Chanel and I have fallen out recently. “Why?” I hear you ask. Well it’s simple, the venerable house has failed to live up to expectations of late with recent releases such as last year’s Coco Noir (a perfume so yawn-worthy I couldn’t even be bothered to review it) being well-made but painfully safe, proving that this once innovative house prefers to go for the big bucks rather than the big wow.
Still, we have the wonderful boutique-exclusive ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ line to rely on for our wows, right? Not always, 2011′s Jersey was a serious lavender miss-step that proved that there is such a thing as a granny perfume, and an angry one at that.
You may be thinking – “So what, Chanel always produces quality” – and you’d be right but est we not forget that this is the house that broke ground with N°5 in 1921 with a perfume deliberately designed to smell manufactured and put-together like a piece of couture – with Chanel one not only expects quality but also innovation.
I am, of course a blip that probably isn’t on Chanel’s radar and it will surprise no-one that my dissatisfaction hasn’t stopped them with their schedule of releases (or releasing dreadful adverts staring Brad Pitt). Their first release for 2012 is part of Les Exclusifs de Chanel and has been named after and created to honour the year the brand’s high jewellery line debuted – 1932.
From the Chanel website:
“A constellation of diamonds – In 1932, Mademoiselle Chanel showered Paris with diamond stars and a high jewellery line was born. Jacques Polge chose to evoke this constellation-collection with a precious, white and oh-so feminine flower; jasmine. Worked petal by petal to make every facet shine, it gradually spirals into place, waits to reveal itself on the skin and finishes by divulging its sophisticated and voluptuous side.”
Salvador Dalí – Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnidos in a Landscape
Parfums Salvador Dalí is an odd brand. They aren’t readily available in the UK but I always see them when scouring the discount stores for interesting things. I often find myself tentatively eyeing up their weird, surrealist bottles and wondering whether the juices they contain are as crazy as the vessels that contain them.
On one such recent trip to the discounters I came across the Salvador Dalí perfumes as usual and decided to refer to Perfumes: The Guide to see what our Perfume Oracles (Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez) thought of them. Only two Dalí fragrances received a high rating of four stars; Dalí and Laguna, the former of which is evaluated by Turin in the following way:
“[...] a big, handsome, strapping floral chypre somewhere between Amouage [Gold] and Bal à Versailles, though lacking the exquisitely rich texture of the former and the bold, striking structure of the latter.” 
Well, as you can imagine I was sold by the word “Amouage” and less than five minutes later I had added a 30ml sized bottle of Dalí Parfum de Toilette to my shopping cart (a steal at £10) and had checked out. A blind buy is a risky thing I know, but I figured that if I didn’t like the scent I could at least display the bottle somewhere and ogle it on a regular basis.
Released in 1983 Dalí, created by none other than the great Alberto Morillas, was Salvador Dalí’s first foray into the perfume market. Dalí’s wife and muse Gala was the inspiration behind the fragrance and it contains notes of rose and jasmine which were her favourite flowers. Parfums Salvador Dalí describe Dalí PdT as “a feminine fragrance, with character, created in the purest of tradition of opulent Chypre perfumes”  and I would classify it as a big ole 80s floral made with a soft touch.
Never underestimate the power of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Having tried Chanel’ N°22 many times along my perfumista escapades I had never really found the love for it that I, and others thought I would. I mean it is a big aldehydic floral, and I’m sort-of into that kind of thing (OK, I love that kind of thing), but no N°22 never seemed to grab me, that was until an ever-persevering Birgit slipped a sample (and a number of hints, in an entirely non-pushy way I should add*) my way.
Now I will just put it out there that I have learned to love N°22, to me it epitomises the spirit of Chanel. It’s classy and elegant, but just that little bit rebellious. But whilst I enjoy it, I’m just not sure I’ll ever be running out to buy a bottle, my feelings very much lay in the ‘oh wow this is great but I don’t think I need it’ camp. That said, I am still definitely making my mind up about it and if there is one thing I have learned being a fumeophile it is that one should ‘never say never’!
N°22 was originally released in 1922, created by Chanel in-house perfumer Ernest Beaux (he of N°5 fame) it was intended as a lighter version of N°5. Chanel describes N°22 as “a skin scent [...] full of grace [...] (that) also bears the imprint of their (Chanel & Beaux’s) audacity.” N°22 now sits within the Les Exclusifs de Chanel line and I would probably rate it as my favourite Les Exclusif offering so far.
In 2010 the king of dark, brooding orientals and baroque florals, Serge Lutens, decided to launch an ‘anti-perfume’, a perfume that was designed to give you “a lasting sensation of wearing a ‘clean’ scent” . Cue a huge outcry from the perfume community and hardcore Lutens fanboys (and girls); “He’s doing WHAT?! A clean scent?! Looks like Uncle Serge has finally lost it” they said.
