation of nature. There’s a thirst for realism and more often than not, people want ‘real’ flowers in their juice, rather than ‘synthetic’ ones. Natural doesn’t always mean better though and it’s a known fact that the use of synthetic ingredients or isolated materials has allowed the industry to move forward in leaps and bounds (it’s also a fact that synthetics are generally more stable and long-lasting than many naturals). Without a mixture of the two, perfumes often feel flat and two-dimensional. Chemophobia may be the moral high ground (or complete, utter craziness, if you ask me), but it’s the embracing of new materials and technologies that allows for true innovation and artistry in the world of fragrance.
One of the most fascinating examples of innovation in perfume is Headspace technology. Developed in the 1980s, Headspace acts as a fragrant camera that captures and decodes the molecules in the air surrounding a particular material or object, providing a perfumer with raw data they can use to piece together a familiar smell using other notes and ingredients. Without Headspace, our perfumes would be devoid of such wonderful things as lily-of-the-valley, caviar and nail polish. It’s an important tool that allows perfumes to truly represent the world around us, and in some instances, an imagined world that is greater than our own.
It’s annoying when a brand discontinues a fragrance. It’s understandable too, and we’d all be silly if weren’t able to admit that we didn’t understand the simple fact that if something doesn’t sell, it’s gotta go. It’s called the perfume ‘industry’ for a reason, people. So yes, discontinuations are annoying. Understandable, but annoying none the less. Lucky for us though, there are occasions where a discontinued fragrance will rise from the dead, which brings me nicely on to the subject of my Escentual column this week.
French fragrance house, Annick Goutal have just relaunched Eau de Ciel. Created in 1985, this fresh and breezy green floral is the antithesis of the ’80s style of fragrances. It’s a large wave of wind and musk, but it’s remarkably weightless. I’m glad it’s back, and come spring time, I reckon it’s going to be a big hit in my wardrobe. Click here to head on over to Escentual and read my review.
A few weeks back I slapped on some of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver (the Eau de Parfum) and commented on my instragram, that “when in doubt, go for vetiver”. A flippant comment for sure, but it is one that seems to ring true, and let’s face it: you really can’t go wrong with vetiver. Vetiver, a fragrant perennial grass native to India, is so successful as a perfume ingredient because it is so distinct – there isn’t really much else that smells like it. Of course, being distinct does mean that it is less versatile as a note than some others (rose, for example), but many perfumers have found interesting ways to utilise the ingredient as a main feature or a supporting act. I like vetiver very much and when one is in the mood for something clean, sharp and dashingly dapper, there’s not much else that can beat it.
There are many excellent vetiver fragrances out there, many of which are aimed predominately at men. Classics such as Guerlain’s Vetiver (Jean-Paul Guerlain; 1961) immediately spring to mind, but one can’t ignore wonderful modern interpretations such as the aforementioned Grey Vetiver (Harry Fremont; 2009), Etat Libre d’Orange’s Fat Electrician (Antoine Maisondieu; 2009), Lalique’s Encre Noire (Nathalie Lorson; 2006) and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle’s Vétiver Extraordinaire (Dominique Ropion; 2002), to name but a few. Each one does something entirely different with this incredibly familiar note, whether it be amping it up to the armpit-like spice of the Malle or pairing it with gorgeously creamy and smoky resins as the Etat Libre d’Orange does. Vetiver may not be a shape-shifting material, but it certainly does have an element of range.
One vetiver that doesn’t get a huge amount of press is Carven’s. Now, this may be due to the fact that it has been in and out of production since its launch in 1957, but now its back and should be considered as a serious contender for any vetiver afficiando. Housed within a new and gorgeously modern bottle, coloured with the most attractive shade of green Carven’s Vétiver, is that rare thing – a casual vetiver. This is not a vetiver fragrance to be worn with a sharp suit or a crisp white shirt, no, no, no. This is a vetiver to pair with a chunky piece of knitwear in muted, earth tones. It’s a relaxed vetiver to cuddle up with – to explore softly and quietly – a vetiver that salutes introspection rather than attention seeking ostentation.
French/Indian niche brand, Neela Vermeire Créations, is set to launch their fourth fragrance in the coming months. Entitled ‘Pichola’ (pronounced Pitchola), this fragrance continues the house’s exploration of India in a perfume that takes its name, and inspiration from one of India’s most famous lakes within Rajasthan. Pichola, subtitled ‘Majestic Reflections’, has been described as adding a “new twist” to the range.
“A myriad of colourful historic, architectural and spiritual reflections fall on this splendid body of water – the sunlight and moonlight of each season bringing out the eternal and timeless beauty of Lake Pichola. Our latest fragrance captures such countless reflections on the lake from the past to the present – showcasing the splendour of opulent and vibrant flowers, princely spices and precious woods taking us on an unforgettable and hypnotic fragrant journey. Once you have experienced the diverse and stunning beauty of these indescribable reflections you will understand the true meaning of timeless luxury and effortless beauty….”