“Rubbing Noses is a series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.”
This episode of Rubbing Noses focuses on one half of the dynamic father and son perfume crafting team responsible for Gorilla Perfumes, the perfume arm of cosmetics company, Lush. Simon Constantine is the son of Lush’s co-founder Mark Constantine and he has quickly proved himself to be a true talent within the world of perfume. He was the genius that mixed the two B Never to be Busy to be Beautiful fragrances ‘Inhale‘ and ‘Exhale‘ to create what we now as ‘Breath of God‘ – a truly unique and beautiful fragrance that is a shining star in the Gorilla Perfume range.
In this interview, Simon (and a tiny bit of Mark) talks about the inspiration behind three of the fragrances with Gorilla Perfume’s third volume of scent, ‘Death and Decay’, as well as discussing fragrance materials, IFRA and what makes a good perfume. I think you’ll agree that Simon has a unique view on the world of perfume, one that is shown not only here, but also in his olfactory creations which are anything but dull. Anyway, that’s enough of my babbling, let’s see what the Gorilla perfumer has to say…
Jo Malone ‘Rocks the Ages’ With Their Latest Collection
Here’s a bit of a quickie review to end the week. Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of Jo Malone’s catalogue of fragrances. For the most part I find them to be well-executed scents that range from clean easy-pleasers like Lime, Basil & Mandarin and Earl Grey & Cucumber etc. to more intriguing oddities such as Rain & Angelica and Wood Sage & Sea Salt(there’s also that upcoming Incense & Cedrat that I keep saying I’m obsessed – more of that soon). They may not necessarily be the first brand that I’d go to if I was looking for a wild and wacky fragrant adventure, but I’m always keen to see what the world of Jo Malone has to offer.
As they often do, Jo Malone have launched a collection of limited edition fragrances. This year, the theme is British history and the name of the game is “Rock the Ages”. Charting British tradition from the Tudor era to the present day the five fragrances (four new ones plus a limited edition bottle of popular fragrance, Pomegranate Noir) map the many facets of our vibrant history. Birch & Black Pepper (perfumer: Christine Nagel), the subject of today’s review is the one assigned to modern Britain, to 2015 specifically, and it’s described by the brand as being “individual, audacious and stylish”.
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.