Aristotle said “There is no great genius without a mixture of madness” and It is clear to me that Uncle Serge hasn’t lost it, instead it seems that he has quite the sense of humour. I can just see him sat in his office above his flagship boutique in the Palais Royal, chuckling away at the thought of the die-hard Lutenites trying L’Eau for the very first time. In my head he utters Miranda Hart’s catchphrase “such fun” as he tries to stifle his giggles.
This year Lutens has decided to take the joke that little bit further with the addition of L’Eau Froide, and as the name suggests, this time the water he is playing around with is is cold. Where L’Eau is described as a new kind of clean, L’Eau Froide is “Some fresh air in the rusty old water pipes.”  I told you he had a sense of humour! L’Eau was an essay in cleanliness and purity but L’Eau Froide is an essay in austerity and is just as gothic and Lutensien as you would hope it to be.
Talking about another Vivienne Westwood scent (Anglomania) last week as part of the ‘Gone, But Not Forgotten’ Series led me to drag out my bottle of Boudoir which has been lurking somewhere in the back of my ‘purgatory drawer’ – a fate that awaits those perfumes of mine that no longer have a place in my collection.
When I gave Boudoir its first spritz in what must be at least a year I was shocked, why was this in the purgatory draw? I like this! My biggest problem, it seems, is that I have a short attention span, I can only concentrate for a maximum of about five minutes before being distracted by something shiny or basically anything other than the task at hand (a problem that was recently brought to my attention by my boss, who very politely mentioned that my time management skills left a lot to be desired) and this is true with perfumes, I do tend to love something for a while before I get bored and want something new. I guess you could call me a ‘fragrant magpie’ of sorts.
Anyway, enough about me, on to the fragrance! Boudoir was Vivienne Westwood’s first fragrance and was released in 1998, it is classified as a ‘Floral Chypre’ and is the only Westwood fragrance that seems to have stood the test of time, Libertine, Anglomania and Let it Rock have all since fallen by the way side and have lost their places as part of the Westwood collection.
Ahh the 80′s, a time of excess where everything was big; the clothes, the music, the hair and of course the perfume.
The perfume in the 80′s was loud, proud and would announce it’s arrival a long time before you entered a room, and stay a long time after you left. There were big bouquets of aldehydic florals and massive oriental spice bombs. I shouldn’t forget the HUGE jammy roses and the loud syrupy tuberoses either.
These fragrances, affectionately known as ‘Perfumes with Shoulder Pads’ by the #fumechat Tweeters are representative of the era, and whilst they may not be entirely popular today I have a real soft spot for them.
Archives 69 is the latest fragrance release from those fun-loving perfume rebels at Etat Libre d’Orange and is supposed to represent ‘The Illusion of Sex’. The blurb that came with my sample (including a rather obscene image that I dare not post here, but let’s just say that it makes a play on the number 69) states that Archives 69 is ‘The End of Innocence’.
As mentioned in my review of Tom of Finland, I am somewhat of an Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy, so you can imagine that the news of the release of Archives 69 (named after the location of the ELD’O boutique in Paris) was very exciting to me indeed.
Archives 69 is the first scent by Etat Libre d’Orange that I have found difficulty in linking the scent to the concept, to me it smells strikingly cosy and fuzzy and I certainly don’t detect any of the juxtapositions between light and dark mentioned in the ad copy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like it, far from it, It’s just that there seems to be a good degree of discord between the scent, the name and the concept.
I have a confession to make: I am unashamed to admit that I am an Etat Libre d’Orange fanboy. I enjoy their fun, pop art-like scents with wacky names and over-the-top marketing, which in my opinion needs to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt.
Tom of Finland was released by Etat Libre d’Orange in 2008 and was created by perfumer Antoine Lie who has created a number of other ELDO scents such as; Rien, Vierges et Toreros, Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection and the Infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques.
The fragrance is inspired by the drawings of Finnish erotic artist Touko Laaksonen who is more famously known as Tom of Finland. Tom of Finland’s drawings usually depict leather clad, muscular men in overtly sexual poses. Only Etat Libre d’Orange would even consider creating a scent for such an artist.
Esprit d’Oscar is the new fragrance from esteemed fashion house Oscar de la Renta. It is the first new fragrance from the house since Red Satin in 2007.
Esprit d’Oscar was created by perfumer Frank Völki and is meant to be a re-imagining of the original Oscar de la Renta perfume ‘Oscar’ which was created in 1977. According to the brand, the structure of the original has been ‘refreshed’ and made more ‘contemporary’.
I have not tried the original Oscar, so I’m not able to compare the two or comment on whether Esprit d’Oscar is a worthy reinterpretation, however the general consensus in the perfume blogosphere is that it is.